Toddler Speech Delay- Finding Out My Son Has Speech Difficulty
I was quit scared to speak about this topic because it’s about my son, so it’s a sensitive subject.
Zayne is a sweet, loving and caring little boy. Before he turned 1 years old there was never any signs of there being something unusual. He acted just like any other baby. But once he was getting to the age of 2, I started noticing that he wasn’t really speaking much. I would compare him with other kids looking for the norm in his behaviour, but it was evident that it was unusual. I wasn't hearing the one word I always looked forward to my child calling me one day ‘mama’. I started asking friend and family when their kids started speaking. Everyone had their opinion on why he wasn’t talking. Some people would tell me don’t be worried I know this persons child that didn’t talk until a certain age. Or made reference to the multiple languages spoken to him, where as my family speak Portuguese and English and my husband's family Igbo and English. It sounded like a fair point to the delay in his development of grasping his speech. They would also say, don’t worry all kids are different. Don’t worry don’t worry was the words I heard the most. But as a mum that’s almost impossible to not worry. Rather than listening to people telling not to worry, we made the decision to seek professional help.
We attended a speech and language drop in and from there, we came to the realisation that he needed help. So he was referred to attend chatter box classes and also Portage. Portage are professionals that come to your home and do exercises and activities to help your kids speech/ communication.
This all started when he turned two years old, we were then able to get him to start nursery so he was around more kids. We started seeing little progress. When his teacher assessed him, she told us that even though he’s two, the way he thinks and process things is of a 1 year old. That was so heart breaking to hear, I remember returning home crying. We were then referred to see a paediatric but had to wait 8 month for that.
Zayne kept doing little progress but still behind. As a mom you can only imagine what was going through my mind. I was heartbroken and felt like a failure, I felt like I failed him. I starting thinking maybe I didn’t do the right things when I was pregnant or even when he was born. I cried so much, I remember calling my family and everyone just being so supportive, I thank God for my husband and family honestly! I started doing research to get more information. Then I soon came across an article on signs of AUTISM. And a few of those signs raised red flags in relation to Zaynes behaviour. We were so scared but still continued faithful through out everything.
8 months passed and we went for our appointment at the paediatric. They confirmed my research and hypothesis, they said he had signs of autism but it doesn’t mean he has autism. She explained further stating that a lot of children have signs of autism when they can’t talk, however when the child's verbal communication commences, speech, it begins to disappear. She went on to inform us that there is a wide spectrum in autism, it can be severe or mild, this meaning he can have it but people would not really notice, neither will it effect his life at all. To hear this really caused a heavy relief in us, however the anxiety of the fact he was too young to be assessed was still lingering, leaving us in the unknown of his status. We had to wait until he was around the age of 3 to find out. The months of delay only left us to our imagination of what Zaynes' true diagnosis was.
In the mean time we remained active, doing everything at home to help him. I was also working with his teachers to make sure he got the proper help he needed and deserved. As a parent you should never just leave thing to the "professionals" . There's no one more professional at making sure your children get the best treatment and support they deserve than YOU. We managed to get him a one on one teacher in nursery to make sure he was on track with his learning, and progresses from the level he was in. My children are 18 months apart and seeing my daughter making so much progress, is really amazing to see. However it was sad seeing Zayne developing with the same speed as Cataleya, especially as he's older than her.
I just started putting my faith in God! We remained steadfast in prayers individually and as a family both immediate and extended.
It dawned on me that all this is happening for a reason. Everything that we are going thru has made me heck of a lot more STRONGER than I ever was or imagined I could be. It has enabled more confidence in my speech and actions, not caring "what people would think". This was also a huge eye opener towards the behaviour of children towards other children. I found that during parties, Zayne was neglected or bullied by other children because of how he was, not speaking and communication with actions. It came to a point where I would avoid kids parties because I didn't want Zayne to go through that. It would make me so angry, I would intentionally be look at people's faces when they look at Zayne and how they interact with him, grown or young! It was a case of "Look at my child any different and you will see!". I was ready for anyone!
However more importantly, it taught me the importance of teaching my children to be kind to EVERYONE and include them. Children are not oblivious, they learn behaviours, so it's imperative that you're the example they're watching in a positive inspirational light. It has made me have a lot more confidence in myself and made Zayne a strong boy!
After I grew as a person, and everything that we put in place started working, he started improving in his speech and communication, we thank God! like i said everything happens for a reason and God wont give you what you cant handle!
Another 8 months passed, he was now going to be assessed by the Pediatrics and the Autism specialist to confirm if he autistic or not. We stayed 2 hours in that room just sitting there, while they played and watched our son play, writing their notes. The Paediatric and Autism specialist left the room for 30 mins to collaborate and deliberate on their findings. You can only imagine what my husband and I where feeling and thinking. They came back and told us that they can’t diagnose him he’s making so much progress, if he was autistic he wouldn’t be making all the progress that he’s making. But they also didn’t rule it out completely as his speech was still delayed.
LOOK AT GOD! We were over the moon to receive this news. He will have another assessment in May. He’s doing so well, every single day he’s developing more and more with his speech. Having a sister has really helped a lot. See how things sometimes work out. Cataleya came into our lives at the right time, she’s so caring, loving and patient, even tho she’s only two year old. And boy does she talk for the world! So this is really helping Zayne out a lot thank God!
My advice for anyone that is going thru a similar situation is to not be ashamed to ask for help. Don’t just listen to your friends/people saying it’s normal, they will talk when they're ready. Because every child is different. Go with your intuition, you know your child better than anyone else does.
If I listened to everyone telling me it’s ok he will be fine, I wouldn’t have gotten the help I got for him so early on. And he might have not made the progress he has made.
i just want to encourage anyone that is going thru a similar situation, you are not alone and don’t feel a shamed or like you are a horrible parent because YOU are not. And it isn’t your fault neither! You are great and doing a great job with your child. Remember that everything happens for a reason! and It is OK to get help!