Those words touch my heart whenever my 2-year old son, X, says them. Let me translate for those who don’t speak X. It means “bible school.” These two words give my wife, KayEm, and I hope that our son will be able to speak.
KayEm and I have been concerned about X’s speech since he was 18 months old. While our other children started around this age, X never seemed to have the ability or the inclination to talk. He didn’t babble and seemed satisfied with grunting and yelling. He also lacked some social skills, which caused KayEm and me to think he was autistic.
We expressed our concerns to X’s pediatrician who suggested that we make an appointment with a developmental therapist. She tried to comfort us by telling us that some kids are slower at developing speech than others. We smiled, but her words didn’t ease our troubled hearts.
I never really thought that X had any developmental issues. He always responded to the things we said, he displayed affection towards us, and his motor skills were almost as good as his 6-year old brother’s. However, we did take the doctor’s advice and hired a developmental therapist. The therapist worked with him for five months, but we heard little improvement in his speech. KayEm and I were getting a bit frustrated, but we continued the treatment because X had grown fond of the therapist and eagerly anticipated their sessions.
After observing him at home and in public environments, the therapist concluded that X didn’t have any cognitive issues. However, she did say that X’s speech was delayed about six-months. She also mentioned that he might have a slight case of apraxia and recommended that we continue his treatment with a certified speech therapist.
In her efforts to figure out why X wasn’t talking, KayEm had done her own research and had already diagnosed X with apraxia. However, it is difficult to identify in toddlers because of differences in developmental progression. We were comforted by the fact that many children eventually overcome the speech delays and are able to speak clearly.
When the speech therapist arrived to our house, X was excited to see her. Within minutes, the therapist had X saying words he had never uttered before. It was as if she had opened a valve that had been closed for several months. KayEm nearly started crying as she listened to our son speak.
Since he turned two, X has mastered the word “no.” The following conversation is one that he and I have often:
“X, do you want some green beans?”
“Do you want to play outside?”
“Do you want a new toy?”
“Will you still be living in my house when you’re thirty?”
“Would you like some candy?”
“No!” He pauses for a moment. “Yes!”
He also loves the word football. Sometimes he grabs the TV remote and flips through the channels to find a football game. When he finally finds a game, he yells, “Football!” and starts imitating the players’ actions. I have been using sports terms to help him develop his language skills. He has already mastered hike, kick, run and Cowboys. And every time a team scores, he yells, “YES!”
These small gains make KayEm and I optimistic about X’s speech. That’s why we were so happy when he said, “Bibul Kool.”
KayEm recently enrolled in a bible study class that has activities for toddlers. In order to prepare X for the new environment, KayEm told him that he was going to have fun at bible school. When KayEm picked him up after class, X had a cheerful expression on his face and seemed to enjoy himself. As they were driving away, KayEm asked X if he enjoyed bible school. He replied, “Yes! Bibul Kool.” KayEm was floored and couldn’t wait for X to share his new phrase with me.
“Where did you go today?” I asked X when I got home from work.
“Bibul Kool,” he responded with a sly grin, but my smile beamed.
X still cries and screams when he cannot find the words to express himself. His yelling and pointing frustrates us at times, but we keep pressing on because hearing him say new words makes it all worthwhile.
Imagine how I will feel on the day he says, “I love you, Daddy.”