Encouragement for the mama with a late talker

Encouragement for the mama with a late talker

One of the most anticipated moments in a mama’s life, our baby’s first words. All the hours laboring in love over our child seem to disappear when they start calling out “mama”. But not all of us get to experience this excitement as expected. This is encouragement for the mama with a late talker.

Have you ever been caught in the comparison trap with your baby or toddler? The moment our child isn’t doing what someone else’s child is doing, then something must be wrong. We begin googling relentlessly to find answers to the questions running through our minds.

I don’t think I ever googled as many questions as I did the first 1-2 years of my children’s lives. What I’ve learned is to accept my son & his individuality just as Christ created him without feeling bad or questioning what I’ve done wrong. But this came through encouragement and shutting down comparison.

When I realized my son needed to be evaluated

When my second son, Atlas was just under a year old he started trying to talk. He would babble and occasionally say a random word. Shortly after his first birthday I wasn’t seeing the progression you would expect.

Occasionally he would say a word then never say it again. He wouldn’t role play and try to repeat you. Then, Atlas stopped saying words all together. The majority of the time, he became silent.

Atlas didn’t seem to have any delays in comprehension. My only concern was this “speech delay” in comparison to my first son and all the others kids we were around that were his age.

I’m not one to wait things out, so I called his pediatrician and they referred me to the early intervention program in Massachusetts.

Early Intervention evaluation day

Massachusetts early intervention was amazing from the beginning. They moved so quickly and truly seemed to care about our circumstance. I took Atlas in for his 2 hour evaluation where 3 different therapists would evaluate his progression in several areas of development.

The assessment would include his adaptive, personal social, cognition, motor and communication skills. Atlas was a year and a half old at this assessment.

I didn’t anticipate getting so emotional once the results were revealed. My suspicions were confirmed and I held back tears when the therapist said, “Atlas is eligible for early intervention for speech therapy”.

To be honest with you, I have tears in my eyes as I type and relive that moment. All the instincts I had and looks that Atlas got from other mothers and caregivers because they too, noticed his non-verbal communication.

I often feel bad expressing these feelings because I am blessed to have a healthy child when there are kids who are not so fortunate. But like my friend once said to me, that doesn’t negate what you and Atlas are going through.

No, our challenges do not compare to some of the challenges that other’s are facing and I’m not looking for pity or recognition. I’m sharing our story because my goal is to bring awareness and encouragement to the mama reading this that may be going through the same thing.

Starting speech therapy

Atlas was given an “IFSP” which stands for “Individualized Family Service Plan” which he will have until he turns 3 years old. At 3 years old, if he is still in need of speech therapy, his IFSP will turn into an “IEP” which stands for “Individualized Education Programs” and basically means his therapy will be through the school system.

Atlas’ IFSP indicates his delay, his goal and the support he’s given to get him to achieve his goal. At this time Atlas was only using non-verbal communication. Our goal was to get him to use words rather than sounds and gestures.

Atlas was assigned an amazing speech therapist who came to our house once a week for 1 hour. She gave many ideas, tips and constantly repeating words is a must.

Since Atlas is still delayed in speech, it was hard to see the actual progression he’s made until I looked at the documents that indicated where he was 6 months prior. At his recent 6 month review, I was super encouraged to see he had reached his goals and now we’ve set new goals. Now our goal is to expand his vocabulary.

How covid-19 has affected speech therapy

Atlas’ therapist started video calling me every week rather than coming to our house. We would discuss anything new he was doing and she continued to instruct me on how to proceed.

Now that we have moved to Florida, Atlas has to be re-evaluated in order to be determined eligible or not for early intervention. I thought I would be able to transfer his IFSP but that is not the case.

So now I am waiting for an appointment date, which is delayed due to covid-19.

How Atlas has progressed in one year

Atlas stopped being more silent than not a few months ago. Which was really nice because you want to hear babbling toddlers! I know a lot of moms who joke that once they start talking they don’t stop 🙂 but when you have a late talker, it’s like music to your ears.

Although he still does non-verbal communication such as grabbing my finger and bringing me to the refrigerator for a drink. Or bringing me my shoes to let me know he wants to go outside. He has improved in using more words.

The thing is that he uses the same words repetitively. I think he has many different narratives in his mind but the same words come out of his mouth. Atlas can also say a 4 word sentence which means his brain has a vocabulary of at least 50-100 + words. Although we are not hearing that many words come out of his mouth.

Atlas is repeating more animal sounds and will role play sounds and words with his dad. Every now and then a new word comes out and it’s super exciting. The encouraging part right now is that there is progression.

What comes next

I don’t really know what comes next. This is something we are taking one day at a time. I know what I should be doing with him at home and right now that’s all we can really do. I don’t know when he will be re-evaluated with covid-19 around and once he is re-evaluated, I don’t know when he will begin therapy again.

I can’t predict Atlas’ future as far as his communication. It’s still too early to tell if he is a “late talker” has childhood apraxia of speech, phonological disorder or something else.

I don’t know if he will need an IEP through elementary school, if he will have residual affects such as trouble reading or pronunciation problems.

Time will tell, but in the mean time, I will celebrate his progression and continue working with him as I’ve been taught.

To the mama who is also going through this

I know what it’s like to ask yourself what you’ve done wrong. I know what it’s like to see another person looking at your child like something is wrong with them. I also know what it’s like to have your friends share in their excitement over their babies new words and funny phrases. And although you’re genuinely equally excited for her, sometimes you cry afterwards because it’s heartbreaking that you’re missing out on those milestones.

Mama, there is no evidence that suggests that we as mothers, had anything to do with our child’s speech delay. And those stares, have grace on them. I used to feel bad about feeling sad but this is something we are going through and it’s okay to own the feels that come along with this circumstance.

Don’t compare your one of a kind child to any other one of a kind child.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”― Dr. Seuss

Our late talkers will talk one day with a full vocabulary! You will hear “I love you mama” and you will look into their eyes and all the challenges you went through will melt away. And they will know how much their mama loved, supported and encouraged them when they were unable to communicate their needs. Stay strong, you’re not alone!

Spread the love, down below by sharing with your friends or leaving a comment, I love hearing from you! Thanks so much for reading and encourage someone today!



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