Dealing with a Speech Delay

Even if your child is advanced in everything else, they could still have a delay

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.

Even if your child is advanced in everything else, they could still have a delay

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: Baby

Rhys: geegee

Me: ba ba ba ba

Rhys: babababa

Me: be be be be

Rhys: dee dee dee

Me: ba bee

Rhys: ba dee

Me: ba bee

Rhys: ba gee

Me: baby

Rhys: geegee

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?

Tayler from The Morrell

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.


  1. Just remember how lucky Rhys is to have you as his mom! As a former teacher you have a leg up on the situation and you know how to best advocate for him through the grueling and confusing process that finding services can be.

  2. I’m so sorry, I can imagine that must be so frustrating!! It’s hard enough for me trying to figure out some of Bensen’s words when I know he’s saying something specific to me, but I can’t figure out what, and it takes a few days of him saying it for me really figure it out and then a few more weeks for him to get it to really sound like the word so that anyone can understand what it is and not just us who know those things about him.

    1. Benson isn’t even two yet, but he seems to be doing just fine and on par from what you describe on social media. Remember, boys will develop talking slower than girls.

  3. Gosh, I empathize. It’s so easy to want out kids to be at each milestone right when it should happen. Rhys will get there. It might take a little more work, but I know you and Justin will do everything possible to get that sweet little man all caught up to speed!

    1. I’m sure it will. Eventually. Especially since he’s so advanced in everything else. I just don’t want preschool to be delayed or difficult for him if his teachers can’t understand him in the fall.

  4. Dear goodness, yes! Speech issues are just so tough! Caleb’s not as advanced as Rhys in the other areas but it’s still hard not being able to understand him. He doesn’t seem to get so frustrated and I think that’s why he doesn’t try to talk as much as he could… Someday we’ll look back on this and be amazed by how far our boys have come!

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