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I honestly feel my DS will never talk

(79 Posts)
insideleg Thu 28-Feb-13 18:50:58

I would love some advice from anyone who may have experience with speech delay.

My DS is nearly 2 1/2 and has never said a clear word. He was born 2 months early with severe IUGR and was in NICU for 2 months - this had quite an impact on his physical development but he has now caught up with walking/running/ motor skills etc. Not sure how relevant that is but wanted to include it.

He babbles with mainly 'gah' and 'bah' sounds but simply seems unable to experiment with any other sounds.

We are currently waiting for a drop in session with a local SALT and have also tried the following:

Singing LOTS, rhymes songs etc.
Imaginative play - we lead, he leads etc.
Simplified language - one or two words repeated during play
Sign language - we use about 10 signs regularly with him.
Reading a range of books - some with words and a narrative, some pictures without words which we use to make up a story
We talk lots to him, but then consciously leave spaces after talking to allow a response - aim for 10 seconds.
We avoid saying 'say ...'.

The sounds he makes have been the same for well over a year, and he really doesn't seem to be making any improvement. I am really worried. He understands pretty much everything we say, and can recognise so many objects during reading etc.

During his 2 year check up recently (which was a few months late due to an admin error) the health visitor just said 'he'l talk when he is ready'. It wasn't very helpful.

Sorry this is very long but I was wondering if anyone had any experiences like this? I quite honestly cannot imagine a time when I will be able to have a 2 way conversation with him. Any info or advice would be much appreciated

insideleg Sat 02-Mar-13 12:06:43

OK so I have booked DS an appt with the GP to ask for a hearing test referral.

I have also been looking at speech delay vs speech disorder. I am wondering if anybody might know from experience or otherwise - if a speech disorder is diagnosed does it have an impact on any other developmental area? During the 2 year developmental review every other level was on track, it was just speech that was behind.
Any advice would be appreciated

zzzzz Sat 02-Mar-13 12:18:52

What other areas are you thinking of? If you mean things like motor skills etc, they wouldn't be effected, neither would other cognitive skills necessarily but it's very dependent on the person doing the test because if thy let language be a barrier, it is!

The difference between delay and disorder is hard to distinguish in a very small child because they are only a short distance into their language development. Treatment is the same support for communication.

Behavioural problems and understanding of the world can be an issue because if you don't receive language, road sense, and potty training etc are much more difficult.

kelda Sat 02-Mar-13 12:20:24

insideleg - sorry to hear of your concerns. I know how worrying it is.

My ds is now four and a half and has two speech disorders - speech dyspraxia (childhood apraxia of speech) and a phonological disorder. His vocabulary is probably ok, and his understanding (and hearing) are good.

Regarding your question - does a speech disorder relate to other developmental areas- in my ds's case, yes, we think it does.

It was his speech therapist and nursery school teacher who told me that they suspected other problems. As the teacher told me, they can compare him to other children in his age group, and they can see what I don't see.

He is being assessed for dyspraxia and we may have him assessed for autism - the school have referred him for this.

Personally, I think he has dyspraxia, but I don't think he has autism. He is loving, emotional, empathetic. But his speech disorder has made him extremely shy. I have also seen a clear improvement in his speech and vocabularly, he is making progress, even if the school don't see this progress.

Listen to your instincts. If necessary, fight for what he needs. We were fobbed off for months before getting the speech therapy - we were told his problems were due to being bi-lingual and a boy. We knew otherwise, and unfortunately we have been proven right.

With the right professionals, your ds will be helped. It sounds like you are doing everything right at home.

DottyDot Sat 02-Mar-13 12:25:44

Hi there - ds1 was like this. Pretty much silent all the way through babyhood/toddlerhood. He understood everything but refused to try to talk and also refused to nod/shake his head and also point... although we knew he knew what we wanted him to do. hmm

He eventually started talking when ds2 came along and was (is) the noisiest baby/child in the universe. I really think ds1 realised he'd have to start talking to keep up with ds2! So he was probably around 3-ish when he started talking properly.

He's 11 now and still a very quiet boy - that's his preference. No conversation unless it's absolutely necessary (to him, this usually involves what he wants to buy...). Ds2 is still a complete chatterbox and drives his big brother bonkers with all the noise he makes.

Good luck and I'm sure you'll be having those 2 way conversations very soon and wishing for a bit of peace and quiet grin

insideleg Sat 02-Mar-13 14:45:54

Thank you zzzzz, kelda and DottyDot

Yes zzzzz I meant the other areas and of course realise it depends on each child.

I have realised that the potential 'drop-in' sessions (not one-to-one - more of a playtime) are over the coming months but that seems like such a long time - it would probably be around 3 that he would get any individual help and so I have decided to find an independent SALT for a full assessment. It just means I will have to return to work early from maternity leave in order to pay for it but he really needs help now, not in 6 months.

zzzzz Sat 02-Mar-13 15:05:28

I think having you at home day o day running through exercises/activities may be of more value than SALT.

Can I recommend the sn board here again? There are several SALTs who post, some with children with language/speech disorder themselves, they will give you tons of advice if you ask a question, including what is likely to happen in your area and what you can start doing now.

kelda Sat 02-Mar-13 15:08:40

insideleg - I worked shifts all of last year - and because of that, ds was spending up to 10 hours a day in nursery and after school care. Funnily enough, even thouhg we could afford to pay for private SALT, he was not making any progress.

Since I have been at home with him more, he has made far more progress.

It depends on your job, and the hours of course. But for us, at the moment at least, it is more valuable to ds for me to be with him more. I will be looking for a job with hours that fit in with the school hours.

insideleg Sat 02-Mar-13 15:18:43

Thanks all - luckily I only work 2 days a week when back at work (teacher) so he will be with me 5 days. My parents also give DS many many hours - we see them everyday.

I think initially the assessment would be most useful. We simply have no idea if it is a speech delay or something more.

I will definitely create a thread on SN board, thank you everyone for all your advice

insideleg Sat 02-Mar-13 16:13:03

kelda may I ask how the SALT was less effective than your time?

kelda Sat 02-Mar-13 16:20:48

insideleg - because a SALT is only 30 minutes twice a week. Of course she guides what we have to practise, but if the practise and follow up isn't happening at home, then it's not a surprise if the child doesn't progress.

In my situation, shift work (evenings, weekends, nights) meant I didn't spend enough time with ds, practising with him, increasing his confidence etc.

kelda Sat 02-Mar-13 16:21:36

Of course if you just go back two days a week, then that is a far better situation.

insideleg Sat 02-Mar-13 18:03:37

thank you. hoping we'll be able to survive on 2 days plus DH. Thanks so much for all the replies - I feel more empowered and not paranoid or impatient. I know there is a problem.

adoptmama Mon 04-Mar-13 12:29:26

Hi OP. Your DS reminds me of DD.I think you are right to be proactive in addressing your concerns. Your son is speech delayed and iMO the sooner you can get some positive intervention the better it will be for him. I had similar concerns and asked for a hearing test which revealed glue ear (awaiting surgery) and also a nasal blockage, both affecting speech. Speech assessment last week means likely will also have speech disorder diagnosis. What was helpful was the SLT saying that as she didn't speak in a normal time frame and she has significant delay, I should view her speech as being a year behind and that her speech is normal for a two year old and to keep that in mind. It is normal for stage of development rather than chronological age. Early intervention means she hopefully has a good outcome ahead. I would urge you to listen to your worries and look for intervention

ouryve Mon 04-Mar-13 12:43:48

insideleg I can't offer any direct advice, since my DS's speech disorder is bundled in with his ASD.

Once his hearing has been checked, if you can push for a full SALT evaluation, they should be able to assess whether his receptive language is as delayed as his expressive language. If his receptive language is good, it may be that his speech delay stems from dyspraxia, which affects his ability to form words (and might also affect his ability to sign). If his hearing test is clear and his receptive language is delayed, then that would give clues about what other investigations may need doing.

You may encounter "caring carrots" on the SN board. I think that's what your HV offered you, unfortunately! Utterly unhelpful advice.

adoptmama Mon 04-Mar-13 13:15:24

Re speech and hearing insideleg as I know you mentioned his hearing seemed ok. With DD she can hear if I whisper in her ear even though she has hearing issues. Speech therapist explained to me it is to do with the frequency of the noise, not the volume. Normal speech is often a low frequency which is why speech acquisition can be affected. Also with something like glue ear the loss can be intermittant e.g. worse in winter when many colds etc are doing the rounds.

We are looking at a speech disorder diagnosis, possibly Apraxia of Speech as well as issues from delay etc. I found it very helpful when I started researching what could be wrong to listen to other children with speech disorders as it enabled me to quickly identify issues that seemed to be consistent with my child. We are unlucky in that DD has delay, hearing issues and a speech disorder - so it is not impossible to have a combination of problems such as his prematurity and a disorder all impacting. Good luck in getting some proper help and advice.

blueberryupsidedown Mon 04-Mar-13 14:32:32

Apraxia of speech is known as Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia, and some speech therapists will also refer to Developmental Oral Dyspraxia which is slightly different. The issue with many speech disorders is that the diagnosis cannot take place before the child says at least a few words. There is a check list and very interesting article here:

DS now 5 was diagnosed with DVD at 3.5.

If I were you I would start this: sit your child on your knees facing you, quite close to you, face to face, and pull funny faces at him and try to see if he can imitate you. Blow kisses, fill up your cheeks with air, pull your tongue out, etc. Then make some vowel sounds and praise him if he imitates you. Then you can try consonate sounds, in isolation. This is more to try and get him to imitate you than to try to speak, and it's not something I have read in books it's just my own experience. Some children find imitating sounds and faces very easy and others don't, and it's part of my observation with my son that he struggles to imitate.

We have to show him how to hold his pen by placing his fingers in the right position over and over and over again, same with the sounds, same with kicking a ball. It's almost as if his brain cannot 'see' a movement and reproduce it - we have to go through the motions with him over and over and over again.

It has taken us absolutely months to get him to put head under the water at the swimming pool because he couldn't figure out when to shut his mouth (!!) so we practiced it with him over and over again until he got it and now he's doing great at swimming. He also had physical dyspraxia.

I am not saying that this is the problem with your child, I am just trying to give you a few tips. Also, imitating your face and making lots of facial movement might make him aware of different muscles and/or make his muscles stronger. So it's not a bad thing.

kelda Mon 04-Mar-13 16:58:52

blueberryupsidedown - that's interesting on the swimming thing. With my ds, he has swimming lessons, and he is doing very well. He had to complete a test to go up to the next level but he couldn't complete it because he couldn't put his face under water.

blueberryupsidedown Mon 04-Mar-13 17:57:34

We physically had to show DS how to keep his breath in and keep his mouth shut under water, we practiced it 'pretend' at home, and practiced it in the pool, loads of time before he 'got' it. Then he made lots of progress quickly. Also we use a mirror a lot (with speech therapist also) so that he can see what he is doing with his mouth, then he can do it correctly.

kelda Mon 04-Mar-13 18:05:12

Thank you, that's a great tip.

insideleg Mon 04-Mar-13 20:40:09

Wow some fantastic advice and interesting stories thank you so much everyone. Interesting point about receptive and expressive language ouryve - they are absolutely poles apart with DS - I can ask him to go into his room and get a top/trousers/nappy whatever and he will return with it (I specify which drawer it is in). He really can follow so many instructions and yet cannot say a word.
I really hope the GP is ok with requesting a hearing test. I am so fed up of people saying he is lazy or it is because he is a boy.
blueberryupsidedown thank you so much for the link and activities we can try - I also found an interesting looking pack of resources from the nuffield website but in order to buy it I have to have a SALT write to them!
It is something I am worrying about all the time at the moment. Thanks everyone for such great advice.

NervyWervy Wed 06-Mar-13 09:33:25

Sorry, not read all thread but we found the dvd by oxbridge baby 'learn to talk' excellent. My dd was really engaged with it!

GinAndaDashOfLime Wed 06-Mar-13 09:47:58

My ds said not a single word till he was 2.8. I got so worried and fed up with waiting for SALT appointment on nhs that I took him to one private session which was ok .. But by far the best thing was when he started nursery they wrote an IEP for him and did 10 minutes a day of their own SALT using games / sheets from my one private SALT appt / Internet / my own stuff (I'm also a teacher so I asked my SENCO for stuff). At 3 he started saying a few words, a month later full sentences and by 3.5 talked fluently - now at just 4 he talks NON STOP!!

MTSgroupie Wed 06-Mar-13 09:54:44

We live a distance from my SIL so we only see each other once a year. Well, we visited when her DC was 3 and we noticed that he still wasn't speaking. My SIL didn't have any experience with other children so she didn't think anything of it until we mentioned it. Help was slow in coming. She had to wait months for her DC to he assessed and then months to be allocated the actual help.

Things changed dramatically once he started nursery. Today, he is a very chatty 7 year old. However, academically he is a bit behind. We don't know if his learning difficulties caused his speech problems or whether his speech problems delayed his development and the resultant learning difficulties.

Either way, he is a friendly and popular boy so, from that viewpoint, things are ok.

atrcts Thu 07-Mar-13 08:40:33

I experienced much the same as you, there is an awful lot of worry about so many potential conditions he could have causing him to be unable to talk! The best we got was "uh-oh" for "hello", and he seemed to hear fine.

It wasn't until I sent him to nursery at aged 2 1/2 that they said something isn't right, their best guess is his hearing. I was really surprised as, like I said earlier, he seemed to hear the rustle of a crisp packet from the other room!!!!!

I asked the GP for a referral to ENT and got sent to a Community Paediatrician who immediately diagnosed severe glue ear!

While waiting for the standard 3 month review to retest for glue ear, he suddenly began to copy the odd word, and sure enough by the time we had the retest he was hearing fine and talking like a good un!

FlipFantasia Fri 08-Mar-13 01:56:16

OP I felt similar when DS was two and a half. I honestly wondered if he'd ever speak clearly and was sick with worry about it. And was sick of the "oh Einstein didn't speak until he was three" type of advice not to worry. I did lots of googling and found this board to be full of interesting advice.

We had read the Hanen It Takes Two to Talk book (recommended on here) and found it very useful. It helped DS to get some words (we really modified how we spoke as per the advice in the book - sounds like you're doing a lot of that anyway) but they weren't clear. As in, we understood him but it sounded like gobbledygook to everyone else. He made up a lot of his own words and used Da a lot. But his receptive language was excellent - could follow elaborate instructions, knew a lot of colours, shapes, numbers - but he didn't really imitate sounds or words (he did imitate funny faces in the mirror).

Anyway, we had him assessed at a speech therapist in late Nov (he was 2.8) and it was pretty depressing. He didn't click with her and was very shy, so revealed even less of his speech than normal. She really thought it could be verbal dyspraxia and we were facing potentially years of treatment with twice weekly visits. Strangely the shyness had me most upset, as I was a shy kid and hated it.

But that afternoon something clicked and he started saying a lot more, eg "Mai Mai" for Maisy (he loves Maisy books!) and a version of his own name. It sounds v odd, but I think he realised that we wanted him to imitate and verbalise more. It was a real turning point.

We had to change speech therapists due to changing our insurance (we're in the US, so it's all done on private insurance here) and he was reassessed in Jan - the new therapist hit it off with him immediately and he's been seeing her weekly since mid Jan. She doesn't think it's verbal dyspraxia but an expressive language delay with some oral/motor issues (he was a massive drooler, still drools a bit, couldn't blow bubbles etc). The change in him is unbelievable. He's 3 next week and (finally!) others can mostly understand him. Today he revealed he can sing the ABC song in its entirety - still some things that aren't clear but in January I could never have imagined such a thing!

The speech therapy consists of exercises like blowing - eg blowing feathers/cotton wool with a straw, blowing party streamers, blowing little trumpets/recorders/mouth organs, bubbles - as well as particular phrases that we work on. For instance, the first week it was "I want X". He'd ask for cheese and I'd hold it saying "I want cheese" and he started repeating. That simple phrase suddenly meant he was speaking in a proper 3 word sentences. Practice is key - we practice daily, but it's such fun. His little sister is nearly 1 and sounds like she's going to be speaking soon (she's benefiting from all the speech therapy play too!).

Sorry for the novel of a post but I just wanted to offer some hope that 6 months is a long time when they're this young. And that speech therapy is a really positive step. And that he's lucky that you're with him so much, as parents (and grandparents) can really give the attention that supports SALT.

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