Why isnt my toddler speaking?
After posting on Instagram today and getting a massive response, questions and advice, I thought it would be easier to respond in a blog post. Ive had wonderful messages of support, others telling me their experiences and struggles with this topic and a mass of other mothers asking the same question I am, 'Why isn't my toddler speaking?' This is a question that frankly can not be answered, its frustrating and leads to self doubt but turns out there isn't a great deal we can do as mothers, I'm told it will simply just happen one day. This is all well and good but It is completely natural to worry. It a mothers instinct to worry, healthy in fact, we give these mini humans EVERYTHING we have and if we didn't get concerned from time to time then surely we aren't doing this parenting thing right?! Am I doing enough with him? Is he getting enough learning time? Are we not reading enough books to him? Is he watching too much TV? Reality is, I am not Mary Bloody Poppins and I do what I can, so I try to shake these negative thoughts to the back of mind. To save my sanity I often stick Frozen on so I can collect my thoughts and go for a wee in peace, surely that is not why my toddler isn't speaking yet.. So don't be too hard on yourself. Time is key (apparently) and we all have a heap of that don't we *Rolls eyes*
Now I understand fully that no 2 children are the same, (my 2 are now living proof of that. They couldn't be more unalike if they tried) but the urge to compare is always there. Not healthy, and can most defiantly lead to feeling like a complete failure when thingymabobs kid from stay and play can recite the alphabet backwards and yours can barely communicate through a series of grunts. After thought I soon realized that thingymabobs kid didn't take to walking until 18 months old and still wont attempt the climbing frame in the playground. Oakley walked at 10 months old and there he is now hanging upside down from said climbing frame, no fear what so ever. Each child is different, different in so many ways that we are encouraged not to compare and rightly so. The guidelines however, they are there and they state at Oakley's age they expect 40-50 words in their little tiny vocabularies, I was shocked, a little scared and could count on one hand only the amount of words Oaks had shouted at me the past few months. I slowly realized that words he had been saying a few months ago he now wouldn't say at all and I thought it best to reach out for some professional advice (this doesn't include Google.)
I began encouraging Oakley (more than what i was before) at any opportunity, trying to be clear, making animal sounds at the first glimpse of an animal, shouting vegetable names around the supermarket and asking him to repeat almost everything I ever said, in hindsight that is what felt right but a 2 years old still learning and developing brain probably didn't need me ramming lots of confusing crap into it all day long. The next time we were at our children's center getting Olive weighed I asked the health visitors about Oakley, I think once he hit the stage that he didn't need to be weighed anymore I forgot that these professionals were there to help. So they listened to my issues and after some gentle persuasion they were wiling to move Oakleys 2 year review a little sooner than planned and have me meet someone one on one with Oakley for his speech to be discussed and reviewed. This was a great opportunity for someone to hear the way Oakley communicates to us, seriously me and Daniel have often considered that he will always speak a foreign language that only he will understand. Like a performing monkey he did everything I expected, he looked her straight in the eye and spoke his special language so beautifully (he has so much passion when he talks, even when no one understands a word he says) She reassured me that I had done the right thing and also thought he needed the extra support too. So now we wait for his classes to start, he will take part in six 90 minute classes (once a week) and he will be reviewed after the 6 weeks is up, where we will hopefully find improvements. How lucky are we that these amazing support networks even exist in our country, I was impressed with the emotional support they offered me and the way they made me feel even though Oakley was all I was thinking about, they thought about me.
The 2 year review- Today he had the review, he was amazing and I went home feeling very proud and emotional about the little boy we have raised these past 2 years. All the worry about his speech had me completely blindsided, he has so many other areas that hes actually excelling in and today's review was a reminder to never forget those positive aspects. Its so easy to get caught up in what they aren't achieving that those small achievements day in day out have been missed, I strive on celebrating my own small victory's but I was forgetting to celebrate Oaks too. He was called a clever little boy, he put rubbish in the bin and put away building blocks back into their box, don't be fooled he doesn't do this at home and I'm pretty sure it was the first time in a long time that he didn't show me up in public. He cuddled me and his sister and I felt so happy that they got to see his charming and loving side, he spoke his own little language beautifully (again) and they agreed that I was right in asking his review to be pulled forward, it feels great to know that my motherly instinct is indeed correct and I'm not an over baring worrier.
So what CAN we do? Its so easy once we understand our toddlers routine, their wants and needs to just go ahead do it for them at times. I know when Oakley wants a drink or his snacks, I know when hes tired or that he needs a cuddle etc So I just go ahead and fufil his needs without asking him or giving him options. Options are the key element, even if I know its milk time we are going to begin offering milk but offering something else also, voicing the options to him and wait for his decision. Even if he only responds with a point of the finger we are to again voice the option hes chosen and tell him 'well done, good boy' Simple but hopefully effective, Im definatly guilty of at times cutting corners for conveinience, especially now I have 2 babies to keep alive. Its hard work and I know Im not alone in this.
I cant commit to not sticking Frozen on when I want to eat a meal or have a quick wee but Im definatly going to make sure I give him options from now on. Im going to be there with him each week at his speech classes and Im going to practise words and sounds with him for just a short while each day. The main thing Im going to do though is celebrate all the CANS rather than the cants, focus on all the amazing things he does each day. The way he loves music, loves to dance and loves to bounce on his trampoline. The way he is so unbelievably loving, the way he plays so contently and loves to make me pretend cups of tea. Hes a beautiful boy inside and out and although I cant wait to hear that little voice call me mama i know it will be worth the wait. We will be there every step of the way Oakley Gray.