Wednesday, August 7, 2013
We found some old home videos tucked away in a folder we had lost track of. Ava was about 4-5 months old when the videos were taken. What struck me as I watched was how smiley she was. I remember very few smiles, and yet while watching these videos, she responded with a huge toothless grin every time I smiled at her. Her eyes would light up and there was this huge smile. And yet she was wrapped in a huge bubble of silence.
I listen to babies coo and babble all the time. I play with those sounds in waiting rooms, babbling back and forth with any infant who will play the game with me. Ava was silent. It's a little creepy - all the talking around her and this completely silent little baby. She didn't seem unhappy, she was just silent. She was silent in the bouncer, on the playmat, and in the arms of loved ones. We have some videos of me trying to make her laugh - tossing her gently in the air or creeping tickle fingers up her leg towards her neck. The vast majority of the time I was unsuccessful. The once or twice she managed to giggle, it looked and sounded effortful. And yet, somehow, even as a speech pathologist I managed to miss how exactly abnormal it all was. I was a sleep-deprived mother of a 4 and 19 month old. My professional experience was with preschoolers and school-aged children. At the time, I wasn't getting out much and didn't realize how much noise babies should be making.
There was a video where... well, I have no idea exactly what I was trying to capture in the video, but Ava was laying on her back on the floor. She couldn't roll over yet and looked a lot like a turtle stuck on her back. She was obviously frustrated. She was lifting her head and shoulders and waving her arms and staring straight at me. And there were no sounds. None at all. No grunting, no fussing, no crying even. Just silence in the presence of frustration and physical effort. And why exactly did it take me 18 more months to start assessment?
Has anyone had similar experiences with their apraxic children? If you go back and watch videos when they were babies are they silent? I know that "abnormal history of babbling" is a red flag for apraxia, but this complete silence... Anyone?