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Anxious about toddler speech delay

(86 Posts)
riojabotherer Mon 05-Aug-13 19:22:00

Hi all

I'm not really sure if I should be as worried as I am about this, but hoping for a little advice.

My son will be 21 months old later this month and isn't yet talking. He babbles lots and makes lots of the right sounds (though I've never heard any hard c sound' but I can't say for sure that I've heard anything aside from the odd 'Ma/Mum/Mama'. What's confusing and really hard to describe, is that he will make a sound like, say, 'Uh-oh' but without opening his mouth, much in the same way as we'd say 'Mmm' in agreement. He'll also imitate what I'm saying sometimes in the same way, a sound with the right intonation, just without speaking. He also makes an expressive sound from the back of his throat that I can make, but not describe. Sort of like saying a 'c' sound with your mouth closed.

He learned to point early and I think he feels he can get everything he wants without talking. He follows fairly complex instructions well and picks stuff up easily. I'd say his understanding is surprisingly good for his age.

Whether or not it helps for context, he walked with help early but didn't want to let go of my hand until he was 16 months. Lack of confidence, I would say. As I recall he was later making sounds than other babies when younger.

I'm awaiting an HV assessment to see how delayed he is. That was long - thanks so much for reading.

2boysnamedR Mon 05-Aug-13 19:46:48

Hi not really sure I can help but you on the right track looking into this, not sure what's the normal range at this age, but if he is having 'conversation' with you that's all good. Sounds like you need him to be assessed by salt but he maybe too young? Ask if you can put his name for it anyway as they normally have a long waiting list and by the time he gets to the top of the list he maybe the right age?

2boysnamedR Mon 05-Aug-13 19:48:09

Don't worry too much but at same time listen to your instincts and get it checked out

riojabotherer Mon 05-Aug-13 19:51:54

He definitely converses in his own way, yes. He's been nodding and shaking his head for a long time, and he makes an 'Uh-huh' sound for yes. Thanks so much for replying - I've called the GP and I'm hoping the HV will make an assessment soon but it's only been a few days since I made the call. We have private cover so hoping that we can move quite quickly if need be. I just want to help him as early as possible - a lot of this is anxious first time mum syndrome but I feel he needs a hand.

zzzzz Mon 05-Aug-13 19:54:45

Mine is language disordered but had some words at 18months. However he did speak without consonants first. It took me a while to work out that was what was going on.

Have you had his hearing tested? Some children can have great hearing for some tones and be very limited in others. So could hear doors bang but not speech.

Have you seen SALT?

Certainly in my area you can self refer to both hearing and SALT but waiting lists are long.

I think you are right to be concerned and asking for some clarity on things from professionals.

It is very very positive that he understands instructions, uses gesture to communicate and picks up stuff easily.

It's a common vibe when discussing children with language/speech delay to characterise them as being content with the status quo and a little lazy/not bothering to talk. I have never read any sporting evidence for that idea nor seen any instance of that in RL.

If your child does end up having a communication disorder of some sort, you will hear this trotted out by various people (neighbours, parents, friends, teachers, even SALT) it is insidious and I think very unfair. Blame the child is the easiest option, followed by blame the parents, followed by blame the previous professionals involved, usually depressingly followed by "you must learn to accept the child is only capable of XY and Z".

2boysnamedR Mon 05-Aug-13 19:56:30

If your worried then your not being anxious. Better to do something and he then start talking non stop than to wait a year and find his speech hasn't moved on. Conversing is really good sign. Keep talking to him about everything all the time and pause for him to respond. I hope the gp and hv get back to you ASAP. If you go private keep on the nhs waiting lists too.

riojabotherer Mon 05-Aug-13 20:10:53

ZZZZZ Thanks - it's lovely to hear from someone who knows a bit about all this. I called the SALT folks but they weren't all that helpful due to
summer hols and I got the impression there'd be a long wait. I'm getting quite a bit of 'he's only young' or 'he'll suddenly start talking in full sentences one day'. I'm sure that can happen, but I'm not about to ignore the problem on the off chance.

I think his hearing's fine, but that'll form part of the HV's assessment. I've never suspected an issue there but it'll be good to confirm one way or the other.

I might video him going about his business so I can show the HV the sounds he makes. He's quite slow to warm up around strangers sometimes and I do worry he won't make a single sound when we see her!

Family and friends dismiss any potential problem because they see how good his comprehension is, but I'm not going along with that anymore. You're right, the lazy line has come up a few times.

2boys Thanks for the tip about waiting lists!

SingySongy Mon 05-Aug-13 20:25:34

It sounds as though you're doing the right thing to be seeking some help. Best case scenario is that you won't actually need it by the time you get it, but then there will be no harm done. Talking Point is an excellent website if you need some info in the meantime, here: www.talkingpoint.org.uk; and the ICan website is also really good: www.ican.org.uk

Re the lazy thing. Actually, the laziest thing of all is to have an efficient means of verbal communication - most of us are lucky enough to listen and talk without any conscious effort at all. I think children with speech and language difficulties get a very raw deal if they're described as lazy - life can be very tough and hard work for them at times.

zzzzz Mon 05-Aug-13 20:29:30

Get him on waiting lists for SALT and hearing ASAP on NHS but if you have private health cover this is one of those times it is a dream (sadly we aren't in that position any more). You may get seen in as little as week with private cover (you need the NHS assess because some schools are funny about private Recomendations so you want to be seen by someone they're used to too).

The truth is nothing they would do would hurt any child. If he grows out of it then "Hoorah and how silly of you". grin. No one will care. If on the other hand he needs hearing aides or intensive therapy now, you will have helped him immensely.

2boysnamedR Mon 05-Aug-13 20:29:42

Well my don has a speech delay, I too was told he will talk at 2, then he would talk by three, then they all catch up when they get to school. Unfortunately he didn't. I had all the above comments. I knew he would not magically wake up one day talking. Again unfortunately I was right. I had a years wait for salt. Please don't let me scare you though. Some kids DO wake up one day with verbal diaorerea

2boysnamedR Mon 05-Aug-13 20:32:07

Also my son has been profoundly deaf at times and I never noticed so don't dismiss a hearing test. My son seemed to hear everything - but he didn't

2boysnamedR Mon 05-Aug-13 20:34:13

I 'think' he was referred to salt just before he turned two - sorry I can't remember exactly

riojabotherer Mon 05-Aug-13 20:41:12

I'll definitely be interested in the hearing test. Might give the doc a nudge in the morning. Can anyone tell me what the hearing assessment involves? I can't imagine him being happy sitting there with headphones on - is that the type of thing we'll be doing?

I am quite scared, if I'm honest, and no-one else is taking it seriously. It feels very good to talk to you folks. I know that we are very lucky with him in many, many ways but my heart aches when I think of him struggling to make friends etc.

sunshine175 Mon 05-Aug-13 20:41:32

My ds only said da at 24 months or da da. hearing test was ok. Then he said na...for a while. we saw salt who said don't worry. 30 months he suddenly started talking. 34 months he developed a stammer probably because he had so much to say and his mouth couldn't keep up.

now at 50 months he talks for England grin but can be dysfluent when excited or tired. At first Salt gave us exercises to encourage mouth movement and speech sounds eg blowing bubbles, licking lips, and lots of singing with him. She asked us to ignore stammer and give him lots of time to talk and keep it low pressure. Both approaches have helped with the different speech problems he had.

At your point I was worried sick. I can't say it will be ok. Your child may be different to mine but I wanted to give you some hope - things can change speech wise very quickly and now he doing great.

zzzzz Mon 05-Aug-13 20:51:59

My ds had lots of friends when he was at school. He is the more "approachable" of my twins, he also is severely language disordered. He's funny and loveable and very hard work, but I was so terrified for him when he was a toddler.

Hearing tests involve two audiologist and lots of noises left and right and things in boxes. He will have fun.

Same with SALT really.

grin there are tons of language/speech challenged children's Mums and Dads on this board (and a few SaLT too).

2boysnamedR Mon 05-Aug-13 20:52:14

My son had to wear headphones but I think he was a bit older - about 2.5? They make the hearing test age appropriate so don't worry about that. Try not worry or look to far ahead, it might just all come in a rush like sunshine says. But if not then your laying some groundwork to get the help he might need ( let's hope not). I think it's good to worry a bit - it shows how much you care for him. But also there's things to do in a certain order and timeframe. You want answers now understandably but he needs have the assessment first, so just focus on each step and try not to look to far into the future.

riojabotherer Mon 05-Aug-13 21:00:28

sunshine that's a lovely story, you must have had a rough couple of years, though. It's such an interesting area - the more I find out, the more fascinated I become.

He does say 'Na' or 'Neh, neh, neh' when he's annoyed - I think it might be his way of saying 'No', but not sure. Maybe he's trying out all the vowels for size!

He can hum a nursery rhyme or two perfectly. He's a funny little fish.

I do feel guilty that we aren't exactly social butterflies - he mixes with other children once or twice a week. He'll be starting a couple of afternoons at nursery in January to help with that. He's definitely a thinker rather than a joiner at this stage.

What I need to do most of all, I think, is to stop comparing him to other children.

riojabotherer Mon 05-Aug-13 21:02:19

You are all so bloody kind - thank you!

ShoeWhore Mon 05-Aug-13 21:06:14

OP I think you are absolutely right to get this investigated - obviously I hope the results are reassuring for you but ime it pays to listen to your intuition. People often say things like ooh he'll suddenly talk in sentences (I was ready to punch the next person who mentioned bloody Einstein!) and they mean well but actually if it delays you getting help it's not really very helpful.

We had ds's hearing tested just to tick that box so he could be referred to SALT - turned out he had really bad glue ear and very limited hearing. Does your lo say a full range of consonants? Ds said "d" for most consonants and (I now know) that is a classic sign of impaired hearing. You could also see if he can understand you as well if you put your hand over your mouth or think about how well he responds if you call him from another room.

Don't worry about a hearing test anyway - the audiologists are great at engaging the children and ds always enjoys his.

re the friends thing: ds' lack of speech has never held him back in this respect, he is a sociable little chap and has always got on well with other children even when his speech was really difficult to understand.

He was chat-chat-chatting away very happily to me today so even if you do need some help along the way, it doesn't mean he won't get there. Do let us know how you get on and ask more questions if it will help.

riojabotherer Mon 05-Aug-13 21:21:56

Thinking about it now, when he babbles he says d, b, m, n, r, l, v and s. I hear t and f less often, and I'm not sure I've ever heard the others.

He can hear me from another room, I'm sure of that, but I'll definitely try talking to him with my hand over my mouth just to see. Very interesting.

Handywoman Mon 05-Aug-13 21:53:56

riojabotherer another one here with a dd with a history of severely delayed and disordered language <waves>. I too was fobbed off, by HV, nursery teacher, but soldiered on...

Private assessment revealed severely delayed and disordered language. My dd's history is very different to yours, except that you have a hunch, like me, that your ds needs an assessment. Go with your gut, it is rarely wrong. If he wakes up one day with verbal diarrhoea then hoorah, job done. But waiting lists for NHS SALT tend to be long. You are doing the right thing. In my case private SALT was amazing for dd2 - happy ending there too.

riojabotherer Mon 05-Aug-13 22:04:29

Hi Handywoman, thanks for the encouragement. Let's hope our story ends as well! I'm very glad I started this thread. If I'm honest I hoped everyone would say I had nothing to worry about, but this is really great advice and it's spurring me on to push for the help we need. Whatever the outcome my little chap will have been very lucky.

Wish I'd picked this up sooner - looking back I'm sure I used to worry that he was later starting to babble than other babies. Better late than never, eh.

JJXM Wed 07-Aug-13 17:57:19

I went to GP when DS was 2 and did not speak at all and told to come back in a year because the GP's nephew was 3 and only recently started talking hmm. So I self-referred to SALT and 15 months later DS still has no words and a dx of ASD.

Ignore anecdotal evidence and go with your gut - even after dx people will still try to convince you that your child will speak Shakespeare out of nowhere (or like MIL try to convince me that DS doesn't have autism angry)

riojabotherer Wed 07-Aug-13 21:49:58

I'm awaiting a hearing test appointment for him. The HV said she would discuss it in her weekly meeting. Not sure what's to discuss, really. I would like my son's hearing tested - please arrange! Have a feeling I'll need to work at being more patient.

JJXM Hope you don't mind me asking, but were there any other indicators that lead to the ASD diagnosis, or did they dx purely from lack of speech? Sorry if I sound naive - new to all this.

2boysnamedR Wed 07-Aug-13 22:53:59

Crickey jjxm - how do they get so wrong?! I have a biggish gp surgery so like to see one gp, then another one if I don't like the first ones attitude lol!

Rio - no don't be too patient. Write your concerns down in a short letter ' I am worried ds is consistently behind his peers, I want a referral to salt ASAP' hand it over to the hv, if no joy tell her your self referring him anyway so please can you have the contact number. The same with hearing test but that should be a shorter waiting list.

On a side note my 16 month old is not walking talking pointing etc - the hv still has the cheek to tell me 'oh don't compare them, they all walk by two ' where have I hear that before?! Oh yes! It was you mrs hv. Good job at five has doesn't still have severely delayed speech isn't it?

If your not on list for hearing and salt by two weeks then just get pushy. Don't get fobbed off with the wait till he two then 2.5 malarkey. If he is gibbering away at two you always just cancel it ( but I wouldn't anyway as I think you'd need the peace of mind)

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