Monday, June 20, 2011

Late Bloomer..

Raf will be 2 years old in less than a month. He is a funny little boy, smiley and happy and full of hugs and kisses and plenty of laughter. He likes to play ball - catch, throw, kicking; he likes to work on his 'art', especially painting; he likes to run and climb; he loves to watch bigger kids and gets a big kick out of watching them misbehave... and yet honestly I am a bit worried about Raf. My sense is that he has pretty good receptive language skills. If I say 'Raf, do you want to give the boys a biscuit?' he'll run to their biscuit tin and, once I've handed him a couple of biscuits, he'll feed them to the boys. Or, I'll ask him to put on his shoes and he'll bring them over to me to help him with them. Or, I'll say 'it's time for bed, night, night', and off he'll trot to the door. Or, I'll say there's a car coming and he'll take my hand and crouch down (!!) and wait for it to pass.. You get the picture.

His expressive language, however, seems really delayed to me. Indeed I think by most standards he is pretty behind. He is no where near putting two words together, and the vocab he has isn't very broad and the words he does have aren't very clear. He has stopped saying his most clear word - 'apple' - which today created a lot of anxiety... I mean, could he really be losing his very limited vocabulary? I don't actually think so, but, you know, I worry.

The biggest part of me thinks that he is just a late bloomer. Raf's cousin, Rory, who is 3 months older than Raf, is not too more advanced than Raf, and my sister isn't overly concerned. My cousin's little boy, now 5, was also late to bloom, as was my other cousin... all boys. I read that late bloomers tend to run in families, and most are boys. But... could it be something else?

I am reluctant to really push for a referral. First, I don't want to medicalize and pathologize a little boy who is in every other way seemingly really smart and happy. I mean he knows how to work my iPad and can play several pre-schooler, educational apps, he likes to sit and read his book, he points and says stuff I cannot understand... he is social, good eye contact, very loving and interactive when he knows people. Second, I don't want him to be diagnosed with things he doesn't have, as did happen with a good friend's son. This little boy, at 2, wasn't able to put two words together and was diagnosed with all sorts of things - including being placed on the autism spectrum. Seriously, this little boy - now 6 - is one of the most social, empathetic little boys I have ever met.... But then again I don't want to miss out on important interventions.

Gah, what to do.

Me and my little sweety this morning.


  1. It's so easy to worry about our kids!! I'm an SLP and have certainly seen children who talk less than that, but it's tricky because like you said, if they need a little encouragement, you really don't want to waste time. Especially since it's not just vocab, it's language and learning to put sentences together and communicate. All that being said, yes, across the board generally, boys acquire speech skills later than girls. Does he have many different sounds? Is he trying to repeat words after you and they're hard to understand or what is he doing to communicate?
    Last night I was worrying to Brian that J might be too verbal and quotes her books and "you don't think she has some form of autism, do you?" so I guess the poor kids just can't win.

  2. I'm not a parent, but I've got a ridiculous amount of cousins. Some of them developed faster, some slower, there's a reason why there's a mean and a normal range around it. I have one cousin who didn't walk on his own until he was four and now he's fine. From the sounds of your description he is completely within the normal range, just not on the side you'd ideally like. ;-)
    I didn't speak a coherent word until I was three, and now I can't shut up, so maybe you should enjoy it while you can.
    Seriously, it sounds like he's just developing faster in some ways than others.

  3. in my experience there is a huge jump in communciation between 2 and 2 1/2 years... kids generally go from a few words to short sentences... so i'd wait 6 months, see how raf progresses, and then if you are still concerned, i'd see a speech pathologist (who will most probably say that everything is fine, but will at least put your mind at rest!)

    as you know i took elise to be evaluated at 18 months because she had NO receptive language skills. she was diagnosed with a severe language delay and qualified for early intervention - which was great. she still sees a speech therapist once a fortnight to help with sentence structure and pronunciation. she is now 8 years old and literally won't shut up! so for us speech therapy has been very positive - and fun (i wouldn't worry about rafi finding the experience too medical or stressful - these therapists are great with kids!)

    here is an interesting fact i was once told by at speech therapist... at 18 months most children have a few words (ie, are around the same level with their expressive language), but after that the rates of language acquisition widely diverge - with some kids slower and others faster to speak fluently... but by 4 years of age everyone has met up again... (this is obviously a huge generalisation... but i think there is a lot of truth in there - i've seen it with my kids!)

    hugs. xx


    I don't know if those are helpful, ASHA is our national organization that certifies all speech-language pathologists and audiologists in the U.S.

    There is a pretty big jump in language development around 18 mos (language explosion) but maybe Rafi just is hitting it a little late.

  5. Everyone, this is ALL so helpful. I'll be back tomorrow to say more, but THANK YOU, all. These are incredibly helpful links, too, Julie. The part about risk factors which might differentiate late bloomers from kids with actual developmental delays was VERY reassuring.

    Im about to post a little journal entry from Raf's teacher before i head to bed - as I asked her to give me her impressions.

    Again, thank you, and I'll be back :)