To Speak: to voice your emotion, concern, make a statement. To be able to ask for help, have a conversation with a friend or lover, to be able to tell a joke, to express how much you love someone.
Speech is very important to us. In fact, we rely on it so much as a society that when we have trouble understanding someone, we get frustrated, when it takes a minute for someone to reply to us, we get impatient and if someone has a lisp or other problem we tend to make fun.
One of the most distinguishing marks of DS (I think) is speech. We were told that Lily will be delayed in speech and that may or may not be able to speak clearly. People with DS tend to have flatter and broader tongues which in addition to having smaller mouths, can create problems with speaking. Since even learning to talk is a ‘tone’ thing, it is harder for Lily to coordinate her lips and tongue to make the right sounds.
When I first learned of the potential speech problems, I didn’t pay much attention. After all, Lily was only days old, what did she and I care about speech? Now that we are in toddlerhood, however, speech is very much on my mind and has become important for Lily too.
Lily’s first word was “dada”. I will remember that day forever and so will James. The three of us were playing on the floor when James, got up to leave. As he is walking away, we hear this tiny little voice exclaim “DADA!” James stopped dead in tracks and we both looked at her with excitement. She was so very proud of herself. And we were too!
Since that moment, Lily has expanded greatly on her speech and now has a variety of words and phrases. She babbles constantly and most of the time I know what she is trying to say. “Dada” has now evolved into “daddy”, and she says- Oz, what’s that?, Stop It, Cat, Dog, Step, Ready, can Hiss like a snake, Roar like a bear, sign more, all done, brush teeth, come here and elephant and can understand just about everything I say.
That being said, I find myself more and more worried about her speech. I don’t often get a chance to hear other almost 2 year old’s speak but it seems that most have a much bigger vocabulary than Lily. (Before you scold me for comparing my daughter to others, let me say, we all do it, it’s natural and I am not judging my daughter just comparing.) I also find myself wondering about how she will sound. Will she be hard to understand? Will she get frustrated because people can’t understand her? How bad will it be? Will it always be that way?
Like with everything else DS related, we will not know these answers until we get there. That’s okay. I have learned to accept that there isn’t much I will know until we ‘get there’. I do know this, I love hearing her communicate and have conversations with me and her toys- and I think she is amazing as she reads her books aloud to her brother, who also thinks she is amazing 🙂