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Baby Steps, Mom Steps: Giving My Child Words

25 March 2010 39 Comments

A couple of months ago I got into a taxi with my son. He was about 21 months old at the time and I had him in a carrier hanging on me. The driver apparently had a son of a similar age and opened up a dialogue with me, asking me questions about how old my son was, etc.

Eventually he asked me if my son was talking at all, as most toddlers have a small vocabulary by the time they reach 18 months. His son, a little over 2 years old, was still not talking. I told him it was funny that he had asked me that, because no, my son was not talking…at all.

My son had no words, and was generally having a problem with communication in any form. He wasn’t pointing or gesturing. He had no verbal approximations for any items. He wasn’t even saying “mama” or “dada.” Naturally, we were concerned. At his 18 month checkup, we spoke to the doctor about it and as luck would have it, our pediatrician is very proactive and up to date on all services available to the children he cares for.

We knew about Early Intervention (EI), but were not familiar with the process or how to go about contacting them. Our doctor gave us all of the information and so, when my son was 18 months and 2 days old, I contacted EI and let the games begin!

Until now, my son had reached every milestone within normal range. With no words at 18 months, he had now “officially” missed one: speech. We thought he was just speech delayed at worst, but there was more. Among other things, he was diagnosed with an overall communication delay, which was the main cause behind most of his tantrums. And as we found out, there were several ways to approach this delay.

The process took about month. We ended up with 4 separate evaluations and were assigned a liaison to work with us. It was all very easy. We received support and reassurance from everyone along the way. In the end, my son now receives 13 hours of therapies a week (3 different types). It was the best decision we could have made for him. At 23 months, he now has a vocabulary, communicates, and the tantrums have decreased in both longevity and in severity.

The services that EI has to offer are all free and available to any child, regardless of the family income. If you suspect that your child has any delays, even a mild one, talk to your doctor. EI has been proven to work. The therapy is usually done in your home or in your child’s school and is usually “play based.” There is nothing that can hurt your child, only help.

Don’t be afraid to speak up for your children. You are their best advocate and you can make a lifelong difference in their lives. We know we did the right thing. By the time our son is ready for kindergarten, all of our therapists have told us that he will likely show no signs of any delays at all. He will grow out of his current diagnosis and be a “normal” kid. And isn’t that really what we all want for our kids?

Lauren is a mom, wife, BornFree Ambassador, and former architect living in New York. She describes herself as being quite a bit like Phoebe from “Friends” with a little Monica thrown in. Her blog “Baby Steps. Mom Steps” will be a regular column on BornFreeMom.com


  • Elizabeth Smith said:

    Kudos on getting the assistance available for your son. Being an advocate for our children is definitely part of the job description!

  • Elizabeth Smith said:

    I shared!

  • Andrea J said:

    Glad to hear that the EI services are helping!

  • Eileen Burke said:

    I think this a true testament to why we all need to be advocates for our children. I think as a parent, you instinctually know when something isn’t right with your child, but sometimes it can be hard to act on. Great job!

  • Andrea J said:

    I shared!

  • Christine McKenzie said:

    What an inspiring story showing a mom’s courage and determination to help her child. Too many times, as parents, we try to mask problems for fear of ‘knowing the unknown’. Let us throw ourselves aside and do what is best for our children! Be an advocate!

  • Chelsea said:

    this was a touching story, im glad that your baby boy got the help that he deserved. i myself was in therapies of these sort when i was younger, although they weren’t for speech. but they were always games and things that made me happy.

  • diana said:

    thank you for sharing your story , it lets us all know that we need tp speak up for our kids cause nobody else will great job on getting every needed to help your son !

  • Chelsea said:

    i shared

  • diana said:

    i shared !!!

  • Siobhan Dobson said:

    I went through something similar with my son when he was 2. I was really scared at first to ask for help cause I thought it meant there was something wrong. But I’m so glad I did. He did speech theapy through EI and with the help of his therapist and a lot of Signing Time he caught up and he will be starting Kindergarten in the fall totally caught up with his peers and even excelling in a lot of areas. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • marci said:

    I had ei for my daughter and it was the best thing for her.

  • Siobhan Dobson said:

    I shared!

  • Kate Petro said:

    This could not have come at a better time for me…My third child (my daughter, Audrey) just turned 1 and is still not crawling :( I am in the process of getting her evaluated and I have been FREAKING out about it…I know I just need to give it to God and trust in HIS plan for her but nothing is more comforting to a mother’s heart than to hear other mom stories…thank you so much for sharing and helping this “mom” through it! :)

  • Janice said:

    When I clicked on the link to the posting, I was directed from the BornFree facebook page and wasn’t entirely sure what it was about. But I’m so glad I’ve taken the time to read it. :)

    It sounds EXACTLY like my son and I. He goes in next week to see the evaluators and Therapists for the first time. He’ll be 20 months on Saturday and I have still yet to hear ‘Mama’. ‘Dada’ came at 7 months, but his speech development seems to have stopped shortly before a year old. He doesn’t say much more than a few sounds here and there. While he doesn’t have many tantrums you can tell he’s frustrated by his inability to tell us what he wants. He doesn’t point or gesture either.

    I am almost in tears here finally thinking that I’m not the only one who’s child has needed help. It’s very hard to see my friend’s children, who were born after my son, now talk as if it’s easy. It always makes me think I haven’t done enough for him and that’s why he’s still not communicating.

    I just hope they can help give us some answers next week – and I can’t wait for the first time I FINALLY get to hear ‘Mama’…

    Thank you…

  • Amanda DeLeon said:

    Talking about these issues are so important because the more people you ask questions, the faster you get results. We are always the front line for our kids. Great job!

  • Christina said:

    Thanks for the article! I had many of these feelings and felt lost at where to turn to when my daughter was not sitting.

  • kandi said:

    Great story. I had never heard of EI. Thank you for sharing this information, I will def. pass it on. Good to know there are places such as these to help our babies if they do fall behind. Even though all babies develop at their own pace, it is always good to ask the professionals when you are unsure.

  • Lauren Senese said:

    Thank you all for your comments and for sharing your stories. It brings tears to my eyes knowing that this post reached so many of you.

  • Mila said:

    @ Kate Petro:

    Hey, just read that thing about your daughter not crawling, we had similar thing with our son-cutting things short you need to find a physiotherapist that does Vojta’s method, it’s amazing, within a week our baby started crawling!:) here’s aling to a website talking about this method. http://www.paediatricphysio.com.au/Vojta%20Therapy.html
    Good luck:)

  • Laurie Carantit said:

    Thank you for sharing your story – I was not aware of EI so it was good information to learn.

  • Heather Lenix said:

    This is truly an amazing story! It’s amazing how us mothers would fight for our children! It’s great that your pediatrician was so quick to help and I’m so glad to hear that your son is improving with the services that he is being provided with. It was also nice to know that these services are available to anyone regardless of income levels. Thanks to the people who put these programs in place and thanks to those who use them in order to keep them in place for the rest of us!

  • Jennifer Ramirez said:

    Its nice to know when you are parent going through times like this there are People and places that understand. I too went through a similar issue with my son. He was healthy in every aspect, except at 18 months I noticed he wasnt talking either. His friends had small vocabularys and were able to communicate well with others. I found help through our pediatrician. He is five now and talks up a storm thanks to the help of speech therapy!!
    We as parents are there voices when they cant be heard or speak for themselves. I am proud to be an advocate for my children!!!

  • Colleen Morse said:

    I think it’s wonderful that you noticed and did something about it. I’ve seen so many parents not do anything for fear of there being something actually wrong with their child. I think we should all be advocates for our children because if we don’t correct a problem early on, it turns into a BIG problem! Kudos!

  • Ashley said:

    Wow!! Great information. I had never heard of EI and will be sharing with my cousin tonight as her son is significantly speech delayed. Thank you!! And trust your instincts, a mother knows best!

  • Mrsks1224 said:

    Thats an awesome story I think everyone should be aware of the milestones and know what to look for as signs of them not meeting them! Its better to catch the problem early on and be able to get help for it.

  • Mrsks1224 said:

    I shared!

  • Heather T said:

    thank you for sharing your story. my best friend had a similar situation with her son and i kept telling her she needed to share her story with other moms since not all moms will speak up for their children for various reasons.

  • Leslie S said:

    What a wonderful story! We all have to look out for our kids and seek help if/when they need it. Sharing our struggles provides a good outlet for us and just goes to show that, more than likely, there are others in the same boat.

  • Leslie S said:

    I shared!

  • smileykris said:

    I think that is great that there are services offered like that and good for you for speaking out about it!!!

  • smileykris said:

    I shared

  • Elizabeth said:

    It’s amazing how someone else’s story can make you appreciate what you have. Our temper-tantrum 2-year-old doesn’t stop talking (er… screeching sometimes!) and I would wish he’d just keep quiet. I am now going to appreciate those words because he is fortunate to be able to speak them. Thanks for a great post and making us more aware.

  • Mel1010 said:

    Glad everything worked out. You truly have to speak up to be heard!

  • Mel1010 said:

    i shared

  • leslie said:

    i shared. and have 2 babies using bornfree bottles ;)

  • Alexis said:

    I love that you shared this story. Speech is so important, and I am so relieved to know that help is out there. :)

  • Amanda said:

    I admire you for taking to step for EI. I know it’s hard to see that your own child needs help and it takes a strong person to reach out for help, Being an aunt to an autistic nephew I see the benefits and great results to EI. Thanks for sharing your story and turning it into such a positive thing.

  • Claire said:

    At my daughter’s 4 month check up her doctor was concerned because she had no head control. She signed us up for EI. When they came to do the evaluation 4 weeks later they noticed a bunch of milestone delays (head control, tongue issues, Hand coordination etc.) . We have been working with both an OT and a PT four times a week and she is finally hitting her milestones on schedule. Just today she scooted a little across the floor. Early intervention is the key. If you think your child may be behind developmentally it does not hurt to ask for them to be evaluated. I am so thankful that her doctor noticed it right away and got us the help she needed.

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