toddler

Not much of a talker

Diego is only two months away from his second birthday and he is not talking very much. He says mama, papa, dada, and no. He uses the sign for “more” and has even expanded his use of it to include asking for anything he simply wants. He will point and sign to me. He gets his point across. He can also shake his head no, and wag his finger no. It’s quite amusing. What is less amusing is knowing that by this age he is supposed to have a vocabulary of about fifty words. It is not uncommon for toddlers to develop outside the established norms and while these can cause unnecessary worry for some of us they also provide early intervention for others.

I am committed to raising a fully bilingual child. I want Diego to speak Spanish fluently, as a native speaker. I want him to read and write it as well. When he goes to school all instruction will be in English so he is more than well covered in that respect although I worry that he will be underestimated and discriminated against simply because Spanish will be the first language he learned. I will, of course, deal with that issue if it ever comes up but for now I am mostly interested in encouraging him to develop his speech. Like I said before, we speak to him in Spanish but he is exposed to English as well. I have read that this duality can cause children to take longer to talk but that by age five they are caught up and speaking two languages.

There are days when I worry and question myself about his lack of speech. By all accounts my husband was a late talker and since Diego is a carbon copy of his father in every other way, perhaps he also takes after him with regards to this as well. During his next visit to his pediatrician I am sure this will be addressed should nothing change between now and then. I am open to any intervention deemed necessary as long as it will include Spanish as the language of instruction. Living in South Florida I do not anticipate this being a problem.

I think it’s important for parents to leave pride aside when developmental delays are suspected or present. We do not help our children by denying them or ignoring them. There is no shame in requiring a little help and if parents show children that there is shame in it they are doing them a great disservice. Something that always bugs me about development in toddlers is that some parents want to make it about intelligence. If your child is a late talker he is not stupid, or less intelligent than a child who has a larger vocabulary. Intelligence manifests in different ways and to project our own insecurities onto our children is wrong.

I have been doing a lot of research on speech development and have found some great resources. I have also started looking into Spanish language curricula for pre-school and beyond. Children spend about 8 hours a day at school, that’s only one third of their day! Education starts at home. Parents need to be involved and stay involved in order to give children the tools they need to succeed. I can already tell it’s going to be challenging (and fun!) but I am committed to Diego’s education. If I want him to learn Spanish I will need to be a very active participant and facilitator.

Finding materials to aid me in my journey is not easy but when I find something I feel like I’ve struck oil. My list of bookmarks continues to grow as does my list of materials I want to check out. I am still a disorganized mess but once I get myself sorted out I will share my findings here in case any one out there is as lost as I have been.

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Our introduction to Roseola

It’s been an interesting last few days here and I am finally able to take some time to share our experience. Last Friday, Diego woke up with a fever. It wasn’t until after breakfast that I noticed that he felt a little warm. I took his temperature and it was at 101.5 F, I gave him some Advil even though he didn’t seem to be feeling ill. His fever came down but went back up after his nap. Because his next dose of medication wasn’t until six o’clock I stripped him down to his diaper at around four o’clock when I rechecked his temperature and it was back to 101.5 F. After dinner at around six o’clock I gave him another dose of Advil and took him upstairs for a bath. When I checked his temperature that time it had jumped to 103.8 F. That scared me and I told my husband we should take him to the Emergency Room.

We quickly got him dressed and ready to go. At this point just the mere thought of taking to the hospital sent me into a panic attack. It was possibly the worst one I’ve ever had in my life. Thankfully, there is a hospital right across the street from us and it took us all of five minutes to get there. My husband dropped me off at the entrance and I made my way inside. Because the emergency room is undergoing an expansion it was quite a walk to the temporary emergency room entrance. At least it felt like a long walk to me in my anxious, panicked state. There is something about hospital hallways that always makes them feel miles long.

After entering some basic information into their sign-in computer we waited about five minutes before being seen by a triage nurse. While I waited my husband managed to get into the actual emergency room and wondered why I wasn’t in the pediatric unit. It turns out he followed some firemen in through a door he should have never walked through. Once he made it to the waiting room we were called back almost immediately. Diego’s temperature had risen to 104.5 F. They took him to a bed right away where a doctor examined him. She told us that he was alert and looking good so she wanted to draw some blood, get a urine sample and take a chest x-ray.

The hardest part of our hospital visit was having to watch them insert a catheter. It’s the only way for them to obtain a urine sample since you can’t ask Diego to give you a sample of urine. He screamed so hard and got so upset that he has broken capillaries around his eyes.

The doctor told us that he suspected it could be Roseola, a type of herpes virus that commonly affects children between the ages of six months and two years of age. It is characterised by a sudden high fever followed by a rash once the fever breaks. He explained that the rash is what confirms that it’s Roseola. The bloodwork showed that Diego’s white blood cell count was a little low which made him suspect a viral infection. However, because the urine and blood culture results wouldn’t be ready for a while he started Diego on antibiotics and prescribed him Augmentin for ten days.

We left the hospital relieved, tired, and shaken up. We were there for about three and a half hours. Not bad in my opinion.

Diego’s fever did not rise to higher than 102 F following our visit to the emergency room. On Saturday he decided that the Advil we gave him was disgusting and threw up as soon as I gave it to him. It has been the only time he’s ever thrown up. Instead of trying to force him to drink it again I decided to give him a bath in order to bring his temperature down. While he hung out with my husband I went to the pharmacy to fill his prescription and to get some suppositories.

He was very cranky and irritable that afternoon which is out of character for him. He cried off and on for about an hour. Nothing consoled him. Finally, we put him in his stroller and took him on a walk around our neighborhood. He really liked that and perked up considerably. His fever broke on Sunday and shortly afterwards the rash started to appear.

Today, I took him to see his pediatrician for a follow-up appointment. He confirmed that it is Roseola and took him off the antibiotics. Something I was grateful for since the Augmentin gave Diego pretty bad diarrhea. He was in disagreement with the emergency room physician that prescribed it since there was no indication of a bacterial infection.

What this experience has taught me:

This is the first time that Diego has actually gotten considerably ill. He’s had the sniffle a time or two but nothing like this. As a first time parent I have to say it was pretty scary. In my mind a fever is a horrible thing but I’ve learned that it’s really just the body’s natural response to infection. My fear of febrile seizures was incorrectly focused on how high the fever was rather than the speed at which it rises. That is what causes febrile seizures- the rapid increase in temperature. If Diego was going to have them he would have before I ever took his temperature.

Even though his illness is fairly benign I do not regret the decision to take him to the hospital. In a situation like that I believe in going with your gut. I didn’t even think to call his doctor. I just knew I needed to get him medical attention as soon as possible. Would I react the same in the future? Probably not. Unless Diego is listless and run down I don’t think I would feel the same way about a high temperature like that.

Parenthood is one of those things that you learn by doing, experience is your teacher. No matter how much you read and educate yourself on anything you will freak out when it actually happens. Once you learn how your child reacts to different things you will be able to better decide when to grow concerned. Even so, seeing your child ill is not easy and I don’t think it gets any easier.

For more information on Roseola please visit the MayoClinic.

Please note that nothing that I have expressed here is to be constituted as medical advice. This is just a recount of my experience. Please contact your doctor with any questions and concerns. The internet is a wonderful resource but can also be a mine of misinformation. Please do not use it as a self-diagnosis tool. 

Singing along to some cartoons.

Singing along to some cartoons.

Dad is a perfect lounger while receiving IV meds.

Dad is a perfect lounger while receiving IV meds.

Ready to go home.

Ready to go home.

Roseola rash.

Roseola rash.

Our 18 month wellness check-up

Our visit with the pediatrician today did not include any vaccinations, which was a nice break for both of us. While we waited for the doctor to see us I was given the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) as well as a screening questionnaire for tuberculosis, lead poisoning and domestic violence. I did not know that a domestic violence screen is routine at pediatrician visits but I think it is a wonderful thing. It provides women (and men) an opportunity to ask for help. I am positive this has helped women who were in an abusive relationship since their abuser is likely not expecting them to be given this opportunity at their child’s appointment. The benefits to children and women alike are the reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that this screening be done. In my mind even if just one out of every few hundred women are helped as a result, it is well worth it.

The ASQ focuses on the following areas: communication, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem solving, and personal-social. Each area is evaluated based on six questions for which you must answer, yes, sometimes, or not yet. The purpose of the ASQ is to screen for developmental delays. The Ages and Stages website states, “Because developmental and social-emotional delays can be subtle and can occur in children who appear to be developing typically, most children who would benefit from early intervention are not identified until after they start school. Even pediatricians, the child health specialists, fail to detect delays more than 70% of the time when they rely on clinical judgment alone.”  This alone is plenty of reason to screen. The earlier any potential delays are identified, the sooner that child can receive treatment. For more information about this screening you can visit their website by clicking here.

Here are Diego’s stats at 18 months:

Weight: 26 lbs

Height: 30 3/4 inches

Head circumference: 19.5 inches

Our next appointment is after his second birthday.

In the waiting room at the pediatrician's.

In the waiting room at the pediatrician’s.