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Speech Delay 101: I Want You To Talk

by Kay

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My son was about 2+ when we realised that his speech was not age appropriate. But we took it very light since I myself was a speech delayed child, therefore we expected him to pick up the speech taking his own time and space just like I did.

When he was about 2 years old, he would say the names of the people he knew, his favourite food, fruits, veggies and the colours. But we noticed that his speech came to a halt when we moved to England when he was about 2+. His speech declined and we noted that he did not have much to talk about. He was a happy child – was active and excited to go out, watch his favourite cartoon shows and loved sweets and especially chocolates just as any other child his age. Since I was a stay at home mum, I was always around him and he always had my attention. But he did not have much to talk with us.

My son started nursery soon after he turned 3. That was the time we started noticing notably that his speech is not age appropriate. But his teachers at the nursery did not make an issue of it and were getting on with group activities with him. I have noticed that the teacher in his group always keeps him involved in the activities giving him special attention. At the nursery he was a gentle and a friendly child. His group teacher adored him. We never came across any behaviour or obedience issues with him at the nursery.

But, still there was no improvement in his speech. He was communicating with single words. Us being worried again, we made an appointment with the pediatrician to discuss about his speech. After a good 45 minute observation with my son, the pediatrician ‘s view was that he has a speech delay and to start with speech therapy. We were wait-listed for a speech therapist and it took few more months before we could start with speech therapy. By the time we started speech therapy for him in the UK he was about 3+. Few months after starting speech therapy, we moved back to Colombo.

The most interesting or rather the devastating period started when we returned home. He was few months away from his 4th birthday and we were bombarded with questions by friends and family regarding his speech. Our first priority was to find a speech therapist. The advise we got was to go and see few pediatric psychiatrists. So we listened to the voices, and that itself was the biggest mistake.

These senior doctors knew only to label the child instead of helping him or giving us guidance in helping him. What’s even worse was one doctor’s advice to me to not have any more children. Also she wanted to point out that this is a lifelong condition that I have to live with. Her words still echoes in my head and I still remember how tears started rolling down my face. I had many sleepless nights. I was angry with myself for not being able to help my son. I was angry with the doctors that they couldn’t help him or they were incapable of helping him. I made up my mind, thinking I am going to help him no matter what.

I should also say, that my son is a hyperactive child. It was not noted when we were in the UK. I found it very difficult to handle him back at home. I felt that all of a sudden his behaviour had changed. He was moody and fussy. He was not happy half the time, which was completely opposite to his behaviour while we were in England. I don’t have a clear answer as to why this was the case. May be our mood and actions were affecting him and may be everything became too complicated and too much for him as well.

In the mean time, I came across a speech therapist who was supposed to be good. So I approached. As I expected she observed him, interacted with him and gave us a detailed analysis which I was happy to hear. She gave me a plan and he was handed to a junior therapist who was working for her at that time.

It was a sheer challenge for us. But with all the disappointments we started seeing a ray of hope. He was given intense therapy sessions three days a week. Priority was given to improve his vocabulary.

Mentioned below is his therapy plan.

1. Basic language stimulation.

2. Making animal sounds and vocalizing.

3. Basic pretend and play, like tea parties, birthday parties, fruit and veggie markets, etc.

4. Turn taking.

5. Group play.

6. Developing eye contact.

7. Sorting materials according to colours, shapes and size.

8. Group sessions for tolerance, patience. And social skills.

At home I practiced every activity he did with the therapist. Other than that, I organised play dates, and encouraged him to play outdoors.

By doing all these, we started seeing a slow but steady improvement in him. His cognitive skills improved, his attention improved, and of course the speech. In the mean time I too realized that I too could help him and felt better and learnt many ways to help him.

We continued the plan for one year to see a proper improvement. He was slow but progressing.

I must say, that with all the help we have given him, he improved with time. All what they need is quality time to develop. No two people are the same. Some children develop soon while some are late. So as parents we have to have patience.

I am glad that I could share my experience to help other moms who may be facing similar problems. So tune in for more articles to read how me and my son struggled our way out from no speech to some speech.

Image Courtesy of Getty Images

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