The spoken word… finally!

Nathan is not a big talker.  His expressive speech delay means he has very few sounds and until recently no words at all.

I was a bit worried because he’s so far behind his peers in this one regard – around 2 years behind by some measures – but we are getting help in Speech and Language Therapy, and he understands spoken language well.  His signing is coming on rapidly, and he seems happy enough with his ability to communicate most of the time.  It also helps me emotionally that Nathan is pretty advanced in understanding written language, at the age of 3 (2 years 8 months corrected) he knows the entire alphabet in phonics and by proper name, and all the digits from 0 to 10 plus many of the numbers up to 100.  Obviously this is because my boy is a genius, and nothing to do with the amount of Cbeebies we watch in our house (thanks Numtums and Alphablocks!).  Also in no small part to the flashcards we do as part of the Snowdrop program.

Nathan does make open vowel screeches meaning “i want something” or “I’m frustrated”. He can also repeat some consonants when directly asked “can you say…”, he can make most phonic sounds except a few that involve fine tongue movements like “l”.  Recently we used singing to encourage him to make more noise, especially Old MacDonald Has a Farm, and were rewarded with regular cries of “E I E I O” both in context and just randomly when he felt like saying something.  We also got “ooh ahh” as in the chorus of “why do fools fall in love”, and “uh-oh” as in “oops something bad just happened”.  We’ve really enjoyed seeing his sense of humour flourish as he played games like “bus crash” where one toy is run down mercilessly by his toy bus to the sound of giggles and a quietly spoken “uh-oh”.

That was the extent of Nathan’s vocalisations, until a few nights ago.  It was bedtime and we were reading “Wibbly Pig” which is a story about a naughty pig who is trying to put off going to bed. Rather apt.  After reading it 3 times we told him that it was time for sleep and no, we would not read it again. Nathan decided to read the book to himself.  This involved sitting up and turning the pages, and making a sign for each page of the story – “bath” for the page where Wibbly is in the bath, “hot” for the page where Wibbly says his drink is too hot to drink quickly.  He got to the page where Wibbly is supposed to be climbing the stairs to bed but instead is counting the stairs.  Nathan likes to touch each step as we count them.  But without our cooperation in reading I expected him to quickly turn to the next page.  Not so…. instead, in a calm clear voice, he started speaking…. “One, Two, Teee, Fff, Fiii, Sss, Sssseh, Eyyy”.

Amazing!  In fact, I got a bit teary.  I’m sure my clever boy waited until after his third birthday to have a sudden leap forwards in his abilities.  Maybe we are finally approaching true speech and i can get to know his character even better.

Since then, we have had lots more words, clearly spoken and in context.  Yesterday evening at bed time I got a “night night”.  On leaving for nursery this morning I got “byeeeeeee”.  And my favourite, yesterday when indulging in his habit of hiding in the downstairs loo and opening and shutting the door repeatedly, Nathan treated us to a series of “boo”s.

I am reminded of a comment on the Bliss message board, something another parent said to me when we were worried about Nathan’s physical developement and when he might start to walk.  With great wisdom, she noted that we spend so many months worrying about the development of our premature babies, urging them to start walking and begin to speak.  Then we spend the rest of our lives telling them to sit down and shut up.

Happy parenting!

About ilove10

Here I spew forth my musings on being a mum to 2 boys, on faith, life, premature birth, child development and buying a fixer-upper Grade II listed house. Welcome! My older son has an expressive communication delay, we use Makaton signing as well as speech. He is very interested in numbers and letters. Recently we were practising expressing emotions by signing “I love…” and he volunteered “I love 10″, hence the name of this blog.
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7 Responses to The spoken word… finally!

  1. Lorna Wilson says:

    If it helps reassure you at all, my daughter Katia will be 4 at the end of May, was born at term, and still doesn’t speak properly (she tries, but most of what she says is incomprehensible). She also walked at 23 months which was ‘late’ according to many. I think there are too many standards about what our kids are supposed to do when, which fail to take into account the fact that everybody’s different. Your last paragraph is pretty much the philosophy I live by!!

    • ilove10 says:

      Thanks Lorna, great perspective – I agree there are far too many “developmental milestones” now which are really just averages of when most children achieve different things rather than hard and fast rules all should be held to. We should all try to worry less, as long as they are happy and fairly healthy there is not much to worry about.

  2. i am so excited by this! I can’t wait to have a nice little chat with him.

  3. KB says:

    Hi Michaela, I completely agree with Lorna…milestones are acheived at different ages and I often think the professionals push this too much.

    Our Kayleigh was a full term baby and never did a whole lot of talking. When we moved from Switz to the UK, all the professionals here said we needed to get her in speech therapy and there was clearly something wrong, etc. We prayed about it and knew they were ones who were wrong.

    As it turns out, Kayleigh is incredibly clever and just really didn’t have much to say early on. Currently, she is 6 years old and in Year 1: she’s tested at reading at a 9 year old level, spelling at a 9 year old level, and Maths at just under a 9 year old level. She has no issues speaking to others and has quite an extensive vocabulary.

    You know, Albert Einstein didn’t say a word until he was 3 years old. I was reading a biography on him and when he was asked about this, he just said that he didn’t feel as if there was anything he really wanted to say until then. hmmm…made me stop and think!

    All the best for your journey…enjoy all the new words Nathan’s saying – very precious!
    God bless. KB

  4. A certain other prem mum was staying with me at weekend and is a bit concerned about her son’s speech. When she heard Joseph arguing and having an answer for absolutely everything, I think she started counting her blessings!

    Nathan sounds way advanced than Joseph in terms of letters and numbers! I think our premmie boys just play to their strengths!

  5. Jill Ronaasen says:

    This is absolutely fantastic news Michaela. As a mom of a prem there are 2 sets of rules. One for everyone elses kid and one for our kids. Everything at their own pace and not one half-second before. Everything will come eventually so what is the rush?

  6. Pingback: May 9: | I Review My Life

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