Roman is 20 months. Speech and language referrals are rarely accepted until after a child has turned 2. I am not concerned about my child being ‘behind’ as I am well aware that all develop at their own rate, and I have met children at his age, who are non verbal and have then grown up to have no further issues with their communication.
What I didn’t anticipate was the ‘behaviour’ that can come with it. Although he is a sunny child with a great sense of humour, the frustration that follows when he can’t express what it is he is feeling is distressing.
This week I uploaded my most dramatic and biggest plea for help on Instagram. In the last two weeks, Roman has had meltdowns that have resulted in himself and I being injured. One of which he smacked his head so hard on concrete I had to take him to A&E. Another day during the school run, he bit me so hard I bled. When he was in his pram, he threw himself so far forward as we were crossing a road, he fell out. LUCKILY his feet got tangled in his harnesses and it saved his head from crashing against the floor.
I am totally aware that a lot of this can just be ‘toddler behaviour’ but often these communication frustrations can manifest in these actions.
I have received countless helpful responses since putting the post up. So I thought I would round them up for anyone who was interested/also in the same boat as me.
• PECS – used widely for pre school (and older) children that are struggling with communication for various reasons, using an item that has different imagery for what it is that they want/need, different phrases and actions.
• Explaining actions and items as you go along.
• Playgroups run at children’s centres specifically designed for children with speech difficulties.
• Sing and sign (singandsign.co.uk) it’s a paid membership but it provides videos for babies and parents aimed at babies before they have developed speech skills. We have been using this one, and Roman enjoys it and I’m planning to keep it up.
• It seems obvious, but in public places with more than one child and all eyes on you it’s easy to forget (I am guilty of this) Get down to their level, cuddle them and reassure them. Losing control and behaving like this is frightening for a small child.
• Music and art therapy.
• Paying for speech therapy (sadly not an option for us right now, but we would definitely consider if we could)
• Keep a diary of their progression. If there are concerns of the regressing, for example using a word and then not using it any longer, flag this up to a health professional.
• Keep trying! And make sure you are looking after yourself. Even if you can’t get a SALT referral, speak to health visitors/GP’s about your own mental health if you feel you are struggling. I never in a million years would have thought a slight delay in speech would cause such turmoil and heartbreak! I felt very isolated until I reached out.
We will be pushing for Roman’s 2 year developmental check to take place earlier and for another speech and language referral, as the physical side of it is dangerous. Meanwhile, continuing with the above and once we have received professional help.