Parenting a Child With a Speech Delay

My girl <3

 

My two year old has been in speech therapy for a few weeks now. I debated whether to sign her up for it or not. As a parent it’s easy to say, “Oh, she’ll be fine. She’ll talk when she’s ready. She’s not that far behind. She’s only two.” And that would have been really easy to do because she really isn’t that far behind and she probably would have been fine either way.

But sometimes a mama’s intuition kicks in and won’t let up. Something in my brain kept telling me that she might just need a little extra boost and that the sooner we can get her caught back up the better. I knew she had things she was trying to tell us and the words just weren’t putting themselves together, so it was time to see if speech therapy would help. (Plus our community has a crazy amazing free speech-therapy program called the Rite Care Clinic, so there was no reason not to check it out.)

And I’m really glad we did. Our speech therapist, Emily, is awesome. Not only is she working with my toddler on language skills, but also on social skills and things like paying attention and completing a task. Since I’m a stay at home mama, having another adult interact with her on a regular basis has been so good for her. And it’s been good for me to get some new ideas on ways to work with her at home.

Even though we are still at the beginning of this journey, there’s a lot I’m learning about what it’s like to be a parent to a kiddo that needs a little extra push in the speech department.

First, I feel powerless. A lot. So often she will look at me and say something and wait expectantly for me to respond. But I just can’t quite always piece together what it is she is telling me. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than watching your child try to connect with you and you can’t understand. So when we finally do get it right…

Every little victory is a big victory. This week, the two year old’s word for milk, “mna”, turned into “milaka”. This may not seem like anything at all, but to me, it feels huge. Not only did she add the “L” sound, but she also added the “K” sound. Now she has all the sounds for the word, she just needs a little bit longer to perfect her pronunciation. After weeks of hearing “mna” despite our best efforts to persuade more sounds, this feels like a huge win. And then I have to remind myself that…

It’s easy to underestimate her just because I can’t understand her. Often times I am blown away when I realize how much she knows and understands. She recognizes most of her letters and all of her numbers up to twelve. She has the entire Frozen soundtrack memorized, as well as most of the songs on the toddler radio Pandora station, and now she is working on memorizing the Moana soundtrack. She memorizes the books we read to her and can read them back to us. But because she can’t tell me what’s going on in her sweet brain, I often find myself underestimating what she is capable of. And what’s worse, I see other people doing it, too. So I’m doing my best to stop underestimating her, because as her mama it’s my job to believe in her. Luckily…

She is resilient.  The more she starts to pronounce words in a way we can understand them, the more we realize she hasn’t just been babbling all this time. She has been saying things, we just haven’t been understanding them. For example, for several weeks now she has been saying “teekabah”. She doesn’t say it all the time, but I’ve heard it enough to know that she is trying to say something. Last night at dinner, she offered her toy a bite of her food and said it again, but this time with just enough enunciation for me to hear it. “Take a bite!!” I yelled. “She is saying ‘Take a bite!'” My husband and I laughed. Of course she was. At dinner we are constantly reminding her to keep taking bites. Luckily, just because we didn’t get it right away, she didn’t give up.

And thank goodness, because…

It’s worth the wait. We are nowhere near the point where she is fluently speaking. Most people can’t understand half of what she is talking about yet. But every day we get closer. Every day we have little victories. She is finally starting to put two words together, like “choc milaka” for chocolate milk. She is getting clearer in what she says and we are understanding more and more. And it seems that the more we understand, the more she wants to talk.

I can’t wait for the day when I can finally understand everything she is trying to tell me, when I can get a clearer glimpse into everything that’s going on in her bright little mind. I already know it will be worth the wait.

 

 

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