When Owen turned 4 it was a very exciting time. He was ready and willing to start pre-school! He couldn’t wait to start and he was so eager to learn and meet new friends. After 6 months into pre-school his teacher had requested a meeting together. Not thinking anything of it we went in with open minds. She started the meeting with “Somethings wrong with Owen” she then continued into the many things she thought was “Wrong with him”. Not the ideal way to start the school year or a meeting for that matter. I felt so guilty as a mom, I felt pressure to pressure him. I went home feeling just awful. Nothing feels more damaging than hearing a statement like that from a teacher.
Ever since Owen was young he has always been very quiet and more observant. Being a first time mom, I thought I just got really lucky, having a toddler who was quiet and well behaved. I didn’t really worry to much about it. He knew a few important words and I thought, eventually the rest would come. After many appointments and tests nothing came up. We were at a stand still until Owen started Kindergarten. We then found out that he had a minor Speech Delay. It’s said that 1 in 5 children have speech difficulties. For Owen his is properly pronouncing sounds in words making his speech difficult to interpret. The difficult sounds for Owen are V and L. For example when he wants to say ‘Vanilla’ he will say ‘Banilla’. It can be very cute to hear him speak! It’s hard for him to get his lips and tongues and other parts of the mouth to make the right sounds at the right times. A lot of it is teaching him where to place his tongue when pronouncing words!
As a mom knowing our children is a 6th sense we have. Without asking we would know what he wanted, when he wanted it. I’d often be so embarrassed when we were with others and I often spoke for him. This did not help. In this case I blamed myself. What did I do wrong? Should I have done things differently? Truth is, after many meetings with teachers and speech pathologists I’ve learnt that there’s nothing that I did or could have done to cause this. Speech develops differently for different children. Once he started kindergarten he was referred to an optometrist as well as speech therapy. He started to wear glasses which really seemed to help. Seeing things clearer opened up a whole to new world. Once a week he spends time with a speech therapist at school and she occasionally sends home term reports on his progress.
Having support from his teachers always makes me feel reassured and in the know. They gave me steps, activities and exercises to use to help him improve. They helped me understand that it’s a minor set back and there are ways of motivating and teaching him at home. I’ve overcome the feeling of guilt. We never pressure or push him. We always motivate and encourage which keeps him eager to learn! I’m so proud with what he’s accomplished thus far and his positive attitude. As of today the boy loves to talk! The biggest thing I’ve learnt through all of this is that you can’t control it but you can work on improving it!
If you have any questions or concerns with your toddler make sure to check out your local Public Health Unit. They normally have a Speech Program offered or when they start school they will notice it and do all they can to help support. If they don’t make yourself known and request for extra help!
- Some of the things they had taught me were to always speak clearly and slowly when talking to your child.
- Pronouncing the full word and syllable while making eye contact. You may feel silly at first but your child will not care!
- Reading, reading and more reading. When reading always try to point with your fingers to guide the words when sounding them out.
- Creating fun games that help your child pronounce words on his/her own and reward them when they achieve the sounding goal.
- Instead of speaking for your child make them speak to you. Example; purposely forget to bring items to the dinner table so they have to ask you for a fork or spoon.
Also, I’m not a professional in regards to this. But I am a parent who has gone through a lot of meetings, appointments and tests! If you have any questions or want to talk feel free to contact me!