Attending a Speech Programme With a Toddlerby Emma Longden
It is so hard, as a parent, not to compare your child to others of a similar age. Even though everybody tells you not to do it, it is difficult to avoid noticing if there seems to be a big difference in development between your child and others. I have a friend with a little boy who is only a few months older than Benjamin but his speech is incredibly advanced in comparison. Although I tried to reassure myself that children all develop at a different pace, the fact that Benjamin was barely stringing two words together whilst this little boy was singing whole nursery rhymes had me more than a little concerned.
As it turns out, Benjamin was behind in his speech development. I spoke to his health visitor who then referred him to a specialist group, run locally, who help the parents of children who are showing signs of speech development to cope with the delay.
You are invited along initially for an assessment, where the organisers go through a checklist with you and your child to find out how delayed their speech is. Benjamin was able to complete only some of the tasks he was asked and his speech was marked as being delayed by a whole year. Although it was hard to be told, it was also reassuring to know that there was an issue, as I had thought, and that the group would be able to help us both to deal with it.
Benjamin and I attended several sessions of a period of a couple of months. They were semi-structured, and each session had lots of opportunities for the parents to encourage their children, with assistance from the group leaders, whilst playing, exploring different activities and enjoying a snack, story and song time.
We were given specific areas to work on for our child, based on the results of the assessment, and at the end of each session, we were also given some words and phrases to go over before we came back. As well as this, we were encouraged to note down any milestones our child reached either during the sessions or at home in between, in a development journal.
Over the space of just a few weeks, I noticed that Benjamin’s speech was definitely improving. He was now joining a few words together voluntarily, and his vocabulary had also increased, as well as his confidence in using new words and phrases that he had heard.
By the time he had his end of term assessment, just before the summer holidays, Benjamin had improved enough to be classed as having a six-month delay, which was a brilliant improvement. Although Benjamin does still have a delay in his speech development and at times it is hard to understand exactly what he is saying, I am sure that the sessions have helped him and I am confident that being at nursery now will also help with his speech.
Attending a speech programme was at times nerve-wracking, and it did make me feel a little upset for Benjamin, that he was classed as being behind in his development. However, I was extremely grateful to be able to access the sessions through our local children’s centre which is a free service. If Benjamin’s speech continues to show a delay, it may be necessary to see a speech therapist, but for the time being, I am reassured by the
improvement I have seen and would definitely recommend attending a similar session if you have a child with a speech development delay.