Saturday, May 03, 2008

Late Talking Children

I am the parent of two bright late talking children, both of whom had markedly different early childhood experiences. My oldest(son) was raised by daycare(40 hours a week) until age three, and had the "advantage" of an excellent early preschool with speech therapy. Yet he was two years delayed in speech at age four. My two year old daughter has always been at home with me, and she has a speech delay as well.

Parents are not necessarily to blame for their children's lack of speech.

Late talking toddler: New research debunks the myth:

The study found that a mother's education, income, parenting style or mental health had no impact on a child's likelihood of being a late talker. Study Coordinator Associate Professor Kate Taylor said the findings debunked common myths about why children are late talkers.

"Some people have wrongly believed that delayed language development could be due to a child not being spoken to enough or because of some other inadequacy in the family environment," Associate Professor Taylor said. "This is clearly not the case and I hope these findings will reassure many parents that delayed language is not a reflection on their parenting or the child's intelligence.

Um, thank you. I'm not offended by these sorts of comments when they are directed at me, but I do find it frustrating. In the past, my response was to educate, and explain the probable origin of late talking, but often I would get a condescending look(I'm in denial) or one of confusion. Now I just tell people who imply a connection between parenting and late talking to mind their own business(in a kindly patient way). I've got enough miles on me to trust in wisdom and experience.

Why do people persist with unsolicited advice for a "fix" for non-standard children anyway? There are instances where we cannot change God's creation, and who are we to even question God's plan. It is us who should change, not God. We must fit people into society and not the other way around. We were created in God's image, and trust that we are all equally worthy in God's eyes. Society needs fixing, not children. The definition of perfection is God's; true perfection is not set by the standards of society. If we embraced everyone, who knows the potential of person.

Along these same lines, I've actually had two doctors ask me if I had considered having a tubal ligation due to my son's speech delay, the implication being that children with genetic/hereditary issues should not be born. This shocked the heck out of me. Is eugenics(liberal eugenics) on it's way back as a social policy?!

How can we measure the potential in children? My son was classified as retarded by the school system at age four. If I had not had the where with all to remove him from our school system, he would have spent his days in a special segregated classroom with low expectations for academic achievement. He is ten now, and with five years of home education he is an advanced reader and excels at math. His speech is normalized. At the rate he is going, he'll be done with high school at age 16. Ironically, it didn't take any specialized curriculum, just standard back-to-basics school books(Rod & Staff). More importantly, I'm not a trained or gifted teacher, just an ordinary mom who loves her children. So maybe love is missing from our society, love for the individual, not the statistic.

If my son had been a slow learner, I'd have not treated or labeled him as such. The sky would have been the limit, and I'd have fostered a love of learning. He'd have gone as far as God allowed him, unfettered by ridiculous limiting measurements based on impersonal standardized norms. The bar is set by the child, not the statistic.

Here are some other resources for parents with late talking children:

Thomas Sowell: Heredity, environment and talk Sowell's books, Late-Talking Children and The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late

In the case of late taking, always get your child tested by a physician specialist to rule out issues which may be corrected such as hearing impairment or other physiological causes. Whatever the issues, all children are special, and all children are souls born with their own God given potential. Parents know their children best, and should be their first educators and their greatest advocates. Be still and pray; let God move your heart and mind. His plan is the only plan, and it is good.

Late talking resource for at home speech enrichment.

Also see: Experiences Homeschooling a Speech Delayed Child, Part II

And:  Late-Talking Children Confused with Autism Spectrum


Lisa said...

Oh, a topic I know too much about. My children have all been 'slow' talkers and my now very bright 12 year old was very delayed. I got so tired of being accused of not talking or stimulating them. Argh! Thanks for the study.

Alexandra said...

God bless you Lisa. :)

C.A. Worcester said...

I am so happy to hear that another MOTHER trusted herself and didn't "do" everything that people want you to do with late-talking children!

My son Samuel is 4 and is just NOW starting to talk - that you can sort of understand him. Sometimes he says things that blow my mind....there isn't anything "wrong" in that little head of his.....he is growing and learning and soaking up life. He just takes a little longer to let the rest of us know what he is thinking!

I have read the T. Sowell books and have done some pretty extensive research myself. I also have some ideas about essential fatty acid deficencies and how those relate to speech delay.

I too, am an "older" mom. My first two are 25 and almost 20. Then came Samuel 4, Baby January (Treasure in Heaven) and Isaac 2. God is so good. People think I am crazy but at almost 43, I would love to have more babies.....hey, Sara was 90....why not?! hee hee.

Debbie J. said...

I think our society rushes our children too much! They all usually end up at the same level.

I gave you an award. You have an Excellent Blog. Check out yesterday's post!

Anonymous said...

I am a mom of 5 homeschooled children, 3 of which are dyslexic one of those a late talker. The oldest of these children will have her AA degree at 17. The late talking middle son is very gifted mechanically and already expresses strong interest in becoming an electrician. The youngest one has jumped 2 grade levels in reading this year to almost catch up to her grade level. We have been using the materials from Diane Craft's website and benefitted greatly from them. Often times a child who is delayed in one area is gifted in another. But it does demand courage to raise these kids well in face of criticism.

Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

A BIG thank you for this post. Peapod does talk, though not a lot, or apparently what is deemed "proper" for an eighteen month old. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, keeps going on & on about how I should take her in to see a speech therapist, and obviously am not doing enough to stimulate her speech. (As if reading many books, several times a day, telling her, step by step, everything we do together in the kitchen/yard/housework, singing, and everything else are just trivial littles bits of nothing!). One family member even took it upon herself to tell a speech therapist at her place of employment about Peapod's problems, which naturally resulted in an urgent need for me to take her in. As she was a preemie, and is actually very ahead in her other developmental areas, and does communicate with us, it just didn't seem to make sense to bring her into a therapist at this point in time. Even still, I've been feeling pretty lousy about her lack of talking over the past month and cannot even begin to express how much better your post and the comments have made me feel.

Theresa said...

Thanks for posting this. I also went through this with all three of my children who are doing quite well now in spite of everyone's dire predictions! :o)

Alexandra said...

Thanks for your comments and hugs to all. May God give us the grace and wisdom. :)

Missy said...

I found your blog from doing a search on "Late talker" and "homeschool."

I just wanted to say that I love, love, love this post and couldn't agree with you more.

Our son is a late talker. He's almost 4. Some people thought we were nuts when we pulled him out of our state's Early Intervention program (they were trying to push an autism diagnosis on us). Imagine our surprise when he started to flourish after being removed. /sarcasm :)

Anyway, we, too, are planning to homeschool him starting in Kindergarten. He's a brilliant little boy and I can't see leaving him at the mercy of such a flawed, single-minded system.

Bless you for being such a great mama. I'm sure we can all learn a lot from you!

Alexandra said...

Thanks Missy. Your experience sounds so familiar! Bless you on your journey. I'm so enjoying homeschooling!

Christine said...

I have three late talking children. I am nervous because the findings don't show so many in the same family or the fact that 2 of the 3 are girls? None had toilet training issues. The first two are now 7 & 9 and have caught up and surpassed their peers linguistically. They are both great in math & science as well. I had to protect them from labels of autism, asbergers & dyspraxia. They are both normal and social and old enough that they have out grown it all. However my little girl is only coming up on 4. She is the same. Bright, social, has good hearing and is only starting to talk. They want me to put her in a special school. I said no. I believe she has above average intelligence like the other two and will out grow this. Any thoughts?

Alexandra said...

Oh, I'm probably the wrong person to ask about special classes. Shivers...just the sound of it makes me mad. My first instinct is to decline the classes and wait, especially in view of your previous experiences, but that's just my opinion as a mom.

In our school system, "special classes" means you don't learn, and you are bused to the bad side of town, the worst school district!

My daughter is almost three and is also speech delayed, but we plan to homeschool here, so that issue of special classes is not a consideration.

If we schooled outside the home, our other option is private school.

Can you wait an extra year for kindergarten? I know here they allow late enrollment to Kindergarten. You can request a one year extension for children that need extra time to grow up. We did this, and instead of filing as a homeschooler the first year, we just opted out for one year. Technically we didn't begin homeschooling until ds was age 6.

Rachel said...

Such Encouragement!!! I have been so stressed and beside myself when it comes to my son. He will be 3 in Nov. and has very few words, the words he knows my husband and myself would only understand. He is such a bright and loving boy, so sweet, I absolutly adore him. But at play groups and other things we attend I'm having to field qustions about him and what is causing his late speech (as if I would know.) I know that he is a special boy and a delight to his father and I. God gave him to us to raise and care for and I'm excited to see HIS plan unfold for Nathan (my son.) Thank you for this Blog! I needed to read this at this exact moment:) It is very encouraging to me to stay the course and continue along our path.

Alexandra said...

I'm glad I could encourage Rachel. Prayers for strength and grace through the Lord.

Mimi1Star said...

I'm currently going through the same situation with my 4 year old little girl whi is also a late talker. My husband and I both have late talkers in our families, mine is my youngest sister who is now 21 years old and you would never know she was delayed in speech, my husbands is his uncle who is now in his 60's who didn't say his first word until 5 but later in life became and Engineer and retired from Gerber. We currently have our daughter in our states (Texas) Early Learning Academy. She has only been there since October 27th. I am having a really hard time deciding if this was the right thing to do for her. It didn't occur to me to homeschool her when it comes time for her to start kindergarten. This sounds like a really good option that I will look into now after reading your blog.
She is an extremely bright girl that has an amazing memory for her age plus has exceled playing games on the computer. She herself still doesn't talk, just makes sounds that her doctor refers to as twin talk.
My husband and I have felt like we've been put through the ringer with other family members comments and "advice" on what we should do. We're just glad to know there are others that don't want to label their children and hold them back in life by putting them in special education in the public school system (which my husband always says, "There's nothing special about special ed) because of this delay or really just difference because that's all it really is.

Alexandra said...

LOL Mimi at your husband's sooment about special ed. Prays for the Lord's guidance for you and your little girl. It's tough; may you be lifted up.

Passionate Goof said...

You have no idea what comfort this post brings in to me. My son has just had his 3rd birthday and is yet to start talking fluently, he still just babbles some words. Can you please, and I am really requesting you, tell me if there is anything I can do to help him start talking.

Alexandra said...

Definitely get him tested to rule out any hearing or other issues, but if nothing is found, then look into speech therapy. Some children take well to it, mine did not.

At home I just did the regular preschool education, but with much more repetition. is wonderful as well, and it's free! Read a lot to him, and talk to him, naming things, playing on the floor with him. Click though the link I provided in the post...there are some good suggestions.

Prayers for peace of mind for you and your family.

Cheri said...

I am not sure what to say except good for you! My son now 14 was a late talker and was diagnosed with Autism at age two. I refused to accepted the diagnosis because the reason they gave me didn't make sense. They said because he like to eat unusal things like brown sugar and that he didn't want to do "pretend" play (which they took away his favorite toy and then wanted him to pretend to feed a baby, if you took my favorite toy away I would throw a fit too). Anyway through years of speech therapy and behavioral issues my son shows no signs of having autsim and his stardized test are above average. Parents just have to fight for their kids and the sky truely is the limit!!!

Alexandra said...

Thanks for sharing Cheri!

Havah said...

I was trying to find an option to publically "follow" your blog, but I can't find it! In any case ...

Thank you!!!

This year has been a real roller coaster for us. My almost-4-year-old son has been diagnosed as "speech delayed" -- until now, his progress has been so "normal" that his ped's (and one family practitioner) have simply labeled him "quiet," ... despite the fact that he's actually quite boisterous ... temperamental ... high energied ... I call him my "Supernova."
In any case he's on a seemingly endless waiting list for assessment, and since then many well-meaning friends have flooded me with information (I'd already researched my fair share). The result: I'm drained and terrified. Sowell's books kept me grounded for a while (my son has all the "factors" of the Edison Trait, though I'm hesitant to call my son a genius until a professional does), and your blog has had a calming effect. I really think God used your words to cut through my fears back to what my heart knows: my son is very bright but God has perhaps tied his tongue as part of our faith walk.

So again, thank you.

Xiaodan Fu said...

Hi My son is 4.5 years now, he was diagnosed as expressive language delay. he speaks simple sentences now . but what makes me concerned is that he does not initiate the talking and rarely answers my questions. He also echos a lot, e.g when I asked him "what is your name", he said back with "what is your name" as well. Apart from language delay and echolalia, I cannot see any signs of autism. he is also bilingual, I speak Mandarin with him and his dad speaks English with him. what do you think of that ? thanks a lot Sunny

Alexandra said...

I feel for you, and I've been there! That's a hard age for both parent and child with a language delay - much worry! It often gets better around age six.

Have you thought about looking into ESL online programs for preschoolers? This is great for developing language. Check YouTube for free ones. They are perfect for language delayed children.

Here's my YouTube channel to get you started:

My daughter is also language delayed, and we've found these helpful.

Read to him every day and work through preschool workbooks that you can find at places like Walmart(if you are in the US). You may have to answer the questions for him a lot, but he'll come along.

Flash cards may be good too. Be very patient, and meet him where he is. Don't try to rush him along; work on a concept until he masters it and don't worry about getting behind.

My son is fourteen now, and doing very well with academics. His speech is fine. He used to do the exact same thing as your son. It would drive us mad! We really learned patience! Hang in there. I know how stressful it can be.

If you work patiently and kindly with him at home, he'll soon catch up and learn to love learning.

I had my son do three times the amount of work(practice, review, practice) over the entire year(no summers off) in Kindergarten and first grade. We did about two hours a day(homeschool) with regular breaks. He had lots of free time, but we also worked hard. It helped him quite a bit.

Some children are more hands-on, but mine liked the workbooks, so take that into consideration. There are many learning toys for hands-on children both online(Amazon) and at toy stores.

I hope this helps. :)

Xiaodan Fu said...

Hi ALexandra,

Thank you so much for the great advice. will follow on !!

My son has started interacting with me and answering a few questions a couple of days ago, which is a huge relief for me ( I was geting heaps of headache last week)

Yes, patient, patient and patient !

Thanks again and all the best


Polka Doll Vintage said...

I'm a full time working mom and have a son turning 3 in November who still babbles and hardly talks. He musters "ma-ma" when he is adressing me but cant say things that he wants, not even "yes" or "no". I am now trying to talk more to him and started usinbg flash cards to get him to be interested to talk. He hears fine and understands instructions to go fetch things and does as he's told. Your post has given me much hope that maybe all he need is a little time and he will soon start talking. Thank you for sharing.

Mum of 3 said...

Mum from uk.
I am going through a similar with my 3 nearly 4 boy. He has excellent memory , he is loving and always want to play with other children.
I was told by early intervention team if I accept autism I will get help with speech therapy. I know in my gut this is wrong, I would like to know what other parents think about this.?
Oh also he seems to know he is being "observed" by the team and does not like it.
Thank you for this blog it is an inspiration x