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Need some reassurance...Will my 3 years old ever speak like a normal child?

(29 Posts)
Riverbreathes Sat 27-Feb-16 14:45:59

I feel more and more anxious for my DS who's nearly 3.5.

Looking at him in the library while smaller children could have conversation with the librarian, participate the story telling and play games at ease, simply because they can (understand and express), I felt extremely sad for him.

He's always a bit quirky, but he's a very happy boy and relatively well behaved with few tantrums. He's always one of the favourites of the teachers in the nursery. Our instincts have been telling us all along that he's a smart child, but in reality all his development milestones emerged later than others and his behaviour level won't match his peers at a intellectual level. He's a little boy, but when I saw children of his age how they speak, things they do/want and how they engage with others (children/adults), I know he's at least a year behind.

He started talking late too. By 2 years old, he could not speak more than 10 words. We've been hoping it would catch up naturally and he would get there eventually on his own. But it didn't happen. It has improved, but very very slowly. Even after he started nursery last October, his vocabulary only improved on monthly basis, not daily or weekly. By now, he can probably use about 60-70 words, but on a daily basis he manage to get away with as little as roughly 30 words. It's not that he can't copy, but it seems that he's just not interested. He would copy once or twice if he's asked to do so, but he has no motivation to use those new words spontaneously (or occasionally). As I said, he has a quirky personality. You can't force him to do things he doesn't want to (not without big efforts). If he's not interested in learning new words, then he's not interest. I'm also not sure how much he could really understand. He definitely pretends he understands sometimes, and he also don't hear what you say all the time and he sometimes would deliberately choose to ignore you, so no matter how you want to engage, he just ignore you.

We only started requesting for help through NHS around the end of last year. It progresses very slowly. It seems his hearing test concluded he has enough hearing capability for normal speech development. I don't think he's autistic (98% sure because of his quirk). We are put in the waiting list for assessment which would not happen until summer. So we are taking him for a private assessment next week.

More and more, I feel really sad. There are some many interesting things about the world he could learn, but he can't as he doesn't have the vocabulary to understand. And he's only a year and a half away from reception year. I'm worried now if in the end he has to go to special school, instead of the main stream schools as a normal child. My instinct still don't believe it, but the reality seems gradually leaning towards a not so normal childhood far behind what his peers have enjoyed and achieved.

Before he was born, I wished he was a smart child. But now, I just wish he's a normal little boy...

Sorry for such a lengthy post. But really want some comfort and reassurance...

holeinmyheart Sat 27-Feb-16 16:55:09

We had a very worrying time regarding our grandson. Your post could have described him. When he was younger, he could let you know what he wanted alright, but he didn't speak in sentences until he started pre school.

There was very little eye contact and he just repeated what you said constantly. He wouldn't answer if you spoke to him and he never ran up to you willingly, even though we know him well.
His cousin, who is around 18 months younger spoke and interacted with his adults and peers much more than he did.

He also speaks jibberish on occasion as well. We spoke to him on FaceTime this morning and he just went into jibberish mode. he still repeats.

However, I know he is clever. He says some brilliant things. His parents are also very very quiet.His speech is just not developed for some reason, although now, at nearly five, it is coming on in leaps and bounds.

His parents have not felt the need to seek help ( they haven't ever acknowledged anything is unusual about him) as the school haven't commented.

He is definitely a bit odd but we couldn't love him more.
So perhaps things will not be as bad as you think. We thought he was autistic at one stage.....but he is not.
I took him to the library for a toddler sing along and he just ran around the room.
Chin up. X go with your instincts....you know he is clever..."he is.

Riverbreathes Sat 27-Feb-16 19:55:05

Thank you for the comforting word, holeinmyheart. I feel very much want to cry reading your lines.

Love is unconditional. I kind of questioned myself if I worry for myself or for him, as I know the situation doesn't bother him as much (at least on the surface). He up to now doesn't feel the need to communicate to higher level. Not at all. Am I being pushy? Am I giving pressure to him unfairly. But having been sitting on the chair doing nothing but solely hoping things would work out in its own term could do harm. I was resisting to pressures from all sides (family, friends, other mums) for a long time, but the thought of him starting reception without the basic skill to adapt make me scared.

"I took him to the library for a toddler sing along and he just ran around the room." It describes him. He loves running, particularly in circles. I never understood it and each time it made me feel there's something wrong with him.

They all say you shall start talking to your child as soon as they were born, regardless if they understand or not. Neither I nor my DH did much on that side (we are not much cheery talkers). We kind of blindly believed children can pick up languages naturally regardless the environment. Now I constantly question myself, if all these are because we didn't do enough for him because of our ignorance. If I missed the first 3 years of "golden period" for wiring his brain...

I don't regret paying a fortune for a 90 minutes assessment, but I fear if 90 minutes can't give a conclusion or not the right conclusion. Is it a delay, or it's a disorder.

I also suspect myself dyslexia but never diagnosed. This also makes me feel guilty that I gave him the bad gene and impaired his chance of a fulfilled life (dyslexia makes me feel disabled in social life).

insan1tyscartching Sat 27-Feb-16 20:12:39

Well ds has ASD and had no words at three,he started to talk age five and had "normal" speech by seven. By normal I'd mean he spoke clearly with good grammar and an extensive vocabulary. He didn't really have conversations but he could get his needs met and answer questions but talking wasn't something he felt the need to do for any other reason.
From what you write I'd ask to be referred to a developmental paediatrician to check that his development is on track. It's quite odd that he can copy words but then doesn't add them to his repertoire because children quickly grasp that words are a means to an end and a way to get their needs met quicker than pointing and gestures would.
What other quirks have you noticed? Running in circles is repetitive behaviour have you noticed others?
You can see your GP and ask for a referral, take with you an outline of when he met his milestones and any other concerns you have.

Fugghetaboutit Sat 27-Feb-16 20:21:59

My ds is the same, this could've been about him! They are still very young, keep reminding yourself. Some boys don't start talking until 4 so your ds is doing well!

Mine is 3 too and in nursery a few mornings and his speech hasn't really improved despite everyone pushing me to put him in there to help.

I think he's just a slow burner with regards to speech and socialising. He'd much rather be in the forest throwing leaves around and chucking stones in the river than talking. Think of the positives and don't feel too sad, I know exactly how you're feeling and you're doing all the right things!

I haven't even looked into more SALT since he had some at 2 as I don't think it helps unless it's v intensive.

Liara Sat 27-Feb-16 20:22:08

My ds didn't talk at all until after 2. Then he started talking lots, but his pronunciation was terrible, there were loads of sounds he just could not do. He was completely incapable of sitting and listening to a story, and would absolutely run around in circles instead.

He is now 9, and although still not very good at sitting still (and with a disturbing tendency to pick things up and start fiddling with them) his vocabulary is amazing, his pronunciation perfect in English and very good in two other languages and his academic level in other subjects is very, very advanced.

He is definitely quirky and always will be, but we have decided to just go with it and embrace him as he is and he is absolutely thriving with it. He is also the kindest, most loving brother to ds2, which is worth all the 'normality' in the world to me.

TattieHowkerz Sat 27-Feb-16 20:27:21

Try the ICan and Afasic websites for advice on supporting his developing communication.

You'll be in a much better position after your SLT assessment.

Keep in mind that your son communicates, uses words and is progressing. These are all great positives.

insan1tyscartching Sat 27-Feb-16 20:28:43

Can I just add that autism doesn't necessarily mean not clever. Ds has offers for university places in October but he is still autistic and still disabled by the autism.
holeinmyheart I would urge your grandson's parents to seek an assessment, schools aren't experts in autism and without assessment you don't know if there is autism or not. Talking jibberish is in technical speak is using jargon and at five it wouldn't be usual.It's usually there when a child doesn't have words but is aware that speaking happens.
Ds's flashes of apparent genius were usually, eventually traced back to echolalia which is where a child repeats a phrase or even a whole speech word for word and sometimes but not always in context. Sometimes they are from films or television or even from overheard conversations. Dd (also ASD) once charmed a couple of ladies on holiday by apparently speaking fluent welsh. Neither she nor I knew what she was saying but it was from a conversation she had heard earlier.

Chrysanthemum5 Sat 27-Feb-16 20:38:42

If it is any comfort I know two people (one a friend, one a family member) who didn't really speak much until the age of 4 then both started talking in complete sentences. It was as if they could understand but just didn't want to talk until they could speak in sentences. Both did well at school, went to university, have lots of friends ect. Obviously I don't know if you dc is the same but I just wanted you to know.

Tomboyinatutu Sat 27-Feb-16 20:44:56

My son is 2 and doesn't speak, he knows 3 words but he will very rarely say them. We are currently learning Makaton to try and encourage him. If he decides he doesn't want to talk he should be able to sign. He had his hearing checked and we were told he has Hyperacusis, sensitive hearing. We don't know if he will ever talk, nor do professionals so we just have to keep trying to help him.

DobbinsVeil Sat 27-Feb-16 21:57:41

It's hard but you really have to focus on the here and now.

I found in the early years it was meeting my DS1 at his level and teasing him forward. Anything he enjoys adding a step to make it a joint game - adding in clapping to a chase game or trying to move it from running in circles to a change of shape or direction.
Any favoured items (not necessarily toys) within his view but requiring asking you (in a clear box he can't open) in some form be it verbal or just bringing to you for help.
He adored slapstick humour so me clowning about whilst doing household tasks would have him shrieking with laughter and the demands for more soon took verbal form. He hated puppets and didn't really care for bubbles which perplexed the SALT no end. Fortunately would had input from a brilliant Specialist Teacher who really got him and had a host of games that engaged him.

At 10 he now has an extensive vocabulary, was voted class councillor and also very much has ASD and is statemented (extra support in class soon to be a EHCP). All of that was pretty unthinkable at 3.

My DS1 was a very passive toddler and completely overlooked in his 1st preschool setting. As he was low-maintenance from their pov they just left him to it when he really needed more of their attention not less.

Hanen do some good books, it takes 2 to talk and more than words. The 2nd is more focused on ASD but if your child has receptive language difficulties it may be helpful. They can both b v expensive.

I really feel for you, the ice-cold fear of the future laying ahead... but if you get informed and take control it will make things so much easier.

Riverbreathes Sun 28-Feb-16 00:37:14

Thank you, ladies, for the encouraging and warm caring words. I can't tell you how much I appreciate all these.

insan1tyscartching, thanks. The assessment next week is with a paediatrician who's specialised in neurological cases. We will do it in private. Depending if we want to carry on with NHS or not, we will get another assessment with SALT in summer time.

Fugghetaboutit , my DS too, he'd rather running in the field or observing the slow moving snail or doing his so-called creative drawing (just lines in different directions...) than talking. He has very good attention span on activities he's interested in, but extremely in-cooperative on things he's not interested - talking properly is one of them. He can pronounce dinosaur okish if he's pushed, but he still insists going back to "dino" when it comes to "talking".
Is your son going to start school this year or next year? I agree with you that they might be just slow burner, but the reason made me finally reach out for assessment is the thought of the possibility of joining reception year without basic communication skill.

DobbinsVeil , you sounds like a brilliant mum and I'm happy for you that your son is doing so well now. All the best to him.
I've heard of the 1st book and will check out the 2nd one. If it can help with receptive language development, I could indeed get some enlightenment. -I'm not a natural when it comes to be a good mum who knows how to engage a little one. Thank you for the kind words again.

Tomboyinatutu, keep spirit high. I know well the feeling of not daring to hope. Learning Makaton is the right thing to do. He's still very young and he could turn out to be just as normal as everyone else. We just keep doing what we can until they get there one day.

Chrysanthemum5, thank you for giving the comfort. I know there might be a chance related to his self-esteem. For some reason, he's extremely proud of himself and very confident - but he hate it if he can't do thing he thinks he shall be capable of. Then he would just refuse to do it, instead pressing me or others to do it for him. I haven't worked out a way to make him understand it's ok to not be able to do something well. There is a slim chance it contributes.

TattieHowkerz, thanks. I know the improvement is positive, even if it's not as fast as I expected.

Liara, that sounds so much like my DS. He also has hard time to sitting still listening to a story. I'm not sure if he doesn't understand all the words or he's just bored with the story itself. I also suspect he has ADHD (probably from me, again!), but this wouldn't be properly diagnosed until fairly late into childhood, I think. Just need to find some proper support whichever way. You must be proud of your DS. I'm truly happy for you!

Riverbreathes Sun 28-Feb-16 00:39:41

There might be up and down, but I do feel a lot better now after having read the kind words from all of you. Thank you! flowers

Fugghetaboutit Sun 28-Feb-16 06:39:33

He'll be started reception next year as he was 3 last Christmas. It can't hurt to get him assessed so good On you. I have been meaning to talk to his nursery about his speech but they haven't come to me about it so I guess they aren't worried

yobro Sun 28-Feb-16 06:57:40

My son is 12 now, he had a speech delay and few people could understand him at 3.5 years. He did improve and you wouldn't notice a problem now.

However, I would say if you have any concerns regarding asd then I would push for assessment now. DS had speech therapy and asd was never mentioned, but now at age 12 we are awaiting assessment now that social and behavioural issues have become more apparent.

The signs were always there I just didn't want to see them. I always thought nursery/school would know, but lots of teachers don't really know much about asd.

If I could turn back time I would push for assessment at the earliest stage possible.

Fairylea Sun 28-Feb-16 07:32:54

Can I just ask why you don't think it could be asd? I have a son aged nearly 4 with asd and much of what you've written could relate to him. No one is capable of Internet diagnosis but I would definitely read up more on autism and be more open to the possibility that it could be that. The national autistic society website is a really good place to start.

Spanielcrackers Sun 28-Feb-16 07:50:19

He sounds like my first son who is now 22. He passed his hearing tests but his language skills just were not developing as they should. I used to read to him constantly and to his younger brother who was born 19 months later.
Fortunately, I lived in the USA at the time and the early intervention team from the school district tested him at three years old.

My son has a condition called Central Auditory Processing Disorder CAPD or Auditory Processing Disorder APD (more usual term in the UK). His brain struggles to filter language if there is background noise. It is both mentally and physically exhausting trying to unscramble spoken language if there is background noise and my son used to switch off into a daze or would jump up and run round and round the room.

It is believed that as many as 1 in 10 children have this condition but it is frequently misdiagnosed as ADHD.

He received intensive speech therapy in a specialist pre-school and was able to attend normal school with his peers with an IEP in place.

He was, and still is, a visual learner. Learning to read was key to him developing an explosion in language skills.

It was heartbreaking watching him struggle. The condition was quite socially isolating and he struggled to make friends. But he did improve and his confidence grew. He has been very successful academically. He started a Ph.D at a Russell Group university last October.

There is a closed Facebook group for Auditory Processing Disorder. They can provide help on where to go for a diagnosis.

I'm not suggesting your son has this, but it may well be a possibility. We'd never heard of it.

Bisghetti Sun 28-Feb-16 07:54:45

I'd agree with Fairylea. If I've understood correctly, he's a 'quirky' kid with delayed speech, likes repetitive drawing, and his social skills are not at a par with his peers. Those things to me (not an expert but a mum to a 5 year old with ASD) sound like possible flags for asd (though of course could be unrelated individual difficulties rather than liked to ASD). Its definitely worth reading up more about ASD before your paediatrician appointment as what you've described sound very familiar to me from my own experience with ds. The National Autistic Society site has great information on what ASD and Aspergers actually are and how they're defined. It's also worth reading about social communication and pragmatics in general. If you google those terms you'll find lots of information that might help you make notes and form questions for your appointment with the paed.

insan1tyscartching Sun 28-Feb-16 08:28:24

Fugget six weeks before my daughter was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism the community speech therapist told me I was neurotic about autism because I had a son with autism. She said dd was developing normally and had typical speech and language for a child her age.
The speech therapist from the child development centre in her report for assessment said that dd had very significant communication difficulties and disordered speech and language development.They both saw dd within weeks of each other (within three from what I remember)
My experience tells me that if you have any worries at all you should always ask to see a paediatrician so that someone looks at the whole picture. If I hadn't already had ds I might have been reassured by the community SALT and dd wouldn't have had the support she did have because her diagnosis would have been delayed.
Ironically my ds saw a different community speech therapist who referred him straight away to a paediatrician so it seems to me that your experience of referral and diagnosis depends very much on who you see.

Fugghetaboutit Sun 28-Feb-16 10:06:10

Insan was that for me or the OP?

I thought my ds might be autistic around 18 months - 2years as he was making no eye contact, ignored me when I called him and wouldn't play with me plus wasn't talking so he was referred.
He's not the most social, giggly child who doesn't stop laughing and playing and has good imagination too. He's still behind with certain things though like speech but has come on leaps an bounds. His SALT at the time was the one who suggested ASD as he wasn't 'there'

FraterculaArctica Sun 28-Feb-16 10:13:19

Riverbreathes forgive me if I'm wrong but is your son bilingual at all? It's just your posts suggest that English might be your second language - do you speak to him in English?

insan1tyscartching Sun 28-Feb-16 11:25:15

Sorry Fugget it was for yobro just giving my experience of a SALT dismissing concerns where another had huge concerns for the same child within the same month.
The community SALT who saw dd really shook my confidence in health professionals for quite a while tbh.She seemed determined to dismiss my concerns just because I had raised them and I had ds with autism.She told me to get rid of the dummy and then back pedalled when I said dd had never had a dummy, in her report she even wrote that dd had spoken where the other SALT confirmed dd didn't speak and didn't demonstrate pointing or shared attention skills that the other SALT had said she had.
The LA removed her report from dd's statement application because I showed it wasn't relevant or a representation of dd's difficulties and needs. They offered me the opportunity to speak with their legal team regarding making a complaint about SALT. I declined because I had more than enough on but occasionally think if others had the same experience.

Fugghetaboutit Sun 28-Feb-16 11:36:51

That's ok, I thought it was for the op smile

Sorry you had that experience, she doesn't sound very professional x

holeinmyheart Sun 28-Feb-16 13:46:14

* isan* Mmmm, my DH, the GF of my dear grandson ..... Let me describe him. When we had just met, we were fooling about on the lawn and he fell heavily onto my arm. I cried with pain and he just stared at me. I had to tell him how to respond. He also made love to me in complete silence. I found that odd. I had to tell him that he was allowed to show some enthusiasm. His penis did, but no actual words came out of his mouth.

If you ask him a question it might take him a minute to answer. This is a academic high achiever. He has no friends as such and was painfully shy when he was young and doesn't actively seek social interaction with anyone. All our social life comes from my efforts. I also love him dearly as he is as solid and dependable as a rock. I organise his life, which suits me. I am not dependable. I am a flaky, control freaky, drama Queen. ( I am fun )

That isn't to say that my DH is disliked, far from it. He doesn't engage so very few people know him. He is also tall and incredibly handsome, luckily ( talking George Clooney) He was the Boss at work and was respected, but has never gone to a works do. He is a loner and pedantic about getting things 'right' Empathising with others and confrontation are very difficult for him.

I met his Mother and Grandmother and they were exactly the same. You could sit with them for an hour and they wouldn't speak. His Mother ( still alive) has no friends and doesn't seek them either. I thought initially it was because she had been brought up by servants. My BIL is also a loner. He has nil communication skills.

My DD is also the same. Academic high achiever. Not at all touchy feely, very rarely cried as a baby and shows no visible outward signs of enthusiasm and excitement for anything. She has no ambition in her job, wanting to have a bigger house, car etc. Nothing.

Her main fear on her wedding day was that people would look at her! She is also stunningly beautiful, so men fell over her. She appeared to me quite cold in her dealings with some of the besotted beau. Her DH has told me that she can't talk about her feelings. Thank goodness he seems to worship her.

I drove hundreds of miles back to uni with her many times, and not one word passed her lips for two and a half hours.
I have other DCs who are extrovert, very chatty, have mounds of friends on FB etc. They tell me everything.

Could it be that my darling GS has just inherited these genes? At 4.10 months he does speak, not particularly well, loves other children and is a bit odd. He does say he loves me if I say I love him ( which is often) when he sees us after a few weeks, he does a kind of war dance and runs around the room. He does not rush into our arms.

I don't know what to think. My DH, his Mum, his Grandmother, my DD have all managed to marry and have outwardly successful lives. Are they just very introverted ? Or are they on the autistic spectrum?

I think their above average looks have helped them have relationships and I have come to terms with my husband's oddities.

insan1tyscartching Sun 28-Feb-16 15:29:42

Obviously I can't say whether it's autism or even whether your dh and his family have traits of autism/autism or some other difficulty but as a mum to two children with autism I would say that a child of five who uses jargon/who doesn't speak much/who repeats what has been said and who does a war dance rather than running for a hug should see a speech therapist at the very least.
Not necessarily to get a diagnosis but more to get the support for him to enable to reach his potential. The gaps in his language and communication skills will have a huge impact on his learning,they will affect his relationships with his peers and may well impact negatively on his behaviour. Your little grandson deserves the best support to ameliorate any difficulties in my opinion.
It's difficult as a parent to face the fact that your child might not be hitting the typical milestones at the usual time and I'd guess that your grandson's mum might find asking for help difficult herself. But I think a gentle word with his Dad might help to get your grandson the help he needs.
Sooner or later I'd expect his school to pick up on his difficulties and ask to speak to his parents but schools aren't experts in child development and really your grandson needs to be seen by a health professional.
Funnily enough Kanner who is purported to be the first person to document autism speaks at length about the child being fine featured and beautiful.It's now thought that it's probably the limited facial expressions that made Kanner see the children's beauty as exceptional.
This poster or one similar was what first alerted me to ds having autism nearly twenty years ago now do you spot some of your grandson's behaviours on it?

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