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What should I say when other children ask me "Why can't she talk properly??"

(21 Posts)
mummyloveslucy Mon 01-Jun-09 19:34:55

It's the question I've always dredded. My daughter is 4 and has verbal dyspraxia. I've now been asked for a second time "Why can't Lucy talk properly". I'm never sure what to say, on both occasions Lucy ha been right next to them when they've asked me.
I know it's natural for other children to ask. They are both lovely girls, and would not mean to upset her.
I'd just some ideas of what to say that would explain it to 4 year olds.
I'd be really greatfull for any advice. smile

MerlinsBeard Mon 01-Jun-09 19:36:56

"Some people find it easy some people struggle a bit" Do you sign with her? if so you could say "we use signs with her to help her learn in her own time"

Has worked with speech delayed DS2 (now 4) and DS1's(6) friends

smugmumofboys Mon 01-Jun-09 19:37:04

I would tell them simply and factually why. My two are great for asking 'difficult' questions loudly and in public. An honest, straightforward answer always satisfies their curiosity.

treedelivery Mon 01-Jun-09 19:39:31

I have no experience at all, not being in any similar situation. I guess maybe something like 'lucy finds words really tricky, y'know like cartwheels are tricky? She is very good at <<insert Lucy's drawing/running/etc here>> instead. What are you good at?'

What do you think?

FrannyandZooey Mon 01-Jun-09 19:40:14

i would say something basic like "everyone learns things at different rates - some people can talk very clearly when they are very small, and others take a long time - or they might not ever speak like other people" (sorry i don't know if dyspraxia will mean a delay or permanent speech problem?)
you could then give an example of something lucy finds easy and say other children probably would not be able to do this until they were older?

i think you could just say "some people have difficulties with walking or talking - lucy speaks differently, but you can always ask her to repeat something if you didn't understand"

?? is this any good?

carocaro Mon 01-Jun-09 19:41:35

I agree, a straight forward simply put answer, something like,

'everyone is different and learns in different ways, you find it harder to (insert something here) and your friend finds it harder to talk'

I know it's hard, my DS1 is 7 and has dyslexia and gets really fed up why some classmates say things like why can't you read that yet?

FrannyandZooey Mon 01-Jun-09 19:42:14

i like treedelivery's example about cartwheels being tricky
i think not being scared of talking about it matter of factly will send the right message to both dd and the other girls

Hulababy Mon 01-Jun-09 19:43:27

I agree an honest simple answer is best. DD would find both MOM and TD's suggestions acceptable.

If you do use signs you could offer to show them some.

AnarchyAunt Mon 01-Jun-09 19:44:49

I'd just tell them why too, in simple words. DD (6) always responds well to explanations and will then do what she can to help/be sensitive - let them have the opportunity to do the same.

Treedelivery's idea is good - point out a strength of hers at the same time - boost her confidence too.

Make sure Lucy doesn't see you being floored by the questions, keep it all very matter-of-fact.

wrinklytum Mon 01-Jun-09 19:47:42

dd has speech and physical delays and I find that it is usually easier explaining to children rather than adults.Kids are so much more direct.

Sooo I usually say "DD can't talk like you because the bit of her brain that works out how talking is done doesn't work properly,so instead she uses her hands to talk,and that is called sign language.We don't know if she will be able to talk but she is trying to learn,and it makes her happy when you talk to her and play with her"

Big hug <<>>

madwomanintheattic Mon 01-Jun-09 19:53:35

we go with absolute age-appropriate honesty, for both the sake of dd2 and her friends tbh. she needs to know that the way she speaks/ doesn't speak is nothing to be ashamed of, and any hesitation or distraction or embarassment will give her that message. in our case it is slightly easier, as dd2's speech issues are related to her other problems, so we have had all manner of questions. (my fave was 'what's wrong with your baby's eyes?' - she has a squint as well lol - where the mother of the wee questionner nearly passed out with shame)
it's harder to get the parents to understand that it's ok to ask - which just perpetuates the ridiculous elephant in the corner thing.

mummyloveslucy Mon 01-Jun-09 19:55:41

Thanks everyone. smile There are some lovely sugestions. I think a matter of fact answer would be great.
She dosn't sign as she has a very wide vocab but her speech sounds are very distorted. She can talk for England but it's very tricky even for me to understand her.

mummyloveslucy Mon 01-Jun-09 20:03:10

It's strange, as Lucy dosn't tend to pay any attention to disability in others at all.
She recently went up to a very disabled little girl in a wheel chair and said "will you play with me?" she didn't ask any questions at all. She hasn't even mentioned the Cbeebies presenters arm.
I think she just accepts things.

misshardbroom Mon 01-Jun-09 20:05:19

I'm with treedelivery.

I have a very similar situation with DD who has disordered speech, although it has improved significantly over the last 6-8 months.

One child told her she 'must be from a different country' because she didn't talk like the rest of them.

Another commented on 'my sister is only 3 and she can talk better than she can'.

Made me want to cry, but you have to be calm for DD's sake. I used a very similar line (to both DD and the children in question)... just said that some people find learning to read difficult, and some people find climbing trees difficult, and that DD finds speaking difficult, but that she's working very hard at it and we know she'll get it in the end.

But I do sympathise enormously.

Hulababy Mon 01-Jun-09 20:10:12

mummyloveslucy - you may fnd she will notice these things as she gets older. TBH she probably does notice but just doesn't comment or ask about it.

I'd be very suprised if a child didn't notice a wheelchair - after all it is a big object.

Asking questions or making an observation is not a bad thing and it doesn't mean children aren't accepting. It just means they are curious and wanting to learn abiut the world around them. It helps them understand differences whilst she accepting these differences as being normal in their world.

My DD is 7y now and over the years she has asked questions about disabilities, colour, gender, why some men marry other men rather than women, etc. By asking the questions she is learning. The way I or others respond to those questions help her to understand and accept things.

That is why answering such questions honestly and matter of factly is a good idea IMO.

treedelivery Mon 01-Jun-09 20:11:04

I only came up with my suggestion as when I was a nanny in Aus for a 18m boy, an older boy at his nursery asked 'why's he got big ears' and another little one said 'I think he's very good at listening'

Cue spontaneous tears from nanny and mum! It was so lovely, so simple, and so positive. I have kept it as a role model.

pagwatch Mon 01-Jun-09 20:17:24

Children commenting on things is not a negative. It is a sign of interest and curiosity. Only when we become adults do we start to view inquiries as a judgement.

If you couch her issues in euphemisms or try avoiding the questions then THAT will tell other children and your daughter that this thing is shameful and awkward.

Everyone else is so right. Just talk openly about it - that she finds talking tricky. Funnily enough I use almost the same phrase and add that I find parking my car tricky and his sister can't manage shoe laces.We all find somethings difficult.

I don't have the issue of worrying about DS2's overhearing as he couldn't be less aware but I am open and relaxed as I want other people to be comfortable asking me questions about him.

HecatesTwopenceworth Mon 01-Jun-09 20:23:18

I am asked this often. Depends on the age of the child. If they are old enough to understand, I explain about autism, if they are very young (I'm talking preschool) I just say that they talk like that because - and I know I will probably get flamed for this, but you have to explain things in a way a child will comprehend - that they have a "poorly" (common word up here and one that very little children understand) called autism that means they can't talk properly, but they love to play and have fun.

Without fail, once I've explained, it's been a total non-issue and the kids all carry on having fun. grin

pagwatch Mon 01-Jun-09 20:26:17

Hecates smile DD explains to people that DS2's head is a bit in a muddle.

I think the OP is anxious to find something that she feels comfortable saying in front of her comprehending DD so that her DD does not feel embaressed or in any way shamed

GooseyLoosey Mon 01-Jun-09 20:46:14

this came up with my dcs when very young in the context of my dad who has a lot of speech problems as a result of a stroke.

I have explained to them that a bit of his brain does not work properly. Its just one very little bit in a very complicated brain but it makes a big difference to how he sounds to us.

GalanthusNivalis Mon 01-Jun-09 23:09:12

My DD2 has speech difficulties (she is now 10) when asked I explain that her throat doesn't work properly just like some peoples eyes aren't quite perfect so they wear glasses. It is a bit simplistic but the analogy seems to satisfy everyone and as a side effect shows that not everyone is perfect in every way so DD2 does not need to be embarrassed.

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