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Speech Therapy

June 9, 2011

Lately, I’ve been reading your blogs and every so often, something catches my eye that gives me a pause of, “Really? Just like that?”

And it’s your child’s speech. I see someone post, “So then Carter said, ‘Daddy bye'” and I think, “But he didn’t *really* say it like that, did he? Like, not anywhere that clearly.”

But then I hit another blog. And see it on Facebook. And hear my friends chat about what their kids are saying.

It kept nagging at me, but today it slapped me in the face that something was off as I sat in the waiting room filling out Bella’s 18 month check-up form. (And she’s close to 19 months but we’ve just had a lot going on.)

The form said, “Does your child say at least 8 words in addition to Mama and Dada?”

No. Like, she says Dada. And Mumumumum, but not Mama. And she can say “Boo” and is just beginning to sound things out – despite the fact that some of the books I have read her since birth.

When the pediatrician came in, between Bella climbing up me trying to get away from her and the evil stethoscope of terror, we talked on this. And I realized that what I was feeling was right – she’s behind in speech.

While she’s still young and speech comes at different times for all children, the concern is that she isn’t even attempting to repeat what I say. She has her own language for books, and babbles to herself all day. Part of this is being an only child. Part of it is me knowing what she needs and so not prompting enough with words. But then there is the unknown part.

She suggested speech therapy as soon as possible, but I told her about us moving. (It’s a pain starting and leaving in two weeks and having everything transfered.) Then she said that once we move, we should talk to our new pedi about getting her into speech therapy if she hasn’t suddenly exploded into talking.

I know this isn’t the end of the world, but I also know that it’s so important for her to be able to communicate properly soon. This leads to so many other issues (as a teacher I’ve seen a ton) if it isn’t caught and helped early on.

I’d love anything you think I could be doing to help in the meantime without being overbearing or putting pressure on her to speak. And maybe just some reassurance from moms that have gone through this that it isn’t something I did wrong. :/


  • Luke B

    June 13, 2011 at 11:01 am


    My wife and I are both Speech Language Pathologists.

    Mom on a Line is right. Kids speak at different times, but after those times are up you should look into some solutions.

    Without sounding too self promotional…my website HomeSpeechHome.com has all of the speech and language milestones that children should have from ages 0-11.

    Even better…

    …we created a free speech and language screening that can help concerned parents find out exactly what areas their child is struggling in and gives recommendations on how to help.

    Our site has great information that can help any concerned parent. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you 🙂

  • Julie S.

    June 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    My son is a late bloomer in the speech department, finally just saying dada and his version of “what’s this” which sounds like “whasis”. No mama. Nothing. My pediatrician isn’t worried yet, but I have a feeling we will be headed for some speech therapy as well. Hang in there!

  • Kim

    June 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    What Brooke said. Even if you don’t think it’s a really big deal (and we talked about this, I don’t) jump on it hard. Speaking as a special education teacher, mom of 3 and remember that John was delayed, jumping on it reassures you that you did every.single.thing you could. Also? IF there were a problem (and there isn’t.) You DO NOT want that brought up at the 3 year appoitment, where you’re like, ‘oh? they’re supposed to talk?’ So, you’re on it, now, like you’re supposed to be. ‘Cuz you’re awesome that way. 🙂

  • Brooke

    June 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Oh oh oh – I just looked at babysteals.com and they’ve got the Signing Time up there. It’s an AMAZING deal if you’ve got $80 to spare… 🙂

  • Brooke

    June 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Have you tried signing? We started doing Baby Signing Time (signingtime.com) with Ruby around 13 months and she’s crazy verbal. Her BFF is the same and both Vivi’s mom and I feel that the signing has a LOT to do with it. It’s like they made the connection. Plus, even if she doesn’t start talking right away, signing will give her the ability to COMMUNICATE with you (and you with her)… will really help with tantrums and general confusion.
    But mostly, yes – kids talk at different times, walk at different times, etc. Look into it, but don’t stress too much about it. She’s so bright – she’ll be just fine!

  • Dallas

    June 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    I would tell you not to worry too much, but I know that’s not possible. #1 was a little slow, but nothing out of the ordinary. #2 was talking in complete sentences by 18 months. #3 however…not so much. He didn’t even say Mama until a couple days before his 2nd birthday. He only had a handful of words. He would babble in his own language all day, but actual words? Not so much.

    I was a little worried, and took him to the pediatrician. They did not suggest speech therapy for us and were not concerned.

    They told me that if he seems to understand most everything (which he does) then not to worry about it, and he will do it when he’s darn good and ready to. There is a VAST range of normal, and every child is on their own time table. As long as they have SOME words by 18 months and they are understanding, it’s all good.

    And it is. He is 2 years 4 months now, and in the past couple weeks, his vocabulary has really increased. Like everything else with kids. After having three kids, one thing I’ve FOR SURE learned is that they will not do ANYTHING until they are ready – whether its talking, potty training, swimming, bike riding, etc, etc, ad nauseum – no matter what you do.

    Hope that helps!


  • Miranda

    June 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    I, like the others, won’t tell you NOT to worry. But I will say don’t worry TOO MUCH. At his 18 month check-up? Joshua had about 5 words he said with any sort of regularity.

    “Dada” “Annie” “Cinneee” (his teacher at school) “Go” and “miw” for milk.

    Not Mama. Not much else, either.

    But he signed. He’d sign “Mama” then (which he won’t now) and he signed “please” and “thank you” and “milk” and “eat.” He pointed at things, made eye contact, and he followed commands. But he didn’t SAY much.

    I was STRESSED. And this is when I’m really glad we see a Nurse Practitioner for his routine check-ups instead of the pediatrician because she was super calm and completely not worried. Which caused me not to worry. So don’t worry until you have to.

  • Katrina

    June 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I have to agree with the general sentiment here. It’s not something, at this stage in the game, that you need to be overly worried about. If she’s two and still has less than an 8 word vocabulary THEN I might see a speech therapist but not talking quite yet isn’t that big of a deal. My nephew turned two in April and only has 8 or 10 words in his vocabulary but his Ped. said it’s not a huge concern yet. He is able to communicate his needs and desires.
    There’s some great signing videos out there (we have the Baby Einstein’s First Signs one) that can help with some of words. Also, finding a play group where she’s exposed to other kids around her age and hearing them talk can encourage her to talk as well. Repetition is a big deal – we repeat and repeat and repeat words all the time. When our daughter is taking a bath she here’s about 50 times that she’s taking a bath in the water with bubbles and with her duck and her whale and her letters.And when she says something after us we make a big deal out of it and praise her for saying the word. Not all kids are like that though. Some kids just absorb and absorb and all of a sudden start talking.
    Anyways, my advice is to move and get settled in and at her 2 year appointment if she’s still really behind then start looking into a speech therapist. Also remember that she’s going through a lot right now with her daddy being gone and there are a lot of changes in her little life – that can slow development down some. Don’t stress yourself 🙂

  • Melissa

    June 9, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Just wanted to give you my experience. At my sons 2 year appt, I couldn’t give the pedi 5 words that he said consistently and he most definitely didn’t put words together to try and form sentences. He understood A LOT though and could show us things or get things we asked for and would do things we asked him to do. He just didn’t talk. The doctor was only slightly concerned since he DID communicate, just not by speaking, and referred us to a speech therapist. I was 8 months pregnant at the time and didn’t get around to making an appt before having my second son. Out of no where his speech exploded around that time. I was going to call after having the baby but he just started saying more and more everyday. It’s amazing how much he’s talking now given that he’s gone from maybe 5 words to having a full-on vocabulary and forming sentences in just 4 months time. I hope it goes like this for her. 🙂

    Best of luck to you and your daughter! Hope the move and transition go well for all of you!

  • Teresa

    June 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Please don’t lose any sleep over this. My son (who is 4.5 yrs now) barely spoke at that age. He is a chatterbox now. His sister talks a LOT at 2 yrs old, because she follows him around and wants to copy him. As long as she can let you know when she is hungry, upset, or whatever she needs, that’s normal for a lot of kids. I still have to “interpret” for my kids sometimes, because others don’t understand them. Don’t worry about it, but when you get set up in TX, see what the new ped thinks. Take care 🙂

  • Kelly

    June 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I think as parents we’re always going to worry about something. And maybe Bella will benefit from speech therapy. Or she might just be doing everything in her own timing. My daughter does everything when she wants to – not when the doctors or internet says. I hope everything goes well with the therapy, I’m sure you’ll keep us updated!

  • Mom on a Line

    June 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I have three things for you: (1) all kids speak at different times; (2) different things can impact a child’s speech and it is not you that caused this by any means; and (3) it is okay to seek out help. At 18 months, my daughter barely said mama or dada. She had been diagnosed in utero with a condition that generally causes speech delay and she had been in speech therapy since she was 6 months old, yet she was very behind with verbal speech (we started sign language strong at 18 months, so she mainly signed). At 2 years old, my daughter verbally spoke at a 9 month level according to the tests done by the early intervention people. She had tubes put in her ears around the same time and after she could finally hear, she started to talk (same thing happened with my nephew). At 3 years old, when she was tested again, my daughter now speaks over age level. With hindsight, it is obvious that my daughter’s hearing had been a detriment to her speech. (She is still watched by speech therapists though because of her chromosomal abnormality that generally causes speech problems.)

    Once you move, it might be worth looking into an evaluation with early intervention. That program is offered by every state and the therapists know how to test young children to see where they are falling and they know how to help. If your daughter needs services, they should help you for free. The great thing about early intervention is that the therapists work with the young kids to help them catch up before they go to school so that they don’t start off behind. They give great advice to parents to help the kids as well. Best of all, they make you realize you are not alone, that this happens frequently, but it can be addressed in an easy way for both you and your daughter.

    Another great resource on the web is a blog I follow called http://www.talkingkids.org/. It is written by an early intervention speech therapist to help with questions like you raise.

    I wish lots of luck.

  • Juliya

    June 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I made an appt. for Lucas a few weeks back, unfortunately the appt. is not until late June. But I have same concerns and emailed the pediatrician about it.

    Please share any information you find.

  • Jen Swedhin

    June 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I am totally right there with you. Anika, my oldest, had about 12 words in her vocab that she could clearly say by her first birthday. Her first word was Hi Kitty. Now she is 4 and has a massive vocab with amazing enunciation.

    My second, Tucker…not so much. He really struggles with his speech. He is gradually getting better, but we have a hard time communicating, which makes life challenging all around. I have an appointment to get him evaluated later this month. And now I not only feel like a bad mom for having a child that is behind in speech therapy, but I feel like a bad mom for hoping that he actually is behind enough to allow us to qualify for the free in-home speech therapy that I know he needs.

    Seriously, who in their right mind hopes that their kid is delayed? But I don’t want his baby sister to be talking before him, either.

  • Alyssa Gamlin

    June 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Like everybody else, I will try not to tell you not to worry about it because I know it’s a real concern, but Nathaniel is 17 months old now and JUST this month has started trying to repeat the things we’ve said. Prior to that, he had one or two words that he could say, but this month has been the “speech explosion.”

    I know you certainly don’t need something else to be thinking about in all the stress of moving, but until you actually get moved and settled in, just keep trying to have her repeat what you say. Show her how excited you are if she tries and make it a point to go visit or see some of the things that she loves (and might want to learn to say)- for us, it was walking around the neighborhood to help Nathaniel learn to say “dog.”

    If she hasn’t started being able to imitate more words by the time you’ve moved, then the therapy will be a good thing, but til then, know that you’re doing the very best that you can!

  • nichole

    June 9, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    My husbands great uncle didn’t start talking until he was 5 and when he did it was full sentances….he then went on to be the most sucessful man in his family.

    I think speech therapy will help, but also give you piece of mind that you are taking control and trying to help her.

    In the mean-time… i would go to a book store or the library and pick up a word book. you know with different categories of houshold things, and animals etc. I used those all the time with my daughter.

  • molly

    June 9, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    With my first son, I was quite anxious about his language development. He didn’t really say “mama” until 17 months with a full-on language explosion at 20 months. That’s a long time to wait and I feel like I held my breath that entire time wondering if something wasn’t terribly wrong.

    Now? Well, now I cannot get him to be quiet 😉

    But if there is something more to it, at least we have the interventions your child needs to help them, ya know?

    (((hugs))) I know how hard it can be.

  • Janelle

    June 9, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I have the same worry about Wes, namely because Austin was speaking in sentences at 18 months. My mom keeps telling me that my younger brother basically didn’t talk till he was three – and he is just fine. I’m interested to follow this with you (Wes is 6 mo. behind Bella) – please keep us in the loop! (and, I would definitely get a second opinion before you start to worry. I’m with Shannon on this – not being “average” doesn’t make you “behind.”)

  • Shannon MIlliorn

    June 9, 2011 at 11:12 am

    a lot of things i have read about child development states that thinking about kids speech is evolving. Now its not necessarily about how much your child says its how much they understand what you are saying. If you ask them to go get their yellow shoes by the back door and they trot off to their room and come back wearing a tiara then ya you might have some work to do but if they run to get those exact shoes then not so much of a problem.
    IMO i think its a lot to do with being an only child. Bella’s about a month older than Mackenna. She does jabber away but unless you are me or daddy she stays pretty quiet and you won’t be able to understand her. She has been in daycare 3 days. She HAS NOT STOPPED TALKING- real words plus jabber. I have been staying at home with her up until this point. I am pretty much an internal person. So i have had to force myself to vocalize our day and of course we read books. But i don’t know what it was about being around a big group of kids- it just seemed to unlock all her words. And the words she is saying are words that i have been repeating and using constantly. Maybe she realized in that setting she needs to ask for things and verbalize to get what she needs.
    Or maybe it was just her time to start really going for it. Given your background and everything i know you know not to feel pressured into any services (NOT THAT ECI ect SERVICES ARE BAD)

    Doctors tend to view everything as a problem to be diagnosed and treated. Just bc Bella isn’t following the AVERAGE OR TYPICAL developmental schedule doesn’t mean she is LACKING OR BEHIND in anyway!

  • Cathy

    June 9, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I hope everything works out and she starts improving soon. Her voice is so sweet!

  • Bonnie

    June 9, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I would say don’t worry about it… but I’ve been in this boat with my own son. Only he’s globally delayed (speech, motor skills, cognitive development… the whole 9). I will say this though, he didn’t start really talking until about October of last year (he just turned 4 in February) and when he did start talking- he really started talking. It’s like his mouth just exploded with words and started putting small sentences together, and now he can hold somewhat of a conversation. and spell. He loves spelling.

    Bella will talk. and probably in her own time. Gracelynn, my 21 month old, isn’t really talking much either (despite how much Noah talks to her). Speech therapy wouldn’t hurt, and if anything the speech therapist will give you ideas on what do with her at home as far as exercises to get her tongue to do what it needs for her to be able to form words 🙂

  • Alena

    June 9, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Girl. YES. Let’s talk soon!

    I will send you a list of things you can do with her to help!

    Sophia in Early Intervention. And goes to a speech therapist 2 times a week. I have learn GOBS AND GOBS AND GOBS about this.

    I don’t have a time to write it all out now. But we’ll skype soon!

    1. Juliya

      June 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Can you please share the information? I’ve been consumed with what ifs and what do we do now.

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