Elisabeth went with my husband to the Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist today, and had another hearing test. But unfortunately, we still don't have any easy answers on why she's not talking yet (at 2.5 years). A delay in many areas is to be expected, since the girls were extremely premature (born at 28 weeks gestation) and Elisabeth had heart surgery at five months and was tube-fed until eight months, but she's just not making much progress towards actual speech.
She may have had some hearing damage due to an overdose of a drug after her heart surgery two years ago, but we can't get a definite result on that until we have a hearing test done on her under full sedation in the hospital. She clearly has some hearing, but we don't know how much or if she hears all frequencies. Her throat looked normal to the doc from an initial inspection. Her ear canals may be a little on the small side, and tend to accumulate a lot of wax, but were clear today. We don't know if she's able to use her velum properly to close off her nose from her throat. She also may not have proper muscle development in her mouth and tongue because of being tube-fed so long.
So - just as I had thought, we've got a long round of doctor's appointments and hospital visits before we have an exact diagnosis. Unfortunately, if there's a hearing loss, we probably also will have to file a lawsuit against the hospital which gave her the overdose. It's going to be a long road ahead.
I'm just glad we began signing with her in infancy, or she would have no way to communicate at all besides whining and crying. Maybe it's time I started learning real ASL?