For A Given Value Of ‘Speech’

I wish I had a fiver – a quid, even – for every time I’ve been happily told by a fellow Speech Worrier that once kids start talking ‘you can’t shut them up.’ I am difficult to reassure on this particular topic, but, as it happens, my informants have been – broadly – correct.

True: I can’t shut Harry up; there is a stream of conversation and song bubbling constantly in my ears. It is equal parts delightful, wearying and insanely frustrating, because – you guessed it – it’s unintelligible. Lest you think me unreasonable and ungrateful: you try hearing – and praising! – a staccato twenty-minute rendition of (what we assume) is a particularly favoured song, sung entirely on 3 (bum) notes with 2 lonely syllables. I am pretty sure I suffered some degree of cortical atrophy in May.

This is not to say that progress is not being made. ‘Baaarrrrrrr!’ (‘Bye’) ‘Uh’ (‘No’) and ‘Airrrrrroww!’ (‘Hello’ – often delivered à la Stewie

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are entirely distinguishable by his familiars in context. ‘Dere’ (‘Voila!’) and ‘Dere-tis’ (I can see it!) feature frequently. Harry’s long standing preference for ‘eess’ as a default syllable means that we can manipulate his output a little further: he can achieve an ‘Ieessss!’ when asked to say ‘Geese’ and ‘Ooouss!’ when asked what he wants to drink. ‘Ooouss’ he has to work especially hard for, cerebrally – his eyes virtually cross and his mouth works frantically for a second or so before the word bursts forth, Tourette’s-fashion.

10 days before we see his new Paed. 10 long days. I have much to discuss. Strangely, I have a paucity of expectation regarding the nature of Harry’s EEG results. All I can say with confidence at this stage is that neither a clear or abnormal result would surprise me.

His mobility is improving, slowly but discernably; we had a trip to the big park this week entirely devoid of maternal trauma and toddler bruising. His understanding seems good; certainly the phrase ‘devious little bugger’ gets thrown around a lot. His latest tantrum technique is lamentably cliched: throwing himself petulantly face-down on the floor with an outraged wail of woe, which would be side-splittingly comical if it wasn’t so tediously frequent and attached to an emotional hair-trigger. His Makaton is improving, but lesser-used signs are awfully, awfully vague.

‘Sign it again, please, Harry. Ummm… Car? No, not car. Truck? Bus? Lorry? No? No. God. Umm. I don’t know, I’m sorry, sweetie. Do it again for Mummy? Right-ho… errr… Train? No. God. Let me see… you’re moving both your hands up and down… little noise… Poorly? Naughty? No? No… Oh, I’m sorry, sweetheart, I just don’t get it at all. Try it again? Poor lad. Oh! Hands near your mouth? Harry, do you mean food? Yes? Apple? Nice shiny apple ? You DO? Yes! Fantastic! Good signing! Apple! Yes!

And no, darling, you can’t have an apple.’

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Today is, incidentally, your last opportunity to propel me towards everlasting glory in the Butlins-sponsored MAD awards. Do click here http://the-mads.com/best-mad-blog-writer.htm to wield your all-powerful voting finger for me if you wish!

(I must tell you about John’s trip, complete with local cohort of AGM-ing Young Farmers, to Butlins Minehead in 1992. I will tell you after the September awards ceremony, though, as they may still remember the staggering repair bill and refuse to let me come, finalist or no, and I do so want to wear a pretty frock.)

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