By age 2, I shared with two professionals my concerns about Liam. I was getting more and more out-of-sync information from school and even family, that we were growing concerned about.
First, I spoke with a dear friend and former college roommate who is a speech therapist. I shared that Liam was still only speaking in one to two word phrases. We understood exactly what he wanted, but he really wasn’t “talking” – using his words to share thoughts and feeling. Also, he didn’t usually respond to what we said to him. It was as if we interrupted him – to make him listen – then he would go back to naming the world around him. So, he could say harpsichord, but couldn’t tell us what happened in school that day. He would recite the whole alphabet and count to 100, but didn’t say, good night, I love you. My friend shared that I should keep a close eye on him, but that it was hard to tell with boys – some don’t initially use language in the way that I was expecting. It was good that he was talking in two word phrases at his age, but to keep watch.
The other was Liam’s pediatrician. During his two year appointment, I shared some of the things he was not doing, that it seemed like he should be doing. When we would go to school to pick him up, we would always find him off by himself instead of interacting with the other kids. He didn’t play imaginatively at all. She asked if he sucked his thumb. Yes, he definitely did. He walked late (but he had a big head to balance). I shared about his lack of language use (I didn’t know about joint attention at this time). Similar to my friend, she said, watch for six more months, then call her if I was still concerned.
It’s harder with children who are high-functioning to tease out the precocious and eccentric from factors that need to have intervention. I didn’t feel completely at ease with waiting (I am type-A), but at least I had taken the step of sharing my worries with others who were more knowledgeable than me. I knew what to look for and had a time frame within which to act.
In the meantime, two wasn’t turning out so terrible due to our having a strict schedule that we followed to keep Liam at an even keel. This is not to say that he never got frustrated or anxious, or didn’t act two when he didn’t get his way – just that we had effective systems in place for dealing with his behaviors. He was our only child, still. This would change in a few months.