My son, now 14, argues with me and points out my mistakes.  Twelve years ago, I never knew if that would happen.  The only word he said at age two was “no.” He understood everything and grunted.  I thought he was bright and ignored those who thought he was delayed.

He was sensitive to sound, loved to watch things spin, could escape from any carseat, loved Thomas the Train, and lined up toys.  However, he related to all of us well, and I knew he was not autistic.

Some “friends” and family told me I was in denial.  I was told I was ignoring his delays and refusing to believe he was autistic.

When he was 2, I met parents of similar children on an email list, and we started a list for our late talkers. When he was 3, I took him to see Dr. Stephen and Mary Camerata at Vanderbilt. 

We learned that besides late talking, he had limited vowel space, phonological delays, and his articulation was less than .5% for his age.  However, his score on the CARS autism test was off the chart that he was most definitely NOT autistic.

We were told he might need 4-6 years of speech therapy.  He needed a language preschool, which our area lacked, or else therapy 5x/week.

Because of other speech issues in my family tree, I became his bulldog, fighting for therapy.  Our school system gave him therapy 2x/week, and our insurance approved therapy 2x/week.  We enrolled him in Kindermusik with a music therapist 1x/week. 

For the next 2 years, our lives revolved around his therapy and using our home environment to help him learn to articulate and speak English.  My son worked hard, every day of those 2 years.  His therapy sessions gradually decreased and were completed 2 years after his original diagnosis.

My son is about to begin high school.  We originally opted to homeschool so we could tailor his education to his style and interests. 

  • He competes in demonstration contests
  • In speech contests, he has a Steven Wright style delivery that makes audiences laugh.
  • He will begin his 4th year of studying Spanish as a second language.
  • A talented musician, he has played violin and piano but now prefers electric guitar.
  • He has spent the last 4 years competing in robotics contests.

The stories of the children in this late talking subgroup are all different.  This is my son’s.

by Mary Biever, Evansville, Indiana

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