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Giftedness and language delay - both possible?

(2 Posts)
Kskifred Sun 30-Apr-17 09:20:37


Bare with me whilst I try not to drip feed. Long post alert!

My DS has just turned 3, and although greatly improved recently has both speech and language delay. Latest assessment suggests he is about 12 months delayed. We are currently on the long waiting list to receive therapy.

In infancy, he was always very smiley, I never noticed poor eye contact (only child) and reached all physical milestones in the first year early and with no problems. He learnt to clap fairly early and would gesture, not much and didn't learn to point properly until much much later. Behaviour wise has always been a live wire - struggled with winding down for bed and still is very excitable. Big tooth grinder now.

Shortly after 1st birthday he became quite ill and was hospitalised regularly for asthma/wheeze problems. He was put on an asthma medication 6 months later that seemed to help with that. He spent just over a year on this medication. He was very close to walking just after his 1st birthday, was babbling etc and saying mummy, dadda etc but things then seemed to slow down. He didn't lose any skills but just stopped developing at a fast rate. By the time his 2 year review came around he was sent for hearing tests as wasn't reaching checklist for speech. Hearing test came back with moderate hearing loss due to glue ear, to be monitored. Also referred to SALT.

I did some more research on this medications and decided to take him off it - within a few days i had a different child. We took him to farms etc all the time and just assumed he was a little indifferent, but the week after taking him off he was running around excited pointing and telling me (unclear speech still) each animal and generally enjoying it - a stark difference and lovely to see. Best way to describe it was that a cloud had been lifted but because he had grown up on the med we had assumed was part of his personality.

Things improved a fair bit from here but the delay was still there. He started to take more interest in copying, and in other people outside his close family - he never used to pay much interest or do hugs/kisses etc with them, which used to concern us.

So fast forward to around 2.5 and DS is improving but it's at a slow pace. We bought him a CBeebies mag with Alphablocks letters as the freebie, I hadn't taught him the alphabet at this point but within a few days he could place them out forwards and backwards in perfect order, making no mistakes. Soon after this he learnt to pronounce properly his phonics alphabet. About a week later he was putting words like cat, dog, pig etc together and within another couple of weeks had moved onto words like mummy, daddy, flower and quite a few animals. He became a keen puzzler and could easily finish up to 48 piece puzzles on his own. Around the same time as learning his alphabet he learned numbers past 20 and could count up to and down from 50. At present he counts up to and down from 140 and can count up in 2s and 10s. He also knows basic addition and subtraction. Spelling is at more complex word level like elephant, night - which i put down to great memory skills. He knows the alphabet normally too and can spell things this way also. He was so keen on letters his vocab has built from there, mainly nouns. He can now read stage 1 and 2 Biff, Chip and Kipper books, but not to the point of hyperlexia, more like an older child starting to read. He is keenly copying speech now, something that he wasn't doing up until about 2.8 so his vocab has built much quicker since doing this. Pronunciation still needs work.

We have been working on verbs in order to string phrases together as advised by SALT. He is responding quite well and using some such as eating etc. I asked them about asd symptoms and whilst she said there were some red flags his shared attention with me was great so it would be something we would revisit if therapy wasn't producing results.

Taken DS for osteopathy to help glue ear and latest test showed his hearing loss is now very minimal despite glue ear still being there. I guess this flares up and down depending on colds etc.

Nursery and preschool settings have both said academically he's at a reception level, but that he struggles socially. However he is starting to take interest in other children and play alongside them if it's something of interest. He is now just in the preschool setting that is attached to the first school he will attend - this will be more consistent for him and quieter. He is doing better socially this way.

He has also come away slightly from his narrow interests and enjoying playing with cars, dress up, trains and painting. This is nice to see him have broader interests.

After that long story I just wanted to know what people's thoughts are - on one hand could it be that advancements in one area means big gaps in another, although I have read that gifted children are often well ahead verbally which is obviously not the case here. A language delay doesn't go hand in hand with giftedness but I just don't 'feel' that he is mentally delayed as such? I obviously can't deny that speech is an issue though. I thought the advanced skills might be more asd related before when his interests were so specific but he seems to have bloomed a bit in that sense and no longer gets obsessive over things so leaning less towards this now, and starting to think that he is obviously very clever but has trouble verbalising this, and the language delay could be the reason he struggles to engage with peers. He seems better with older children and definitely adults. I feel like i'm assessing him constantly which is obviously no fun, but it's just because I worry. I made a promise to myself to chill out a bit come his third birthday and just enjoy him a bit more - I feel he is coming along better because of this. he is an extremely affectionate child with me and his grandparents.

Do i need to just chill out a bit? I am constantly worrying about his future and what his delays mean. Should I be factoring in the med and glue ear hurdles here too?

Thanks if you made it to the bottom of this post smile

Witchend Sun 30-Apr-17 10:21:16

Dbro had major speech issues. He was very early to read and write phonetically because he had an incentive as he used writing to communicate.
He might come and say "eed ilk i a ek-as" no one understand and writed "I nead milk in my brekfass" he was about his third birthday when he wrote that.

He was bright, but looking back, I don't think he was as bright as that made him appear, and I think he struggled with that.
Socially he struggled, and I'm not sure how much was to do with the speech (ds has a friend whose speech was similar when entering school and was always very sociable) and how much is him (not a very sociable family).

There were things that didn't help him though, which I can see looking back.
1. Because he didn't like speaking any talking from him was treated as important. We all had to be silent to help understand for example. But he found it difficult that his peers didn't treat his speech with the same level of priority and thought it was a deliberate slight.
2. If he said something inappropriate ("isn't that person really fat") as a little one, dm didn't say anything because he wasn't understandable by a stranger, and if she had told him he shouldn't say that then they'd have known. So once he was understandable he was still saying them and looking much too old to say such tactless things. He never really got that you shouldn't say certain things.
3. Dm with us older ones didn't boast about us in front of us. I'm sure she didn't boast about us away from us either. But she did with him. Majorly. I suspect that was because he was both very tall and with his speech people used to treat him as stupid, so it was a reaction. But it gave both him (and the rest of us) the idea that he wasn't just bright, he was verging on genius plus.
This didn't help him socially as you can imagine.

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