Honestly, I’m surprised at this whole thing. Besides not knowing a thing about kids until I had one, I had no idea about speech milestones and language development until just recently in Olivia’s ECFE.
Back a few months ago, during one of her classes, we, the parents, were in our separate meeting while the kids were playing in the classroom. The topic was on language development and our teacher was telling us that kids should have around 50-60 words at 2 years old. At the time, Olivia was probably 22 months and I brought up that I thought that was a lot and said I thought Olivia had about 20, even then, feeling like that was a lot.
That started a conversation about words and she encouraged me, and the rest of the parents to start tracking their kids’ words on a sheet of paper, seeing how many they have. I brought up the fact that Olivia was only saying the first syllable of words, such as “wah” for water, and “rah” for rock. (This was right after our trip to the North Shore so she saw a lot of water and rocks and was pretty much obsessed.) “Bah” was banana and “nur” was nurse. And so on. There were words she could say clearly, mainly the ones she said all the time, like Mama and Daddo. Our teacher admitted she wasn’t sure if those half words counted as words because she wasn’t well versed in speech therapy. She told me Olivia could possibly benefit from a speech therapy consult to see if she was on track with her language.
Through a program through our district, this consult and any further speech therapy would be free of cost to us. I told her I would start tracking Olivia’s full words she was using and we agreed that I could wait until her two year check up to bring it up to her doctor.
We start tracking the words
Chris and I started tracking her words for the next two months. Eventually, “wah” became “wah-tah” which became “water.” I figured out by her two-year appointment in November that she seemed to have about 45-50 words that she was saying pretty clearly, plus the smattering of other words such as “ba” for banana and “no” for snowman or snow. I brought my teacher’s concerns with our doctor, who agreed we could do the consult just to know for sure. If she didn’t qualify but the therapists from the district thought she could still benefit from therapy, my doctor knew a good pediatric therapist about half an hour from me.
I told Olivia’s teachers and they were very encouraging, telling me I could call for a consult in December, or even in the beginning of the new year. I remember after class one day talking to her teacher who has been with us since Olivia was 4 months old, telling her how weird I thought this all was because Olivia was the one babbling and talking the most out of any toddler in the class. It was the same where ever we went—Olivia has always been the talker and I had no idea what was supposed to be normal because I didn’t hear her other little friends talking nearly as much as her.
As December came and we got into January, I started wondering more and more if everyone was right, and in talking with an OT friend, she said a toddler saying the first syllable could be concerning. I ended up calling the program the second week in January, for a January 23rd consult.
It went really well. A teacher came out, along with a speech therapist and Olivia loved the attention. She played with the teacher while I talked to the therapist.
What I found out
It’s really hard to test a two-year-old for their articulation. All she could really do at this point was test her language, which the therapist said she would pass. In fact, the therapist and teacher both said she was advanced in her language.
I told her Olivia was saying things like “I want more” and “Mama, I want nurse.” She explained that because Olivia was practicing 3-4 word sentences, that her articulation itself would suffer. She said it was like learning a new language—you could say one or two words together clearly, but try to spit out a whole sentence and it becomes all mushy. That’s what Olivia is doing. Basically, her little tongue is going faster than her brain. Essentially, what she’s doing is normal for what she’s attempting.
We decided together to close the case and she is going to call me in May when Olivia is 2 and a half. If things haven’t improved with her articulation, then she said she’d be more than happy to come out again and do a full evaluation. Around 2 years 8 months is when they can get a more accurate assessment of articulation. Right now, it’s mainly going to test her language only.
So I’m glad I called and had them come out, for peace of mind that everything, right now, is OK.
And the girl is just exploding in her language. Every day is new words and the old words slowly get more complete. We’ll see what happens in May, but right now we’re just doing our thing!
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