Speech Delay in Toddler, your experiences?

My daughter has been diagnosed with a speech delay. According to the charts, she is way, way behind. She really only says about 3 words and is 2 years old. She has said many words along the way, but the main ones that remain are “Uhoh” “No” and “Kitty Kitty.”

I’m not stupid and have known that she is behind but everyone says to not worry, she’ll start talking soon. Now, her comprehension is good, she is an avid and enthusiastic babbler. She communicates well, can hear great and really, doesn’t show any sort of mental/physical hang up to not talking. Except either sheer stubbornness or just lack of desire.

She’ll visit a speech therapist within the next 3 weeks. I’m not sure what they will do. I just have this vision of them doing what we do and her doing what she does, which is clap when WE say the word. She’s very good at getting us to talk.

Anyway, that is the background. What are your experiences with speech delay or speech therapy? If you were me, would you be panicking, feeling like a terrible mother and scared shitless you’ve missed some sort of linguistic window and your child will be damaged for life?

I’d really like as much real info as possible as well as personal experiences, so Mods…move if you like.

I’d be scared shitless because that is what parents do. However, I know plenty of kids who didn’t start talking until they were past the age of two. One of my cousin’s sons didn’t say much when he was two. Three months later, he is a chatterbox. It seems that he went from noises that didn’t mean anything to full speech. My buddy’s son is 2 and a half and has made enormous progress with speech therapy.

Is more than one language spoken in your home? That can cause a delay as well. At two, I didn’t say much more than a few words. It took me a few more months to decide which language I was going to speak.

Don’t beat yourself up. See the therapist and do what they tell you. Most likely, you and your child will be more than OK.

A good friend has a toddler with speech delays. He was a bit over 3 when he was tested last spring. Very similar to your situation (except he was older) - he generally only used a few single words, did LOTS of babbling, communicated pretty well and got everyone to translate for him.

I really think his was just stubbornness/laziness/spoiledness. He was perfectly happy babbling and his parents would work to figure out what he wanted, so why should he bother? He could and would speak English when he absolutely had to, like when he really really wanted something from uncooperative people other than his parents.

He went to a speech therapist for testing and they started him in some kind of head start program where he was around lots of other kids his age (and teachers who wouldn’t translate for him). He’d been around other kids, but not many at the same age; the therapist said that would help. He promptly (within a few days) started talking like a maniac.

He still babbles a lot (he’ll be 4 in a couple months), especially when he’s excited, but will switch to English if it’s required to get what he wants. (The parental units are working on this, too.)

So don’t panic, wait and see what the therapist says, and follow the recommendations. You’re not a failure and your kid will probably be fine.

P.S. The therapists are pretty smart and they’ve probably seen it before. Your kid may think she’s fooling them but they’ll see what’s going on. If they let you stay, sit on one hand and hold the other one over your mouth (at least that’s about what my friend ended up doing). :slight_smile:

It’s entirely possible she just doesn’t have anything to say. My oldest niece hardly spoke at all until she was over 3. Now she’ll hardly shut up (she’s 9 now) and certainly isn’t “behind”.

Is your daughter an only child at this point? My niece’s starting to talk seemed to coincide with the birth of her younger sister - who I swear started talking roughly an hour after she popped out :smiley: When you’re an only child, you’re already the center of attention and so you don’t need to talk a lot to get that attention. The addition of a second child means that the firstborn suddenly needs to start communicating to get attention, and they quickly and easily start doing so. When Katie started talking, it was clear that she knew all the words. She just hadn’t needed them before.

Our daughter was slow in learning to walk and learning to speak, but once she started, she learned quickly. She also had serious articulation problems (the word “yellow” and “little” sounded about the same: “Yegger”).

She went into speech therapy at age 4 and continued it through kindergarten (and maybe beyond). We also pushed very hard to get her into the pre-first class at school (something I think is essential to offer, but which most schools have discontinued), which gave her some time to develop before moving on to first grade from kindergarten.

She graduated in the honors program at American University last fall.

Going to the speech therapist will probably work wonders at this age. There’s no reason to believe this will be anything permanent.

My elder son has a language disorder, which is different from a speech disorder. Exactly what language disorder he may have is anybody’s guess, but from the age of 18 months until about 3 1/2 he spoke pretty much nothing but a language of his own devising. *

I usually think it is bullshit to say that anybody knows how somebody else feels. But in this case, I really do know how you feel. It is a terrible feeling. But allow me to add my vote to what your frontal lobes are probably already telling you even though your limbic system is busy screaming omigodomigodomigodhelphelphelp: You didn’t do anything wrong. You are doing everything right. It’s going to be okay.

They will want to check her hearing right off the bat and for good reason – many, many speech delays have to do with hearing problems. This can be a real joy with a toddler and I strongly recommend finding a good pediatric audiologist – we found one at the Scottish Rite near us.

The best ST in my own experience is gotten from people who will set up targets and approach it in a structured way. Part of the reason for this is that this enables you to work on it at home. Part of it is because, even though the targets and so on are artificial and very fluid, they help keep everybody focused on what we are about. The very best in my own experience are speech pathologists, but are not thick on the ground and may not be necessary.

It’s not your fault, you know. It’s going to be fine.

There is fairly structured play based approach which can be used at home called “recasting” which can be very helpful. Here’s a link. A didactic approach is unlikely to be really helpful in dealing with a child of two, so I would be surprised if you encountered that. We had to concentrate on not giving non-verbal cues, because Eldest turned out to be masking his inability to understand language by reading nonverbals. This has served him well, including making him a very good soccer player, lol, but part of what we have had to learn to do is to judiciously remove those kinds of crutches so he could exercise his language muscles as it were.

I have lots of other thoughts, and please feel free to email me if you like, any old time – I have been that alone and frightened and I would do quite a lot to help anybody who feels even a little like I did to feel better. But those are the first ones to come up, knowing nothing else than what is in the OP.

And by the way, it isn’t your fault. It’s going to be fine. Really, honestly.

*Well-meaning persons: don’t bother telling me this is unlikely in the extreme. I know it is. Nevertheless, it was documented by a number of people with many initials after their names, all of whom agreed that this was unlikely in the extreme.

I’m told that I was late in speaking, but that when I started speaking it was in complete sentences. I turned out fine.

A friend’s second daughter was late in speaking, presumably because the first daughter was a chatterbox and didn’t give her much chance to get a word in edgewise. She turned out fine.

I have no knowledge of speech therapy, but it occurs to me that if you are saying the word and she only needs to acknowledge it, that removes some of the incentive for her to say it. Nevertheless, from all the info you’ve related, I’d expect her to turn out fine.

Absolutely don’t feel scared shitless. Be proud of yourself for being an excellent parent and having this diagnosed and monitored by a professional.

A big ol’ “ditto” to everyone else’s replies - yes, lots of kids are slow to talk. They haven’t read all the books that tell them they should be saying X number of words by Y months. Almost all of them grow out of it and talk eventually. My son’s speech was about where my daughter’s is, only no one ever thought to test them this young 15 years ago. Was he therefore “delayed” and we didn’t know it? Maybe. But he got over it.

That’s not to say I think therapy is a bad idea. I think it’s a GOOD idea. Mostly I think it’s a good idea because then someone who knows more about it is going to be involved and keeping an eye on things. I’ll be honest, my daughter’s been receiving speech therapy (with a speech/language pathologist) for six months, beginning at 24 months old. I don’t see that the therapist DOES a whole lot. Yes, she seems to get her talking more than most people can. My daughter has a lot of fun and gets practice in with the words she has. But with any kid - especially a 2 year old - if they don’t want to talk, they won’t. Doesn’t matter how good a therapist you are.

Some things Julie does: she has these picture cards which are grouped by phoneme - all “d” sounds, for example - some at the beginning of words, some in the middle and some at the end. She and my daughter look at the pictures together, Julie says the name of the thing, and my daughter repeats it. This repeated through a deck of 30 cards helps reinforce and refine the pronunciation of the sound Julie’s working on. Julie knows to do this because her training and her tests of my daughter show that enunciation is laking for certain sounds. Julie does a lot of labeling things with words, and describing what my daughter is doing as she does it, and encouraging her to repeat things. “Oh, you’re going up the steps! Up, up, up! Now down the slide! 1…2…3…GO! Go, go go! Down, down, down!..Again? Okay, say ‘up, up, up’! Ready? Say ‘1,2,3, GO!’ 1…2…3…GO!” Repeat. It’s like watching a demented cheerleader on cocaine.

Could I replicate this on my own if I wanted to? Sure. I’m not sure I’m skilled enough to figure out where to start and what to do about it, but I could manage something, and I do copy some of what I see Julie doing while going about our lives. Still, I feel better knowing that Julie sees her twice a month and they have fun and Julie does periodic testing to let us know that she’s not getting further behind. I feel reassured that I’m not in this alone and that I don’t have to worry about when to call the doctor - that’s Julie’s job now.

Yes, she is an only child. She does not go to daycare and really isn’t exposed to other children very often. I am hoping to be able to afford to get her into a day care for two half days soon. Many people say being around other folks who don’t worship the ground you walk on provides a hell of an incentive.

It is hard not to feel responsible. For those that have forgotten, I’ve already been rejected by a Mom’s club and had enough guilty feelings about this poor kid getting stuck with a wierd mom to without all that crap.

Keep the stories coming. Who knows when they’ll call me for the appointment.

BTW, The state of Florida has a program called “Early Steps” that is for children up to 36 months old. It is not income dependant or insurance dependant. They are mandated by the state to begin care within 30 days of first contact. If you have any concerns about your childs development, please see if your state has a program like this. I spent a week trying to contact the correct department at the hospital our pediatrician referred me to, 3 hours with my insurance company only to find out there was a 4 MONTH waiting list. I found out about Early Steps and told my pediatrician about it. Fast + Free=better than Slow +Expensive.

Relax - you’re doing everything you need to be doing!

Chances are, like others have said, your daughter will be just fine. But by getting her seen by speech therapists, you’re doing precisely the right thing. They’re pros, they’re used to seeing this sort of thing, and they’ll help you sort out the “will talk when she’s ready” from “isn’t talking because there are problems”.

I can’t guess what approaches they’ll take with your daughter, if she does indeed need help: our experiences with Dweezil and speech therapy were because - while his pronunciation and vocabulary were excellent, he simply did not converse at an age-appropriate level (common in kids with high-functioning autism).

I’ve had friends who sent their kids to the state speech program, and they all had wonderful experiences. Their kids loved the sessions and their “teachers” and promptly started talking like nobody’s business. So yay for you and enjoy the speech therapy!

In Illinois, it’s called Early Intervention . I had never heard of it until I had a preemie.

Speech therapy certainly won’t hurt. They will be able to evaluate both her difficulty, and your interaction. Sometimes, perfectly normal children don’t talk when expected, simply because they don’t have to. You may be anticipating her needs and desires.

My son went from saying “Birdy” to full sentences between one day and the next. Be careful what you wish for, once he started, he never shut up! :smiley:

My son was not talking at all at 3. I took him to the public school’s early childhood program and they got him in speech classes and he continued until about 4th grade. He could say enough words by kindergarten but he had some problems with pronouncing sounds. Also I think they kept him in as long as possible to get the extra funds.

We did notice that we were taking care of his every need before he even said anything, especially his older brother, so he had very little reason to talk. I know a lot of people who’s childen were late talkers and they’re all fine.

We had a speech therapist come to our house for Geek Child #3. He was 2 years old and wasn’t talking as much as they would have liked. Mrs Geek was in a complete panic. I was the complete opposite. I was thinking he’s just one of those kids that talks a bit later. I thought it was way too early to go into panic mode.

The therapist came out to the house and it didn’t really seem like she was doing much. She was just playing with him for a while each time she came out. I was thinking that the whole thing was a complete waste of time, but while it didn’t look like much to me, whatever she did definately worked. He began talking, and in a month or two become a complete chatterbox and continued to talk more and more even after the therapy was done.

I was very skeptical at first, but I’m glad we went through it. It ended up being a very good result.

Since there’s no one right answer, and the OP is generally asking for shared experiences, let’s move this to IMHO.

samclem GQ moderator

We had my son evaluated - he wasn’t above the 50th percentile, but he wasn’t low enough to be tagged as needing therapy.

He’s nine and doesn’t shut up. And he has fine reading and writing skills too. Spells very well.

Go ahead and do the intervention, but don’t worry - it seems most kids with speech delays catch up fine - ESPECIALLY with intervention.

A cousin of my husband’s also had a made-up language that he spoke until he was around 3 years old. Interestingly, his sister could understand it and acted as his translator! He’s now an Attorney, fully fluent in his native Danish, as well as fluent in English (and possibly some other languages I simply don’t know about).

My next-youngest sister didn’t utter a single word until she was 2-2½. Whenever she wanted something, she’d just extend her arm and grunt. The first time she spoke was in full sentences, as if she’d just been saving it up until she damn well felt like it.

I have two kids (daughter 5, son 2) with mixed expressive/ receptive disorders who have each been in speech therapy since they were about 20 months old.

The way I started long ago was by calling the local office of education and after a bit of phone-tag and having to call 4 or 5 different people they referred me to the state-funded services provider. You may or may not need a referral from the office of education in order to get started at a services provider. You also may need to get a referral from your Pedi.

The way it worked for us is they did an intake evaluation type of thing, where our case worker came to the house and met us and the kid in question and we discussed our concerns and filled out a bunch of paperwork. Then Case Worker having agreed there was something to be looked into further with said kid’s speech and language she sent us for a developmental evaluation and a speech and language evaluation.

She got back the reports, came again to the house, we went over them and discussed what her recommendations were and wrote what is called an IFSP which is basically a plan for how much therapy is called for and any additional services that are called for, and where you set goals to be looked at every 3 or 6 months to keep track if the services are helping or not. In The Butterfly’s case it was both 1 hour of speech therapy and 12 hours of daycare a week, plus respite care (free babysitting) of 5 hours a month. She’s in Kindergarten now so now she has an IEP and we are still waiting to establish her services for this year. Bumblebee’s is 1/2 hour a week of speech therapy and 15 hours of daycare. I didn’t bother with the respite care with him though I could have it if I want it.

Then once the IFSP was written off we went to speech therapy. With both kids it started out as in-home therapy, then Butterfly transitioned to the office because she didn’t focus well at home. Bumblebee seems to be doing fine here.

Everything is paid for by either my health insurance or by the State/county. You shouldn’t end up out-of-pocket for any of it I don’t think.

A couple of pointers:

  1. get a notebook or folder thingy to put all the paperwork in. This kinda seems obvious but I have an enormous stack of records on Butterfly and now Bumblebee too, and never would have guessed what a flurry of paper it all involves.

  2. There are a few different terms to keep in mind. In my layperson’s understanding: Speech & articulation is about how the words sound; how well his mouth works at making sounds and words when he talks. Language is how well he uses and understands the structure of what we say. Expressive is outgoing speech and language (how well he talks), receptive is incoming (how well he understands). Bumblebee gets less therapy than Butterfly did at the same age because so far his language is fine, it is just his speech that is problematic, and language can be a tougher nut to crack.

  3. Be aggressive. For example, if you think there is a problem and the evaluation doesn’t agree, ask for a second one by a different person. You are super-smart to start her now at 2. It is soooooo important to catch these things early and start improving them as soon as you can.

Please e-mail me if you have any questions at all, I think my addy is in my profile.

Oh and finally you are a GOOD MOM. A terrible mother would shrug her worries off with some BS about how Einstein didn’t talk until he was 3. A good mom listens to her gut and gets her kid help right quick when it is needed.

My daughter was never diagnosed with a delay - I kept asking her (very laid-back) doctor, and she said not to worry. But at the kid’s second birthday party, she was saying, “Goo!” for balloon, and that was about the height of her language skills.

Soon after, she had a developmental explosion, and now is incredibly articulate. A character on Curious George is named Chef Piscetti, and recently she stopped, thought, and said, “His name is Chef Spaghetti,” showing she’d really gotten our recent lesson on pronunciation of that word!

So use the therapist, but try not to worry too much. Sometimes they have their own schedules.