I very nearly forgot that this topic was mentioned at Liana’s 15 month appointment and it would have escaped my mind completely had it not been for the phone call that I received the following afternoon. The call was completely unprecedented and Ashton and I were both infuriated with Liana’s pediatrician.
To understand our reaction, you’ll have to know what occurred at Liana’s appointment. The doctor asked her usual ‘check-up’ questions and showed me a graph of Liana’s growth and said everything looked outstanding. Then she asked if Liana was talking yet. I chuckled and said “not exactly… she’s been saying Dada and Mama since she was seven months old and recently she has been attempting ‘uh-oh’ when something falls on the floor and occasionally I catch her trying to repeat a word that I say.” The doctor frowned at this, but said ever so nonchalantly, “that’s okay, we can have an Early Intervention Specialist come to your home to work with her.” There was also a medical student in the room observing the appointment and when I glanced at her, she seemed to agree.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, back up. Early intervention? Has she heard the phrase, “one to walk, two to talk”? I’ve learned that babies develop at completely different paces and it’s normal for them to take until 18 months to start walking. I would only assume that that same mentality applies for talking. Liana is not two years old, she is only 15 months—of course she has a limited vocabulary. The doctor said that she should be using at least four words on a regular basis by now. Is she kidding? I know babies who don’t even ‘babble-talk’ half as much as Liana does! I politely pushed her Early Intervention suggestion aside and she voiced that the next time she sees Liana (in October for her 18 month appointment) she would like to hear her using at least ten words regularly.
I then mentioned the fact that Liana’s babysitter (who she sees Monday through Friday 7am-5:30pm) speaks only Bulgarian. Liana only hears English for the two hours we spend with her on weekdays and on weekends at home. I’m personally proud and impressed with how much she understands and how well she listens for only being exposed to the English language ‘part-time.’ (Read Liana’s 15 month development update to see what I mean). The doctor confirmed my suspicions that this is the reason why Liana doesn’t have a wider vocabulary. She explained that when babies learn multiple languages at once, they have a harder time putting sounds together correctly to form words. However, they exert much more energy into understanding actions and behaviors as well as observing their environment. She watched Liana pull open one of the drawers in the office and when I said, “Liana please close the drawer,” she closed it. Again, when Liana pulled a paper towel out of the trash I said, “Liana, can I have that?” and she brought it to me and placed it in my hand. The doctor was not impressed, however, and said she needs to be using her voice.
I honestly thought she was nuts. I can see how smart Liana is and I don’t think she’s behind with her speech development at all. She might not be advanced, but she’s not in need of an Early Intervention Specialist. This is why I was offended when I learned that, without my consent and against my wishes, Liana’s pediatrician had sent Liana’s medical records and my contact information to an Early Intervention Center. It was at no fault of the Early Intervention Center, but I was infuriated when I received the voicemail from them stating they would be sending information in the mail and following up with a phone call to schedule an intake assessment. I was really disappointed with the pediatrician because, up until this point, she has been supportive of all of my family’s other decisions (like being vegan and doing without the flu shot).
I’m still hurt and puzzled as to why she would contact the Early Intervention Center without my consent. Is that a common thing for doctors to do? Has anyone else had an experience like this with their pediatrician? Or can anyone shed some light as to why she would suggest speech therapy so early?