When I bore my second born son, joy filled my household. Here was a bouncing baby boy whom I would name after my husband’s father as our culture dictates. I loved him so much with a love that is only common between a mother and her son.
And he grew up fast. Played hard. Laughed with lots of mirth. He was indeed my joy and everyone could see that.
On reaching his second birthday though, I knew that something was amiss. 90% of the time, he was nonverbal. The only words that escaped his mouth were ‘mum’ and ‘dad.
He would not respond to his name when called out.
It got me thinking. It got me worried. It got me researching from online forums, friends and family members on what could be wrong with this healthy, bouncing yet nonverbal kid.
The more I researched, the more I got worried.
There was also these bunch of never-meaning-well friends who blamed me for his lack of speech. They said that I did not speak to him while he was young. Others blamed me for raising him in a bilingual home where I spoke to him in English while his father spoke to him in Swahili.
My husband also thought that my exposing the toddler to too much screen time was to blame. And he had research studies to prove this.
All these things and the fact that I could not converse with the boy in question got me so much confused. Dazed and stressed. I was so anxious, the kind of anxiety that I would not wish on any of my worst enemies.
It is then that my husband came up with a solution to take him for autism and language development assessment. The speech language pathologist gave us a clean bill of health of the boy.
He was okay.
We just needed to try speech therapy on him at home. Fortunately, we found this awesome speech therapy for kids online platform that has really helped us make in-roads in his language development.
As he turned three, I am happy to say that he had developed more vocabularies. And what’s more: he is more responsive and chatty at home.
Though he is yet to catch up with his peers, we know that he surely will as long as we continue with his speech therapy sessions.
Helpful Lessons Learnt raising a speech delayed kid
Do not beat yourself too much when your child does not talk. There are lots of nuggets of wisdom in that simple statement. Because what happens is that most parents will be running helter skelter blaming themselves for all things that could be hampering their children’s language development. And it is bad because they will just be compounding their stress levels.
At times you need to relax and think things through. It could be that the child is autistic and so blaming yourself or your spouse for not engaging with the kid is not going to help things. It could be that they are having receptive language disorder and so fail to understand what you tell them. Once they fail to understand you, they also have a problem responding to your questions or requests.
But at the same time, the wait and see approach should not be embraced as the National Library of Medicine decries it. Instead you could do the following:
Go for assessment
The first thing that you need to do when you see that your child has speech problems is to take them for language assessment. The speech language pathologists (SLP) are going to assess whether your child has autism, receptive language or express language disorder. Once they evaluate and find out the problem, they are going to recommend the best course of action that you need to take. It could be that you ought to go for speech therapy sessions or fix a physical problem in the child such as hearing.
Attend speech therapy for kids sessions
A Speech therapist will be able to know what language or articulation problems your child has and they will be able to bring in articulation games and activities that will help them get over the problems.
Today thanks to the advent of technology, you do not really have to attend speech therapy sessions physically.
No, you can as well attend look out for these online speech therapy platforms. I would recommend that you try out this one. It could be done via zoom, Skype or whatever other mode that you agree with your SLP. You will be matched to a licensed speech therapist who is able to listen to you, recommend the best practices for your child as well as attend sessions they organize for you.
Embrace more intentional speech with your child
The SLP will also advise you on what you need to be doing with your kid to help them ace their speech. It could be that you will be advised to try out these awesome speech board games online that have been shown to be very effective. Alternatively, they could ask you to use simple, repetitive language that your child can easily understand and respond to.
Play Speech games with your kid
Kids learn by playing. This statement is well encapsulated with late talkers as they engage in play to develop their language skills.