Hey everyone! This momma requested to remain anonymous for this post – and has chosen to use code names for her children. The important thing is that she is sharing her story of being a mom with 3 kids with Speech Delays! So, without further ado – here’s her story:

Bug was a talker; we joked it was from my side of the family. At 9 months old he was already clearly saying a handful of words; by a year his vocab had grown to 10+ words. You might say “he’s not speech delayed”. I heard all the comments. “He is so smart” and “so independent” but those were the red flags. At 18 months I decided he needed social interaction. He could talk, walk and a mountain of other milestones he blew by;however, he would sit in the corner for hours playing blocks and would get irate if I tried to play with him. One day his preschool teacher approached me. We were stationed at a small base in the middle of Southern Alabama.; the type of place you now only hear about described as “Mayberry”. She was concerned about him. Even by engulfing him in a social environment with peers, bug would sit in a corner all day alone and play. But as it happens often in Army life, we were getting ready to move. And move we did…across a ocean. I preach you are your child’s only advocate.

As soon as we settled I started looking into how to get some seemingly insignificant worries addressed. Like any parent, I didn’t want to believe anything was wrong with my child. That previous March we had already been handed a heartbreak blow when Bug was diagnosed with a rare and life threatening disease. So I knew if anything did come up in evaluations, it could not get any worse. Something did come up, and luckily it was easier to digest. As the evaluators from the free state early intervention program sat there talking to me, I zoned out. My son talks, he walks, he laughs and smiles. He superseded every milestone by 2-4 months. Try finding shoes for a 8 month old! However, I was one of those parents. I missed things. He talked, but couldn’t say more than 2-3 words at a time. He walked, but he couldn’t do stairs, or walk backwards or jump. He smiled but couldn’t look anyone in the face; like he eyes were glued to the floor. And he was 3. Speech and OT therapy was started ASAP. He started to thrive even more. Eventually he was diagnosed with PDD-NOS and enrolled in a special education preschool. He now attends school in a regular general education class. So you would think I learned my lesson- Don’t assume everything is all sunshine and rainbows even though your child is meeting milestones and seemingly normal. Some of  you may have decided that everything my son did was normal and needed no attention. Some may even go as far as saying I’m the one who was seeking the attention. Fine, I admit, I was. I was seeking attention for my son. No one else wanted to help him. He was too seemingly normal for most doctors. But a mama always knows. Which is how I also knew, my two daughters had speech delays and other undiagnosed issues as well.

All three of my children have been through the state early intervention program (my youngest starts speech next week) and all three have also received private speech therapy. Its double dipping, but where the state program is strapped and over populated, private is there to overlap and propel them forward even more. 

We have used a few different methods that have works and some that did not fit in with our lifestyle. The one that is most widely used and did not work for us is the PECKS system. They are little squares depicting different actions and objects. There are millions of them; from juice to book to going to the park. You are also given a PECKS board that has rows of velcro. In theory the child is able to pick a PECKS square and place it on the board. They have signify they want a cup of milk, or go to the park or even a list of things. It is useful if a child can not talk (my youngest can’t hear therefore can not talk), does not have expressive language (2/3 of mine don’t have expressive language), doesn’t have all the words to make a sentence yet or helps plan out a day in order of events (very helpful for ASD children who don’t like change or the unknown). In practice you have one child who is trying to use it, while siblings are pulling and replacing and losing the squares. So instead of a child “saying” – let’s go to the park and then get a snack; you have a sibling putting – let’s go to the park and watch tv.

What has worked the best is sign language. I didn’t think to much about the possibility of my middle child having the same issues as our first. She was delayed on EVERY milestone. It was actually honestly annoying! Just walk already, geeze kid. Lucky for us, we were already surrounded by a team of therapists of Bug who oversaw and watch Diva as she grew. It was no surprise to me when they asked if I had any concerns. Of course I did. She was 2.5 and only said “dad”. Maybe I was in denial about her progress. Maybe I was trying not to face that fact of having two special needs kids. But what I didn’t do was address her delays before they went unattended for too long. So when SB failed to talk, I jumped into action. It may only be two signs I taught her, but at least by teaching them to her at a early age has helped tremendously in figuring out some of her needs. 

All three of my children have different types of speech delays caused by different issues. Not a single one is the same. If I could tell myself something years ago to prepare me for today, this moment in time, it would be to not compare your children; whether it is to other siblings or your cousins or friends children. Milestones are just benchmarks set. They is not a finish line you are racing towards. There is no first or last place; it is the fact you finish. All children develop at their own speed and pace and because one walks at 9 months and the next one walk at 17 months means nothing except that you have a little more time for a break before you have another mobile child. Lastly, because one child runs a race and the next one might skip they both will still finish. There is no right or wrong type of speech delay. I thought that a speech delay meant no one could understand them, but they had words and sounds. What threw me off was the fact that I had a child who did talk, and talked early; one who didn’t talk for a few years and one who can’t hear to talk. Yet they all are diagnosed with speech delays. Do not be afraid of a getting a evaluation. You are your child’s only advocated. If you do not speak up about a concern no one will.

– anonymous