Speech Delay and The Late Talker

Do you know what a “dee-dee” is?

Well, I do, thanks to my late talking 4 year old. Do you think your child may have a speech delay? I am not talking about the mother of a 8 month old who is listening to all of her friends at a forum list off 80 new words that their 8 month old is saying along with being able to completely recite The Bill of Rights. I am talking about a much older child who should be talking using words and small sentences.

There are many reasons for a speech delay (please check with your pediatrician if you suspect a speech delay so that they can help you determine which one) Autism, hearing loss, something did not form quite right with the tongue…many reasons! But sometimes there is no reason, other than the words just don’t seem to travel correctly from brain to mouth. The child seems to be exceptionally bright, there are just no words. They understand a huge vocabulary from you, just no words of their own.

With Buzz, I noticed it around the 12 month mark. She should have been saying a few words, but it was nothing but garble. I thought perhaps she was just so focused on her physical development that perhaps the words would come soon. By 18 months, I knew we had a problem. Not only was she not saying any words, but her behavior began to go downhill. She became extremely agitated at not being able to communicate her wants, needs and fears. We struggled (I took a lot of Advil) and cried together at not being able to understand what she desperately needed to say.  How I longed to hear her say the words “Momma” and “I love you” We took her to get her hearing checked and there were several different diagnosis from that, but basically nothing was wrong. I had her evaluated by the Early Intervention people, but they wanted to label her as Autistic. After reading and researching, I knew she wasn’t autistic. So I scoured the internet for a solution. I came across The Einstein Syndrome by Thomas Sowell.

I looked on the internet and found where the research for this book had taken place and noticed that it was at a University in my town. I called the names credited in the back of the book and finally got an appointment with a speech therapist. After one session with her (and finally someone not telling me she was autistic) I figured out what we were doing wrong and how to correct it. I began paying close attention to her body language that was accompanied by her words and slowly began to decipher her jargon. We relied heavily on pictures and interactive television. Buzz is more of a creative thinker and simple repetition with flash cards was not going to work.

Now at 4 years old, Buzz still has a speech delay and I constantly play the interpreter when she is in a social situation. The greatest improvement that I have noticed is her confidence and patience. I know that the research that I have done and the work we did together has helped her gain this. I know that when she enters school, she will still be behind somewhat; but I know she has the mental skills to help her deal with this. We know she will catch up and as I see her show off new words like “happy” we are getting there. There are days that are frustrating when she wants something and I can’t understand her, but she has the patience of Job and knows if she just keeps trying we will figure out the word together.

The biggest thing that I have taken away from all of this is to never let someone label your child. Don’t let someone (even if they have all the diplomas on the wall) tell you that your child can’t/won’t/or will ever do something. Be your child’s advocate and #1 fan. Trust in what your heart tells you and BELIEVE in your child, no matter what the disability might be. I have learned that her frustration was not a child acting out, but a pathway to learning. I may be teaching her words, but she is teaching me patience and how to be a better mother.

I had to wait until she was almost 3 1/2 before I ever heard “wuv you too” but it wasn’t too late. Not late at all.

Categories: child development, children, late talking, speech delay

26 replies

  1. Andrew has a speech delay too…he has come a long way since big brother (aka chatty kathy) started attending Preschool three times a week. Although he still has a long way to go we are leaps and bounds from the cave man days…and i agree moma was a huge thing for me…i still don't get i love you i get “ei too” good luck with your journey…they sure keep it interesting.

  2. Great post. Even helps Mimi to read this!

  3. This is a great post. At one point I thought my oldest daughter had a speech delay. At 2 she said nothing. I had a speech therapist evaluate her and after following her directions her speach just started flowing. Her directions? Stop asking her to say things. Turns out she was just being stubborn and wanted to do things her way.My 2nd daughter seems to be struggling with something similar to Oppositional Defiance Disorder. We are just beggining to look into what struggles she is faceing. Thanks to this post I will be doing a lot more research than just trusting that what the Dr says is right. Thanks for that

  4. Treasure those words that she does say! You are right you have to be their advocate. Colby is labeled non-verbal due to his stroke but we still took him to speech therapy. The therapist was just going through the motions and never really thought he would do anything. So I stopped taking him to her. Since we've quit going he started saying yeah, uhuh, and airplane! totally random but he loves airplanes. I can understand a few things here and there but it's pretty hit or miss. His body language even though most of the time he can't control it is how we figure things out. It is very frustrating but kids who are nonverbal seem to compensate with their amazing patience levels. I know Colby will talk again. It will take a long time but I refuse to let his doctor label him or tell me that he can't learn to talk again. Keep being an advocate for your daughter and good luck!

  5. Good for you Mama! Advocating for your daughter and working with her and believing in her is the key! There is no one else out there that will advocate more than a mother. Keep advocating…

  6. Amen about being your child's advocate! I could not agree with you more. And I can't stand it when people try to label kids as autistic just because they don't talk. It's so sad and horrible for those parents who don't know any better.

  7. oh, this post resonated with me! my 5 yr old was speech delayed; he's caught up now, but I too remember longing to hear “I love you.” Took about the same amount of time…..thanks for the feature this week : )

  8. Loved this post. 🙂 I found your blog on a google blog alert that I have for “late talker.” My son is a LT, too. I suspect from your post that we live in the same town and have seen the same doctor at the same university. 🙂 Ethan's official dx is Mixed Expressive Receptive Language disorder. He's 5.5 now and I have to tell you, 5 has been the magic year for him. We've given him space and support and he's blossomed in his own time. I can't wait to see what this kid does! 🙂 Thanks for sharing a little of your story. There are lots of us out here who have been through it, too, glad to see some friendly faces!

  9. Great post and amen to that. People rely too much on what doctors (or whoever) say. We really need to be our kids advocates!

  10. Awwwww, what a beautiful post. I feel for you having to wait that long to hear her say she loves you. But kudos to you, girl, for trudging forward and figuring this thing out! Great lesson! =)

  11. I agree 150%! She has come a long way, and it is because of YOU.<3

  12. First off, thanks so much for the wonderful comment! Things are going ok so hopefully I'll be back to the same ol' stuff soon :)Oh! But this is such a great post! I can very much empathize with you. My son Hayden has DS-ASD and speech has always been our largest mountain. I often have to play interpreter for him when we're around others. I know that at times he gets frustrated but I love that he has found his own way of communicating with us because of his delay. It's often a long road (filled with lots of Advil) but, for me, the rewards (like hearing I love you for the first time) are well worth it all

  13. Good for you for standing up for your child. You never cease to amaze me, my friend. I'm glad your little girl is improving and you've found ways to assist in her development. Your positive attitude towards all of life's challenges is so refreshing!

  14. Hi there! Thanks so much for coming by my blog, commenting and following! The trifecta of blogging! I love it in your profile when you say you are trying to eat a hot meal… aren't we all! Those kids can really put a damper on a hot meal can't they?

  15. My son had a speech delay. My parents were very concerned about it. We talked to the specialist, and she confirmed us not to worry because we speak 2 languages at home (English and Indonesia). Now, he speaks both languages fluently.What a great post, here's a little something for you. Check it outhttp://a-mom-life.blogspot.com/2010/02/unexpected.html

  16. Hi there! Thanks for joining the Blog Hop. I'm following you now. Love your blog. I'll be back later to read more.Happy Follow Friday!Tamiwww.heartsmakefamilies.com

  17. My older two sons both had speech problems and my youngest Kobe speaks like a pro but can't say some letters..like S. I know how frustrating it is to go through this with your children but you are a great Mama and did the right thing by not letting someone label your daughter. My sons were always being labeled and I wouldn't hear of it. My 9 year olds first grade teacher told me he was unteachable, guess what? He is now in the 4th grade with a genius IQ and a straight A student that all the teachers love.

  18. Seriously your post( well the end of it) brought me to tears. Chase is 2.5 and gives many kisses and hugs but no ” I love you” He has a speech delay because he had fluid in his ears for months and we had no idea. He ended up with tubes in his ears to drain it and there has been slow progress since. He had hearing issues after he learned all the mama-dada's. So he was saying that and got to mommy daddy and please but we still are working on a very limited vocabulary. We did early intervention almost a year ago but he did not qualify. I was going to call again but after reading this maybe I should try a private one?Thanks for sharing.

  19. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! For not labeling or allowing others to label your child as autistic! People are WAY to quick these days to throw around that diagnosis! THANK YOU for being an advocate and for getting your child the CORRECT therapy!

  20. You are so right on the mark about trusting your instinct. When I was pregnant with my second son, my OB told me that I was the expert on my children. Really? You're a doctor? You have a PhD and you're telling me I'm an expert on something? He was right. And the same is true for all mothers. When it comes to our children, we hold multiple PhDs and they are more valuable than any certificate on the wall of any “expert” you might see.

  21. Ironically, my autism spectrum child talked early and well. Because of this we struggled to get a diagnosis and then the services he was entitled to. His intake was done by a speech pathologist, and all she could see was his great vocabulary, and ALL the other symptoms were tossed aside.

  22. So glad I found this post! My bff has a 4 year old with a speech issue- the specialist said that as long as strangers were able to understand 50% of what he said, he was in good shape. It's clear he is good at expressing himself and using language accurately and he talks up a storm and is happy, however his words tumble out and get caught somewhere on the tip of his tongue, I think!I'm going to forward this to her; thanks!

  23. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  24. Thank you for this post! It's so reassuring to know that I'm not alone. Thank you thank you thank you!

  25. Great post! I'm just now starting to wonder about my little guy. He will only say mama and dad, and he's almost nineteen months old. Part of me thinks that he is just super stubborn. We try to get him to say words, mimic us, but he absolutely does not want to do anything that we want him to do – not just talk. So I'm going to start paying more attention and see if I can get a feel for where we're really at.

  26. You are a wonderful mom and I agree. Stick up for your child… it doesn't always “take a village”

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