DS understanding/speech difficulties but can read and spell lots of single words??

(30 Posts)
Kskifred Mon 30-Jan-17 16:31:26

So, I will try not to drip feed. This may be an essay though.

DS is 2.9 yo, and has a speech delay. Going back and forth between NHS waiting lists for SALT and the ENT as DS also has glue ear, suspected for 18 months+. Last hearing test said they were reluctant to do grommets/treatment as didn't think glue ear was bad enough hmm but has it in both ears, confirmed at 2 separate tests. I insisted on ENT referall, appointment is coming up in Feb. SALT we are still waiting since referral last May, so this weekend we had our first private speech session. We have been trying cranial osteopathy for glue ear too that I think is giving results.

A bit more about DS, so he was limited to about 20-30 unclear words at 2 yr review, since then vocab has grown to about 200 words, and in the last month has started putting 2-3 word phrases together, still only really nouns and adjectives though eg. 'OK night night mummy' , thank you, bye etc. The improvement is down to a new interest in copying - this wasn't something he was that interested in before really which I put down to the glue ear but I dunno. He is now starting to copy our phrases which has opened up his vocab a lot.

Around 2.5, DS became obsessed (would still play with other toys so not completely fixated) on the phonics alphabet; great, I thought and he can pronounce nearly all of the sounds very well now, he loves letters and numbers and can now count and identify up to 100. If you ask him to spell out words up to about 6 letters eg. flower, yellow, he will do so, he can also read these words back to you but I think this is more of a memory thing as they absorb like a sponge at this age. Along with some other interests of his, although he has some milestone development issues with communication I'm confident he isn't lacking in all areas and is a bright, perhaps misunderstood little boy.

Speech therapist at his assessment on Saturday asked how I felt his general understanding was - my answer was fairly confident he understands most things, and follows most of my instructions. Her follow up from the assessment was that he didn't show signs of understanding what was being said to him, past one word so his basic understanding was limited. I'm not sure I agree with this, but going with it for now as if I think back, perhaps it's easy to not realise how much I support DS with actions when speaking to him. Something I learned when attending speech workshops to help build his vocab, but whatever. For eg. if I say lets get changed for a bath, he will start undressing and run to turn the taps on, but she tried to explain that perhaps the only word out of that he understood was bath. confused I am aware that an hour of him 'performing' is not enough for her to assess him properly and I am a better judge, however I worry that I'm massively seeing him through rose tinted specs sometimes.

DS nursery have contacted me today to discuss DS development tonight as they have noticed all the phonics sounds and reading he can do and are praising this, but can't help but feel like there is a but involved.

I guess my question is, is it normal for a child to almost understand the way some language is built before being able to understand and speak it?! Sometimes if I don't understand what he is saying (I am pretty good at knowing but still get caught occasionally) he just spells the word out for me. Whilst this alleviates frustration I can't help but feel like it's a bit backwards developmentally, and the assessment has kind of thrown a spanner in the works as was always reassuring myself that he was fairly clued up but just needed a bit of help with speech, where as now I'm worrying that he is actually not understanding the basics and I should have picked up on it!

On the calm/bright side he is progressing well at the moment which speech even if he does have some extra hurdles. He is such a happy boy regardless so I try to remember this.

Was just wondering if anyone had experience with their children of something similar/words of reassurance?

Or am I worrying over nothing?


OP’s posts: |
F1ipFlopFrus Mon 30-Jan-17 19:05:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Userone1 Tue 31-Jan-17 07:15:39

The difficult with glue ear, is the way a child 'hears' the word, in order to be able to understand it and say it. Spelling a word, can be learnt visually. Iyswim. same as reading from memory, no hearing involved.

Kskifred Sat 04-Feb-17 17:21:14

It's so difficult and such guesswork isn't it!

Meeting went well, they said they had never had another child like it at nursery re reading and phonics, saying it was reception level and wanted to put him into the preschool section. Only issue is that his social development is behind so they worried he may struggle will the the interaction but giving it a go, he attends a preschool also so it can't hurt to try.

OP’s posts: |
zzzzz Sat 04-Feb-17 18:57:22

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Kskifred Sat 04-Feb-17 19:35:37

Ok thank you, i'm reassured to hear other children similar as must admit i hadn't heard of any other children like DS, and all other toddlers around us are quite advanced speech-wise, but not in some of the other areas DS is, I learnt a while ago NOT to compare them as it does no good.

OP’s posts: |
BertPuttocks Sat 04-Feb-17 19:59:25

My DS was the way your SALT has described. If I said "Sit on the chair" he would do just that. However, if I'd said something like "Stand on the chair" or "Push the chair over" he would still have gone and sat on the chair as that was the only word he would have been able to understand.

I suppose the only way to know for sure would be to try out some variations of your own with your DS. Sometimes professionals can see things that we can't but the reverse can also be true.

My DS was also able to read and type as a toddler, but didn't use any meaningful language himself until much later. The paediatrician talked to us about hyperlexia.

DS was diagnosed with autism but he had other obvious developmental issues and no history of glue ear. He learned to talk by first being taught nouns, then later being taught adjectives, verbs etc.

His other issue was that he didn't really see the point of talking as he didn't realise that we couldn't read his mind and assumed that we already knew what he wanted. He didn't really do the whole 'social language' thing of please/thankyou/hello/bye as they were a bit too abstract for him.

notgivingin789 Sat 04-Feb-17 20:04:57

Apparently and I read this on (www.teachmetotalk.co.uk) it is very common in some children with Autism to speak before actually understanding what is said to them.

Speech delay does not equal to cognitive abilities. But it could suggest that the child has disordered development.

The nursery is right. At his age it's not about the academics. It's about his social interaction/ social skills. If your DS had age appropriate social skills and was very into reading/ phonics, that's fine. But because the nursery pointed at his delay in social interaction they may be concerned about that..rather than his advanced skills in reading etc.

notgivingin789 Sat 04-Feb-17 20:05:10


notgivingin789 Sat 04-Feb-17 20:13:28

Why have the nursery suggested putting your DS into a preschool even though he would be on par with the children's academics, socially he would struggle ?

zzzzz Sat 04-Feb-17 20:23:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Melawati Sat 04-Feb-17 20:40:55

I'm with zzzzz. DD was academically very advanced in the sense that she could read, count, multiply and divide before starting preschool. Like fred's DS she was obsessed with phonics alphabet toys from about 18 months and always wanted to be read to, then always wanted to read as soon as she was able.
Socially she was way behind, and her 'poor behaviour' was often used as a reason not to stretch her academically. In fact she was bored and frustrated at having to go at what (to her) was a snail's pace, and it made the behaviour worse. From a very early age she opted out by hiding in the book corner so she could read as much as possible (more bad behaviour!).
It was a negative cycle that is taking years to undo, and had no positive effective on her social skills, she just became more isolated and 'odd'.
She has actually always got on better socially in mixed age settings or with DC 2-3 years older than her.
Go with your gut feel on what is best for your DS - will he be happier learning phonics with the older group or social skills with his peers?

Kskifred Sat 04-Feb-17 21:52:56

Thanks, i think I needed that. He is unique, and wonderful and I think the preschool element will benefit him more - since showing his abilities given the opportunity to use phonics the nursery staff have actually taken notice of him and his vocab now too, before they never noted him saying anything so i suspect he took himself off to the snug to read, similar to your DC.

Doing the things that spark his interest could ultimately develop his social skills far better than carrying on as he is, which isn't making much headway. He clearly is thriving on the academic side, which quite frankly is a breath of fresh air after countless conversations with various professionals/staff about areas in communication where he is not reaching milestones or needing extra support.

OP’s posts: |
zzzzz Sat 04-Feb-17 22:03:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

notgivingin789 Sat 04-Feb-17 22:18:34

zzzz and Ksk.. Not once did I say that the OP shouldn't focus on the academics. I think learning to read and write is very important and this should be encouraged always and to aim high. Heck! my DS is highly motivated when reading and I have pushed this always.

What I wanted to really highlight was that the OP should not neglect the social side of things. You can be a genius but if you cannot interact to a degree, cannot communicate basic things " Can I have an apple ?" or " I'm feeling upset" XYZ. You will struggle. My friend's son with ASD at 2 could read, knew the alphabet etc. But he had difficulties in communicating, he wasn't able to request, when he felt angry/ upset he would bang his head. Wouldn't it of been easier for him just to say why he was upset or how he was feeling?

I think all children with special needs need to be academically stretch no matter where they are at. But please do not neglect the social/ communication side of things. Use your son's interests to combine the two things together. As an example..say like your son likes spelling and you wanted to expand on this. Get laminate prints of items...e.g. a bicycle and print out the letters "BICYCLE" underneath the picture. Get those alphabet blocks and keep all those. Make him request each letter he sees "B, I.." and hopefully he should match the letters to the written words. This is expanding his spelling skills (if he cannot spell bicycle) also teaching him to to request for things.

notgivingin789 Sat 04-Feb-17 22:24:44

we do deep and unnecessary damage trying to force a more "normal" path on our exceptional children

I don't want my child to be "normal". But I want him to communicate and I will keep on pushing this. I've seen him light up when he can communicate his wants, needs and interests. Communication is vital to navigate in this world..whether that's using sign, pictures, makaton and so forth. Also It's about taking where there are at developmentally and building on from this.

Kskifred Sat 04-Feb-17 22:29:18

Yes i agree not to neglect this side, far from it...it's keeping me up at night at the mo, as I would never want that struggle for him. I would love nothing more than to see him truly enjoy his peers company, I so desperately want that for him. He is lovely and warm with immediate family but this doesn't extend a huge amount further in ed settings i don't think. He will communicate with Hello/Byes quite well though, almost routinely though.

He has started requesting things with his limited - to - nouns vocab, eg 'juice' for a drink, and other foods.

So yes there is no way i will be giving us on enhancing his social skills, although I think perhaps the conventional way of doing so doesn't help for everyone.

OP’s posts: |
notgivingin789 Sat 04-Feb-17 22:35:46

smile good OP. Have a look at the site "teachmetotalk.co.uk, they have loads of ideas on how you can expand your child's communication skills. I once worked with a boy who is non- verbal but could read and write really well and used this skill to communicate very effectively. Though he got the underlining communication side of things for him to be able to use written words to communicate. Definitely combine the two and see how you get on.

zzzzz Sat 04-Feb-17 22:46:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

notgivingin789 Sat 04-Feb-17 22:51:50

zzzz but I'm not talking about being forced confused. That's why I said take from where the child is developmentally at and work from that. The OP should not neglect the academic side of things as well as the social side of things. It's simple.

zzzzz Sat 04-Feb-17 22:54:16

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zzzzz Sat 04-Feb-17 23:00:29

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notgivingin789 Sat 04-Feb-17 23:09:28

I don't think eye contact is important, my DS hates eye contact and I have never imposed this on him. Play, however is another thing...turn taking games have enormously helped my DS with his general turn taking skills outside the play arena.

I think early intervention is as important as early acceptance and celebration.

Melawati Sat 04-Feb-17 23:10:00

I'm also not suggesting in any way that social skills should be ignored. But being exposed to 'normal' social skills learning opportunities didn't help my DD.
My point was more that it's so often presented as an either/or as in 'we'd like to challenge her more academically but she doesn't fit with the group socially'. So most of the time my DD ended up with peers that were a poor fit both academically and socially, which was ruinous for her self esteem.

Despite being highly verbal, my DD still can't express her own feelings or emotions in a 'normal' way. I agree that it would be easier if she could just say those things, but the nature of her disability means she hasn't developed this skill yet. It's a work in progress.

notgivingin789 Sat 04-Feb-17 23:22:54

But being exposed to 'normal' social skills learning opportunities didn't help my DD.

I agree it doesn't not usually...

Of course Melawati it doesn't have to be in a "normal" way though. My DS had very limited speech but he would draw a picture if he was feeling sad or angry. DS can speak very much now but his speech is very very unclear and is now using a high-tech AAC to help him. He also hates eye contact so I tell him that he could look at my mouth instead. I think early intervention also means looking out for other alternatives that the child could benefit from.

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