I won’t lie. I deliberately chose not to write about this on my Blog for quite a while now. There are a number of reasons I didn’t want to write about it.
One of them, is that I can already hear the voices of people who think ‘I’m making too much of it’, especially those who know Tom personally. Then there’s the point of exposing details of my child’s development on the internet.
But I’m here, writing about it. I’m writing about it because even the slight MENTION of it on School of Mum’s Facebook page has seen me having conversations with mums, either via private message or on my wall, who are going through the same thing. I’ve even had mums say that it was comforting to know that there are other people out there in a similar situation.
It is important to know that you aren’t the only one worrying about why your child isn’t talking yet. It’s also important to know, that on some occasions, comparing, or at least NOTICING, that your child isn’t doing quite what other kids are doing, is ok. It’s even helpful, as long as it doesn’t become obsessive of course.
Tom was always so noisy. In general. I thought he would be an absolute motor mouth. I read to him in the womb and from the time he entered the world. I read to him during breastfeeds and other times during the day. I got face to face with him on the floor and talked and played. When I was cooking or doing jobs, I sat him in his swing or rocker and told him what I was doing. I did all those things. His love of books remains strong and he is still as alert as they come – never missing a beat.
So it came as a surprise when the words just didn’t come. With a family history of tongue tie and Tom always being such a terrible sleeper, snorer and being prone to ear infections, the alarm bells were ringing. I tried to ignore it. Because I felt like people were judging me. Oh, typical primary school teacher, worrying about every little learning development.
The advice (and mismatch of it) came flooding in:
“Boys often develop later, don’t worry”
” He’s not even 2 yet. He has plenty of time”
“Some kids don’t talk until they are 3!”
“If he understands instructions, he is fine”
“Maybe he needs to be around other children more”
That last one stung. It still does. I made the decision a while ago not to put Tom into daycare – and it niggled and niggled at me. With the pressure now to ‘socialise’ children in the form of daycare, I started to think maybe this was all my fault. Even with regular sessions at Mother Goose and now Playgroup, I still noticed there wasn’t much happening though in the way of speech.
I did take a ‘teacherly’ approach to the whole matter in the end. The approach that if something doesn’t feel quite right, you go with your gut. You get it checked out. If you are wrong, well at least you know how to better tackle the situation at hand. Nobody knows your child like you do, just like no other teacher knows a student like the classroom teacher does.
In short, Tom was seen by the Maternal Health Nurse, speech therapist and ear, nose and throat specialist. We ruled out any hearing problems, adenoids or enlarged tonsils. The speech therapist picked up on a stutter, which we had noticed, but said he was too young to address it as many children outgrow them. She gave us tools and tactics to use at home like giving him ‘wait’ time, encouraging him to attempt a word before we hand him an object and giving him choices.
We were doing all this, but bringing it to the forefront made us much more aware of the strategies used.
Did it help? I think so. But I think he just needed to have that magic ‘click’ moment. Like most children do when it comes to certain learning milestones. I really do believe that moment is magic and beautiful to witness. Once Tom hit 2 something changed. His babble changed, different sounds spewed forth out of his mouth and we kept having that “What did you just say?” moment. He started putting words together. “Seeya” was now “Seeya Dad”
This week we have been doing Christmas activities and he is seeing stars everywhere. This morning I was leaning over him changing his nappy and he pointed at a little star on my pjs and said “STAR STAR!!!”
That is a huge leap for us. Before he turned 2 he was saying around 5-8 words, and that’s at a stretch. At his 2 year old check, we worked out he is saying about 18 words. It is still below the average for his age. But there is progress and with that is success and encouragement. It is only up from here.
I don’t regret fussing or worrying. I don’t care if people are saying “See! I told you he will be fine!” Because I know if something was wrong that could have been fixed, and I did nothing, then that would beat me up FAR more than anything anyone could say to me.
Speech delay is a tricky thing. It is hard to tell if a child just needs time, or if there is something else wrong. Sometimes you just have to shut out the outsiders and follow what you know to be the best thing to do.
Have you found yourself in a similar situation?