Thursday, February 14, 2008

speak up

Yesterday when I arrived at Swee'pea's daycare, his teacher asked me if I could talk for a few minutes. I felt immediately nervous, wondering what Swee'pea had done wrong, or what I had done wrong. He'd been home sick the day before, had he taken a turn for the worse? She looked pretty serious although as moved to the little chairs, she said it was nothing serious.

I guess when the kids turn two, they do a little milestone evaluation. She pulled out a chart with red x's and checks and pluses and minuses on it. Bottom line is they're concerned about his speech. His comprehension is good and she knows all his labels are there, that he knows what he's saying but that his pronunciation is quite unclear, especially his c's and h's -- they're nonexistent. I have most certainly noticed this, as I've mentioned in my letters to him, and I do worry from time to time when I hear other kids his age speaking clearly. So although I'm concerned that the daycare's concerned, I'm mostly kind of glad that they've identified it. They have a speech therapist who comes in and works with kids in their own group at the centre, and it's no charge to us. Which sounds like a great solution to me. She told me to think about and discuss it with my husband, but there's not mucht to think about.

On the one hand, I'm not that worried. I'm pretty certain that this is a speech problem and not a developmental or cognitive problem. I also suspect that the earlier you intervene with speech difficulties, the easier it may be to solve. They had identified some behaviours as not present or not reliably present that he does all the time at home, so they don't concern me. But I do have a little niggling fear that perhaps this could be the tip of the iceberg, that perhaps there are some serious concerns.

I'm still a bit stunned though, because I really thought it was just a matter of time, that all kids develop at different rates and with different strengths. I find myself wondering if other kids there, Swee'pea's friends, have gotten 'bad' reports on their milestones. Is this being proactive and better for the kids or is it intolerance and damaging?

24 comments:

Suz said...

I'm firmly in the proactive camp. He might just "grow out of it," but then again, he might not. Even if adults would be tolerant of a child who pronounces certain sounds differently, children will not be. I'm glad it was flagged!!

Beck said...

Both of my older kids are in speech therapy. The Girl started therapy when she was 2 1/2 and even though she talked all the time, NO ONE COULD UNDERSTAND HER, poor baby. Therapy was a blessing.

bubandpie said...

Speech therapy is good - it really can work wonders, and Swee'pea can only benefit from it.

I don't think there's a need to be concerned at this age about intolerance or labeling. Swee'pea will not spend the rest of his educational life in this day-care situation: when he outgrows his current difficulties, there will be no lasting effects from having been identified at this age as a candidate for some added support for his speech development.

Is he combining words yet?

Kyla said...

I wholeheartedly agree on it being proactive AND a excellent resource.

But it is hard, too, isn't it? It is hard to hear concerns voiced about your child and then to experience the wondering that goes along with that.

Andrea said...

It's a tough one.

My experience is with a kid who was slow to develop gross motor milestones. She was a year when she learned to crawl and nearly 20 months when she learned to walk. It was nervewracking at the time, and maybe therapy could have made her walk faster (though at some emotional cost, I think--kids often don't enjoy those forms of physical therapy) but would it have made her life any better now? I doubt it. She caught up.

Speech is different, but I share your skepticism.

Mimi said...

Ahhhh. I think the therapy will be good, and it seems like her report was couched really positively. It must be a relief and a worry all at once to have at least one little niggly fear confirmed. Good luck. Sounds like a good plan at daycare ...

niobe said...

And not only will it be easier to intervene because he's so young, but because the speech therapy is at the daycare, he'll be in a familiar place as well, which should also make it easier.

Jennifer said...

Kids do develop at their own paces, it's true. And he very well might grow out of it. But I think "proactive" is really great, too.

My daughter began speech therapy when she was about 2.5. Much like Beck's daughter, mine chatted all day long but no one could understand and she would get so sad about that. She advanced leaps and bounds after few months of SP. We were all thrilled, including her. And for kids, SP is FUN. They don't think of it as work at all -- just more play.

It's hard though, not to worry, I know. It sounds like Swee'pea's daycare is an amazing partner for you as parents. What a blessing!

Janet said...

Wow, that does seem early for evaluation.

That said, we passed off Hailey's speech idiosyncracies as cute until last year, at five years old, when it became evident that she really needed therapy. Badly. So perhaps early intervention is a good thing.

Em said...

I'm a little shocked that they are concerned now (he only just turned two!) but a little therapy won't hurt and there is (obviously) no harm in being proactive :) BTW, Willow was in speech therapy when she was 18 months, but that was because she had no apparent comprehension... she had her speech tested late last year (for school) and is now well within the average range. So i am obviously a huge supporter of ST!

cinnamon gurl said...

Thanks for your comments, all.

Bea, he is combining words, but they often sound the same to other people... car sounds the same as ball.

Mad Hatter said...

Sin,
If nothing else, he will be getting more dedicated one-on-one time with an adult. That can only be good.

flutter said...

I think you know your kid, and you know what's best. I think you are being healthy and proactive

Bon said...

ah, shit. i've been thinking for ages that O's speech is on the delayed side, but then i've been telling myself i'm just an ex-special-ed teacher being all neurotic...and so, in all seriousness, i've been eating up your monthly letters about Swee'pea's development and his words and whatnot and telling myself that Swee'pea is a few months older and they're doing similar things so all is probably just hunky-dory.

um...maybe you can send on some exercises, if they teach you any?!?

Cloud said...

Don't stress about the speech therapy. I had speech therapy as a kid (I think I was roughly kindergarten age) because I couldn't say my Rs and I just spoke too fast for anyone to understand me. If I'm scarred by the experience, I've buried it deeply...

Seriously, I understand your point about babies developing at different paces (I have an uncle who didn't say his first word until he was 3, and he doesn't seem to be scarred, either), but I think the speech therapy will be good for Swee'pea. The little I remember of the experience is positive, and I do remember being glad that people could understand me better.

Denguy said...

My son is 3-and-a-half, and he has difficulty with "k" and hard "c" and hard "g". I work with him regularly.

I'm all for proactive. Learning is good.

the end of motherhood said...

When it comes to intervention, early is usually better. As long as the help doesn't come with any stigma, it's probably all good...

Jen said...

Proactive is great, especially with speech therapy. My kids have been in therapy since 20 months (autism, so not at all the same thing), but every speech therapist that I've talked to has said that the earlier they get a chance to start working with a child the better. Not only is it often easier to correct things early, but it also stops problem areas from being reinforced as the child grows. You're lucky that you have a daycare that's so on top of things!

And don't worry about stigma or intolerance...there are always a lot of kids at daycare who are getting speech, and it's fun for them. When my kids used to get their therapy at day care some of the other kids were jealous that they didn't get to go and play with the fun lady :-)

Good luck to him, and good for you for taking the steps to make sure that he's getting what he needs.

bubandpie said...

Swee'pea is two steps ahead of Bub at that age, then: he had very little comprehension, almost nothing but nouns in his vocabulary, and no word combinations. At that point, the fact that he didn't finish any of his words (approximately 10% of his vocabulary sounded like "ba") was the least of our worries. When I think of where he is now compared to two years ago, I am astonished.

nomotherearth said...

it can only help, i think. and it's so common i wouldn't worry at all about labelling. a friend of mine's kid basically didn't speak at all till she was two and she's fine now.

Alpha DogMa said...

I'm coming back after having mulled this over for 24 hours. It seems like S'Pea is really young to be assessed as needing speech therapy, but as others have stated it can't harm him to have some extra attention.

Plus if he does need some intervention at least he's getting it early -- there is quite a line-up for speech therapy in our public school.

bubandpie said...

Back again - when Bub was about 28 months old I took a course on encouraging his speech and it was invaluable (it was the Hanen program, and it's funded by the province). It would have been even better for us a few months earlier, actually. Now, it was geared towards children who aren't speaking at all - it has to do with encouraging speech, not correcting it - but still, my sense is that the earliest interventions can be the most effective.

Lisa b said...

We are signed up for every therapy going because I believe it can only help. However I do wonder how many kids would have just developed on their own.

That 'tip of the iceberg' fear is I think a real issue for a lot of parents but from how you have described him and the feedback here I don't think you need to be worried.

b*babbler said...

I think, as we struggle with this around our house, that I have to be on the proactive side.

I'd love to believe that everyone can understand the differences between people, and that not everyone may talk the same, but unfortunately on the school-ground that's just not the reality.

And I do know (from my brother-in-law) that the sooner you intervene with a speech problem the better the chance of success.

Good luck!