After some wonderful advice from friends and family, I called the doctor today to have him evaluate Jackson's speech. I needed to do it just for peace of mind!
The appointment went well. The doctor asked me a lot of questions about what Jackson is doing and isn't doing. There were several things on the 17 month developmental checklist that he isn't doing. Some of them were pointing to things that he wanted, pointing to body parts, saying 8-10 words, and dancing in response to music. After hearing my concerns and interacting with Jackson a bit, the doctor said he did believe it would be best to refer us to a speech therapist with the Tennessee Early Intervention System.
He was very intent on saying that this did not mean that there was a developmental delay. The speech therapist will come out to our house in the next 2-3 weeks and be able to diagnose Jackson better. The doctor said that there is about a 50/50 chance at this point. Half of the kids he recommends to TEIS have some type of developmental delay and half of them don't.
The good news is that it was clear that Jackson has no delay in his comprehension and understanding of what we are saying. And, he seems a little advanced in his mobility. He even went to look outside the window when I asked him to in front of the doctor. He also babbled a lot in front of him which is another great sign. That proved that he knows what he should be doing, he just isn't putting words together for some reason. Basically, Jackson isn't having a problem with understanding, it's just with his expressive speech -- and that is easily fixable the earlier it is caught. And, by us being over-cautious we will catch it extremely early.
The doctor also assured me that we are doing the right thing by erring on the side of caution. Speech is the one delay that directly correlates with school performance. The sooner we catch it and fix it, the better. I was relieved to hear that because I've felt like I may be overreacting -- but I am doing EXACTLY what any good mother should do! Not only that, but there is nothing I could have done differently to aid in his speech development. If there is a delay - there is no amount of coaxing and teaching that I could do that would get him to talk. And, just because he watches a little more TV than necessary, that would in no way cause the problem.
Long story, short -- TEIS will call us in about a week and come out in about 2-3 weeks to evaluate Jackson. In the mean time, we are to keep doing what we've been doing and hopefully the light-bulb will switch on and he'll start talking up a storm. If there is a delay, that's ok because we will be able to get the help that he needs and fix the delay before it becomes a problem!
Thanks everyone for your prayers and words of affirmation! Keep them coming and I will keep you all updated as well!