I used to find myself not wanting people to come up to us at the grocery store because they would “twenty-question” him. Sure, they were just being nice and engaging us, but I’d have to go into the whole thing of, “Well, he’s a late talker and has his own language.”
People expect a 2-year old to speak, especially one that looks like they’re 4 years old. Just so you know, if that ever happens to you and a child doesn’t speak (or if he does and you don’t understand it) just nod and agree! Be polite. Most people were.
I didn’t breastfeed. I didn’t use cloth diapers. I let him have his pacifier longer than he probably should have. I also heard what people were saying behind my back, that I spoiled him and gave him anything he wanted. These are several of the reasons I went over in my head as to why my child wasn’t talking yet at 18 months. All the other kids in daycare were talking, and they always say boys talk later than girls. You know, Einstein didn’t talk until he was 4 years old. That was one of my favorite excuses because it suggested my child could possibly be a genius and therefore could pay for my plastic surgery that I now needed so badly. I finally decided to talk to the pediatrician about his lack of any clear words. I mean, I’m a big talker, my entire family never stops talking. How could we possibly have a late talker?
At Henry’s 18 month checkup (yes I know, Henry is such a great and strong name), I told the doctor I wanted to know about early intervention. Someone told me about this free program that every state offers and if any child showed signs of being delayed, assistance was available. I got an evaluation for Henry and he qualified for speech therapy.
I had never heard of early intervention, I mean, what do you do when your child shows signs of any delay? I kept looking for the book that the hospital should have sent home with me just in case I ended up having questions about my child. For example: “My child is crying – information on that is on page 124”. Oh that’s right, there’s no such book!
Since no such book exists, you bug your doctor. This was really important to me though, not like the time I had the doctor look at Henry’s eye because a blood vessel looked weird. This was my child not speaking clearly. He speaks his own language, which I referred to as “Henrinese” because you couldn’t understand a word he was saying.
After we qualified for speech therapy and started receiving it in-home once a week, we finally started hearing simple words. You’ve never seen a mother so excited to hear the word “star” in your life! Most parents complain about hearing “mama” over and over, unless you’re a parent of a child with a speech delay, especially when he said his first cuss word and used it correctly. I couldn’t have been prouder, damnit!
During the past school year, Henry qualified for preschool and is currently in the SPED program at Greenbrook Elementary in Southaven, Mississippi. With all the great results I’ve been seeing in such a short period of time, I can’t say enough wonderful things about the program. His teachers, Mrs. Sanchez and Mrs. Millwood, are fantastic. Now, at almost 4 years old, my son is speaking. Sure he’s yelling “No!” at me and doesn’t always do what I tell him to, but it’s nice to hear him talk even if he has an opinion now. Everyone tells me that once they start talking, they don’t stop. However, as a mother of a late talker, I love hearing him repeatedly recite the names of all the characters from Paw Patrol and Yo Gabba Gabba. I’m still working on him telling me how beautiful and thin I look, but we’ll perfect that phrase later!
If you or a loved one have a child with delayed speech, know that you’re not alone and that there are options available. Parents of children in Mississippi can call the Mississippi Department of Education’s Parent Hotline at 1-877-544-0408 or find more information online by going to http://www.mde.k12.ms.us. Similarly, parents of children in Tennessee can call the Tennessee Department of Education at 615-741-5158 or visit https://tn.gov/education/topic/special-education for more information.