Club blog & News:
The following is a personal reflection, being posted as a blog, and not information to be used to diagnose or treat your child. For any medical concerns you may have, please contact your child's physician.
"Every child develops at their own rate."
I'm sure as a mom you've heard this, or something similar, said about kids. Some babies walk as early as 9 months, while some as late as 15 months. There's nothing to worry about if Susie is walking before Billy even though they are the same age. Children develop at their own pace... within a time frame, that is.
So, when do you worry? When is your child's pace not up to par, and suddenly a delay?
For me, it was hard to decide, or rather hard to admit. No parent wants their child to have a problem. We all want them to be the perfect little superstars we love, but sometimes we see our children through rose colored glasses. I certainly did.
My oldest son was crawling early, and walked right on schedule. In fact, he did virtually everything "on schedule," except talk. I joined MOMS Club just after his first birthday, and as I began interacting with other moms and observing other children, I began to notice that other children close to his age had much better speech skills. He hadn't said his first word yet, and even the basic "ma-ma," and "da-da," was lacking. My son had his own way of communicating with me, and it worked great for us, but not so much others.
It wasn't until his 18-month checkup that the doctor brought up the possibility of him having a Speech Delay, but I shrugged her off. It seemed to me, from other mothers' experiences, that boys talked later than girls. Oh, and there is that whole "every child develops at their own rate," thing that kept ringing through my head. I kept telling myself "My son is fine, he's just going to talk when he's good and ready. He is smart as a whip, and certainly understands what we're saying to him."
Then came his 2-year checkup. My son was still at the babble stage- obviously he was falling behind his peers. It was at this point that I was very torn- but children develop at their own pace! I didn't know what to think because I didn't want to admit he had a Speech Delay. That would mean there was a problem. That would get him considered "Disabled." It seemed to harsh to think that my son had a disability. This hyper, rough and tough, brilliant little boy just couldn't be disabled. After his appointment, the doctor's office put in a referral for the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) to have him evaluated.
After talking with a Services Coordinator, we decided to wait on an evaluation. My son understood what was being communicated, but could not communicate in return, so we were going to see if he could catch up in the next few months... but he didn't. And when my three month period was up, I called AzEIP back and set up his evaluation. It was really hard for me to do. I really, really did not want to admit there was a problem- that my child needed intervention. However, I decided having him evaluated wouldn't hurt, and I was doing what was best for him. If he did have a problem, we would get to the bottom of it.
Months later now, I realize how silly it was of me to be so ashamed of my son needing help. Through AzEIP, my son received Speech Therapy, and has improved a lot. He still has a Speech Delay, but compared to last year, he has many more words- and even signs! His Speech Therapist incorporated ASL (American Sign Language) into his weekly services, and I think that was his ticket. Now the difficult words are not as hard to communicate if he has a sign to help him along. He still has a long road ahead of him with Speech Apraxia, and will continue Speech Therapy services through our school district now that he is three (AzEIP services are from birth to 36 months).
I look back at our time with AzEIP and wish that I had him evaluated sooner- maybe even at 18 months when a Speech Delay was first being suspected. I wonder if he would be further along now- but the past is the past. What counts is that he is being helped now and will continue getting help as long as he needs it. I swallowed my pride, got over being ashamed and blaming myself for the cards we were dealt. My son is happy, healthy, and learning to communicate- and developing at his own pace thanks to early intervention.
AzEIP provides more than just Speech Therapy. They also provide physical and occupational therapy. If you suspect your child is not developing speech skills, motor skills, or cognitive skills within the average time frames, I encourage you to question it. Ask your child's doctor, or you can even contact our local AzEIP Service Coordinators to address a possible disability or delay. An evaluation is free, and done right in your home. There is no reason to be ashamed, embarrassed, or upset about your child needing intervention. You are still a good parent even if your child does need help.
~Contributed by Tina C., MOMS Club Member