“Our job as parents is to prepare our kids for their path, not prepare the path for our kids.” This quote speaks to me and challenges me in a big way; in fact, it speaks to me so much we included it in our oldest son’s dedication. Over the course of starting this blog I have wrestled with how much I want to open up about my children out of protection of their stories, and their right to choose which of their stories is shared on social media. That being said, after some consideration I want to take time away from design for a moment and share some thoughts and convictions I have had on my heart recently regarding our journey with speech delay.
Tomorrow is my youngest son’s birthday. I cannot wait to celebrate the gift that this boy is in our lives. To know my youngest son is to know the sweetest little soul God ever did create! My youngest is one who simply wants to be with his people. He is a helper, a lover and admirer of his older brother, and blessed with a set of eyes that can soften even the hardest of hearts. This boy exudes joy, and from the day he entered our tribe we felt privileged. This little guy has also put us on a path that up to this point we had very little experience with, that being the path of speech delay. We always referred to him as our “late bloomer,” but at his two year check-up our pediatrician did refer us to a speech therapist and hearing specialist due to his slower than normal speech development. The outcome of this was that his hearing was great, he was given no other diagnoses, simply (or not so simply) delayed speech (for reference for parents out there who may be reading this and dealing with the same story he had roughly 16 words at 2 years old- he was right on the boarder).
As we began our journey I found that there was really not much out there to reference for parents with speech delayed kiddos. We did qualify and were provided a speech therapist that came to our home two times a month to work with him, this is a form of early intervention thru the state. Recently he was tested again and we will now have services through our school district. For those that are out there that have not faced delays with their children, let me share that it is very difficult to go to a meeting where you feel as if your child is being looked at under a microscope. You feel the weight of question after question, nervous to hear the results. One meeting had 5 sets of eyes all watching and evaluating, and as nice as they are, and as hard as they try, it is uncomfortable. Now in defense of all who are aiming to help, I know that they are simply trying to provide all of the services they possibly can to help kiddos out, but in that moment, as a mother, It. IS. HARD!! First off, you don’t want to have to be there, second you begin questioning what you could have differently, and finally you feel helpless because there is not much tangible advice given to help you go home and begin helping your child on their journey. In our story, which has been common for many that I have talked to, we have seen a burst of language in the last two weeks, and new words everyday as we approach his 3rd birthday. Again for those that are dealing with the same thing and want specifics, he now frequently strings 2 words together and he also has a few 3 to 4 word sentences, they are not always perfectly said, but they are definitely intelligible. Over the course of our journey I have had found a few things that have really helped me and I would like to offer those in hopes that it might help someone else.
First, as stated above, give yourself grace and remember that every child has their own path and it is never our job to pave the path for them, but instead it is our job to prepare them for their path. I truly believe that each child is uniquely made. Each child has their story and purpose, and in a fairly competitive society, it is important to remember that there is no “normal path.” Your story, with your kiddo, has different twists and turns than others, but you are doing the hard work and taking the time to show up for them- in fact, you are doing great work, please remember that! Our job as parents is to remember that our personal path uniquely prepared us to in turn prepare our kids for their journey and in that we can have confidence.
Second, I highly recommend studying growth vs fixed mindsets for all parents. I talk about Carol Dweck book here and you can purchase it here. To give you a quick idea, a growth mindset is understanding that the brain is always growing and learning. This idea reminds us to always focus on growth and the power of “can.” In her book she provides countless examples of CEO’s, athletes etc that were not projected to be the best, but because they kept working at it, reached success. An easy example it Michael Jordan, a man cut from his high school basketball team, yet today is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. While the goal is not to be the best, this book transformed the way I speak and encourage my children, as it focuses much more on their work ethic than it does their success. I believe if they are willing to work hard they will be successful. I hope this helps both of my boys believe that they can do hard things!
Third, and remember I am just a mom sharing her experience, so please do your research and ask your doctor in advance, but we have found fish oil or omega 3’s to be hugely beneficial. For us we started noticing a burst of language around the time that we began giving him fish oil, but again he was nearing 3 so we cannot be sure, however the reviews are very encouraging. We started with this fish oil and mixed it with juice (the strawberry flavor helped a lot), but recently moved to these gummies and he loves both options. We moved to the gummies because the fish oil was causing some diarrhea, but I still recommend it because so many reviewers speak to it. I would note that omega 3’s are great for all children and can also help out with other learning disabilities such as dyslexia, but again, please do your own research, you know your kiddo.
Fourth, if you question your child’s speech, talk to your pediatrician, by law, or at least in the state of Washington, services must be provided starting at 2 years if they qualify.
Which brings me to my fifth piece of advice, FIND A PEDIATRICIAN THAT SPEAKS YOUR LANGUAGE! As a former teacher myself, I truly believe that often times the doctors we love, the therapist we recommend, the pastors that truly speak to us do so, in part, because they speak to our learning style. My pediatrician is someone I trust in a big way- he’s informed, thorough, but he is also able to talk me off the ledge when I start spiraling. All of this to say, if your pediatrician is not a good fit for you, don’t feel guilty, they may be great for someone else, but go find someone that fits your family’s needs.
Sixth piece of advice, look for toys that are educational, tactile and force you to interact with your kiddo. Interaction during play is huge for all kiddos, but especially speech delayed children as it provides extra opportunity to hear language. I have loved this website as a resource of great playtime ideas. Remember to keep words small and clear in the beginning (ie when reading a book, instead of reading every word on every page, point out what you see on the page, for instance, the blue bird, the red bird and on the next page the blue bird- repetition is helpful). Both of my kids loved these books, which help with the ‘P’ sound when you press the buttons and say POP!
Finally, I did read this blog post from an essential oils mama who feels that a particular combination helped with her son. I did try it a couple of times but was never consistent enough to speak to it. Again do your own research and consult your pediatrician.
Friends, I hope this has helped. If you are someone who has a speech delayed kiddo and has more questions for me, please email me, I would love to answer any questions you have if I can. And I’m going to say it again, I see you and the hard work you are doing!
*please note that this post does contain affiliate links.