Thursday, 8 March 2012

Talking is cheap but not necessarily easy

After the New Year I became impatient with Number One Son’s progress with speaking. Although we had tried to apply strategies suggested by the assessment speech therapist in order to encourage him to put two words together, he seemed to have stalled after mastering the colours and most of the numbers between one and ten before Christmas. The start of the preschool is looming after Easter and communication skills would help. The nice speech therapist had hinted that they could visit Number One Son in the nursery and give him further support. This seemed to be something to be followed before the preschool.

A call to the NHS to discuss his further needs resulted with the realisation that the key worker had changed and with the key worker the tone had changed, too. Now they only offered a reassessment and further strategies for the parents and the nursery assistants. The reassessment was going to take place at some time during the current school term – and then we heard nothing for a while.

As not much wiser I started to wonder aloud in the local SureStart centre about the changes in the song sheet the speech therapy professionals had shown. This resulted with some behind the scenes phone calls and a suggestion to attend a Speak-a-boo sessions. I was a bit weary with the latter since they are really meant for the parents or carers of much younger children than our almost three-year-old. However, we thought we needed a direct contact with any speech therapist and so we have now attended two sessions.

To begin with there was also another late speaker but he did not attend the second session on a bright, warm day. This was a pity since it was nice to meet people in the same situation and exchange experiences. No matter if the most participants have babies less than one year old since the direct discussions with a speech therapist and her observing Number One Son have been really helpful. Our son has also started to show signs of wanting to speak more and the new strategies actually come in at the right moment. It made me wonder why the services did not target the parents of late speakers as a group with some group sessions of our own.

The pity in this late speech development thing is that the early education being in vogue with the government together with the early start of ‘formal’ schooling in Britain mean that Number One Son will probably not be at the right stage for neither formal early education in the preschool nor the beginning of the school. However, socially it will be beneficial for him to stay with his peers. There is also ways for us as parents to change our ways and try to support him. In the end, as all the speech therapists have explained, nobody knows why some boys start speaking late without any apparent reason. We just have to try to ensure he makes most of what he has and the other children plus nursery assistants and teachers understand that he will improve with more time.

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