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When does a speech delay become a speech difficulty and how can this be dealt with?

(12 Posts)
LadyintheRadiator Mon 15-Nov-10 13:42:55

My DS is just 3. At his 2 year check we were offered a referral to a SALT - I wasn't too worried then, but he didn't have many words, no sentences, so I jumped at the chance (after having read many times on here that it's better to have an early referral and not need the service in the long-run, than put it off and have more problems later on)

So we had some group therapy, home visits, filming, I have the Hanen books, love them, DS very responsive, and in terms of the way he is communicating now at 3 I don't think he is very far behind anymore - he talks sooooo much more and has really come on partic in the last couple of months.

But no one else can understand him. As his vocabulary expands, his speech if anything seems to be getting worse. Sticker sounds like digger. Yoghurt, chocolate, favourite - they are all the same really. I understand him. DP gets a good 90% of it. Beyond us it's hit and miss really, though a couple of my friends are fab and seem to tune into it really well IYSWIM.

Anyway am waffling because the baby's asleep but at what point does this become something else - a different problem, or issue if you like, where do we go from here? So far the SALT has been a bit vague but we have not seen her for a few months and his sentences were very short them so maybe his speech seemed clearer because of that?

I worry more and more because I can see his awareness increasing and he seems to notice a bit when people ask 'what did he say?'

sheeplikessleep Mon 15-Nov-10 13:46:33

Same position here, DS1 just turned 3 and verbalising in 2-3 word sentences, but pronouniciation v unclear.

Seeing SALT at end of November and I'll be asking the same question.

No help to you I know, but I'm interested what others think.

cat64 Mon 15-Nov-10 14:22:43

Message withdrawn

LadyintheRadiator Mon 15-Nov-10 15:00:26

Thanks cat, I have told the SALT many of his mis-pronunciations etc and she has been reassuring, saying clarity and sounds come last - it's just that as his language has come on it's so much more apparent and it's almost everything he says. But, I will make some notes yes and speak to pre-school - the SALT we are seeing does spend time in the pre-school too so they should be communicating with her in a general sense anyway.

Of course no one can tell me, probably not even the SALT at this stage, I just wonder what is in store for DS - a speech delay was one thing and I could see an end to that IYKWIM - DP barely said a word until he was 4 and did not suffer for it - but I suppose now I'm becoming aware that this isn't going to go away overnight and I worry for him.

sheep do come back and let us know how you get on - we too are seeing the SALT at the end of the month, I just got impatient about it blush

I am also finding I might be perceiving my DS as younger, emotionally, intellectually, than he actually is - does that make sense? Sometimes I am surprised by what he knows and understands, and I worry I'm failing him.

sheeplikessleep Mon 15-Nov-10 15:12:06

lady - you could be me smile, i have exactly the same concerns.

i was sort of hoping for 'he didn't say anything for ages, then started speaking in sentences one day' type scenario, but likewise, we are finding progress slow, but encouragingly, steady. maybe we see less progress because we see them everyday? i know things have moved on, from friends / family trying unsucessfully to make conversation with him, to now, looking at me to interpret him when he talks.

he also gets so frustrated now when he is trying to talk. he says a word or two over and over, trying to communicate with me. i just don't understand and i can't do anything. i ask him to point, which sometimes helps, but he prefers to just repeat the word over and over. i feel like i just want to help him stop getting him frustrated.

i also worry i am 'babying' him, because he isn't able to express and articulate himself. and likewise, there are things he is now starting to say that really surprise me - his memory for things is outstanding and he is much more clued up than i give him credit for. i worry that other aspects of his development are being delayed because he isn't communicating that well yet. learning colours, shapes, numbers etc. which i am incorporating into the day to day. but it's difficult to know what he knows or not.

i'm sure they'll get there. no matter how everyone keeps saying 'he'll be fine', it is worrying isn't it.

LadyintheRadiator Mon 15-Nov-10 15:32:23

Oh, I think I must be you then sheep I could have written all of that - my DS too has been doing the repetition of a word or two, also had brief periods of stammering or stuttering, usually when starting a sentence with 'I want'. So instead of 'I want juice please' I might get a good minute's worth of 'I wan I wan I wan I wan' without so much as a pause in there.

I try very hard not to interrupt him or talk for him and I let him take as long as he needs but within a day of the last phase I must admit I was finding myself really irritated. Poor DS. Touch wood these phases have so far been short though.

It's so hard isn't it - along with worrying about what he does and doesn't know, I worry I overdo the praise when I finally figure something out.

Some things are just very sweet though too and I am sure I will miss them in years to come - we walked through John Lewis' Christmas dept yesterday and he ran up to a tree saying 'ohhh happy birthday mama!' in reference to tree decorations that were shaped like a wrapped present and others make me feel terribly sorry for him - yesterday he was trying to tell me that his garage wasn't making any noise - he was saying 'no batteries' and I didn't 'get' it, I asked him to show me what he meant and he went to the kitchen drawer where we keep spare batteries and said it again - and looked so pleased when I finally understood - while I just felt guilty.

Sorry, more waffle, baby asleep again and it's nice to talk to someone who can see it from my POV

I have just been reading and nodding along to this if it resonates with you. Also I meant to add, we have had DS's hearing checked a few times (didn't complete the test the first couple of times!) and it's fine.

LadyintheRadiator Mon 15-Nov-10 20:00:48


maxybrown Mon 15-Nov-10 22:22:46

Hi, I do think that once words are there, with maturity and help from a good Salt then pronunciation will come.

I am not the normal run of the mill parent saying this - i know how frustrating it is! My son is 3.2. Only last week he managed to join two words togther for the first time, Daddy's Car (pron Daddy's tar) but as he learns new ones, sometimes the old ones drop away and he cannot form a sentence at all. He cannot tell anyone his name or say hardly anything he knows.

He most probably has verbal dyspraxia and it is heartbreaking at times and bloody hard work, even though people may not understand that! It's very very hard though when you can understand and others can't. So many people are talking to DS in shops (he is quite cute and seems to attract the old ladies if nothing else lol) and he of course can't say anything back. Now I just tell people that he has a severe speech delay - though some do apologise and move away in case it is contagious hmm or look at me like I muct be one of these modern parents with a made up modern disease so to speak!

AdelaofBlois Tue 16-Nov-10 14:27:49

maxybrown is an inspiration. My DS (3.2) also has verbal dyspraxia, although seemingly much less affected than hers and yours (he regularly strings 9-15 words sentences together, and over the last month we've been able to talk to him about his experiences when we're not around, but even we can't always understand, and he too is getting harder to get as his sophistication increases).

SaLT, though, was very clear that his speech was disordered not delayed-that there were significant inconsistencies between receptive and expressive language; between syntactic and grammatical aspects of expressive language and speech sound production; and that his speech sounds were not simply delayed but inconsistently produced.

That's I imagine what you should be asking-is this delay or disorder. Therapeutically, the answer will be more SaLT sessions, but a delay should normalise with time, disorders are more variable (although, I've been told, always improve). If you and the SaLT think you can now reach a conclusion about delay/disorder it would be worth doing so asap.

Vikkile Tue 16-Nov-10 14:30:44

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

lljkk Tue 16-Nov-10 14:52:30

DD got to over 4yo and was still very hard for anybody to understand. Ah yes, that's another one of the myths that got thrown at us:

"She only talks the way she does because you understand her so well so she doesn't have to learn to talk clearly"

Er, no, we couldn't understand her >50% of the time. The preschool kept telling us her speech was fine all of us in the family struggled to understand and had to make her answer only yes/no to questions (we had to play 20 Questions basically to communicate). Similar experience with DS2 (who did get proper SALT in the end on NHS).

Anyway, off my hobby horse, OP: your DS's speech sounds to my amateur expert ears well within the normal spectrum. Much better than same age for my DD (whose speech resolved itself when she started school) or my DS2 (speech resolved with school and 12 sessions of SALT). I'm not saying you don't have anything to worry about, but I would be quite pleased if my 3 younger DC spoke that well at just over 3yo.

maxybrown Tue 16-Nov-10 20:36:41

Oh thank you AdelaofBlois blush

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