There is nothing like the relief that a new parent feels when told post partem that their long anticipated bundle of joy is in fact ‘perfect’. Ten fingers, ten toes, those beautiful words that fills us with inner peace and joy. But not for long because now starts a lifetime of worry about what could possibly go or be wrong.
And when one of those all-important developmental milestones isn’t met?
That’s what happened with my son, George. There was no babbling or cooing or ‘da da’, ‘ma ma’. Every week we made all sorts of excuses as did our doctor and others. Friends and family all had different theories but all ultimately amounting to the fact that everything was completely normal, children all develop at different speeds., etc., etc.
I am eternally grateful to an Australian GP who picked up the lack of words at sixteen months and listened to my concerns. That is where our journey began, trying to find out whatever was wrong, if anything, and what we could do.
The first thing to do was have George’s hearing checked. I was convinced this was the issue as there is some serious deafness on his father’s side of the family. But no, it was perfect.
Next stop was a Speech Pathologist or ‘Speechie’ as they are known in Australia. After a long questionnaire and observation it was determined that yes, George did have issues but because he was so young it was impossible to give a diagnosis. Because as we already know, children all develop at different speeds…..
In fact therapy at this early age wasn’t even recommended as there was no evidence to suggest that it did any good. So what more could we do? We decided to start therapy anyway, in the hope that some good would come out of it. I couldn’t just wait.
We had a couple of difficult years, George became resistant and didn’t particularly co-operate, upon reflection the personality of the Speechie wasn’t best suited to an active preschooler. She did however refer him to an early intervention kindergarten program for kids with learning needs. This was an amazing experience for all of us and George was lucky enough to have two years of this before school.
During this time however we still weren’t sure what was wrong, it was suggested by a professional that it could be Verbal Dyspraxia, meaning that George would perhaps never speak properly, only with the aid of a translating device. We were devastated but still nothing was definitive.
After a bit of a break from Speech Pathology, we changed to a new therapist. This time was different – George was older and Monica, the Speechie, just got his personality. But school was looming and that was the next worry. Monica, the school and I liaised very closely in anticipation of issues and we had been warned to expect problems with reading as this is closely linked with speech issues.
But George held his own in the Prep year and made incredible progress with his talking and in fact everything. I am writing this today as he has just received an award for outstanding reading in school and his latest Speech assessment is showing excellent results, well within normal parameters, in fact in some areas, advanced! We are beyond proud.
My advice to parents? Never give up and believe in your instincts and the determination of little children.