As a parent, your life is riddled with fear and guilt.
It’s an inevitable part of navigating parenthood. While these feelings remain with most of us in some form, it fades as you see your children grow up with joy and confidence. But when your child is frustrated and struggling, coming home in tears and tantrums, the dial turns way up.
This happened to us when our daughter was just 2 years old. She was in school and progressing beautifully – however, her growth developed a tinge of frustration here and there both at school and at home. My husband and I noticed that she became frustrated at times if we could not understand her, often breaking down in tears and inconsolable for large chunks of time. As new parents, we chalked this up to her navigating socializing with peers and thought it was a stage. Below are the major red flags that we ignored for an entire year before we decided to finally seek help:
- Developmental Milestones. Children develop at their own pace, this should be foremost in every parent’s mind. But this mentality gave us tunnel vision in regard to our daughter’s developmental milestones. We shrugged off her teacher’s warning about her inability to string words together into sentences, or formulate the correct speech sounds. “All kids are different. We can’t immediately swoop in at every little nuance.” This is what we told ourselves, not knowing that we were digging that hole even deeper.
- Social Interactions. As our daughter started to become more social and play with her friends, her teachers noticed she was not using her words to communicate with them. We did not notice this, as we only saw the interaction, not the communication. This, we feel, had the biggest impact on her confidence. And this particular red flag was what finally made us pay attention. She started to become more secluded. Participating in mostly parallel play rather than trying to test out her speech with her peers. She became so distraught when someone could not understand her that she stopped trying to communicate verbally altogether.
- Academic difficulties. Her confidence in communicating was severely impaired and it started a domino effect with her academic life. Her teachers were not able to properly assess her speech thoroughly. While bright and eager to learn, she was always hesitant to participate because she was not confident people would understand her. What really clued in her teacher was when she watched our daughter sing her ABCs and she could hear the sounds that were missing and see how she was positioning her tongue when formulating those sounds. Big clues. Clueless parents.
It was red flag #2 that finally made us listen and hear her teachers and not write off their fears as overly conservative perceptions.
Our daughter has been in speech therapy now for almost 2 years and she is simply thriving. She is a different little girl than she was last year – the progression has been simply stunning. Her teachers are amazed and her social and academic life shows it. She communicates with confidence now and does not hesitate to interact with anyone. She still has another year to go to fully get her back on track, but I am one happy mama knowing that her speech development will not be impeded.
As our daughter’s speech therapist says, the reasons children need therapy are varied and sometimes random or even genetic. I urge you from one parent to another to not ignore these red flags in your child. Depending on your location and your child’s age, your school district will offer speech therapy services free of charge. But the sooner you catch it, the sooner your child can get back on track to living a happy and confident life.
This post was written by an ELCM Parent
If you have questions about speech and your child’s development, reach out to your child’s teacher or leave your comments below! We are happy to point you in the right direction. Help is closer than you think.