Sep 12, 2013  •  In Aerin, Parenting, Personal

Aerin’s First Speech Therapy Session

I really, really liked our speech pathologist. She was gentle yet firm. She was kind and patient. And most importantly (at least to me), she understood that all kids are different, and that they learn in different ways and at different rates.

Unlike the ladies who did our evaluations, our speech pathologist (let’s call her D) did not rush through our session. She emphasized the fact that she wants to take not only Aerin’s delays, but her personality, family members, and living situation into consideration when working with her. She told me that my input is very important to her, and I loved how she employed different activities to see which Aerin liked best, and to which she seemed most responsive.

D observed that Aerin already has four strikes against her:

  1. She is exposed to 3 different languages at home (in the therapist’s experience, about 20% of children who live in multilingual homes have speech delays in these early years)
  2. Her hearing was impaired, and is still in question (we won’t see the ENT again until the end of October, and we honestly can’t tell if her hearing has improved yet)
  3. She has an older sibling with a strong, dominant personality
  4. We, as a family, have spoiled her and babied her by regularly attending to her needs and wants in a prompt manner

“Can you blame her? It’s only natural that her speech is delayed!”

It was our first session so we didn’t get too much therapy done, but even after just a few activities, D noted that Aerin is a very bright little girl, and that her being able to say more than 20 words at this point is very encouraging. (She said that at 22 months old, this is on the low end, but definitely within normal range.) She gave us a bunch of tips and pointers as well as some “homework,” and that was the session.

If you can recall, Aerin is supposed to have speech therapy twice a month and developmental therapy twice a week. We still haven’t had any developmental therapy sessions yet due to scheduling issues, but after having had our first speech therapy session yesterday, I am more encouraged. And more motivated than ever to help my little girl as much as I can.

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13 Responses to “Aerin’s First Speech Therapy Session”

  1. Mina:

    sounds like the speech therapist is great–i’m sure there’s going to be lots of great progress and her evaluation/assessment is very encouraging!

  2. Our son (28 months) sees a speech therapist too- and we love her! All of his milestones (crawling, walking, etc.) have always been at least a month or two delayed compared to his peers, but we’ve just been trying to be patient and let him develop at his own pace since he has eventually hit those milestones. Right now he says still says very few words, but we know he’s learning- on his last assessment at daycare he was able to correctly identify all of the colors and shapes he was tested on, he has favorite books that he has memorized, and so forth. It’s so frustrating to not be able to communicate verbally, but in our area we were able to take advantage of the free Early On program (we’re in Michigan) to have him assessed and then matched up with the speech therapist who works through our local public school system. During the summer he only met with her once a month, but now that school has started he is going to her speech therapy group (it’s a small group, only 3 children right now) once a week. The other thing that has been very helpful is that we had the speech therapist do two of her visits this summer at his daycare- he’s our only child right now (baby 2 is on the way!) so being able to interact with him in an environment with lots of other kids his age that he is very engaged with was a whole different experience than just meeting with him in our home.

    Thanks for sharing your updates on Aerin- as a mama who’s in the same boat, I appreciate reading another similar story!

  3. Nev:

    How is Aerin’s multilingualism taken into account when the therapist is measuring her progress? For instance, do you count the Mandarin and Korean words she knows, or just the English ones? Maybe she knows as many number of words as her peers, but only a third of them are English? And in which case, she might not be delayed at all. Or even if she is delayed, a quick google search on “multilingual children speech delay” says that multilingualism doesn’t cause speech delays and speech professionals should try to find the real cause rather than attribute the delay to the number of languages in the home. After all, there are many countries where multilingualism is the norm, and their kids aren’t any worse off.

    Since you’re a busy mama, here are the links I liked:
    http://linguistics-research-digest.blogspot.nl/2013/07/do-children-hearing-two-languages.html?m=1
    http://www.babble.com/babble-voices/ana-flores-besos/dont-believe-these-5-common-myths-about-raising-bilingual-children/

    • Aerin hasn’t yet gotten to the point where she says the same word in different languages, so all the words she says (Korean, Cantonese, and English) have different meanings. I’m sure this isn’t the case with ALL kids from multilingual families, but this is how Claire progressed too. D also made sure to let me know that talking is different from comprehending — both Claire and Aerin understand a lot more words than they say, which is totally common and normal for all kids.

      I too, have read those studies. I should have clarified that this is what our therapist noticed from her experience (10+ years in this profession). And when I was touring preschools for Claire, I always made sure to ask about the school’s experience with multilingual kids because English is still Claire’s weakest language. And they all told me that in their experience, children from multilingual families tend to stay quieter in the beginning (again, talking is different from comprehending), but that once they get over that “hump,” they start conversing normally.

      So I think that in Aerin’s case, the multilingualism may have contributed to her speech delays in the sense that in conjunction with all the other factors, it’s another difficulty she has to overcome.

      • Nev:

        Ah sorry for mixing it up, you mentioned numerous times that your home is Cantonese/Korean/English (not Mandarin) — and I have no excuse, I’m an English/Cantonese speaker so I definitely know the difference ;)

        I think you misunderstood my question… Recently the evaluator came to your home and counted all the words Aerin knows, and I wasn’t clear if only her English words were counted, or every word in her vocabulary.

        But I do get your point about it being another obstacle she has to overcome. But it’s a temporary one and I hope you stick with the multilingualism anyway!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your journey and Aerin’s progress! We are going through the exact same thing right now~ my daughter is around the same age, we also speak Korean/Chinese/English at home, has a strong personality older sibling, is babied at home, just got tested for developmental and speech delays and has some hearing issues! Reading your experience is really helpful~ thank you! =)

  5. Mari:

    Do you know more about the “being babied” issue? We have a nearly 13-month old who I fear will someday be labeled as delayed because he doesn’t really do a few things I know he should be doing like pointing to things he wants and using “mama” and “dada” intentionally frequently. He does communicate, but it doesn’t look like what I had expected. For example, I’ve definitely just learned that when we’re eating dinner and he looks at his milk cup, then flails his arms, it’s time to hand over his drink. So, I’m curious — do you know what qualifies in your circumstance as being attended to in a prompt manner (too much)? I wonder if we’re doing that . . . which is a funny thing to say, right? I thought we were supposed to be attending to his needs promptly! :)

    She is super adorable, by the way! Thanks for sharing this!

    • There’s such a fine line between “taking care” of our youngsters and “spoiling” or “babying” them, right? The way that our therapist put it, it’s okay to tend to their needs and make them feel loved and appreciated, but we need to step back more to let them try for themselves more. (And, as they get older, learn from their mistakes.) And teach them that the world does not revolve around them.

      For example, when Aerin wants more juice, she will grab her cup and give it to me to refill. And before, I usually did just that. But what I should be doing is first say, “Do you want MORE JUICE?” and bring the cup up near my mouth so that she can see what I’m saying. Then I should say, “Yes, more juice!” and then pour her some more. And before even giving it to her, I should bring the cup near my mouth again and say, “Juice!” several times.

      I know the example I just gave is a word-learning exercise. But one thing that the exercise does is delayed gratification, which is one of the biggest obstacles I am currently facing with Aerin because I’m so used to giving her whatever she wants immediately — if I don’t, she will inevitably cry and/or scream, which will upset Claire and I will have two upset kids on my hands. But I remember that when Claire was this age, we would tell her to wait until we could help her, and narrate and demonstrate even if she wanted certain things right away….and this is something we haven’t been doing with Aerin.

      Sorry that was so long. I hope that answered your question some!

  6. Hurray for Aerin! She’s so cute. Lol on the dominant older sibling strike… that was totally me. Good thing we were only a bilingual household and not a trilingual one!

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