"Do you want to go outside?" was answered with, "Do you want to go outside?"
"Are you hungry?" was answered with, "Are you hungry?"
While, "Let's pick up your room," brought silence.
Then a day at the park with a friend and her also-two-year-old daughter made me realize that something was up. While I watched them negotiate the wisdom of removing shoes and tights on a muddy day, I thought, "We are not exchanging information like that."
This was my youngest, the third, and I was no rookie to childhood development, but we had been communicating just fine. If I asked him a question and he would repeat it (oddly in the exact same intonation) if his answer was "yes." If he didn't care for my plan, he would not respond at all. We got through the day without a hitch.
"He's fine. He talks all the time," said my in-laws, and they were right. He could identify dozens of dinosaurs, could name, literally, hundreds of ocean creatures and knew by sight the drivers of every major Nascar car. His vocabulary was huge, but he wasn't telling me anything.
"Take him to the Children's Spot. And stay off the internet," came wise advice from a friend. The therapists there identified a speech delay with a soupcon of Sensory Integration Disorder. While I followed the first part of my friend's advice, I did eventually succumb to the lure of google. "Is he in the spectrum for Autism?" I finally asked. "Patricia, you need to stop trying to put a name on this. It doesn't change anything. You are getting him exactly what he needs."
And we were. When I asked the developmental specialist, who reassured me that our son was not in the spectrum for Autism but "certainly quirky," if the therapy "fixed" him, he said, "Yeah, that's funny. We don't know, but I think it is very unlikely he would be here without it."
His therapy was not covered by insurance and we paid out of pocket. Obviously, not all families are so fortunate. Every year the Children's Spot hosts Once Upon a Time, For Children and Their Grown Ups, to benefit the Family Assistance Program which provides support for those families who cannot afford their child's treatment. This year's event is March 6th from 3:00 - 6:00 and it is an absolutely amazing event for kids. New this year there will be a table decorating contest judged by HGTV Design Star Jennifer Bertrand, NBC's Amy Hawley and me. Tickets available here, and there is an early bird discount through tomorrow. I hope to see you there.
All images courtesy of the Children's Spot. And, for the record, I am not receiving any compensation for this post or my participation in the event.