“I’d like to talk about my daughter Sophie today.
When she was about one and a half, I noticed that she wasn’t saying as many words as I would expect. Her communication wasn’t great.
She would get really frustrated at times just because she couldn’t tell me what she wanted. And she didn’t repeat things after I said them. Normally when they’re that age, if you see a word, you would expect them to try and repeat it back. But she wasn’t doing any of those things.
My other two children had speech and language disorders, so I knew what to look for.
I was in a really fortunate position that I was able to catch it early, so I contacted my Health Advisor and he was able to refer me to a Speech and Language Therapist.
We went along and we got some really great advice.
She spent some time with Sophie, played games and it was very relaxed. It was just a case of letting her get to know Sophie and how she was because all children are different.
Now at that age, it’s mostly about giving your child time to talk, waiting for that response and putting things out of reach so they have to communicate rather than just point. It just kind of facilitates them using language.
It’s not something you think about, but it’s simple things. Sometimes it really helps.
I also was lucky enough to be in contact with Judith from SLCo, who was fantastic. She gave a lot of advice and it was just nice to chat with somebody that understood what I was going through because it’s not easy at the times when you’ve got a child that can’t communicate.
It’s challenging at times and it takes a lot of patience, but you do get through it. As I say, there’s a lot of challenges and a lot of frustration.
Most of the frustration was from Sophie’s from her part. She wanted to tell us things, but she just couldn’t. It was so hard for her to find the words.
We were lucky that Sophie’s Speech Therapist went into her nursery. She was able to do little group sessions. These really boosted Sophie’s confidence and got her used to chatting and feeling safe to talk as well, especially as she’s shy.
She’s come on so much!
You wouldn’t recognize her from the 18 month old that couldn’t communicate. She couldn’t say a huge amount even up to the age of 3.
But now you can’t stop her talking which is lovely it makes you really appreciate all the little things that you could take for granted. The little chat is lovely.
So my advice for others is to chat to people. Don’t be afraid and don’t be embarrassed because children are all different.
It doesn’t need to be anything complicated but just to know that you’re not the only one that’s going through this, it’s a very common thing in children.
Speak to others and maybe find any friends that have been through something similar as they might have useful tips and advice.
We personally use calendars quite a lot and whiteboards are great. There’s loads of visual resources that are fantastic so we used them when Sophie was at nursery.
You get little word cards which are great if kids can’t say a word like ‘toilet’, they can point to the card instead. There’s loads more good resources out there.
You’d also be really surprised in terms of impact Sophie’s journey has had on our family. I think it’s made us very patient. We understand that it takes time.
You have to nourish that communication if it doesn’t come naturally. You have to be willing to put in the effort and really work at it, but it’s really worth it.
To see your child not being frustrated and being able to tell you if they want something is fantastic.
Again it’s the little things that can be very special.
I’ve also been understanding not to compare to others. As hard as it is, we all do it but you have to remember that children are all different and they all get there eventually. It just sometimes takes them a little bit longer.
It’s not a measure of their intelligence, it’s just that the first time communication is difficult. Social interactions can be difficult but learning different ways to cope helps.
It does get better, I promise.
Be kind to yourself, it’s not easy to be the parents. Speak to others – it’s amazing what you find out.
Best of luck. It does get better, I promise.”