Thursday, 29 August 2013

Lost for Words

I have been worried about Jack and his speech, or lack thereof, for a while now.  When he turned two he wasn't meeting the speech and communication checklists set forward on what he should be able to do at age two.  To see what a child should be able to do communication wise by age two via Toronto Preschool and Language Services click here.  Specifically, he didn't have 100-150 words, the ability to use two pronouns, and he could only name and point to two body parts.  I was concerned especially with the direct, unfortunate comparison between Molly who has many, many words.

This was something that was flagged as a concern by myself, our sitter A. as well as one of our ECE workers. Chris on the other hand was less worried, but supportive of anything we could do to help Jack communicate and put my mind at ease.  At the two year doctor's appointment I voiced my concerns to our nurse practitioner and she provided a referral to a healthy child assessment a few weeks later where Jack would be tested in a series of stations for hearing, vision, emotional well being and assessed by a speech therapist.  She thought that it was probably nothing, I've been previously told that most speech/language development issues resolve themselves by four anyway, but it was worth getting an assessment and get additional tips on how to help encourage speech.

A boy and a boat

In the three weeks between the doctor's appointment and the assessment Jack's speech seemed to sky rocket.  He learned 30-40 new words including: apple, boat, Molly, pooped, raspberries, raisins, bum, book, crayon, monkeys, shirt, pyjamas and the names of his favourite staff at daycare.  He started excelling at toilet training and started defining what was his, his sister's mom's or dad's...the beginning of "mine".*  I later learned from Chris's mum that both Chris and his sister didn't speak more than a few words until after their second birthdays and that she too had scheduled such an appointment (which she later cancelled) for Chris's sister who showed the same kind of warp speed improvement after the clock struck two.

Chris asked me if I was still going to go through with the assessment.  My answer an emphatic YES.  Some of the burst of verbage was an age ready anomaly, but a lot of it was due to implementing suggestions from our nurse practitioner and the help from our daycare staff.  His current primary ECE worker has been so vigilant about making him use his words and we are so thankful for her help.

We signed into the assessment centre shortly before 9AM.  For the next hour we visited multiple evaluation stations where Jack was tested, played and our interactions were observed.  We now know that there are no hearing problems so far with our Jack.**  Our interaction with the speech therapist was great.  She had a set of toys out on her table and Jack sat and played while we chatted about his number of words (at this point 60-80) and recent speech spurt. 

Basically Jack was assessed as a normal, quiet child who's a bit slower to speak.  He interacts well with adults and other children, makes eye contact, he tried to negotiate stealing the speech therapist's glasses and "shared" crayons with her.  When asked he was able to point and name five body parts (eyes, mouth, foot, belly and bum).  I was assured that his sudden surge of development is normal, for him.  Our attempts to separate Molly and Jack so they can have more one on one time with an adult to focus on making him speak are encouraged and should continue.  We could also get flash cards or use books to make him point out and name different pictures on a regular basis.

All said and done I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged that everything we are doing is working well and we can allow Jack to go at Jack's pace.  It was good to get an unbiased professional opinion from someone who could see Jack outside of the parallel between alpha twin Molly.  I now have the phone number and email of someone who's met and evaluated Jack should we hit a stall on progress for a number of weeks in a row or if things aren't going as they should when we hit the 30 month milestone checklist.  When I spoke to our daycare about our experience they were thrilled that we had arranged for an assessment and not waited until preschool, as many parents do, and will continue to make Jack's speech development a priority.

After an hour of being impeccably good for a two year old, Jack decided that he was done behaving.  On our way back to the car after the assessments he felt it was time to tear off his shoe and lay on the ground in an act of passive resistance to walking, directly in front of the sketchiest guy on the street.  Thank goodness he had the words to yell, "NO WALK" as I tried to drag him away.

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*Which I'm certain we will grow to regret.
**Note hearing problems in a toddler are completely different than listening problems. 


  1. Oh great! I'm so glad you guys went and that there doesn't seem to be any areas of major concern right now. What was the designation of the person who assessed him - developmental pediatrician, psychologist, etc? I'm surprised you guys got in somewhere so soon, I know many people that have been on waiting lists to see a developmental pediatrician for an assessment.

    1. The assessment was from a registered speech pathologist. one of the things we are working on with the suggestion of daycare is finding an evening or weekend toddler music group to sing songs and such, just for Jack. If you can think of anything let me know. Thanks as always for your support!

  2. Congratulations on not being diagnosed with delays! Speech therapy was a great experience for us, but I would have certainly preferred not to need it.