Back in October (2015), I had a conversation with our sitter about Liam’s speech and her concerns. The conversation happened one evening as I was picking up L and P at the end of the day. I was caught off guard with the conversation and left feeling like an oblivious parent. Liam has always been a shy and reserved individual which leads him to stay silent and not talk as much as the other children. It’s hard not to compare children and I try not to but this night had my mind wrapped up in full comparison of other children and questioning whether my son was delayed in his speech. Both my husband and I are introverts and I would go as far as saying I am more shy than he. I know Liam is shy and I knew that night even, that he doesn’t talk a whole lot and when he does, it’s a bunch of mumble and it’s hard to understand what he is saying. With L being my first, I had nothing to compare his speech development to. He met all his pediatrician speech requirements (which isn’t a whole lot) and we even had Help Me Grow, a state based learning center, come out and perform a free observation with him a few months before (based on concerns I had then). He didn’t qualify for Help Me Grow at the time so I just dropped the concern from my realm and moved on with life. When faced with the same question from our sitter a few months later, in October, I felt like I should maybe take some more steps in getting him in to a speech pathologist. I contacted our pediatrician for some recommendations and soon we had an appointment at ABC Pediatric Therapy in West Chester.
I was skeptical. That first visit they just performed a simple evaluation, mainly testing his comprehension skills. The kids knows and understands pretty much everything so I knew he would get an A on that part of the test. Then came time for the speaking part of the test. Did I mention Liam was shy? Like painfully shy. Even the words I knew he could say he refused to say. Based on how that 10 minutes went, I knew they would recommend speech therapy. We started therapy that next week. Liam’s speech pathologist’s name is Kellie and let me just preface this by saying that she is amazing. That first visit brought so much revelation. She showed me how to play with Liam to get him talking, how to talk to him during dinner or snack time and how to teach him sounds he was having trouble pronouncing (p’s and b’s were the first two sounds we worked on mastering). After that first week’s visit, I left with some sight words to work on with Liam and an overall increased knowledge on what I must do as a parent to get him talking more.
A few weeks passed with speech therapy once a week for 30 minutes. After about two months, I really noticed a difference. Liam had three challenges to overcome during therapy the next few months. First being his confidence level. He’s an observer, always has been. He watches your every move and when you aren’t looking at him, he will try to imitate you. I see him do it with his cousins and kids he goes to daycare with. We realized through these therapy sessions that he knew he couldn’t say certain sounds and so as a result, wouldn’t even try to speak. He didn’t want to be wrong and worst of all, he didn’t want to try to say something only for us to ask him to say it several times and still not get it right. It was frustrating for him and us. It lowered his self-confidence. And realizing that is heart-breaking for any parent to see your kids confidence level decrease.
His second challenge was training his tongue to figure out how to move to say certain sounds. P’s and B’s were among the first sounds we worked on, as well as M’s and N’s. He still has trouble with other sounds (talking about you L’s) but the therapist said those are more 4 year old sounds so that is on the back burner for now.
His third identified challenge was putting the last consonant on words. Bus was “buh” and never the ending “s”. He can say words that begin with “s” but he needed to learn to attach the last consonant to his words.
Therapy was a must need for Liam but really I think it was more of a need for Andy and I. L was our first child and with any first child comes a time of trial and error. Also with being parents come a sense of self-denial about your child’s abilities or inabilities. The saying that it takes a community to raise a child is so accurate. It took our neighborhood sitter to bring the issue up to us again, after we dismissed Liam’s slow speech development. I’m so thankful for that conversation that night because it pushed me into getting him an evaluation. As a parent, it’s easy to feel like you are failing and at times you do fail but that’s why you have community and family to help push you in the right direction. If it wasn’t for that conversation that night, I don’t know if I would have looked into therapy still today. Liam has come so far in the short 6 months that we’ve been in therapy. He talks non-stop now and is always expressing his opinion, or singing a song, or telling us silly things. It makes my heart happy that he now feels confident to express himself through words.