“What language does this kid speak anyway?” –
Random 5-year-old at the park to Mr P in response to J’s conversation skills.
Valid question random kid, valid question. I often ask myself the same question as J points and earnestly tries to tell me something that seems urgent and important. New words would crop up and my heart would soar, telling my brain there wasn’t a problem afterall. But the words were never ones that we really needed to hear, ‘turtle’ and ‘owl’ became common, whereas ‘hi’, ‘bye’ and ‘please’ remained elusive.
His peers demonstrated their ability to string more than one word together, some forming sentences to express their needs and wants, while J developed a system of ever-more intricate hand gestures coupled with unintelligable babbling. If that didn’t work, he’d resort to tantrums.
I started to own my concerns and that of his day care teachers – it was well and truly time to get J assessed by a speech therapist.
He had his first appointment two weeks ago and I’m proud to say he did really well, he spent 45 minutes on activities targeted at assessing his receptive and expressive language.
He immediately took to his speech therapist, the lovely Danielle, and he excelled at showing his understanding of all the questions but when he was required to say words it was obvious his expression wasn’t at the same level.
The assessment seems to be a lengthy process, which is still ongoing due to the limitations of the two-year-old attention span but it seems at this stage J has an expressive language delay and more specifically an ‘inconsistent speech disorder’ which means he says the same word in a few different ways making it hard to understand what he is trying to say.
Danielle also mentioned that it was possible that due to J’s facial palsy the left side of the face that does all the facial movement to form the words might be getting tired from overcompensating for the lack of movement on the right side, so that may be having an effect on the amount of speaking J is doing.
On Saturday we had our second session which introduced ‘core vocabulary therapy’ to get J saying and pronouncing common ‘power’ words that will help him communicate more effectively. We will gradually introduce more words each week and Danielle gave us some demonstrations of methods to use and games to try to get him to say the words and repeat them.
By the end of today’s session, J was confidently saying ‘BYEEE’ for the first time ever, so it’s a great feeling to know that with our conscientious effort that improvement is possible.
I’m happy we made the decision to seek help at this stage but I am still a little daunted by the hard yards that will be required to get where we need to go. The main thing though is that we’re on our way; I’ll be sure to share our progress as we travel along the therapy path.
Have you had any experience with speech therapy? Was it beneficial for your child?