Megan Wisner | Oct 2, 2022
Acknowledging the delay-
The first step in being able to HELP your child that may be speech delayed is acknowledging it! Seems like this should be the easy part but I have found through my own experience it has the potential to be the hardest. We all know there is no SET normal for developmental milestones rather a “normal range”. However, the interventions used to assist these children are minimally invasive (rather, non invasive whatsoever) and really are just techniques that even the most “normal” child could benefit from. Some might worry that our children will be “labeled” right off the bat (namely with an IEP or being characterized as “delayed”). In talking to other moms (with multiple children) in social circles many times they have a child that is delayed or has an IEP for one reason or another and so they can relate. I have always and will continue to believe strongly that this is a TEMPORARY thing for SO MANY children. It is something that with the right help and resources they CAN and most certainly WILL overcome, but not without the help from their caretakers and that STARTS with acknowledgment!
Red flag symptom-
My middle child is speech delayed. He was quickly approaching 2 and we realized he wasn’t speaking much at all, barely saying mama and dada (only when asked to). He wasn’t even making an effort to say sounds or words. I always felt slightly guilty about this because we had our third baby when my second was only 17 months old so it occurred to me that maybe we were a bit distracted in working with him and it is also a good chance my oldest being the little mama that she is that she did much of his talking for him. The real red flag that prompted us to reach out to his pediatrician for instructions on how to seek help was that we were really struggling with him and tantrums. He was spending the majority of his day in a tantrum/angry outburst one right after the next. The only solution for us to calm and soothe him was to remove him from the situation/room and isolate him to help him calm down. As you can imagine this not only was extremely difficult on him but also extremely difficult for us as we were sleep deprived with a newborn and also had a three and a half year old to deal with at the same time. We were spent! Our pediatrician recommended at the time we reach out to early intervention services and see if he would qualify.
At the time (late 2020) people were still taking COVID precautions and they were doing all vitrutal assessments. They felt they were able to get accurate evaluations using this method but I would have to wholeheartedly disagree. They evaluated my son and every aspect of his life and based on his score said he did not qualify but was told they would qualify him based on “clinical opinion” because of the level of frustration he was exhibiting daily. So, for the next six months they had a speech therapist come to our home to work with my son for 1 hour once a week. The speech therapist was required to cover her nose and mouth with a mask…however, luckily my son did grow a little during this time. He was still far from speaking like other children his age but he went from making NO effort at all to making some effort to make different sounds. At the end of the six months they had another therapist come (this time in person) to evaluate him and I was then told he was being discharged from their services because he was “within normal range”. She also recommended to us we enroll him in an early preschool at 2 ½ to put him consistently around other kids in a more social environment. So, we did just that. We just took her words and assessment at face value but as months went by we continued to feel he wasn’t anywhere near his peers even having been in school for a few months. Luckily, my husband is a teacher at a school and spoke to the speech pathologist there and she suggested we take steps through the public school system in our district to see if he can qualify for services through school and told us how to go through the proper channels to do that. At that time he was 4 months shy of his third birthday. They evaluated him and did qualify him. We also expressed concerns we had for him regarding sensory issues and so they had an OT come in and evaluate him for sensory. It is not uncommon for children with speech delays to also have sensory issues as well. He qualified for speech but as far as sensory issues were concerned they didn’t feel that his sensory issues were enough to disrupt him during his school day so they are going to be following him for that.
6 months later-
We are overjoyed to share that after being in the public school system and receiving services for 6 months he not only loves school, has thrived socially with other kids and has learned to communicate instead of explode into angry outbursts (a difficult habit for them to break even after they learn to talk better…) he appears (to us at least!) up to par with his peers and BONUS he will continue to receive services until he reaches Kindergarten (the rest of this year and another full year) without being discharged from his IEP. This is peace of mind for us that he has ample time to catch up without regressing before he enters kindergarten since we feel strongly that he was prematurely discharged from early intervention services which really negatively impacted his path of progress he was making at the time.
If you are wondering if your child is going down the same path or how to navigate this delay please feel free to reach out or schedule a call with me, I would love to share more about my experiences to help you navigate through this as well!! Unfortunately, for children born in and around 2019 and 2020 this is all too common. Was the social isolation and masking due to COVID 19 to blame? Possibly! But the good news is it’s never too late to get them the help they need and before you know it their “IEP” and “delay” will all be a part of their PAST!