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How do you know/find out if your child has learning difficulties/special needs?

(28 Posts)
100namechanges Tue 01-Sep-09 08:55:26

My son is 2.8 and can't talk. He speaks like an 18mth old in single words which only the family can understand.

He's had a hearing test (they said he may have fluid in his ear, but nothing serious, are keeping an eye on him) and is starting speech therapy twice a week at playschool as of next week.

Nursery and the speech therapist keep mentioning the phrase 'speech delay' but feel like HV, speech therapist and hearing doctor are all being very vague about WHY he can't talk.

He does understand a lot, he communicates through mime and these single words, he've very affectionate and he is understanding more and more each day, as well as trying new words which they've said is all good.

However, I just cannot believe that there is not something 'wrong' with him. He's a big strapping nearly 3yr old who talks and points like a baby...surely this suggests that he has learning difficulties?

If he has what do I do? How do I find stuff like this out?

Grandparents and friends keep saying 'oh, there's nothing wrong with him, he'll catch up etc' but I feel like they are dismissing the fact that there's a very good chance that he's going to end up needing extra care and being a child with special needs.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Tue 01-Sep-09 08:57:29

I would say the understanding is more important even than the speaking.

My DD is 2.10 and DOES have special needs..possible ASD but I personally think developmental delay and with her the understanding is just NOT there.

TheEgoHasLanded Tue 01-Sep-09 09:00:36

why are you thinking he might have "special needs" ..why cant he be a bit delayed..?

parents are too quick to label their dc.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Tue 01-Sep-09 09:06:04

If you are concerned you could ask to be referred to a paediatrician for an assessment.

EyeballsintheSky Tue 01-Sep-09 09:10:23

My niece was very very slow to talk and SIL was on the verge of raising it with the relevant people but suddenly, literally overnight she started talking. She was just gone 3 at the time. There were similar issues with her cousin on the other side of the family but he was more like 4 when he finally started talking properly.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Tue 01-Sep-09 09:10:37

TheEgoHasLanded - I don't think it's that simple, at the age her son is it DOES start to become quite apparent if children are different to others in their abilities and is very concerning. I don't think anyone wants to "label" their child, I certainly do NOT want to label mine but am not being given any choice really.

EyeballsintheSky Tue 01-Sep-09 09:14:09

I think that is the key, isn't it, the understanding. I was casually discussing dd who is only 19 months so no cause for concern yet but she understands absolutely everything and I think that's what you have to look out for, although I'm no expert. You know your child best and if you are concerned, then ask. It can't do any harm.

TotalChaos Tue 01-Sep-09 09:38:02

It is encouraging that he understands so well and communicates fine non-verbally. It's perfectly possible for a child to have a language problem without other areas of intelligence being affected. Sometimes it can be a physical problem with producing speech (all the mouth/tongue movements) that's causing a delay.

A paediatrician and/or educational psychologist can look into the issue of learning difficulties further if you are concerned. There isn't always a reason for speech delay, so it may not be that anyone is deliberately being vague with you

TotalChaos Tue 01-Sep-09 09:41:18

in the meantime - some useful books/sites

The Parent's Guide to Speech and Language Problems by Debbie Feit
You Make the Difference and It Takes Two to Talk by Ayola Manolson
Baby Talk by Sally Ward.

Get advice from the speech therapist about work you can do at home with him.

TheEgoHasLanded Tue 01-Sep-09 09:47:33


a child with "special needs" would be the last thing i'd want, i wouldn't be jumping on the SN bandwagon like the op seems to be doing....that's all i'm saying.

TotalChaos Tue 01-Sep-09 09:50:38

hmm. I can't be bothered to engage with your nonsense. And be assured, OP, this is nonsense about bandwagons.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Tue 01-Sep-09 09:57:24

TEHL - Yes, because some people want a child with special needs and it doesn't just happen to them hmm

I agree with TotalChaos, OP, don't listen to that load of old tripe, some of us do understand.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Tue 01-Sep-09 09:58:14

TEHL - you are obviously very lucky to be able to have such a blinkered viewpoint and view it as a bandwagon.

TotalChaos Tue 01-Sep-09 10:01:37

you can post this sort of query on the special needs board too, there are a lot of us with experience of language delay, either by itself, or as part of other problems.

btw at 3 my DS was severely delayed both with his expressive speech and understanding - he's now 5.5 and mostly (but not completely caught up). It's a worrying time, and people's attempts reassurances aren't always helpful

100namechanges Tue 01-Sep-09 10:05:02

thanks everyone...just for the record, I am incredibly upset and stressed about at the meer idea that he might have special needs but i suppose i'm trying to get my head round it just in case he has so it doesn't come as a big shock if you know what I mean.

The speech therapist and nursery have both gone on and on about how much he understands and that that's the most important bit so you've all backed this up and I feel a bit better about it.

It's just stuff like he doesn't know his numbers or colours and i've got friends who come round with their kids of similar age who are reciting alphabet, counting to 20 etc

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Tue 01-Sep-09 10:06:04

Reciting alphabet doesn't mean much, my DD has been able to do it for ages but her understanding is very limited, so i wouldn't let that worry you.

Lancelottie Tue 01-Sep-09 10:06:38

'The last thing I'd want'??

Bloody hell.

So if your child had special needs, you would do... what, exactly? Tell them they were the last thing you wanted? Or try to work out how to help them, because they were YOUR CHILD still, first and foremost?

I really hope this is just foot-in-mouth disease, TEHL, rather than a more considered viewpoint.

OP -- I didn't speak till three. I'm not sure if I have special needs or not (seriously! I suspect I'd now get an AS diagnosis like DS1, but I seem to function OK... twitch, twitch). Keep pestering people.

<<LL realises this kinda backs up TEHL's argument about 'not needing' a diagnosis always>>
<<vanishes in puff of logic>>

LIZS Tue 01-Sep-09 10:15:50

At this age it is as much about eliminating the more obvious such as hearing as seeking explanations. Give the salt a go and that may (or may not) raise whether there are further things to be investigated. However now you are in the system any additional assessments should be relatively straightforward to access.

TotalChaos Tue 01-Sep-09 10:15:54

at this age it's really rote reciting of numbers and alphabet, a memory exercise rather than a sign of understanding with most kids, so I wouldn't place significance on that. I think at this age it's more expected that kids work towards sorting things out by colour than be able to name them iyswim. I didn't know my colours until I was 4 (and was gifted at languages). DS who was severely delayed knew his colours at just over 2. Go figure (shrugs).

TheEgoHasLanded Tue 01-Sep-09 10:22:52

i wouldn't be expecting too much from a 2.8 yr old.....what do some parents expect a 2.8 yr old to be doing? reciting shakespare..?

he should be talking a bit more, i agree...but give him a chance.

dilemma456 Tue 01-Sep-09 10:35:50

Message withdrawn

masonicpixiesreadthedailymail Tue 01-Sep-09 10:39:51

good advice here from totalchaos - and everyone else bar one

Only thing I would add is don't underestimate the 'bit of fluid in the ear' business. Glue ear can have serious impact on speech. We have a hearing aid for glue ear after grommets kept falling out. We have noticed marked improvement with (and my dc does have multiple disabilities in all areas in addition)

scarlotti Tue 01-Sep-09 10:45:31

100namechanges try to keep your worries at a manageable level as extra stressing about it will put pressure on you and your dc. You have some help already and your worry has been noted with the medical staff you see.
My nephew was a late speaker and he's fine. For him, having an older sister who is much more dominant and speaks for him, combined with still using his dummy during the day meant he was only able to speak the odd word and they weren't clear. He was nearer 3.5/4 before he went to a speech therapist (they're not really worried until they are 4 and can't speak) and he's fine.

He dropped the dummy and that helped. He's now just over 5 and his speech isn't quite as clear as my ds who is nearly 4, and his voice is a little squeaky - but, he's at school and understands as much as his peers, learning his letters etc.

I'd try and be a little more patient if you can. It is worrying but he is following the normal pattern, maybe just a little later than some. I'm sure if you thought about it he might well be 'advanced' with some skills in comparison to others.

TheEgoHasLanded Tue 01-Sep-09 10:53:20

mason; i guess you're talking about my advice? advice just happens to be the best...

don't stress out, and don't immidiately think " child has SN"....he probably doesn't.

100NC....if your dc does have any problems, they will be picked up at school.

aristocat Tue 01-Sep-09 11:06:56

100 please dont worry about your DS, i know its very frustrating when he cant/wont talk correctly.....but hes not even 3yo yet.

My DS was referred to Speech&Language Therapy because he didnt talk either at this age and he only spoke in more than 1/2 words when he was 4-41/2 !!! He had perfect understanding and everything else was fine just didnt want to talk.

Please try and be patient with him - S&L will give you ideas how to encourage his speech and develop it more.
If you want to talk just get in touch as i have been there with this speech delay.

BTW my DS is 7 now and he is an excellent reader and talker and its easy to remember what a struggle it was.

Good Luck smile

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