One of my kindergarteners, soon to be a first grader, is unbearably cute. Not cute in the way that you have to pronounce all kids to be when their parent shoves a picture of them under your nose while you're just trying to heat up your Lean goddamn Cuisine. I'm talking the kind of cute where you know people must just stop and gape at him in supermarkets. The kind of cute where, in fifteen years, he will simply look at girls and their pants will fly off.
A couple years ago, he could only speak in vowels. You can imagine what your speech is like without consonants. You sound like you're doing a one man version of the Survivor theme song (ahem, not the clinical term for it). Now he's just about to turn six (six! remember that) and while he still has some speech errors, he's very intelligible, which is huge for him. He's had to work so hard to get to where he is, and I'm just glad it never seemed to affect his confidence.
Still, there's a part of me that could never figure out why the hell it was so hard for him to develop speech normally. I asked his parents, teachers and pediatrician every question under the sun, but everything pointed to a normal developmental history with his speech being the one huge exception.
I met with his parents this morning. First meeting of the day, there with my whole team, but it's mostly my show since he doesn't receive any other therapies. I run through the whole thing: making good progress, here are some things to work on over the summer, any questions?
Mom has one. "You know how you asked us all those questions about the things Kid could be doing at home that could've been hurting his speech?"
I can already tell that this isn't going anywhere good.
"Well, he's been using a binky when he sleeps for years. Could that be a factor?"
We all try very hard to always to be professional with the kids' parents, meaning that we only mock them when we're safely tucked into a corner at happy hour. But I couldn't help my reaction. I put my head in my hands and said, "Oh, no. No, no, no. You're kidding me. Please tell me you're kidding." Our school psychologist later commended me for not turning the table over.
How did I never think to ask if he was still using a goddamn pacifier? How did she not think to tell me after I assaulted her with questions about everything he could be doing with or putting in his mouth throughout the course of his entire day?
Then I read Darren's latest blog entry about seeing a four-year-old with a pacifier and I thought, yeah, it's about time for a public service announcement for parents of young children. Take away the mouth plug. It can profoundly hinder their speech development (and their ability to learn sounds, letters, interact successfully with their peers, need I go on?). Make use of the pacifier fairy, a daily star chart, or a popsicle, whatever works. Just get rid of it.
It's fine for infants, but the old saying holds true: If they can ask for it, THEY'RE TOO OLD FOR IT.
We now return to our regularly scheduled snarkfest.