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Upset by health visitor

(97 Posts)
catfan Thu 01-Nov-12 10:55:12

I took my 16 month old son to be weighed by the health visitor. Wasn't feeling concerned about his development until health visitor said his speech was delayed. He does only have about 5 words but babbles constantly. She said I should read to him more. I read the whole time - she said obviously not in the right way (???) He is very active - running around, climbing etc. He points the whole time and communicates very effectively by that means. Could it be that is taking the place of words? Am I a bad mother for not worrying until now?

tiktok Thu 01-Nov-12 11:13:16

This seems very young for the HV to be worried about speech in that way - and the way you describe your son sounds absolutely within normal!

Babies learn to speak not by being read to, but by responsive and interactive relationships between them and the people they love smile Books are part of this, of course, just as playing and chatting are smile

This is quite a good timeline:

Can you call your HV and say how upset you feel? And how at a loss you feel when she says you aren't reading in the right way....she needs to know that she has somehow not managed to support you and has left you adrift. Not her job at all sad

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Thu 01-Nov-12 11:14:23

I think sometimes you don't realise there's a problem until someone points it out to you, especially if it's your first child as you don't have another to compare him/her to. I would ask him what he wants when he points, and get him to say the word. He may know what he wants, but it would help if he could say the word. You're not a bad mother, not at all. brew

SamSmalaidh Thu 01-Nov-12 11:18:07

I would be amazed if a 16 month old can be diagnosed as "speech delayed" hmm 5 words, babbling and pointing sounds exactly normal for a 16 month old!

ChippingInLovesAutumn Thu 01-Nov-12 11:21:57

16 months? She's batshit. Ignore the daft mare. He sounds perfectly normal for his age.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 01-Nov-12 11:26:34

My Dd was recognised as speech delayed before that, but because she didn't babble. By babble, do you mean sounds with clear consonants? My Dd made only "intonated vowel sounds" until she was about 2.5. Like your DS, she was very communicative non verbally.

zillyzilly Thu 01-Nov-12 11:28:18

grin I agree with ChippingIn.

BabydollsMum Thu 01-Nov-12 11:30:18

Sounds perfectly normal to me. I'm not sure DD had that many more words at 16 months and now at nearly 21 she's positively considered 'advanced'. Stupid woman to worry you like that. Could it be possible she read the notes wrong and thought he was older. I gave up with HVs a long time ago. No confidence in them at all I'm afraid and where I used to live in inner London mine could barely speak English. She didn't understand my questions at all. Sorry, this is turning into a rant but I'm really cross for you! x

unexpectediteminbaggingarea Thu 01-Nov-12 11:37:39

gosh no, you're not a bad mum. Children learn to speak at different times. My DD didn't really start speaking properly until she was (I think) about 2, but when she did start, it was very quick. Because she's my second, I didn't worry about it, as she was communicating in different ways and I knew she understood lots.

16 months seems very early to be worrying, especially on the basis of one brief meeting.

Trust your instincts, as always.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 01-Nov-12 11:43:23

Has she done anything other than make the reading comment. I'm not sure I'd dismiss her as quickly as other posters (we can't listen to him!), but I would be asking for more concrete action. My Dd was referred for hearing tests, and subsequently for speech therapy. Bearing in mind that the waiting list was 13 months, I would advise early action if there are real concerns.

APipkinOfPepper Thu 01-Nov-12 11:44:17

Goodness - my DS only said his first word at 16 months, he had about 5 words at 18 months. Though he was alsomaking lots of noises (eg brm brmm for cars, etc). He's 4 now, and absolutely fine! Seems a bit of an over-reaction by the HV?

LadyMacbethIsBored Thu 01-Nov-12 11:49:49

I thought "normal" was 5-20 words by 18 months. Therefore your DS is ahead of the game.

Pozzled Thu 01-Nov-12 11:58:35

From what you've described, he is absolutely normal. Did the HV mention any other concerns? If it was purely about the amount of words, then she's talking nonsense.

Notquite Thu 01-Nov-12 12:00:39

Sounds OK to me, but why not lay it in front of a gp (do you have one with a paediatric specialism - there is one at our surgery who does the 9-month checks and is very good with things developmental), tell them exactly what the hv said and ask for an opinion. That should put your mind at rest and flag up a possible area of concern with the hv without having to com

Notquite Thu 01-Nov-12 12:01:40

Bugger. ... complain. Of course if there is a genuine cause for concern, it can then be looked at.

kige Thu 01-Nov-12 12:04:37

Utter bollox.
Carry on as you are, weigh him yourself at home - if you struggle, weigh yourself first and then weigh yourself again whilst holding him and subtract to find his weight. You can plot in red book on graph if you desire. I wouldn't bother with HV again aside from mandatory checks which vary from area to area.

tiktok Thu 01-Nov-12 12:07:54

Er....she's not worried about his weight! smile

ThisLittleTeddyBear Thu 01-Nov-12 12:15:02

My DD is nearly 17 months, and doesn't have five words... I think she is doing fine, she babbles to herself, says mummummum, daddaddad, nannannan (not necessarily to the correct people but is getting better) and only this week has has done an approximation of 'grandad' and has mastered her first real word.

I have been mildly concerned she doesn't really say much, but know really that she is just quite shy by nature. She watches closely and seems to mouth words I try to teach her but is shy of actually making much noise. She does however 'know' many many words and can complete fairly complex instructions (e.g. find a book to show your dolly, put your shoes by the door). It's really hard not to worry though.

So, your son sounds fine to me. I wish HVs would think about the worry they could cause before they make judgements from a single meeting- at 16mths she won't really see your son that often.

Lottapianos Thu 01-Nov-12 12:16:54

'I would ask him what he wants when he points, and get him to say the word'

Don't do this OP - say the word for him but don't ask him to copy you. If he knows a word, he will use it - if he's pointing instead, it means he doesn't know it yet. So say the word for him so he can learn to understand it over time. Understanding always comes before talking, so don't ask him to say it.

It sounds like your HV wasn't very tactful and I'm sorry if you're feeling upset, but she was absolutely right to give you advice about developing his language skills, even at his young age. I'm an Early Years SLT and the very best advice I can give you is to go to your local Children's Centre, hopefully you have one nearby. You will get loads of advice on what to do with him at home (you're probably doing lots of great stuff already but just don't know it!) and there will be free groups that you can go to where you and he will have a chance to play together, he can spend time with other children and there will probably be a SLT there to give you ideas and answer your questions. Feel free to PM me if you want some more advice or if you have specific questions.

GPs usually know absolutely nothing about speech and language development sadly so I would advise going straight to the Childrens' Centre.

matana Thu 01-Nov-12 12:27:38

Your HV sounds like a bit of a loon tbh - at that age, they could be saying lots of words but your ears have not yet become attuned to their pronunciation and that actually takes time and concentration so that you can begin repeating what your LO says, with the correct pronunciation. At that age my DS probably had 5 recognisable words (excluding 'mummy' and 'daddy') but was trying to say an awful lot more that we just couldn't recognise. Even when reading with him, he was using the same word for the same picture but those words bore no resemblance to how they're actually pronounced.

He's now 23 mo and has around 100 recognisable words and many more that we can't quite understand yet. His speech took off literally overnight. They say between 18 months and 2 years is when you notice a marked improvement both in the range of words spoken and their clarity. I've noticed over the past month he carefully watches our mouths to see how to form the words and many people have commented on the clarity of his words. We literally cannot shut him up now!

Your DS sounds normal to me, though i think i remember worrying about the same thing at 16 months (primarily because my niece already had a huge vocabulary at the same age, but she is now conversationally fluent at 3yo).


TheFallenMadonna Thu 01-Nov-12 12:34:34

I'm a bit bothered by all the posters saying ignore the HV. My Dd was vocal, and people were surprised when she was referred, but there was a problem. I hope there isn't a problem with the OP's DS, and the HV's comment does seem unhelpful if that was the extent of it, but early intervention is better, and, as I said, DD waited for 13 months for her SALT...

tiktok Thu 01-Nov-12 12:37:58

I agree, Madonna - we were not there, we are not trained etc etc.

My idea was to call the HV back and explain how upset the appointment had been, and ask for more the very least, the HV needs to know that if she thinks there is a concern, she needs to do something about it, and not scare the bejabers out of mothers sad

TheFallenMadonna Thu 01-Nov-12 12:40:08

Sensible advice!

Bagofspiders Thu 01-Nov-12 12:45:16

I work with pre school children and I can assure you that if your 16 month old has 5 words you really have no need to worry about his speach!
The locum GP I saw yesterday told me my nearly 17 month old DS should have started potty training by now confused.

Lottapianos Thu 01-Nov-12 12:49:06

'The locum GP I saw yesterday told me my nearly 17 month old DS should have started potty training by now'

That's certainly potty advice! shock

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