It’s really hard when you have a brilliant son in every way possible, but everyone else his age speaks circles around him. Rhys has a speech delay. It’s frustrating for Justin and I and it’s also frustrating for Rhys.
The absolute worst is at night, he constantly asks for “A da da.” For months, we have wracked our brains with what that could possibly mean, even recruiting my mother for her ideas. “Door open,” “I don’t want to,” “Daddy,” “door open,” “attention,” we have no idea. We’ve asked him to show us, and he just stands still and says it more.
Rhys has plenty of words; his vocabulary expands every day. But, he really suffers with pronunciation. The most prevalent example is when he asks us to go to his room: “ee oom” (Rhys room). Sometimes, he doesn’t even get the “m” on room.
He is two and half and has started to get frustrated when we can’t understand him. Especially because he will be starting preschool in the fall and now has a baby sister who can only coo and cry, we definitely wanted to work on his speech. So, we called Early Childhood Intervention to see if we could qualify for speech therapy through the state.
A speech therapist came to evaluate Rhys, not only in speech, but also in other aspects of his growth and development to see if it was a compounded problem. This happened in early December, when he was barely 29 months old. Most thing: gross and fine motor skills, social development, comprehension and communication, and other knowledge based things, Rhys was scoring between 30 and 36 months–he was advanced.
I knew that already. I mean, if you look back at all his monthly updates, he was always ahead of the curve when it came to milestones. But, we wanted to figure out the issue with the speech delay. Tongue tied and lip tied was ruled out (that was taken care of the day he was born), he didn’t have a chewing/swallowing issue (which sometimes affects speech), his hearing and his vision was fine.
I described to the therapists that I called him “speech dyslexic.” He was mixing up some sounds. For example, instead of saying “bye bye”, he’d say “dye dye.” He uses a lot of “g”s for other sounds too. He can get his guttural sounds very easy but his nasal and his aspirate sounds are lacking, the therapists explained. That made complete sense to me because of how the Welsh language is set up with mutations of certain sounds (I’m not going to explain it since it’s a large grammar lesson, but you can read about it here).
Sadly, he scored barely above the bar for qualifying for speech. The therapists looked back over their test results and tried to see what they could skew in Rhys’s favor to qualify him. They said they really felt that he would truly benefit from speech therapy. But, ethically, they didn’t feel that they could risk their licenses to skew it in his favor. So, they gave me their information, a packet on how to help Rhys with phonics, and told us to look at private therapists through our insurance. They left repeating that Rhys’s case is the one they will feel most bad about the entire year.
So, for now, we are trying to really help Rhys with pronunciation. Really, that is where he is failing. Daily, he gains new words (he just can’t properly say them). He knows songs and tunes and will “sing” along with them. He “reads along” when we read books. We make him use his words. We try not to use “yes or no” questions. When he watches TV, I ask him questions as to what is going on, who is who, what color they are wearing, etc. He plays along with Nick Jr shows, answering how many balls there are, or which road is longer, or that’s the triangle, etc. He truly is brilliant. Rhys knows all the numbers 0-10 and can count forward and backwards (just not pronouncing them correctly). He knows all the basic shapes and every color. He can identify the different letters of the alphabet (and can correctly pronounce most of them).
And, he is willing to try to practice his speech. We’ll work on specific sounds in each syllable, then try to get them to connect….but it doesn’t always work…..
Me: ba ba ba ba
Me: be be be be
Rhys: dee dee dee
Me: ba bee
Rhys: ba dee
Me: ba bee
Rhys: ba gee
For some reason, he can do the separate, individual sounds, but he can’t put them together. But, I have confidence that he will continue to learn and grow. I am a little worried about him being able to properly speak when he starts preschool in the fall–he’ll be little over 3. But, if his speech is still suffering, we’ll test him again at age 3 and see if we can get support through the school system.
As for now, I’m trying my hardest not to compare him to other kids his age. But, the hardest is I have two good friends who had daughters within a week of Rhys. Both girls can pronounce words correctly and speak full, long sentences. It does kill me a little inside to see that….and then when I watch Instastories or SnapChat and see my kids’ friends who are younger than Rhys speak better than him, it hits hard at home again.
But, I know it’s not my fault and it’s not Rhys’s fault. Rhys is just as smart (if not possibly smarter…I’m not bragging or biased at all!) than they are. He just has a weakness in speech. And, I am so glad that my friend, Susannah’s little boy, who is a few months younger than Rhys is having the exact same issue. It does make me feel better.
So, we’ll see what happens in the next few months.
Did your child have a speech delay? Did they qualify for speech therapy? What did you do to help your child to speak correctly?