Did you know that May is Better Speech and Hearing Month? The theme for 2019 is “Communication Across the Lifespan” because communication disorders can impact us at any stage in life, from newborns to senior citizens. Having struggled to be heard by my grandmother in her final days, and then discovering something surprising about my toddler just months later, this is a topic that means so much to me.
Whether you’re a first-time or experienced parent, you’re learning something new about your child every day. In my case, after four children, we welcomed a set of identical twin boys. Despite many years of child-rearing (my oldest is 25 now), raising twins has been a truly unique experience for me.
From the midpoint of my twin pregnancy, it was clear that things were going to be different with multiples. During their first year of life, despite a somewhat traumatic birth, the boys hit all of the expected milestones ahead of time. With one child who is just 12 months older than them, we had a house full of babies learning to walk at one point!
Everything was smooth sailing until we noticed the boys weren’t talking. For a while, we dismissed it as cryptophasia or “twin talk” because they were in their own little bubble and communicated well between themselves. When one twin suddenly started talking, we realized that his brother had very few language skills at all.
I’d like to say that I was calm and level-headed when I realized one of my sons wasn’t understanding anything I was saying, but the truth is that for a solid month I was in a panic. Even with reassurance from our family doctor, I spent my days online searching for answers.
While scouring the internet I learned many things, some of which were calming. Boys, especially identical twin boys, are more likely to experience speech delays. At just two years old, no professionals were particularly concerned. After going through some screenings, we were told to give it time.
In those first couple of months, we tried many things to support our son. We worked through online behavior programs, changed his diet, added supplements, did one-on-one table time and eliminated television and tablets from his little world. There were some small gains, but nothing substantial. It was a stressful time.
Online Educational Programs
There are many resources available to parents and children who are experiencing speech delay, and each family will have to find a solution that works best for them. Sometimes, children may show signs of needing additional support, and medical professionals can request services on their behalf. Some community programs are free and others may even be covered by insurance. This varies from state-to-state, so it’s best to talk this over with your doctor to find out what is available in your area.
If your child does not qualify for these Early Intervention services, or if you want to supplement them, you could look into an online program like the one we took from Walkie Talkie Speech Therapy. We happened to stumble upon the Walkie Talkie Speech Therapy YouTube channel and we implemented many of the suggestions before moving to their website, which is complete with an online course for parents and therapists.
Developed by Kayla Chalko, a licensed speech-language pathologist with a master’s degree from San Diego State University who specializes in autism and early intervention speech therapy, the online course is absolutely phenomenal. Chalko breaks down each lesson into actionable steps that are easy to follow and implement, even with a child who has limited language skills.
It can be so easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless when your child is going through something, but the course “How to Teach a Toddler to Talk” was so positive and encouraging that it really blew us away. It’s clear that Chalko has experience working with small children and that she understands how to design online content that is engaging and easy to follow.
Best of all, we saw changes in our son’s ability to communicate very quickly. After months of really struggling and trying so many things, it was such a relief to see him connecting the dots.
This is not a paid endorsement or an ad of any kind, this really was our experience and we couldn’t have been happier with this course. Because this month is Better Hearing and Speech Month, I wanted to share this resource with all of you.
As Chalko mentions throughout her course, one of the most important things parents can do is have their children’s hearing tested. If your child is showing signs of speech delay or impairment, have them screened right away. The sooner you identify any potential issues, the sooner your child can be connected with the resources they need.
Online educational programs such as Walkie Talkie Speech Therapy’s are best used in conjunction with in-person speech therapy. Defer to treatment plans created by a licensed professional who has personally evaluated your child. We’ve been so happy to enhance our son’s learning through the convenient, well-designed program and based on the comments I’ve seen online, other parents feel the same way!
To learn more about Better Speech and Hearing Month, including the signs of communication disorders in infants, toddlers, school-age children, and adults, visit the official page on the ASHA website.