The joy and heartbreak of having a child with speech delay

The moment your toddler recognises the McDonald’s sign, points at it and shouts ‘chip’. It’s probably not a moment that is high up most parents proud moments list. But for us it is! As a parent to a child with a speech and communication delay this is MASSIVE!

That she can now take us into the kitchen, point to the cupboard where she knows they are not very well hidden and ask for a ‘geetie’ means we don’t want to tell her no. Hearing her little voice say ‘dank doo’ will make me want to give her anything she asks for. 

Having a child with a speech delay brings absolute joy and heartbreak in equal measures. My boys speech developed normally. Ava’s did too till it faultered. She stopped saying words she could say, she stopped making eye contact and responding to us and she stopped pointing and trying to communicate with us. Alarm bells were ringing and it was a really worrying time!

We still don’t know what caused it apart from intermittent glue ear. Whatever the cause she now is significantly behind her peers, behind where she should be for her age.  

It made me embarrassed for a while. Not wanting to take her to toddler groups which she actually needs more than ever. The constant comparison and ‘my child can do this’ boasting became too much. I didn’t want to have to explain why Ava was crying with frustration, overwhelmed by the noise and screaming rather than just saying no. I didn’t want to deal with the silent stares from other parents and hushed conversations we weren’t invited too.

Mum groups can be incredibly lonely places when your child doesn’t fit in! 

So you may well see us squealing with delight at our toddler doing something your little one has been doing for ages. 

Hear us encouraging the budding speech that is slowly beginning to grow from our beautiful daughters lips. 

Watch us cry with laughter at her little quirky ways.

I hope James is right and there will be a day where I can’t imagine ever having to worry about her speech!





12 responses to “The joy and heartbreak of having a child with speech delay”

  1. Nichole Goodland says:

    I am sure there will be a day when she wakes up and she will be constantly talking.
    We were told by Mabel’s preschool she is behind in her language and speech, but the healthcare worker said she is fine. Confused. They are given her til Easter to improve otherwise they want her to see a professional. I’m just waiting for it all to click. I’ve even had to put toilet training on hold because she doesn’t seem to understand yet, but we will get there.

  2. Amy says:

    Our kids are the same age I think? I know we were weaning around the same time. Anyway, Rory has very few words. Maybe around 5 or 6. It has recently got me worried too as Finn was saying so, so much more at nearly 2.5. He was always so chilled and I just thought he was taking his time but in the last month I have noticed him getting more and more frustrated.
    Just wanted to say – I know how you feel!

  3. Well done Ava! I worried endlessly about my son and his speech. He was very slow to start babbling (around 11 months), and slow to start talking too. I totally understand the worry and also the embarrassment – all those other mums saying so proudly about how their children are saying their first words, or speaking in sentences and you just kind of paste a smile on and nod. It’s difficult when you get conflicting information too – my health visitor felt he was behind, but nursery felt he was about where he should be and that he was constantly improving so not to worry. I always felt that he would get there, that he was just a bit behind, and thankfully it seems I was right. He’s just coming up to 3 and is starting to put sentences together, but is still one of those children who strangers don’t tend to understand. But for me, it’s huge that he is where he is. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  4. RachelSwirl says:

    It must be really difficult especially in baby group situations when it seems we are surrounded by competitive parents. My love and thoughts go out to you, I hope there is a day you look back at this as a distant memory x

  5. I’m sure there’ll come a point when you won’t get a word in. We have an almost 20 month old who says almost nothing. I’m pretty sure her sister was ordering food in cafes at that point. Looking forward to reading about the progress. #sharingthebloglove

  6. Well done Ava, bless her heart. She is such a sweetie. I am so pleased that she has started to make baby steps with her speech and I totally get what a wonderful feeling this must be as a parent. Baby groups can be a lonely place anyway and this just adds to it. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x

  7. Steph Curtis says:

    Wow, this has really taken me back to when our daughter was that age. I understand the feelings of not being able to join in with groups and how isolating that is, and I remember how polite our girl always was even though her speech wasn’t clear. Just wanted to say in case you didn’t know, that you can self-refer for speech and language if you haven’t already x

  8. Steph Curtis says:

    Wow, this takes me right back to when our girl was that age (7 years ago!). We also struggled with groups, and I know how isolating that can feel. Hope the assessments/SLT team are involved and give good support? Our little girl was also very polite 🙂

  9. Very well done Ava, no matter how small any milestone seems to someone else it isn’t always great to shout about them and know they are huge to the children and to us mums. It would be wonderful to have each other’s backs a bit more wouldn’t it? X #Sharingthebloglove

  10. claire says:

    Aw bless, well done Ava! I worry, my youngest is 13months and still just babbling, not even mama and dada. My eldest was practically forming sentences by this point! Yet, he’s 4 now and we’ve been told by nursery that he needs speech therapy, so i’m not quite sure how to feel about it all. xx #sharingthebloglove

  11. Louise says:

    My second born was miles behind my first walking and talking. Until shortly before he started school nursery he only used gibberish and we worried that he would never speak properly. I lay awake at night worrying about is over large tonsils and regularly googled about ear, nose and throat issues. Fast forward to now, he is not far from his fifth birthday and I can safely say he has definitely found his voice. In fact we often find him striking up lengthy conversations with total strangers. This is a great post that brings back so many memories. #sharingthebloglove

  12. My four year old son has speech delay and is having speech and language therapy – his speech is continuing to improve fortunately but I know what you mean about celebrating every word that’s said and understood. I’m sure I’ve had some weird looks when I’ve excitedly repeated a word he’s said but I hope they keep having the opportunity to stare at me in that way!

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