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We have 3.5 year old twin girls – very fraternal. Delaney is our Late Talker, and Piper is our jabber box. At 18 months we noticed that Delaney wasn’t attempting too much speech. She was noisy but not talkative. Her twin was attempting sounds and words, and her first words beyond Mama and Dada were “sit down.” Although we know that each child is a snowflake, we had somewhat of a “control” in Piper in comparison to Delaney.

Although Delaney wasn’t attempting to talk, her problem solving skills were heads and shoulders above her sister and other children her age. I remember around 14-15 months she noticed that her sister would take the popcorn popper toy (the very annoying push toy from all of our childhoods) and push the toy and it would pop pop pop. One day she was looking at Piper and her popping toy and then took her own popping toy, grabbed the base and used it as a stick to get what she wanted off of the kitchen table. She had waited to use it until she could stand and be somewhat stable to get what she wanted.

She once got a ball stuck behind the TV stand where the DVD player was and couldn’t reach her arm back further enough without her face smooshing into the TV, she then squatted down, stuck one leg in and kicked out the little ball – she was 18 months.

From 12 months on she would work the shape sorter like rubiks cube – instead of moving her hand to fit the shape, she would move the sorter as it was faster to her. There are tons of examples like these.

We took her into her Pediatrician at 18 months to discuss her not talking and also not always responding to her name. He referred us on to a Neuro. The Neuro wanted to take a “wait and see” approach and told us about our state’s Early Intervention Program. The Neuro felt that there wasn’t anything that was glaring enough to put her down for an MRI. We were to see her in 6 months.

We talked to a friend of ours in another state and she recommended that we get going on the Early Intervention Program as it can take awhile to get through the system. Delaney had her initial intake at 20 months and they recommended, ST, OT and DSI services for her and also for us to get into a Developmental Pediatrician. We had to wait 4 months for an appointment with the Developmental Pediatrician.

When we went back in to follow up with the Neuro, she mentioned The Einstein Syndrome to us. I got the book and immediately could relate to the material. The family background was spot on. My husband almost scored a perfect math score on his SAT, his Dad was a cop but always brilliant with numbers. I work for our family construction business but my focus is mostly in business analysis, estimating and accounting. My Dad started his career as a Math teacher. I have uncles in Engineering, Banking and one a National Merit Finalist who ended up being a Computer Engineer in the 80’s when it was a new career field.

My husband’s mom played the sax, and my grandfather learned music by ear. Delaney always has responded to Music. We would sing song directions to gain her focus very early on. Her memory is astonishing. She observes everyone’s every move and is always two steps ahead. She looks for the seam in attention and then is on her way to get what she wants or needs. Since she doesn’t talk, she is like a ninja. You will be in the same room as her and all of the sudden she is standing on the table she flipped over and dancing on it.

I contacted Dr. Camarata and got on the message board and have been lurking and learning since.

At this point we had an awesome kid, who we were sure that was smarter than her sister who could count to 10 in Spanish, speak over 300 words but couldn’t speak herself. We just “knew.” She started preschool within in our school district and has blossomed.

It has been a long journey so far and we are not that far into it, but the days have gone by quick. We are fairly certain that she will begin to speak soon and we can look back on this time with giggles and a sense of accomplishment. We look at it as front loading the effort in order for the later reward.

Words for her have “fallen” out here and there but always in context. One last funny story…my husband was home with the girls and a Spanish kids show was on in the background while they were painting. The woman on the segment was saying anaranjado – Spanish for orange, the color. She repeated it and as Delaney was painting she says “anaranjado!” My husband looks at her in disbelief and then Piper starts clapping and says, “good job Lay Lay!” This is the word she chooses to put out there!

I can sum it up with Delaney is an Enigma, and we love her for it J

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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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