This blog comes from one of my newest coaches on my team. A funny and from the heart account of the experience of parenting a child with speech delay.
At H’s 2 year check the health visitor suggested we have a referral to a speech therapist. "H" didn’t join words together or pronounce them with much clarity, he was diagnosed as having a moderate speech delay. So, that’s what we did............we saw a speech therapist every couple of weeks with homework tasks to support us-getting him to chew chewy foods to develop his jaw muscles, blowing bubbles to strengthen his lip shapes, drinking through a straw, playing a harmonica, singing different songs, making noises when playing with different toys-choo choo, brmm brmmm and the like. I attended a parenting course on the subject too and read everything I could, I needed to help him because quite frankly raising a boy with speech delay was really hard.
Let me explain why. If we went to a soft play centre, playground, paddling pool, anywhere really, I would stick to him like glue as his social interactions were physical rather than verbal, a shove or a rugby tackle was the only way he could make a connection with another kid but would invariably result in upset so any outings meant that he was closely guarded.
Being able to play games also left him frustrated, there were no counting or number activities therefore his concentration lasted just enough time for me to take the game out of the box!!!!
He could humm a little but I remember it took a really long time before Happy Birthday made sense (for some reason this was a really important milestone to me), I became attuned to what he said but most people would look at me blankly waiting for a translation.
I blamed myself of course- “He shouldn’t have had a dummy, I shouldn’t have pureed so much of his food, why didn’t I buy that damn harmonica at an earlier age!?”
Anyway-I was not going to make these same mummy "no no’s" with son number 2, oh no! He did not get a dummy or a bottle, he didn’t have a single food pureed and ahem, he’s got the same speech delay-so at least I have a few tools up my sleeve this time round and can cut myself a little slack.
I remember reading a friends facebook post saying “I can hear my little one singing his ABC’s to bed, so cute love him to the moon and back,” Blah blah blah, SHUT UP, just Shut up!
I want to understand my child,
I want to have a conversation,
I want him to have friends,
I want to hear him singing his bloody ABC’s!!!
Will it get better? Please someone tell me it will get better?
And the advice did come, “oh he will get it in the end-you don’t find a 5 year old who cant talk”, or “my neighbour didn’t say a word until they were 6, now you can't shut him up”, or “Einstein didn’t speak ‘til he was 4”
Well meant of course but actually I wanted all the tantrums and the anger to STOP. So we persevered, and time went by and do you know what, their advice was right, he did get there in the end.
He’s 5 now and yes he doesn’t shut up, he makes us laugh and he shares his thoughts, well as much as a boy wants to. But amazingly the only thing it didn’t affect was his confidence, you would think he would feel discouraged when trying to explain himself but no, he has no problem with sticking his hand up to answer a question at one of his friends birthday parties, everyone turns to see what he will say and I catch my breath, thinking “please make sense, please make sense” and then….relief-it does make sense.
Plus he loves to make people laugh through his actions and his funny dances and I wonder if this is his own unique form of communication which has developed as a result of the ‘delay’ well if that’s the case a wonderful, entertaining side of his personality has been the by-product.
There are the odd times that will require repetition as "H" doesn’t yet pronounce the ‘st’ sound, much to his older cousins amusement.
So when "H" suggests a game of pooh sticks he announces nice and loud, “throw your dick in the river!”
On that note, I will say to those experiencing the same speech delays-if all else fails get yourself a harmonica they are hours of fun!!!!!!!