Tag Archives: speech and language therapy

Targets and other Torments

I’ve written on the blog many times before about the sense of weight and guilt that comes with Boo’s enormous long list of therapy goals. We have targets for physio, SALT, and OT not to mention our own private goals for Boo.

The lists are huge. Not metaphorically. I mean very literally. They are huge! They live on our fridge. Don’t use these as a diet aid, by the way. Seeing them on the fridge door makes me want to eat my body weight in cheese and double cream whenever I look at them.

I’m a list kind of person. I am what the self-help industry would call goal-oriented in my personal life. I have a long-term plan. I break it down into steps. I do my best to stick to the plan. And will usually flog myself until I have achieved what I set out to do.

But I can only help and encourage Boo. I can’t make his body do things it struggles with. And I have no interest in making his life any more difficult than it already is.

One of the biggest mental adjustments I have had to make since having Boo is letting go of goal-oriented me. For ages I tormented myself with the ‘will he walk’ question. No one knew, of course, whether this would happen or not, but most thought it unlikely based on the extent and nature of his brain damage. But then someone gave me a glimmer of hope. ‘If a child sits unaided by two there is a very good chance they will walk (maybe with a walking frame) by the time they are five.’

I wish they had never told me. Hope can very quickly turn into a stick to beat yourself with in this here life of ours.

I crippled my back trying to get Boo to sit before his second birthday. I was fixated on this happening before he hit 24 months uncorrected. When that was clearly not going to happen, I counted every darn day of his eleven weeks of prematurity and went for 24 months corrected. That date passed too.

Boo is now over 3. He still can’t sit unaided for more than a few seconds and cannot be left alone in this position. But we have just tried a new walker which we are hoping to buy and he steps in it in a way that makes the Grand Old Duke of York look like a complete amateur. Like all the amazing kids I have met since Boo’s birth, he just does things in his own way, on his own schedule. This is goal orientation Boo style and it is beautiful to watch.

There was a time when I felt the fading prospect of independent sitting with great sadness. Now I’ve adjusted. My sense of time is much more elastic now. I worry less about where Boo is relative to others. Frankly, that way madness lies and we celebrate each and every inchstone Boo meets whenever is the right time for him.

But of course, sometimes, I have a wobble and forget all I’ve learned. Children’s parties are a particular trigger (if he gets invited to them at all). Lugging Boo round a soft play for an hour the other week so he could join in while all the other kids ran hysterically like puffed out beetroots who had had a week’s sugar intake in a minute while their parents drank coffee and talked about the inequities of catchment areas was a weak point for me, and meant I couldn’t walk with a straight back for 48 hours. Sissyboo’s sports day last week was another.

And then there’s the biggy on the horizon. The milestone we can’t dodge or avoid. It will just have to be met by hook or by crook and whether he or we are ready or not.

School.

Next September Boo will start school. That may be 15 months from now. That may seem like an age. In special needs elastic time, though, it really isn’t. It really, really isn’t when you consider all the things that we would like to have set Boo up to be able to do before he starts school. There’s joystick control so he can (please, please let this happen) learn one day to move himself around. There’s potty training, so important for his dignity and for others’ perceptions of him (which will in turn, of course, affect him). There’s his ability to use an AAC device because he will never be able to write. And then there’s the four pages of A4 targets on the fridge.

It feels totally overwhelming. Impossible. Even with 15 months.

But it also feels imperative. We have to set him up as best we can. We just have to try our best to achieve these things with him. But we also have to let him be a toddler who can’t toddle, a little boy whose life can’t just be about goals, but has to be about living. About play. About fun.

I don’t know how to square this circle. I know that school doesn’t mean the therapy train stops (more’s the pity). I know that Boo will continue to learn (that’s the point of school, right?). I know (I hope) we have time to help him. But I also feel totally suffocated by the prospect of the next 15 months.

Have we made the right choice of school? Will we get that choice without a battle? Will our LA get their act together enough even to transition him to an EHCP before he gets there? Will we have done all we can to ensure he has the smoothest transition to school possible? Will it be enough?

I just don’t know. And that’s hard to deal with. Really hard.

Three little words

It’s been ever such a long time since I have linked up to the fabulous Small Steps Amazing Achievements or the life-enhancing weekend link up over at Love that Max. But that’s not for want of inchstones, here. There have been plenty.

No: the problem has been me. I won’t lie to you. I am really struggling at the moment. Really struggling. Hence the blog radio silence. The weight of appointments and admin and the huge hurdles in front of us at the moment around education, work and the many milestones that it seems ever less likely Boo will ever meet feels totally overwhelming. I try to be positive. And in the day-to-day when I am with Boo and playing with him I don’t feel so bad. Because I just enjoy him and being with him.

But in quiet moments (the only moments I can steal to blog in) I feel totally at sea and worried I am drowning. I don’t know how to swim to shore any more. It is horribly disconcerting.

It’s hard to summon up the wherewithal to write about Boo’s achievements, no matter how proud I am of them. And I am. Because for every inchstone met, there are a dozen milestones receding into the distance. Just two minutes ago I put in an application for mobility DLA (Disability Living Allowance) for Boo. I can honestly say it is one of the most heartbreaking documents that I have ever had to write. The catalogue of professionals and list of all the things he cannot do is just too much to contemplate.

But what I know deep down, even if it is hard to summon up this feeling in these rare, dark quiet stolen moments is that the feelings of desperation I feel on his (and if I’m being totally honest, mine and his father’s and sister’s) parts make it all the more important to chronicle and celebrate his achievements.

And this has to be the biggest of the past few months. Speech.

Now don’t get too excited and think he’s reciting the Gettysburg Address all of a sudden. Or even a single sentence. But Boo’s speech is still coming on a bundle. Words he had before – ‘Mum’, ‘Dad’, ‘up’ (meaning: pick me or else, Mum), ‘go’ (meaning: why are you so blinking slow at everything, Mum?), ‘yeah’ and his current favourite ‘no’ – are so much more distinct. And he has got a pretty impressive range of other phonic sounds now, most of which he will say on sight of the relevant jolly phonic flashcard. We are still struggling with s, z, v, z and h but we hope they will come with time.

And he has all of his vowel sounds now: the last one ‘ee’ arrived out of nowhere one day just before Christmas. He still struggles to put these sounds together. He can say ‘p’ and ‘l’ and ‘ee’, for example, but if you ask him to say please he says ‘eeeeeeeee’. But it’s a mighty strong start nevertheless.

It’s all about putting the building blocks in place and seeing where we can get with them. Building up from sounds to single words. He has new ones every week or so at the moment. A new addition is ‘ewlp’ meaning ‘help’. My personal favourite, because it is always said with a cheeky smile on his face, is ‘I duck’ meaning ‘I’m stuck’, which is code for I’m a toddler get me out of here! I can’t wait to hear what comes next! Once you have words, it’s all about putting them together of course. And Boo is trying out that fun game: ‘Mum, go’, ‘Mum, up’ are the soundtrack to my life. And there are some even more impressive strings of words coming along. The other day I was singing the title music to Something Special (to myself, not Boo, you everyone does that, right?) and I got as far as ‘Hello, Hello’ and was about to launch into ‘how are you?’ when I heard Boo at the other end of the dining room say ‘ow ar oooooo?’ at which point he burst into hysterics at his own amazingness. I squealed so loudly Sissyboo said, ‘Do we need to phone the hospital Mummy?’ Where did that come from?

But best of all is the way that Boo is mimicking speech patterns. Boo does everything in his own way. He isn’t going to follow the whole, phonics, words, sentences, conversation logical progression any more than he is going to roll, sit, stand, walk, run. No, he may only have 20-30 or so words, and have lots of sounds he cannot say at all yet, but he is still trying to replicate the patterns of words and phrases he hears. So if you say ‘garden’ to him he will repeat: ‘ah’ ‘ah’. Two syllables. Two sounds. If you say ‘that was good’, he might say ‘a ah ooo’. It’s very sweet.

But nothing is sweeter than the three little words he has been saying for a few months now. Words he has heard an awful lot since he was born so very, very early: ‘Ah. Uv. Ooo’ (‘I love you’). The first time he said it, I cried. The first time he said ‘Ah. Uv. Ooo. Mum’,

I cried. Of course, I knew he loved me, his dad and his sister before he told us. One of the many things Boo has taught me is how we communicate in so many other ways than through speech and writing. No: I cried for a whole bunch of other reasons. Because he had hit his mark and progressed with his speech at a time when many physical milestones seem more remote than ever. Because it was such a physical effort to arrange his body in such a way as to produce these sounds. Because when he was only 2 weeks corrected age an utterly unfeeling prematurity paediatrician told me my child would likely never speak at all.

In my dimmer moments now I feel like I am back in that awful appointment over 2 and a half years ago. And so I replay Boo’s words in my head and realise that he has made a future for himself that is so much brighter than anyone predicted. And for that, I am very grateful.

8 Presents for Young Children with Cerebral Palsy

Last month it was Boo’s second birthday. It was also Easter, of course. We’re also in the middle of our anniversary season – the 11 long weeks that span Boo’s actual birthday (a day of mixed emotions for us), the anniversary of the day he came home, followed by the anniversary of the day he was supposed to be delivered by c-section to avoid the complications we had with his sister, and finally the anniversary of the day he should have been born. Anniversaries are tough in premmie land, but there is also a lot to celebrate. And one of the nicest things is seeing Boo receiving and playing with lots of new gifts that help us ring the changes in the daily grind of repetitive therapies.

But it’s also hard. Don’t get me wrong or think I’m ungrateful. I’m not. But I have to admit that all the texts and calls I got from people asking me what they should buy Boo for his birthday or as a small Easter gift (he’s not wild about chocolate) weighed me down.

My to-do list was especially long then. It was another thing I didn’t have time to sort out for other people. Some people even asked me to buty presents for Boo on their behalf … But what really bothered me was that all of this was just another small but significant demonstration of how people don’t know what to do or think about Boo.

He is a little boy. Oh, but he has cerebral palsy. Goodness. What on earth can you buy a child like him?

Of course, some people (many people) asked me these questions because they know the high costs of looking after a child with additional needs. They know that budgets are tight and we prioritise carefully. They wanted to help us buy things that he really needed or that would help him. And of course it’s just common sense, isn’t it, to make sure what you are buying a child with additional needs is suitable for them, in Boo’s case that they can actually access it?

But it still made me a little sad. So do the people who say (and really, they have said this to me): ‘I’ve sent money because I wouldn’t know what to buy him’. Now obviously, money can be a fabulous gift to a child and family with additional needs, especially if they’re saving for an expensive toy or piece of equipment. But to send money because ‘we don’t know what to buy your child’ (this has been said to me too) as if my little boy is an alien who has just crash landed into our garden after journeying through several galaxies is hurtful.

So I thought I’d share some thoughts on buying gifts for children like Boo and give some some examples of the things that have gone down a storm here. I’ve seen lists like this myself on Amazon and such like. And they can be really helpful. I hope this might be, too.

But first let me say this: a child with cerebral palsy or any additional physical or cognitive disability is first and foremost a child. Boo loves to play. If you asked him what toys he wanted for his birthday his answer would be his favourite new word: ‘more’. Now that’s partly because he’s speech delayed and he only has a a handful of words. But it’s also because he’s a kid. He wants things, lots of of things, lots of brightly coloured, noisy and (for Mummy’s sake) robust things that make the never-ending cycle of therapy feel fresh and new. Frankly as his number one therapist, so do I!

All this means that some of the best presents Boo has ever received are those where people have just taken a punt and treated him like a kid rather than a kid with CP. A friend of mine sent him a Melissa and Doug wooden train for Christmas. And he just loves it. OK, so he can’t attach the carriages to the engine. OK, so he mainly ends up throwing it around the room when trying to get the cow out of the trailer, but he loves it. He doesn’t know he doesn’t play with it conventionally. He just plays. And every toy, pretty much, has therapy potential. Taking things out of the carriages and putting them in is fine motor therapy. Sounds (choo-choo and moo) and words (train etc) tick the SALT box. We can learn through just about any kind of play.

If you have a friend whose child has additional needs, why not take a punt? Or if you’d rather buy something the child might really need or want, why not say to the parents, ‘I just wondered if there’s anything particular X wants for their birthday, but I’m happy to pick something myself and have lots of ideas’. My best friend always says this. She says it because she knows sometimes it takes me a week to reply to a text message. She says it because sometimes it’s all a bit much and I can’t add another thing on the to-do list. And she says it because she is always lovely.

But there are toys out there that are particularly great for kids with additional needs and here are the eight gift ideas or types of gift ideas that I would recommend for a non-toddling toddler with cerebral palsy or simply issues with high or low muscle tone and gross and fine motor delay . It’s not an exhaustive list by a long way. No: these are just a few things that have made the most impact in our life. In all of these, play and fun are the goal, but all have therapeutic benefits.

1. Musical instruments

 

We’re a very loud household and sometimes tuneful with it. Musical instruments are Boo’s favourite toys and are the easiest way to get him to do any physio (reaching, grabbing, rolling and most recently stepping, which Boo does to get to his crocodile xylophone which we put on the sofa for him to play with while in a supported standing position).

I wrote a guest post about learning through music for the lovely Edspire a while ago, so you can read more about some of the other ways we use Boo’s instruments therapeutically there. But let me tell you, if Boo gets a present that rattles, dings or chings before he opens it, you know you are on to a winner. And the possibilities are endless and can be very inexpensive. From a couple of handbells (less than £5) to a drum or xylophone, I don’t think any of the things in the pic above cost above £15. They are much loved by us all. But not necessarily by our neighbours.

2. Books

Books are hugely important to our whole family and Boo loves a good story. Especially great are sound books where you have pictures in the text telling you to press a button at a particular moment. (Flap books are also good, but Boo struggles to manipulate them with his compromised fine motor skills.)

Sound books not only animate the story but they aid cognition as they encourage children to anticipate the sound. Some are also just hilarious. If you haven’t read the sound book version of Aliens Love Underpants, let me tell you, you haven’t lived. We also love What the Ladybird Heard (I do a mean Lanky Len impression, I tell you) and Room on a Broom.

3. Lights and lava

If you are lucky enough to have a sensory room somewhere near you, I won’t have to tell you how great lights and lava toys can be for kids like Boo.

Three of the best unsolicited presents Boo has ever got fall into this category. First there was the lava lamp (from one of my godmothers) and then a bubble tube with plastic fishes (from my other godmother). The lava lamp completely captivates Boo and calms him. We use it at night sometimes when he won’t settle to get him to stop crying while his legs are spasming. The bubble lamp has the opposite effect. It gees him up (although I know other kids find them calming) but he is also kind of hypnotized by it and will sit longer, straighter and better while watching it than while doing anything else.

The last of these three wonderful gifts was a light projector pillow pet. I’m sure that Boo has no idea who the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are, but he loves watching the colours change and fade in and out on his when we settle him at night. Best. Presents. Ever.

4. Puzzles

Boo loves puzzles, sometimes called form boards, where you pull out (usually wooden) pieces from a template. He struggles a bit with them because of the difficulty he has using his arms and reliably opening and closing his hands, so big handled ones are best for him. You can buy  puzzle and formboards with large handles from various SEN companies but they can be terrifically expensive. There are plenty of high street brands who do these without the special needs label (like Big Jigs) and they cost much less. And don’t be afraid of puzzles being a little too hard. The only toy I can rely on Boo playing with independently without fuss for half an hour is a board with different door locks on by Melissa and Doug. He can’t work all of the latches, but loves playing with them, especially when I open all the doors for him and he has to close them.

5. Cuddlies

Not much to say here, except what I said earlier. Boo is a little boy who just happens to have CP. And like most kids his age he likes teddies and dolls. He cuddles them and plays with their hair (he has a hair thing and it means he stops playing with mine for a bit). We also use them in role play. Feed the teddy, make dolly some dinner, that kind of thing.

6. Balls

You can roll, kick or throw them. They come in all sizes, colours and textures, from smooth to rough and bumpy. You can get latticed ones (great for little fingers that can’t reliably open to hold on to). Some light up. Some, Boo’s favourites (do you see the pattern here?) are noisy.

And some are so big you can sit and roll on them. Like this one, which currently resides under my work desk where my feet should go…

What’s not to love?

7. Bubbles

This has to be the cheapest gift ever. Tubs of bubbles cost pennies but can produce the biggest smiles. Boo can’t blow, although we are trying to teach him. But he should put bubble popping in his CV. We have tried all sorts of bubbles. He loves the enormous ones you can get with those outsized wands and we recently discovered set hard bubbles which land on Boo’s Bee seat tray and he spends ages trying to pop them. But if you can spend a little more (say £10-£15) I can’t recommend a bubble machine enough. Boo stares at his, squeals and yells ‘more’ at least once a day until I dutifully turn it on for him. We have one that we can plug in or put batteries in for the garden. I think I will have to pack it when we go on holiday.

8. Talking Toys

We use talking apps on the phone in Boo’s speech therapy. You know the sort of thing. You talk to a strange creature who repeats things back to you in a high-pitched voice. Boo likes them but is always trying to grab the phone off me and look in my camera roll to see pictures of him and his sister (which like bubble popping should be listed as one of his hobbies on his CV). But then Gina came into our life.

Sissyboo bought her for Boo’s second birthday. She was determined to buy him a giraffe on account of them being his favourite animal. (Her evidence is his love of the Giraffes Can’t Dance book.) While looking online for a cuddly giraffe (because Mummy left it to the last minute), we found Gina, a cuddly toy who started life as an app.

You press her foot/hand and she listens. And then she repeats what you say. The minute Boo sees her, he frantically repeats ‘hiya’ until Gina responds. She sits in on most of our SALT at home these days repeating what we have to say.

And speech therapy has never been so much fun. I’m pretty sure Boo thinks he is teaching Gina phonics rather than me teaching him but who cares.

This isn’t a SEN toy. As such it doesn’t cost the earth. In fact, it was pretty cheap. But it is one of the most therapeutically beneficial toys we have for Boo. Cause and effect cognition? Check. Speech development? Check.

But you know what? Most of all, it is a toy, a cute, funny and entertaining toy that allows Boo to be a kid and play. What better gift could you give any child?

I’d love to hear your ideas for top presents for children with additional needs. Please do leave a comment with your suggestions.

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Good News Fridays #43-45

Talk about playing catch up. Things have been absolutely relentless here in the past few weeks. We have had lots of appointments for Boo. The bad weather has caused traffic chaos on my route to work, which means my 75 minute each way commute two days a week has been taking 3 hours a trip. I have been working very late many nights as a consequence. I may have lost my sense of humour. I haven’t blogged as much as normal. None of this feels right. It certainly isn’t sustainable long term.

Time to breathe. Time to try to catch up with myself. Time for a belated three-for-the-price-of-one Good News Friday. Because there has been lots of good news amid the madness. And if I don’t write it down, you know what? I’ll forget it. So here are just a few of the better things that have happened in the last few weeks.

1) Equipment: I was amazed. I’ve blogged and tweeted about our difficulties with wheelchair services before. The service is terribly under-resourced and there are problems with communication within our PCT. There are also some personnel issues that means some patients and their parents are not treated as compassionately or even just as decently as they might be. I burst into tears after our previous appointment to get Boo assessed for an adapted buggy. I don’t think we were spoken to with dignity and I had our physio there to witness that. I went home. I cried a bit and waited for the next appointment, which was promised to take place within 6 weeks. We had already waited 8 months by that point, so what was another month and a half? Except it wasn’t, of course. It was another 3 months.

In the meantime, I was sent a customer service questionnaire. In some ways, I am sort-of OK with the idea that we are customers of the NHS. But my child is also a patient, and above all, he is a child. He certainly is not a ‘case’, a phrase which is often used to describe him and which makes me scream in anger and pain inside. In this particular instance, we can’t go elsewhere for the NHS’s products or for their advice. There is no market for us to trade in and find the best deals. The language of consumerism just isn’t right then, and often, in my experience, it gets in the way of patient care. I said as much as it related to Boo’s case (albeit anonymously) on the questionnaire form I was sent. I read it through the day after filling it in to make sure what I was saying was OK and not unfair. I sent it off. I think they worked out who it was from. Two days later our overdue appointment came through. People were nice to us. They treated Boo like a little boy, not a problem.

And here’s the news. An adapted buggy has been ordered! It may take a few months, and sourcing accessories is time-consuming and expensive (£400 for a rainhood!), but we are pleased and grateful. This will really improve his quality of life and ours as a family.

2) Speech and language: We are getting some new sounds here: ‘en’ and the odd ‘m, m, m, m. m’ are coming. I almost don’t dare hope that this means I may repeatedly hear ‘Mummy’ or ‘Momma’ one day. I can’t quite let myself believe what I think has actually happened already: that he has said ‘Mom’ a few times in the last few days. I’ll wait and see. Things come and go in Boo Land. When I’m sure though, you’ll hear about it, don’t worry about that.

3) One amazing sister: Before we left for our last speech and language appointment, Sissyboo asked me if Boo’s therapist was pleased with all the sounds her little brother was making. I didn’t know how much of the truth to tell her. I opted (as I normally do) for the truth carefully packaged. I told her that Boo was a bit shy and hadn’t shown off as much as he did at home, so it was hard for his therapist to see what we knew to be true. That Boo was trying hard to speak. Sissyboo looked puzzled and then ran off to find a piece of paper and a pencil. And then she wrote down every sound she has heard Boo make repeatedly, asking me to correct spellings where necessary. She folded it up and asked me to take it to the next SALT appointment as proof of her brother’s achievements. With misty eyes, I did. And his therapist copied it for her files. I haven’t seen that latest SALT report yet, but our physio has, and she said it was so much more positive than all that have gone before. I am so proud of Sissyboo, the best big sister and advocate Boo could have.

4) Running: My training is still not as frequent as I’d like, but I have managed 6 runs in the last three weeks. Only 3 miles at a time, but it’s a start. I will do that half marathon. I will get fit again. And in the process, I might just get that bit of headspace I so badly need and miss so much.

5) Blogging: Things have been quieter than I’d like on the blogging front, but I have had some lovely blog-related things happen. For example, I wrote my first ever guest post for my blogging and life heroine Jenny over at Edpsire about musical play a couple of weeks ago. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here, and I’d love to know what you think. It gives you quite a good window into play Boo style!

Also on the blogging front, I was thrilled to be featured on Vevivos’s Newbie Showcase last week and want to thank all the lovely folks who visited the blog and started to follow me because of it.

And finally, I had a phone conversation with the simply fabulous Kylie of Not Even a Bag of Sugar. It was like talking to an old friend, even though she didn’t know my family’s real names! And I hope it’s the first of many conversations. The very best part of blogging is connecting with other people. And I am fortunate enough to have met (if only virtually) some amazing individuals over the past 10 months.

OK, now over to you. I hope you have some good news you’d like to share below in the comments box. I love to hear from you.

Da-dah!

It’s been a hectic week. Lots of appointments, lots of work, writing letters of complaint to our PCT, lots more appointments, lots more work, and writing another letter of complaint. In the midst of all this, catching my breath is sometimes a real act of will. These are the weeks when it’s hardest to see the word for the trees, to see the real progress that Boo is making.

But it is there. It is. Take his arm and hand function, for instance. I am fixated upon Boo sitting independently. I cannot wait (what am I saying, I’ve been waiting nearly a year) for him to do this. It will make such a difference: to his perception of the world, to his independence, to how others perceive him, and to my breaking back. But he’s still not quite there. He’s been getting closer for ages and it’s so frustrating in these (I hope) final stages. When I was expressing this frustration to his physio yesterday she helped me see things differently: ‘Well you know why he’s still not there yet, don’t you? It’s because his hand function has improved so dramatically. Sitting and moving his arms is tough for him. If he were sitting independently now, he’d likely be propping using the stiffness in his arms and unable to use his hands. Much better this way round.’ Indeed. Of course, she’s right.

But there is one glimmer of progress that even I can see this week. Actually, it’s been developing for a few weeks, but I’ve been too nervous to blog about it in case I’m wrong or jinx it somehow. This week I feel confident enough that I am not deluding myself.

I think Boo is starting to try to say things.

At his age (17 months actual, 14.5 corrected) Sissyboo was talking in sentences. (How many times have I wrote variations on that sentence since starting this blog?) I know she was ahead of the game, so I haven’t been too worried about Boo’s speech. His developmental consultant wasn’t either, but referred us to speech and language because his brain damage and seizures mean he is high risk for cognitive delay and problems and there is a good chance of minimising the effects of these with early intervention. (8 months on we are third on the ‘urgent’ SALT waiting list!) The Grumposaur has been much more worried about Boo’s speech than me. I figure if Boo can understand us, we are onto something good. And although sometimes I worry I’m deluding myself, Boo clearly knows his name, all of his family member’s names, the names of his keyworkers at nursery and evidently understands words including ‘milk’, ‘lunch’, ‘bath’, ‘no’ (although he clearly thinks it’s a negotiable term) and various others.

But what has slightly worried me is that Boo hasn’t gone through that ba-ba-ba-ba babbling stage babies do from 6 months onwards. He vocalises. A lot. And has lots of vowel sounds (oh, ooh, ah etc). And I never feel like I’m in much doubt as to what he wants. But no babbling.

Until the last few weeks that is. Now we have a range of consonant sounds too. He makes a sound which remotely resembles his sister’s name, and seems to say ‘hiya’ from time to time. We really weren’t sure whether we were hearing what we wanted to and making a mountain out of a mole-hill. And then he started with ‘da-da’. It sometimes comes out ‘a-da’ or ‘and-a’ but we think it’s ‘da-da’. He usually says it when his dad’s not there. And he will copy me (not a hundred per cent reliably but pretty reliably) when I make the sound to him. His voice, like his temperament, is soft, gentle yet excitable.

When he was lying there in that incubator last April and May and I thought about our future, I didn’t usually imagine him walking or crawling (the stuff of some of my most vivid and sometimes distressing dreams now). No: I imagined a toddler him snuggled up against me on the sofa, looking at pictures of him in the NICU and me talking to him about how amazing he was and how far he’d come. And then I imagined him talking back to me. Asking questions because he couldn’t remember any of it.

Like my son, I don’t want to speak too soon, but I have a little fluttery feeling in my stomach telling me that this dream might actually come true. And it is music to my ears.

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