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Severe speech delay, 4 yr old. Any postive stories of catching up?

(36 Posts)
PoshCat Thu 25-Oct-12 12:42:02

Hi, my DD has jut turned 4 and has severe delays with expressive language. Her understanding is good but it is obviously impacting negatively on her learning and social skills.
She is in Reception and has Action+ support, is under a Paed (ASD ruled out) and has SALT which seems to be helping her improve if rather slowly.
Anyone had a child with these issues who eventually caught up and if so, what age was it?
Thanks. I wish I had a crystal ball as I am a MASSIVE worrier. I also have an 8 yr old son (no problems with speech) and a 18 month old who is also showing no early signs of problems.
My DD (4) has very unclear speech and will not initiate conversations but will ask for things she wants and shows us things. She is happy with other children but plays alongside them rather than with them unless it's a physica game she can easily join in with.
Any postitive stories to aspire to greatly appreciated.
Thanks again.

lljkk Thu 25-Oct-12 12:55:13

Not exactly the same, but I know a boy (now in y7) who has selective mutism & has friends & does okay academically. Another nearly-SM child in y6 who is a high achiever academically.

sununu Thu 25-Oct-12 13:21:23

Yes I do! ds2 had a severe speech delay (dyspraxia was best final diagnosis), also with good understanding- causing him intense frustration. picked up before 2, and we started private speech therapy once a week around 3 because the group sessions we were attending through the local authority were not very helpful, the private therapist introduced makaton which helped with his frustration over communication. At 4 he was making progress and we finally got some state provision (SALT and action+), but while at nursery there was discussion about whether he should join his brother at mainstream state primary or might be better at a school with special provision. He went into reception struggling with concentration, social skills and communication. Like your daughter, he would not join in role playing or cooperative games, just running and chasing, and not know the boundaries of where to stop sometimes.

He is now just 7 and in Y2, still on action+ and having a once a week session with a TA under supervision of SALT. Ahead of the year in maths, reading well, communicating and contributing in class, with a great group of friends, and a much happier and more confident little boy. His speech is still sometimes a little unclear - more like a speech impediment now - and his grammar is a little behind eg mixing up pronouns, simple sentence structure, but still progressing.

In some ways I feel he just grows up a little slower than his brothers but gets there in the end (luckily he also has the advantage of being old for his school year). However, I have to say that the SENCO commented that there are two boys higher up the school with similar speech problems, and they have not made such rapid progress. I have to say that having the option to go private helped us, and I know not everyone can. Partly having the extra focus on him, and partly having the sessions with me at home so I could continue the exercises during the week. We also got a block of sessions with a brilliant SALT at the Nuffield Hospital, top unit for speech disorders in the country. This had a lot to do with being a pushy middle-class parent always asking what more we could do.

I still find it very hard to say whether I could have relaxed more and it would still have all come OK, or whether his progress has been helped by all we did - physio for his motor skills, assessments with the neurologist, endless bloody speech assessments and the drills and exercises. There were behaviour issues and some physical issues which I think were/are partly to do with the dyspraxia and partly with sheer frustration of being a bright kid who finds it hard to talk. He is still definitely my most challenging child! But at age 4, I would have found it hard to believe how brilliantly he is doing now - so I hope that is some kid of reassurance!

sorry for the essay.

PoshCat Thu 25-Oct-12 13:29:09

Thanks sununo. Am so glad your son has made such wonderful progress. My DD turned 4 in August and is the youngest in Reception. This does make her appear even more delayed next to some of the older children.
We do not have the financial means for private therapy I am encouraged by how good her teacher and TA are with her. She has 1 to 1 support for 2 hours a day and is focussed around speech therapy and assisting her in joining in socially.
It is a long hard slog though. Your own experience with your son is very reassurring.
Thank you!

sununu Thu 25-Oct-12 13:38:51

that's great, once you feel there is a team looking out for her it really helps. she's still so little and it's hard to be the youngest.
FWIW I think that ds's struggles have had some unexpected benefits - he is an extremely determined character, not having had everything come to him easily as to his big brother, he has very deep interests (coins, nature, fossils) that he developed when more solitary, and a special bond with animals going back to when he was very little and not talking to people!
good luck with everything

Nottigermum Thu 25-Oct-12 14:28:45

Sununu, same here (well not exactly) DS didn't speak before 3 yo, and diagnosed with dyspraxia at 3.5 at Nuffield. Fortunately we have managed to get him good quality speech therapy on the NHS (half luck, half being pushy, but I think that being under the Nuffield has helped us a great deal).

He is well ahead in maths, and his reading is excellent (he is one colour level below his big brother who is 18 months older). He has friends but struggles socially at school as he can't keep up with physical play, and some of the other kids are not very patient with him! He does have a few little friends.

He has speech therapy with TA 4 days a week at school, we also do stuff with him at home, with review every 6 months at Nuffield, and speech therapy during half term/summer with NHS speech therapist (3 days this coming half term, one hour session each time).

He is very, very smart at school doing well in all areas of learing, including creative stuff - he is great at drawing etc although he has relatively poor fine motor skills.

Firawla Thu 25-Oct-12 17:17:23

Those who have got their dc seen at nuffield do you mind if I ask how did you go about getting the referral, just thinking of this for my dc as he is coming up 3 years now

OP i wish you all the best for your dd, mine is younger so dont know yet how the future will be for him. The is another mum on here though with a ds with verbal dyspraxia that has a blog and she put some videos up showing his progress, it actually made me cry! cos you can see progress coming over time, and for me sometimes i felt like maybe my ds will never manage to say anything! but then you see that other children have similar problems and they do progress. the blogs called mymumdom so maybe you can google it or she might come across the thread in a bit?

(hope you dont mind me mentioning you mymumdom and hope your ds is still doing well!!)

janx Thu 25-Oct-12 17:43:04

My ds is nearly 5 and got a dx of very severe verbal dyspraxia at 3 from the Nuffield.... I cried. Since then he has had 2
Blocks of SLT from the most amazing therapist at Nuffield and local SLT. He has come on leaps and bounds and has joined mainstream reception. This has come about through lots and lots of hard work and year in a language resource nursery. He still receives therapy and has a way to go but I feel a lot more positive than 2 years ago. I cannot recommend the Nuffield enough - I was in total awe of the therapist there. We got a refer through our local SLT

DoIgetastickerforthat Thu 25-Oct-12 18:00:47

Another one with a DS5 with verbal dyspraxia. He wasn't saying very much at all at three so his initial diagnosis was simply language delay although I strongly suspected it was a problem with his ability to form words.

He had group sessions for about six months from 3yrs old and then some group and 1:1 sessions at nursery. We also did a lot of work at home with him. He was signed off at the end of Reception as, although he still has a few speech 'quirks', he had completely caught up and you would not know that he had had such a bad problem.

He finds phonics a bit confusing but actually is a 'sight' reader rather than a 'sound it out' type and once we realised that his reading has really taken off. He's great at maths, very creative and has exceptionally good behaviour <- his teachers words, not mine and certainly wouldn't have been how he was described at nursery!

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Thu 25-Oct-12 20:51:16

My DS was diagnosed with expressive language delay, which changed to expressive language disorder after he started speaking and also social interaction difficulties.

He is 4.5 years old, just started reception and all of a sudden, he is a non stop talker! It's a joy to hear him speak. He started speaking a few words at the "normal" time and then he went all quiet. At 2.5, we pushed for a referral to SALT - they saw him within 6 weeks in August 2010 for initial assessment and then not did get a follow up until September 2011. In the mean time, we got a private speech therapist involved because we felt it was too important and it made a huge huge difference. The rate of progress he has made has been enormous and he still continues to make massive leaps. The pre-school staff supported him very well and worked really closely with the private speech therapist. He went from saying only "ah" in December 2010 to 3 to 4 word sentences by May 2011. He hardly spoke in Pre-school to begin with and played alongside others but not with them. He still has a lot of words that he has problems with and his speech is not perfect but I would say that strangers an understand most of the things he says.

He has only really got sociable since he turned four. I have to stress that I think finally, he was able to communicate back to them, that is why. It will probably be the same for your DD too. He has a couple of friends that he still sees regularly from pre-school.

We had real issues with the NHS SALT and the child development team. They were saying that DS did not have imaginative play, he should be playing with others by now etc. we were telling them that he does not do imaginative play because he not have the language yet and of course he is not going to play with others because how can he get stuck in and really participate without the language? In the end, we got so frustrated that we just stopped going. We were proved right of course grin. He has great imaginative play and p,ats really well with others.

Now that you have a supportive team working with your DD, she will likely make progress quite rapidly. Try to supplement the work they do in school at home, just short sharp bursts and not every day.

Sorry for the essay. I feel very strongly about this smile

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Thu 25-Oct-12 20:53:18

p,ats =plays

PoshCat Thu 25-Oct-12 21:35:54

Thank you everyone. Can I ask if verbal dyspraxia is the same as verbal apraxia? I suspect this could be DD's problem.
She uses "duh duh duh" as replacements for words in a sentence. For example she may say "duh duh coat?" instead of "can I have my coat?" although if you get her to slow down and repeat it in smaller steps she can say all of the words although admittedly most are still very unclear.
BTW her hearing is fine (tested more than once and very thoroughly) but it still appears that she is not hearing words properly, even words she's known for ages. The word milk comes out as murk.
She is improving all the time and has certainly school seems to have speeded this up a bit.
There is one little girl who takes her under her wing and DD holds her hand. It is lovely to see. It's hard not to worry about her future.
Your experiences with your own children are encouraging. smile

janx Fri 26-Oct-12 10:21:31

Yes it is sometimes referred to apraxia - think that's the American term. There is a Facebook group with lots of good advice and very supportive...

PoshCat Fri 26-Oct-12 10:56:05

Does anyone think it could be verbal dyspraxia? It is baffling as to why she isn't improving significantly in the pronunciation of the words she's known and uses approprately for ages? It makes her so hard to be understood and I think this is why she doesn't socialise with peers as she knows they don't understand her. She much prefers adults as they make the effort.

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Fri 26-Oct-12 11:46:48

Yes, my DS preferred adult company or older children to children his own age until they were able tounderstandhim. It's heartbreaking really. There is a point when you think it's never going to get better, but it does. I'm not sure if your DD has dyspraxia/apraxia but have looked at YouTube videos of children with apraxia? It may give you an indication.

PoshCat Fri 26-Oct-12 12:00:29

Popmusic, it is heartbreaking. DD is missing out on so much. I will have a look at some YouTube vidoes.
Am going the possibilty to our paed next month, even though she hates parents self-diagnosing their kids!
Thanks again for all comments.

janx Fri 26-Oct-12 13:28:59

posh - my ds is only now playing with other children. Luckily his older sister understands everything he says and they get on. I used to cry inwardly when I was surrounded by very articulate 3 year olds and my son would just play by himself at playgroups. Like your dd he used to prefer adult company.
My son has a lot of problems with constants so would miss the beginning and often the end off words. I would ask for a referal to the Nuffield if you are anywhere near London - they are the experts and could confirm or dismiss Verbal dyspraxia for you

Nottigermum Fri 26-Oct-12 14:08:07

Apraxia of speech is a term used mostly in America but it's confusing as apraxia means 'no speech' or 'non verbal' but children with developmental verbal dyspraxia do speak. DVD is hard to diagnose if a child is not speaking at all.

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Fri 26-Oct-12 16:29:58

janx, posh it is awful, especially when you compare your child to other children who speak and are making progress and leaving your child further and further behind. You try not to, but it 's impossible not to compare. And I always felt like I needed to explain to everyone that he had speech delay or speech problems because, I felt so defensive and protective of him.

beyondcrazy Fri 26-Oct-12 20:00:16

I assume you know that Einstein didn't speak at all until he was 4, and then only very badly? He did pretty well on the catch up...

PoshCat Fri 26-Oct-12 20:37:00

janx and popmusic, that is my worry, that DD is being left further and further behind with her peer group. She is already the youngest in the class and plays alone in a corner whilst all the other kids can join in.
She follows instructions, mostly does as she's told (it's only reception so it's confined to hanging coats up, collecting lunch bags at midday, sitting on the carpet at carpet time etc) but she can't tell me what she did at school, what she enjoyed.
She has never been able to request a particular birthday or Christmas present.
Pop, I also feel the need to explain to people about her speech problems and I cringe when someone perfectly reasonably expects a 4 yr old to be able to answer a simple question. sad

PoshCat Fri 26-Oct-12 20:42:49

My DD does have speech, (I need to count all the words she knows and uses, no matter how unclear for the school SALT) but it is both she struggles with sentences and pads them out with "duh duh duhs" unless we make her slow down and break them down to one or two words at a time, even then it would probably sound like jibberish to anyone apart from me, her dad and brother.

narmada Sat 27-Oct-12 17:49:29

I don't have any first hand experience but DH by all accounts had a fairly severe expressive language delay when he was little. DSIL says he didn't speak intelligibly until he was around six and his first year of primary was at a SEN school.

You wouldn't believe it now. He has a v responsible job explaining complicated things to important types!

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Sat 27-Oct-12 19:02:16

posh my DS was the same. Only really I could understand him until quite recently, by that I mean around his 4th birthday (April) and even now people look to me. When his speech is very unclear to people I usually "yes, that's right LittlePop, it IS a cold day" or whatever he has said.

Also, ask your DD teacher to do a home/school book. You write the kinds of things she has done or said eg went to see a film, whatever and the teacher/TA write what she has done in school. I found this enormously helpful so I could talk to DS about his day and school could talk about home. I, myself, have done a home/school book for children who had speech delay in my class and it does make a difference even though it can be tricky to fit it all in.

How well does your class teacher understand DD? Luckily, my DS's pre-school key worker and his current teacher tuned into his speech straight away.

PoshCat Sat 27-Oct-12 19:17:00

Thanks Pop. The idea of a home/school book is a really good one. DD's teacher is starting to understand more of her versions of words, as is her TA.
Last week her TA had been reading a book with DD and approached me to say she'd been pointing at a page at saying what sounded like nipple. I asked to see the page and told her the word was actually people. DD had been pointing at a picture of a train full of people!
I sometimes wonder if DD thinks we are all idiots because we can't understand her.
I did wonder what sort of book the TA thought we were reading to her that would contain the word nipple. wink

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