My son has a speech delay. For the longest time, I denied that there was an issue. I dreaded his doctor’s appointments. At the end of each visit, the doctor would say “Tell me about his language.” Sigh. I tried to avoid that conversation like the plague. But the conversation of “his language” was unavoidable. So I lied. I lied to the doctor. I lied to my family. I lied to myself.
Sometimes my son’s babbles would sound like a word.
“Blah blah blah da da da…”
“Oh, he said Dada today!” I’d say with excitement at dinner with my family.
I’m not sure if I actually believed he said those words or if I was just making the whole thing up. But one day, sometime around his second birthday, I stopped lying. Deep down, I knew there was a problem all along and I finally decided to get help. I was embarrassed at first. I think I lied about his speech for so long because of the stigma behind having any sort of delay. We’re held to such high standards as parents. After each visit to the doctor, we’re asked by family where our kids stand on the percentile chart for their height and weight. When chatting with other parents, we’re quizzed on what milestones our children are hitting. There’s a lot of pressure on us to have perfect kids. So when life presents us with a less than perfect situation, we lie.
After I decided to tell the truth, I realized just how common speech delays are. Anytime I mention my son’s delay to someone, they almost always tell me of someone they know that is going through the same thing. According to the CDC, about 8% of American children have a communication disorder. However, only 55% of those children are being treated. Is it just me, or is it extremely sad that 45% of these kids aren’t receiving the therapy they need?
Once I came to terms that there was a delay in my son’s speech, therapy was a no brainer for me. I want my children to grow up with confidence and a speech delay could definitely interfere with this. Also, life was becoming frustrating for our entire family. My son was frustrated because he couldn’t communicate and we were frustrated because we never knew what he wanted.
So how did we find help? I talked to our pediatrician. They’re prepared to provide you with all resources available to you, based on your insurance, income, etc. You just might have to do a little work. The first center that we were referred to had a waiting list that would literally take years for us to see a speech language pathologist (SLP). So, I went back to the pediatrician’s office and was referred to another office that was able to see us immediately.
We’re now about 8 months into speech therapy. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made as a mother. Upon his initial evaluation, my son had a limited vocabulary of about 25 words. He is now talking a mile a minute and repeating everything (not exactly a good thing, if you have a potty mouth like me!).
I no longer keep my son’s speech delay a secret. I’m proud of how much he’s improved in such a short amount of time. I want other parents to know that it’s okay to get help. It’s okay if your kid isn’t perfect. Nobody’s perfect! Getting a little help never hurt anyone – it could actually be life changing for your family!