On the advice of his pediatrician, the SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) at our developmental playgroup and friends and family who have been through it, we had Harry evaluated for Early Intervention, due to his lack of speech. At 18 months, he only had two words (still the same at nearly 20 months now). He has many sounds that mean things to him and a TON of signs, both real and made up, but no real spoken language.
In every developmental area in the evaluation, gross and fine motor, social and emotional interaction, perceptual, cognition and self care he scored above his age level. Then, there was communication. He scored 18 months for receptive language, which is age appropriate, but 11 months for expressive language, which is a significant delay. They loved all of his signs, but those did not count towards his evaluation, which in a way is good. If they had, he would not have qualified for help.
He qualifies for 6 months of speech therapy, which is all play based and happens here at home. He can also attend a weekly group with other children his age. They want us to continue using his signs with him and introduce more so that he has a means of expression until the verbal ability kicks in. And it will kick in, they assure us. At the end of 6 months, we will reevaluate and see where we stand.
In addition to working with the SLP, we are going to work with the Social Worker to try to give Harry (and us!) some tools to aid in getting him on a routine. Since he was born, this has been a HUGE struggle. He is very high energy and very "spirited" and we have a lot of difficulty getting him to unwind and sleep, especially since he weaned. His communication problems do not make it any easier. From what I understand, this is a common problem with children who have speech delays. Given the tools and some language progress, we hope it might become easier for us to work with him towards some sort of bedtime (!) routine.
We're looking forward to getting started. I have to work through feeling like I've failed him as a parent, even though I know that is irrational, since lots of kids go through this. I'll get over it. I know this is a step in the right direction and I know he will be fine. I really can't wait for him to be able to tell me what is on his mind, beyond animal sounds and made up words. I know someday, I'll be saying, "Harry, can you stop talking for a minute? Mommy needs quiet." As the SLP at playgroup said, "I can make them talk, but I can't make them stop talking." Though, right now, that sounds like a very appealing problem.