When I took Eilis for her well baby check up at 18 months old, I told the doctor I was worried because she wasn’t speaking as well as Brighid did by that time. He asked me a few questions about how many words she said and things like that, and he agreed that she was probably behind in her speaking abilities. However, he said, with an older sibling in the house in addition to her parents, there was probably little motivation for her to learn to speak. All she would have to do was grunt or make some sort of noise and someone handed her 12 things and let her choose which one corresponded to that grunt. He told me to stop giving her things that way and make her say the words. If she didn’t catch on by her 2 year check up, we would seek speech therapy. Within a few weeks, she was talking blue streaks.
Now we have Granuaile. She not only has Jim and I, but Brighid and Eilis. Also working in favor of her never learning to speak is the blood curdling, ear piercing scream she has that has the whole house rushing to her aid, picking her up, handing her things, trying to get her to stop the screaming. The less often we hear that scream, the happier the house is.
But Grace doesn’t even have to make a gutteral noise, like Eilis did. She points. She will look at you, and point at what she wants – one finger, sticking straight out, directly at what she wants. She has already run circles around the method we used to get Eilis to speak. There is no doubting what Grace wants, because she is very exact when she points it out.
I don’t know that it’s a bad thing that she doesn’t have too many words. With all the other noise going on in this house, it’s certainly to my advantage to have a quiet child. But all children must have their voices heard at some point. We just have to find a way to teach her that when we are at the point at which Grace must learn to use words, she can’t keep giving us the finger.