Monday, June 04, 2001

Squeaky pipes

I've worried about my son's speech a lot over the six-plus years since we adopted him.

First, I worried because he didn't have any. He was speechless when he came home at age almost-two, and he stayed speechless for about a year after that. Would he ever talk?

Well, yes. Of course, he did eventually start. But his vocabulary was still delayed. And then, as it grew, as he began to tell stories and make requests and interrogate people about their cars and keys, it became apparent that his articulation was lousy. I've always been able to understand him just fine, but those who don't know him don't know what he's talking about.

I've worried that he says "mines" instead of mine, and that he has no language to express his inner emotions, and that he picks up unsavory comments made by his parents in the heat of traffic and repeats them in the worst possible situations. I've worried that he doesn't talk enough, and I've worried that he'll never shut up.

And now, after a meeting with his school speech therapist, I have something new to worry about: When he talks, he talks too high.

Not high volume, mind you, although that is certainly the case on many, many, many occasions. No, her concern is his squeaky, high-pitched tone, which she fears may harm his vocal cords. She's urging him to talk in a normal register, not bass necessarily but not first soprano either.

It's a little amusing because, back when he didn't talk at all, any noises he made were low and gutteral, and I was sure he would be a tiny peanut-boy with a deep, deep voice. Instead, he's a tiny peanut-boy with a tiny peanut-voice. It probably does not help that he's usually needling someone with questions, and his voice naturally rises with inquisitiveness.

I sure don't want him to hurt his vocal cords, but boy, I can't see following around telling him not to talk so high. It's a cute little high voice, and there are so very many more important things I should be following him around telling him not to do. Maybe I'll just worry about it instead.

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