Toddler2Teen SLT

Should I refer my two year old son who has no speech sounds? A Case History

A mother of a two year old boy who has no speech other than 'nuh' is worried that he has a speech difficulty. Her little boy is bright, seems to understand everything that he should do and is able to run and play like all the other children of his age. He points to the things that he wants and tries hard to communicate. He has had many ear infections and colds and recently has had grommets put in his ears. His speech was expected to have improved but there has been no noticeable change.

Her friends and family say that he won't have any problem and that he will soon start to talk. Apparently, an Uncle was late talking and he was absolutely fine by the time that he went to school.

All of these factors are making it difficult for her to come to a decision about whether she should get an assessment from a speech and language therapist. She doesn't want to be thought of as 'an over-anxious mother' but she is losing sleep over what to do.

She contacts a speech and language therapist and finds out how long it will be for an assessment. The NHS has a long waiting list for assessment and then a waiting period to get therapy. She then contacts Toddler2Teen and speaks to Jenny Roder, an experienced independent speech and language therapist. They have a long chat and Mum feels that an assessment would help, as it would determine whether or not her son has a specific problem with his speech. It was such a relief to talk to someone who understood about her son's problem and also to someone who could bring objectivity to quite an emotionally charged situation.

slt brackley oxfordshireAfter the assessment, which was completed in the home setting where her son felt most confident, a diagnosis of verbal dyspraxia was given.

Verbal dyspraxia is a speech disorder that affects the production and sequencing of speech sounds and syllables in the absence of any muscle weakness or clearly identified neurological impairment. Speech is often unintelligible, even to parents. It is a rare but treatable condition that responds well to structured articulation therapy.

His Mum was initially very worried about the diagnosis but pleased that she had listened to her intuition and sought the advice of a professional. She was reassured that progress would be made over time.

As her son was only just over two, therapy was delivered in a fun manner with toys and activities to engage interest. Soon, his attention improved and he looked forward to the therapist arriving with her bag of toys. He would tug her to the child's table and chairs and sit ready for the activities. Follow-up games were left with Mum each week and were shared with the nursery who also supported his speech development programme.

Speech and language therapy that is delivered by a speech and language therapist directly is an essential service for children who have verbal dyspraxia. A speech programme needs to be tailor-made to suit the individual child and monitored closely in order to maximise the amount of progress that can be made. There is a wide variation in the time that children begin to talk but an experienced speech and language therapist has the skills to determine whether a child is just not ready to talk or whether there is a specific difficulty that is preventing them from developing their speech. It is therefore, very important that your child has the assessment that they need at an early stage in their development.

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