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How to know if my child needs to see a speech therapist?


Hannah has been my challenging child, right from placement. She has struggled. I’ve blogged before about how we struggled with her initially, how difficult she found it to settle and our numerous visits to the occupational therapist, she was deeply traumatized by placement.

Our occupational therapist at the time identified the following issues with Hannah –

  • Hannah does not have SPD- Sensory Processing Disorder, however, she does have Auditory Defensiveness which explains her fearful and over reaction to sudden loud noises and also her agitation when presented with noisy toys.

  • She has an over developed sympathetic nervous system so goes into flight or fight mode very easily hence her almost constant agitation.

  • She is tactile defensive on her arms.

  • She doesn’t know how to self regulate, so once she gets agitated, she doesn’t know how to calm down. This is why she bangs her fists on her stomach and also does other repetitive behaviors like rotating her wrists and ankles, its all futile attempts at self soothing.

  • Kate explained that because there is no known scientific proof of when the emotional and physiological bond between a mother & child is severed after birth, it is impossible to know the exact effects that that separation has on the new baby and that she believes the bulk of Hannah’s issues are related to issues surrounding grief, fear and abandonment.

  • She is a visually very curious child and Kate has recommended that I take Hannah to some kind of baby class as she thrives on that kind of visual interaction. She also showed us that the reason why Hannah topples over when left in a sitting position is not because she can’t sit, but because she so vivaciously swings her head around and her body around to see everything that is around her and to grab things.

  • Her heat sensitivity in her mouth seems to be a learned reaction to a bad experience, so at some point something hot has gone into her mouth and scalded it and we need to slowly desensitize her to warm in her mouth.

It all helped tremendously but Hannah and I did really struggle to bond as a result of all these issues. Fast forward to today and there is still one area we struggle with…. her speech.

She’s definitely got delayed speech. She’s now two and a half and it’s only in the last couple of months that she has started talking. The problem is, her speech is very difficult to understand and she gets extremely frustrated if you don’t respond to her appropriately.  The problem is none of us really understand what the hell she’s saying most of the time.

She definitely has a lisp and seems to drop the front letters or sounds off any word she’s trying to say which makes understanding her very very difficult. See the little instagram video below for a better idea.

So how do I know if it’s time to call in the assistance of a speech therapist?  Well I went in search of some information online. Thankfully one of my instagram friends is a speech therapist and she has given me her assurances that for now there is nothing to worry about and that Hannah’s lisp is age appropriate, but here are some other signs to look out for if you’re worried about your toddlers speech:

* Not reacting normally or consistently to sounds (she may be overly sensitive to sounds such as vacuums or hair dryers yet seems indifferent when people call her name)
* Mispronouncing vowels, saying “coo” instead of “cow”
* Talking using mostly vowels, omitting whole consonants, saying “a” for “cat” – this concerns me a little with Hannah.
* Using one catch-all sound or syllable to name most things (duh or duh-duh is a common one)
* Using a word once and then not using it again
* Not pointing to objects in books (if you say, “Show me the kitty cat,” she flips the page or repeats the phrase but doesn’t point to the animal)
* Not seeming frustrated when you don’t know what she wants (she may simply try to get the object herself or just give up very easily)
* Answering a question by repeating part of your question. If you say, “Do you want milk?” she responds by saying, “…you want milk?” instead of nodding her head or saying yes (this is called echolalia, and may be an early sign of autism)
* Not saying “bye-bye” or reacting to games such as peekaboo
* Still saying single words only, and not phrases or sentences
* Not changing or developing her language much from month to month

Quoted from Baby Center.

What is interesting is reading that there seems to be a link between what is said above and Hannah’s tactile and oral defensiveness as a small baby. Initially I worried that there was a problem with her hearing too but that has been ruled out as she is able and willing to follow an instruction and does react to all sounds.

So for now we wait and hope and monitor and listen and create conversation but before calling in the assistance of a speech therapist.

The worrying… it never ends does it?





  • Merlize

    July 28, 2015 at 9:20 am

    I suggest you get her assessed anyway. Things will change but its better to know earlier rather than later what you need to deal with. We did not pay any attention to my sons speach issues since he was the only child at 2-3 and we did not know any different. Until his little sister came and could articulate words better than he could when she was two and he turned 5. The first two years of school so hard because we could not understand why language was so difficult for him. Until we did an assesmnet withe education Phycholigist, only then did we realise how bad things were. At aged 7, his ability to have a conversation was that of a 4 year old. We have subsiquently put him in a remedial school where he goes to speach and remedial therapy twice a week, and our life has changed so much in these past few months.

  • Gail Schimmel

    July 28, 2015 at 9:57 am

    My little boy was VERY slow to speak (and all the other milestones for that matter) – at 2, when he started school, he knew maybe 4 words, including Mama. And yes, he got very frustrated. Now, at 7, he is the most balanced, achieving, excelling little Grade 1 – with none of the terrible consequences various people hinted at from his late milestones (and his never crawling). Some kids do some things differently – remember that normal is a bell curve and Hannah might just need a bit more time with certain things.

  • Paula

    July 28, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I am a big fan of all sorts of therapy. I took my one twin to speech therapy although perhaps it wasn’t strictly necessary because she also had issues around frustration with her speech. It helped a lot with her speech but also her confidence and her frustration levels dropped away. Even if she doesn’t ‘really’ need it it may be helpful. Today she talks non stop!

  • Natalie

    July 28, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    That video is so gorgeous!! She is such a gorgeous little girl!! My son is now 4.5 and we only started understanding what he was saying when he turned 4. I took him to the speech therapist and I regret that I didn’t give him more time. She told me he had the abilities of a 2.5 year old child and blah blah blah..I was in tears. His teacher also read the report and assured me that it was untrue. The therapist assessed him at school but she made the following mistakes; to him she was a stranger, she took him out of his comfortable, safe classroom and into a tiny room to assess him…he was uncomfortable from the beginning and obviously did not answer all her questions correctly (or according to the check list she used..or whatever) but what can you expect!! I paid a small fortune for a bull&^$# report. We are very fortunate to have great teachers that spends extra time with our son during class time to help him pronounce words correctly and complete full sentences. He only started crawling when he was 14 months old and walked when he was 20 months old…I was finished! But he is fine and just like to do stuff in his own time. Good luck, you are wonderful. xx

  • wobbly02

    July 28, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    With children our worries never ends.My mom often says child rearing is never easy. My daughter needed speech and ot therapy and I think i will probally be following the same road with my son. The speech therapist did say often with the second child the bigger child will often “talk” for the younger child which delays their speech as well

  • ChevsLife

    July 28, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    I too struggled to understand my son when he was 3.5. I eventually had his speech and language assessed at 4, and part of the recommendation was a hearing test (standard if there is a speech/language delay). Turns out my son had a mild/moderate hearing loss. He’s been in speech and language therapy since 2011.

    My suggestion, have your Hannah assess by a speech and language therapist, they can assess whether her receptive and expressive language is within age norms. Also, not sure if her hearing was tested by an audiologist, but would strongly suggest this to rule out any hearing loss. Even a recurring ear infection can result in speech delays.

    All the best!


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