From Grunts To Words: Our 1st Year With Speech Therapy

I wrote this back in September. Although a little outdated, it explains how this journey began.

September 2017

10 months ago our 2 year and 3 month old son grunted instead of talked. His birthday is in June and we knew at that point since he wasn’t talking, he either needed a little more time or we may need to have him evaluated. We decided to go through the summer, give him some time and see what September brought. 

Where It Started

At about 4 months old, he started sleeping with a Mickey stuffed animal and at 14 months he was saying “Mickey.” This was also the time he started walking so we thought he was right on track with developmental milestones. After a few months, we noticed new words were not being introduced. Sometimes he babbled mama and dada but never in context. Every once in awhile we thought we would hear a “hi” but it was a stretch. About a month before his 2nd birthday, we realized we hadn’t heard “Mickey” in awhile. We kept an ear out for awhile and realized he wasn’t saying it, whether prompted or not. This was our first red flag. Not only had no new words been introduced, but now the 1 word he did have was gone. He spoke in grunts, pointed to things he needed and wants and we understood it all. He turned 2, we gave him the summer and by September nothing had changed. We were afraid of pushing him if he wasn’t ready but more afraid of holding him back from being the best he can be if he needed help. 

We started looking on our county’s website for the details regarding Early Intervention Services and getting him evaluated. We kept going back and forth as to whether or not we should move forward. Were we too worried? Maybe he just needs more time. Maybe we need to be doing more. Ultimately, we decided to move forward in the process, which we heard could take some time.

He was evaluated on his gross motor skills and his speech. The evaluator for his motor skills knew quickly he was right where he needed to be in that area. The evaluator for speech could tell he understood everything she said, but wouldn’t use words to communicate back. She had a toy that popped. She played with it over and over saying “pop” until he did.  After a few tries, he said it and we were amazed! A few weeks and many signed forms later, we began speech therapy twice a week for 45 minutes each. Luckily, the therapists we were working with also conducted a mommy and me class twice a week and we took the opportunity to attend those as well. All of this was covered by the county and we paid nothing for our son to begin his journey towards speech. 

Once he was approaching his 3rd birthday, about 7 months in, he had to be re-evaluated since the services would fall under the school district once he turned 3. There was a debate as to whether or not we would be able to continue because of how much he knew and understood. Luckily, they could see that he still needed work on sentence structure and pronunciation. We were approved to continue services twice a week for 30 minutes each until his 4th birthday. 

Where We Are

One year later from starting the process, we’re about 10 months into services and have a chatterbox that just started Nursery School. I’m not crying, you are…

Looking back at these 10 months, we think about all the little milestones. Saying “boo” for blue-amazing! Using words in context-wow! Putting 2 and 3 words together and now using sentences, asking questions and singing the Frozen and Moana soundtrack – verbally he’s a completely different child. 

To say I’m grateful for the service coordinators and speech therapists we’ve worked with, would be an understatement. They offered support and care for our son and our family that we could never begin to repay. The work they do, the patience they have and the guidance they offer is above and beyond any expectations I had. I’m happy we will continue to work with our same speech therapist. Our son is so excited when she’s coming over and to us she will always be family. 

My advice to other parents would be to trust your gut. If you feel there may be a physical or speech delay, have them evaluated. The evaluators will let you know if your child needs more time or if they could use some help. It’s worth it for them to have the best opportunity to grow!

Now that we’re in January I can say that he absolutely loves school! His teachers and friends are great and he’s learning so much. His speech continues to improve and I’m so excited by all the progress he’s made!

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