When it comes to being a mom it is beyond hard not to worry about every little thing when it comes to your child and the various milestones they are meant to hit. Is my child eating enough? Did my child roll over or walk when he was supposed to? Is he talking enough? And yes, I know every child develops differently. Some children do things earlier than normal and others do them later. However, when my son turned two and still was not saying some basic words or stringing two words together, all I could think about was a) Why isn’t he talking like other kids his age and b) What did I do wrong?
I saw my son’s speech delay as a failure on my part and it made me feel like I wasn’t a good mom. I was talking to him non-stop during the day, interacting with him by reading books, playing games and just talking my way through my everyday activities. I was talking to him constantly in one way or another, so why wasn’t he catching on? Let me be extremely clear, I was in no way disappointed with my son, I did and still do think he is perfect; I was disappointed in myself. I felt like I was letting him down. What was I doing wrong?
Every time we went for a well-check at the pediatrician’s office his doctor told us that he was just a late talker and to give him time, though he never specified how much time. How long do we wait until it’s too late? Would people attach a stigma to our son because he was in ‘therapy’? Honestly, my thoughts were all over the board, but it was clear that as my son got older he was growing more frustrated by not being able to communicate his wants and needs verbally to me and my husband. This resulted in him starting to act out (i.e. hitting and throwing) and becoming more easily upset. After his second birthday, my husband and I discussed it and we agreed we would put our son into speech therapy and let me tell you, I am so glad we did.
At his initial evaluation with his speech pathologist, Ms. A, she determined that his gross and fine motor skills were beyond excellent. This is something that has been clear to my husband and I (and almost everyone that has met him) since he was a baby. He has always amazed us with his inquisitive mind and intelligent way of figuring things out. What she did find was that he had a slight speech delay.
Most people do not know that there are two different parts to language: receptive and expressive.
My sons’ receptive language is fine; he understands commands clearly and is able to do anything anyone asks of him, when he wants, of course! (i.e. find the correct color, match two like things together, bring something to me when prompted, etc.). However, his expressive language is delayed, which is exactly what I expected to hear at his initial eval. It was only a slight delay since he was saying about 15 words, able to point to specific things, would babble and try to mimic our sounds and knew sign language to communicate visually instead of verbally. Ms. A said she would work with him weekly and had high hopes for him progressing quickly.
After my sons seconds session with Ms. A, it became clear that his trouble was coming from the second syllable in words, particularly if it contained an M, P, E, N, or T sound/ending. So words like ‘up’ (despite being able to clearly say ‘papa’), ‘out’, ‘open’, ‘in’, ‘eat’, etc. were all ones he couldn’t say either at all or fully. Each session focuses on repeating words he has grown to be able to say clearly and working on words he still needs helps with as well as introducing new ones.
He just started his sixth week and he is blowing Ms. A and me away with his progress. He surprised her this week by saying ‘bus’ completely with the ‘s’ sound on the end, which is typically difficult for most kids. She said ‘s’ is a letter and sound that usually takes longer to master. His vocabulary has blown-up, he even said “mama help” and “mama soap” to me yesterday which is his first time putting two different words together without pause. My heart melted. He is also repeating almost every word that comes out of mine and my husband’s mouth. Which also means our swear jar is going into full effect!
We’ve seen such a huge improvement that he is going to start attending twice a week, which will help him progress that much faster. Walker was so excited to hear this because he absolutely loves Ms. A. Anytime I tell him that he gets to see Ms. A he jumps up and down saying “YAY” and starts telling me he wants to “go, go, go!”
As a mom, I could not be more thankful for listening to my mom intuition and getting my son into speech therapy. It took me a while to realize that his speech delay was not a result of any shortfall on my end, he just needed a little extra help that I didn’t know how to give him. The incredible progress he has made in under two months lets me know that my husband and I made the right decision to enlist the help from a specialist, despite the pediatrician telling us to wait.
So, if you think your child needs extra help somewhere, listen to your heart and do what you think is best.
Be your child’s advocate! I cannot stress this enough. No one, not even your child’s pediatrician, knows your child better than you do. They might have the fancy degrees and scientific knowledge, but they are not with your child on a daily basis. You are their voice to speak up for them when they need to be spoken for. I knew deep inside that my son needed help and despite my pediatrician telling me to wait, I asked him for a referral. He agreed and was supportive in my decision. So even if everyone else is telling you different, you know your child. Make the decision that you know is best. Even though I am much more equipped now with the proper tools (and flash cards from Ms. A!) to help him work on his words and sounds at home after sitting in his speech sessinos with him, I know we will keep our son in speech for as long as needed, whether that be months or years because there honestly isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for our son as long as it is helping him.