Silent Steps

The B sound continues to be difficult for Sonya. She confuses B and D, saying “dye dye” rather than “bye bye.” In fact, she uses the D sound to say most words. Pointing to my shirt she looks up at me and asks, “da?”

“That’s a button.”

“duttah Sonya says.

According to our speech therapist, such confusion is common among children with hearing loss as both D and B are high frequency sounds, and can be difficult to discriminate initially.

While Da reigns supreme, Sonya definitely knows how to use the B sound. She said banana one time at lunch. She said buh buh for bubbles on numerous occasions. She refers to Yan’s mom as Baba, and turns toward our computer screen to look for her, as we typically FaceTime once a week with her.

While it is clear that Sonya’s understanding of words continues to grow, I have noticed that she seems quieter lately. At therapy this week, she made few sounds. She would point at the toys she wished to play with, rather than vocalize her want. She would grunt or whine when she didn’t get her way. It is discouraging to see this after several weeks of clear growth.

While she makes fewer sounds, she moves with greater ease and loves to dance!

In fact, Sonya’s physical development may be the underlying factor. Sonya is now actively cruising. It started a couple weeks ago during an in-home therapy session. We were sitting on the floor of the nursery as usual, when our speech therapist asked if Sonya had started walking around our apartment by holding on to furniture yet. While Sonya had pulled herself to stand weeks ago, she hesitated to move further. While every baby moves at their own speed, Sonya may also have been reading into my own fears about her moving around our apartment. I flinch every time she loses her balance. I grab her just before she falls (although she still manages to sport some bruises on her forehead from crawling too quickly on slick wooden floors). Our speech therapist showed us ways to help Sonya learn to cruise in a safe environment, between the couch and coffee tables in her nursery. Now Sonya crawls up to that area and pulls herself up, then steps from couch to table. Her face beams with pride.

As her brain focuses on perfecting this new milestone, it is not that surprising that her speech development will be placed on the back burner momentarily.

In the meantime, I will try to enjoy this moment of quiet focus.

Sonya Says DADA!

I believe this week was a turning point for Sonya. On Monday, Sonya watched our speech therapist with such focus as the therapist made the “la la la” sound, that even our therapist was surprised. Sonya moved her tongue back and forth, trying to understand how to emulate that sound. The “la la” game is one we play all the time these days. Sonya loves her little baby doll and will pretend it is her baby as she rocks it and sings to it. Our goal is for her to associate her baby with the sound “la la.”

On Thursday, however, Sonya was in no mood for speech therapy. It had been a long trek that morning down the CHC. Traffic on the West Side Highway was terrible. Sonya hates her car seat and complained the entire time. The only way I can soothe her these days is to put on Elmo’s World. She shouts with delight and shakes her fists wildly as soon as she realizes it is on. She even emulates Elmo’s laugh. I realize that I am the biggest hypocrite as I always judged parents who would stick videos in front of their kids to keep them quiet. But when you are stuck in an Uber for 50 minutes, and your baby is screaming her head off, Elmo’s World is a God send. I used to have a 5.0 rating with Uber. Almost unheard of. Sonya is quickly changing that.

Once we arrived to therapy, Sonya was very quiet. Her attention span was much shorter than usual, and for some reason, each time our speech therapist said the word “yes” Sonya would burst into tears. We couldn’t figure out why. But that night, while Sonya was fighting us putting her to sleep, she erupted with her first word “DADA!” She even pointed at Yan while she said it (although sometimes she points at her stuffed lion…) But it was the most amazing sound. I will never forget it. I caught it on camera the next day.

And while I was just slightly jealous she said “DADA” not “MAMA,” I can only blame myself. I recently bought the book “Your Baby’s First Word Will Be DADA” given the many farm animal sounds in it.

Over the weekend, Sonya has consistently produced the “DA” sound, the “GUH” sound and the “NAH” sound. We can tell she is listening better too. She always smiles when you whisper her name and will listen and follow directions even when Yan is playing piano quite loudly in the background.

Such incredible progress this week and so proud of my girl.