Those immortal words!

Look who’s talking

Sometimes I just have to sit back and listen to my son chatting away to his toys and marvel at it.

When he had his 2 years check the Health Visitor commented on his lack of speech.  I wasn’t really that concerned; as I’ve mentioned in other posts, he has always done things in his own time.  But they made a big ‘thing’ about it and asked me to call back 3 months later to discuss how he was getting on.  By that time they expected 50 words and a mini sentence of 3 words together.

So I went home with my ‘ 5-word son’, had a cry, and started to wonder if there really was something wrong.  I’ve read to him since day one, pretty much, I talked to him, we went to every kind of baby and toddler glass/group you could possibly imagine so why wasn’t he talking??  What was I doing wrong???  Why wasn’t he ‘normal’?  I’m normally quite philosophical about things, but I’d fallen into that ‘must be average’ trap for once.

I have a wonderful NCT friend (well actually, they all are) who works in the NHS, near to a Speech Therapy Unit, and she got hold of some notes for me and suggestions to improve my son’s speech.

So, anyone who knows me knows that I’m rather organised and precise.   One of the ideas was to make a list of words in different categories and then tick them off as my son could say them.  For example – Family: Mummy, Daddy etc, Animals: Dog, Cat etc and so on.  We started off with 5 words, so had a mountain to climb in 3 months.  But I kept the list close and felt a great sense of achievement every time we could tick a word off, as we got nearer the 3 month period we were also adding our own words to the list.

We also played a describing game – I collected up different objects from around the house and put them in a box.  Then Monkey had to pull an object out and we’d describe it – what it was, what colour it was, shape etc. Monkey loved that game.

We’d been recommended a game called Shopping List by Orchard Toys too, as another tool in developing Monkey’s speech.

I noticed that you could buy Booster packs – one being a Fruit & Veg Booster Pack (as that’s Daddy P’s business, that was also a must!) The games arrived and basically, you pick a shopping list of items and you have a shopping trolley.  There are picture counters to collect, you match the counter to your list and fill your trolley.  The game is really aimed at 3+ years so we didn’t play to the rules at that stage.  I put all the counters in a bag, my son picked a shopping list and we would try to pick out the matching counters – with him trying to say the words as we went.  He absolutely loves this game and now he’s 3 years and a bit, we play more to the ‘real’ rules.

Something else that was recommended was giving a running commentary of everything that we were doing throughout the day.  To some people, this may come naturally and seem obvious.  I quickly realised that probably I wasn’t doing enough of this, so tried to make a conscious effort to improve, no matter how silly I looked in the High Street etc.

Anyway, 3 months passed, we’d reached the 50 words goal but not the 3 words together, and I called the Health Visitor.  It wasn’t the same person, and this HV just said ‘it sounds ok, I’ll call you in another 3 months to see how he is progressing.  I’m still waiting for that call nearly a year later.

Anyway, by this stage I really wasn’t concerned, my son, as always, was just getting there in his own time.

He started pre-school part-time in September 2012 at 2 years, 9 months.  It’s a wonderful setting and as soon as I mentioned that his speech was a bit behind what they might expect, they were great.  They listened to me and my feelings about the situation and have helped to encourage him no end.  Funnily enough, one of the first things they said they would use to help his speech was Shopping List by Orchard Toys, so I knew he’d be fine!

He was 3 in December, his speech isn’t at the same level as his friends, but it is sooooo much better than it was, and he is improving all the time.  I can remember when he first started making animals noises (months after all his friends) it made me cry.  Now he is coming home from pre-school and singing to me.  This may seem so normal, but I’ve waited a long time to hear it, and it’s wonderful.

Now he sits and talks to his beloved Teddy and Grandpa Bear and is forever putting our fires all over the living room with his fire engines – simple things, to be cherished.

Most people dread the ‘Why? Mummy’ stage – I can’t wait 🙂

13 thoughts on “Look who’s talking

  1. Sounds like you have done a great job encouraging him. Like you say all kids do things in their own time and I often think HV’s make you worry for no reason! Keep up the good work!

    1. I’ve only ever seen a HV on the required checks, and it’s been a different one every time. He’s doing great, hopefully by the time he starts school he’ll have caught right up with his friends. I just feel so strongly that all kids are different and there are too many milestones that seem to be ‘you must do ‘a’ by ‘b’ or there is something wrong’ or there is a problem. I’m sure, sometimes ‘they’ are right, but I should have just listened to myself really and not stressed.

  2. Orchard Toys are fab….that is why I signed up to Ella’s Toy Parties as they can supply everything in the OT catalogue 🙂 The current favourite in our house is the OT What A Performance…..a board game where, depending on what square you land on, you have to make a sound or an action or sing a song for the others to guess what is on your picture card. Isla loves this as it appeals to her drama queen tendencies! Again, we kind of make up our own rules as they are only 3 and 4 and it is supposed to be for age 5+ I think. But that is the beauty of orchard toys… can tweak them to suit your child and hence they last longer than many toys.

    1. I made a note of that one, right back at your introduction party for future reference. It’s been mentioned a lot on Playfest too. I’m becoming a bit of an OT groupie – love their games/puzzles, like to buy British. I totally agree, we play to our own rules a lot of the time, but the kids can develop with them, not just a five minute wonder.

  3. Oh, what a lovely, interesting post. Glad I stopped by. So pleased too, that you have discovered, through recommenfdation, our games and jigsaws. We endeavour to make learning fun, and I think we succeed as they are all extremely popular. So glad that Shopping List has given Monkey the skills to improve his word skills and many thanks for mentioning us.

    1. Thanks for popping over. We’re definately Orchard Toys fans, my son often takes one of the ‘lists’ with us when we go shopping so he can find the items as we go around the supermarket 🙂

  4. I’ve been around children for my entire life – my parents used to foster babies and toddlers, I was the oldest of 3, worked as a childminder and in a nursery school, and started having my own children fairly young. It’s not unusual for a significant minority of children to have very little language when they start nursery. There are countless reasons for this, but usually it addresses itself within the first few months because they don’t get very far with the other children if they don’t communicate with them, and they copy and join in when it’s expected of them. Health Visitors have very little time with each child and are basically working to a checklist, which satisfies them that they can tick you off and leave yo to it. I think all too often they tell parents their child hasn’t achieved the average, but don’t explain if that’s anything you should worry about.
    I’ve had 3 different Health Visitors with my youngest 2, and I haven’t seen or heard from any of them for the last 2 years! 😀

    1. He’s improved so much since starting pre-school and being with slightly older children. Am sure there are lots of fab HV’s out there, but I won’t be in a hurry to knock on their door. 🙂

  5. Interesting post! I remember saying on playfest would be good if someone could write about orchard toys from a speech n language perspective! Think we will have to give that one a try. We don’t actually hav any of the games apart from lotto but do hav a lot of the puzzles. My 3 yr old is same age as yours with a December birthday and has very delayed speech too, it’s starting to come now but quite slowly. He’s diagnosed with autism and also a speech disorder so it’s difficult for him but he’s trying really hard n I’m so proud of the progress he’s making! I see loads of orchard toys on his speech therapists shelves when I go do hav been wondering which ones would be best

    1. Sounds as if you have your hands full. I think it helps with OT that the graphics on their games/puzzles are lovely and bright and seem to grab the children’s attention. I’d definately recommend Shopping List, it has a lot of different play options on top of those in the rules for the game. We often take one of the lists with us when we go shopping and Monkey has to tell me what the picture is and then he has to find it in the supermarket. He loves it, its helped with his speech and he associates shopping as a ‘fun’ activity too.
      Monkey loves anything to do with diggers/tractors and trains so I spent a lot of time concentrating on them as a topic – books, games, play etc so I had his attention for as long as possible on a subject he loved. He learnt to say excavator a long time before he said sheep!

  6. I think we all beat ourselves up too much. Sounds like you’ve been a wonderfully supportive, interested and loving mum all this time. By listening to the health visitor, you have, in your own way and Monkey’s, found ways to help him, as you say, get there in his own time, which is all any of us can do. Thanks for sharing these tips – we particularly love Shopping List and many other Orchard Toys our Little Chap has been lucky enough to receive. Great post.

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