When we left off in The Journey Begins Part I, we were nearing the end of that first mostly idyllic year with Monkey Boy. During the course of his second year, I don't remember a lot of specific details, but a few things stick out. There was a trip to Ohio for my great aunt’s 90th birthday right before he turned one where he got yet another respiratory infection, his first birthday when he screamed after getting his hands and face smeared with cake, and a trip to Disney World shortly after he turned one where he devoured serving upon serving of fried rice. I also remember that I had expected him to be walking by then and had this idealistic image of him sitting happily on my lap enjoying all of the age-appropriate rides. In reality, not only was he not walking, he was barely standing, so he had to be held, A LOT, and rather than sitting on my lap, he often wanted to “stand” on my lap facing backwards. And that’s when I first began to realize that he wasn’t so easy anymore.
Other memories from that second year include Monkey Boy taking his first steps around 15 months while friends were visiting and another round of illnesses as we were trying to move to a new house, two weeks before Christmas. When he would eat, he would stuff his mouth too full and wind up spitting out a lot of food. He also got physically sick from the smell of a petting zoo and the fish aisle of the grocery store. This is also when Monkey Boy started screaming uncontrollably during his haircuts, made worse by all the hair sticking to his wet cheeks and mouth. Now mind you, he smiled happily through his first one. He developed a debilitating fear of strangers to include family member he saw infrequently, but the strange thing was that he was less fearful of men.
Things really began going downhill in the spring before he turned two. I had been babysitting a little girl, who was six months older than him, since the previous year, and it had gone remarkably well, but that spring, it became more difficult. I can’t remember exactly why, but based on writings in his baby book, that’s when the whining started. He wasn’t really talking at all, but he would grab my arm to make me follow him and gesture and point to things he wanted, but he became extremely agitated if I didn’t understand him. That is also when the tantrums began. By the age of two, his favorite toys were cars and trucks and the only real word he used repetitively was “bus”.
At this point, I wasn’t overly concerned and just expected his talking to begin at any time. After all, I heard all kinds of stories about kids who didn’t start talking until three or four, and then just started speaking in complete sentences. Only that never happened with Monkey Boy. The summer after he turned two, the pediatrician told me that if he really wasn’t saying anything by fall, to consult with a speech therapist. And while “real” speech was delayed, he could hold an entire conversation, complete with pauses and inflections, using gibberish. And I really think he thought that he was talking. That gibberish was intermingled with his speech for years. I was actually kind of sad when it disappeared completely.
Coming next, I’ll share with you how a two year old can “fail” speech therapy and journey into the world of Preschool Special Education.