Toddlers and Speech Delays

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Does your toddler have a speech delay?

My son turned 2 in February and at his well check up, we concluded he wasn’t speaking at the developmental expectation.  At that point he was mainly grunting to ask for what he wanted and had just started saying “Mama” and “Dada” with communicative intent vs. just repeating it when we asked him to.  He probably spoke about 12 words that we could identify, but those 12 words still weren’t that decipherable.   He definitely didn’t pronunce hard consonants well except for “b”.   He wasn’t mimicking at all and definitely not making combined two word sentences.  Prior to this appointment, the pediatricians all conclude that his delayed speech as probably due to being the youngest in a house where there are 2 adults and 2 older siblings (ages 14 and 10) that are doing all the talking for him.  There was no sign that he had a hearing issue and cognitively and physically he was on point developmentally.  So it was discussed to try out early intervention services for speech.

Now what surprises me is that I had always thought that boys acquire language much later than girls.  I’ve heard it from my teacher education, friends, and family.  My two girls were speaking very clearly by the age of 2.  So not understanding a toddler is totally new to me.

So we went through the intake/assessment process and he definitely qualified for speech services.

At the formal assessment, a team visited the home and observed him and asked me questions about his speech.  They concluded he knew more words than I had assumed as they counted a lot of the “sounds” he was making as individual words.  So this brought us up to about 40 words.  They were very impressed with his cognitive and physical abilities and actually marked him as being above average.  One thing I thought interesting was that they noticed him problem solving when he was playing with small building blocks.  When the single tower he was building kept topping over, he put multiple blocks at the base to make the foundation stronger!  The following goals were made from this meeting:

  • Keep exposing and repeating words in the every day
  • Give him choices to make him say what he wants such as “Do you want milk or juice?”, “Do you want to play or read?”

A speech therapist started coming to our home every two weeks for an hour.  He basically modeled playing with him on his level and constantly repeating words.  The point of the early intervention services is to empower parents with strategies and education on how to foster speech.  Over the next two months, we made these goals:

  • Try to get him to count to 10 by going up and down our stairs, counting snacks and other objects.
  • Get him to address each family member by name.
  • Prioritize functional words for him to use such as “drink”, “eat”, “tired”, “more”, etc.

I’ve been actively working on all of these goals with my son and have also been researching other resources that can help.  We’ve been using reading books, letter games, and apps to supplement our days.  Here is my son playing with the Tiggly Words set to accompany the apps Tiggly Words and Tiggly Submarine.  I took this video yesterday!

It has been about 2 months since we’ve been focusing on supporting my son’s speech and I’m happy to say he reached a language “bloom” just in the last week or so.  He now mimics, addresses us all by name, and is like a sponge in saying words in their context.  However, his pronounciation is still not clear and it is obvious he has an articulation issue.  He appears to have jumped over the expressive language hurdle of using verbal language to communicate, however he doesn’t pronounce end and beginning consonants well at all (even with simple words like cat or dog).  He usually leaves one out over the other.  The speech therapist said that children with language delays often have articulation issues as well.

I’m going to start chronicling our speech journey on the blog.  In the back of my mind, I feel that this is all just being overly mindful of something he will do fine when he is developmentally ready.  On the other hand, I keep thinking I should help my son address his speech issues with as much support as early on as possible to minimize any frustration on his part.  I’m not super stressed about this delay, but I would love to hear from others if you’ve experienced this!

~Lani

 

Disclosure:  I do not work for Tiggly, but received Tiggly samples and apps for educator purposes and review.  This is not a sponsored post.  The thoughts and opinions here are my own.

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