Let’s Get Talking – Speech Delays

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?

2 thoughts on “Let’s Get Talking – Speech Delays

  • We are going through the same thing with my 27 month old little man. He was always a very quiet baby and not really interested in babbling and so from about 12 months I suspected something was wrong, but it was very hard to convince anyone else, even my husband that something wasnt quite right. It wasnt until hubby’s cousin and her three children, with her youngest only 6 weeks older than our little man, that hubby realised there was a very big difference between their little girls two word sentences, and our little man’s no words and very few sounds. So he came along to back me up at the 18 month health nurse appointment when I asked for a referral to a speechie and for a hearing test. The MCHN wasnt that concerned about his lack of speech but did give us the referral. Both the speechie and audiometrist wanted us to get a referral to an ENT but our GP wasnt convinced that he needed to see an ENT yet, eventually, after yet another bout of chest and ear infections (my son was chronically sick and had a very low immune system so that even when he caught a cold, it would develop into something nastier, about every 3 weeks), we got the referral to the ENT. She asked us about all of our concerns, such as his lack of speech, his constant illnesses, particularly tonsilitis and ear infections, his extremely poor sleep patterns, and not being able to settle to sleep unless he was sleeping with us. She then took one look in his mouth and said he had the biggest, nastiest looking tonsils she had ever seen in a child so young. I came out of the appointment feeling so justified, and that I wasnt an overbearing, paranoid mother, there actually was a medical reason for all of his issues. So a month before his 2nd birthday, he had his tonsils and adenoids removed and his ear tubes drained, but no grommets were needed. Since then, almost 4 months ago, he has only been sick with a cold twice, has put on 3 kilos, and grown over 5cms and has since begun sleeping through the night YAY! He has made progress in his speech, in that he is now making more noises, and there is more variety in the tone and pitch of his noises, but he still only has about 5 words. But he is progressing, which I am so overjoyed about and I am hoping that one day soon, it will all just click for him and then I will be complainging that he doesnt stop talking

    • You poor thing Belinda. Sounds like you have had a really rough time. And your little man too! So glad you are finally on the way to some answers and that you eventually got support.

      I was lucky in that my husband backed me up and the GP did not hesitate to refer us to the ENT as soon as I said that he had barely any words. I felt it was important for us to cancel those issues out as being a possibility first.

      It’s amazing to see the change your little man has made now! And like you say, ANY progress is something to be celebrated. Keep me posted, I would love to know how he goes xoxo

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