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8 Things Not to Say to a Parent Whose Child Is In Speech Therapy

By marinka |

When my daughter was 3 years old she started speech therapy. By that point, I’d been concerned about her speech and language development for a better part of a year. She wasn’t speaking as much as her peers, her language wasn’t coming in the bursts that I’d seen my friends’ kids exhibit and down deep inside I knew that she needed help.

What I didn’t realize is how difficult it would be to get other members of my family on board. Some thought that if she lagged behind a bit then she would eventually catch up, with or without intervention, a possibility that the experts we consulted with couldn’t exclude. Others suggested that I was seriously over-reacting, holding my first child to an impossible standard of development that didn’t allow for a time lag.

Eventually I listened to what was in my heart and we started speech therapy with our daughter. I have no doubt that it was indeed the correct choice for her, and she’d made strides within months. (She is now 14 years old and very, very chatty. VERY.)

But I never forgot the comments that some people made when they learned that my daughter was in speech therapy. While many people were supportive, others said things that were hurtful, even when they were coming from a good place of wanting to be helpful and sympathetic.

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8 Things Not to Say to a Parent Whose Child is in Speech Therapy

Give It Time!

"Oh, give it time, she'll grow out of it!" I know that my friends tried to alleviate my anxiety, but time is of the essence in getting a child speech therapy support that she needs.
Photo Credit: MorgueFile

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About marinka



Marinka is a wife and mother of two living in Manhattan's West Village. On her personal site Motherhood in NYC, she blogs about her life in New York City, her kids and family, current events, and the art and science of blogging.

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11 thoughts on “8 Things Not to Say to a Parent Whose Child Is In Speech Therapy

  1. DeathMetalMommy says:

    I have three kids and my middle child is starting school a whole year early because he is so behind in speaking and some development. There are very few things anyone can say that will help, unless they have dealt with it personally. He is progressing, but slowly. He hasn’t been formally diagnosed but is likely on the autism spectrum. His father refuses to believe that it might be possible. Even close family members comments sometimes don’t help.

    I will say, though, that knowing that your daughter has no problem expressing herself now does make me feel a little more hopeful that my son will be the same.

  2. Elizabeth Lopez says:

    I have a 3 year old daughter who has a diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech, which is a motor planning disorder that affects children and the way their brains tell their mouths to move in order to produce the sounds we associate with speech. Its REALLY REALLY hard to reach people who just don’t get it. I have had some people say she’ll talk when she’s ready, ect…. I have learned early to cut them off and explain its not that easy for her. She really really really wants to talk to us but physically is unable to do so. Just in the last three months have we begun to get two-three words and every once in a while a 3-4 word sentence. I often am decoding her sounds to understand what she is trying to tell me and to most everyone they don’t understand her. I pray everyday for my girl to keep making progress but until then …. I speak Apraxia :)

  3. xotchil danio says:

    My son is non verbal autistic. My mom always says I should talk and read to him more as if all the talking and reading I do already do aren’t enough. My dad asks when he will be normal. I want to smack them both for saying these things. And yes, my son is receiving speech therapy. and i’m thinking of getting it for my daughter

  4. Anonymous says:

    My oldest, at 2, said “ma” “da” and “ke” (which could mean any number of things). Otherwise she pointed and said “uh uh uh” or “mm da.” That’s it. Meanwhile her friends were talking in 2 – 3 word sentences. We handled things differently, noting that she also had allergy issues and working with a special diet to help her, and it worked. At 27 months she finally burst forth, and at 2 1/2 she was speaking non-stop in full sentences.

    If you *know* something isn’t right with your child, get some help, whatever form that may be. There are “late bloomers,” sure. (My second child didn’t talk much until 16 months, but then he gained steadily, and began speaking in full sentences at 26 months — all very normal.) But if your mommy gut says “This isn’t right” — don’t be ashamed.

  5. Rebecca says:

    It’s never easy no matter the problem the child is having. Mine he’s ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) and ADHD. He is now on two Meds down from 3 at our last in patient hospital visit. He spent a week there for Meds adjustment. My mother and sister decided that I just dropped him at the hospital and left him. The hospital is a 2 hr drive and the only place we can get him the help he needs. They also know the problems our family experiences. My sister believes and said to just love him and all will be fine. He threatens suicide and to kill members of the family.

    People are just stupid idiots and don’t know when to shut their mouths. So I take a moment to take a breath and walk away.

  6. Susie Sanders says:

    When my son was 18 months old, I knew he had some delays. Nobody believed me and told me “just wait, it’ll happen on its own.” When he turned 2 and still hadn’t even said ‘Mama’, I told his pediatrician I wanted him evaluated for speech disorders, which I had been pushing for for the better part of 6 months. After his evaluation he was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder and we discovered he was 50% behind in all major areas of development. We started three kinds of therapy immediately. He had speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy for 6 months. He is now a happy, well adjusted 3 year old. He has been discharged from his therapy, now testing on the high side of average in all areas. The moral of the story? You know your child better than anyone. If your gut instincts tell you something is wrong, don’t take no for an answer. I’m glad I followed my gut.

  7. Michele says:

    2 of my 3 kids have hearing impairments, so speech therapy has been a normalcy in our household. What many well-meaning interpreters of the role of therapy don’t understand is that it’s harder to play catch-up once the child is behind. The longer it goes unaddressed, the harder the work. We were advised on numerous occasions to take on the therapy even though neither were necessarily showing signs of delay (they were aided by 3 months). The amount of work needed to help a child with the gap at the outset is much smaller than allowing a child to work through it unaided, not to mention the fact that speech therapy at a young age is typically not invasive or burdensome, but rather a chance to play and emphasize how we use words.

  8. cassie says:

    thank you! my son is only 6 months old so not talking yet. but he has an odd shaped forehead. the top center of his head to halfway down his forehead is very pointy. even his doctor said not to worry when i noticed it around 2 months. he said he would grow out if by a year. if not then we would do a helmet to help it.

    everyone keeps telling me im crazy and it doesnt matter and im overreacting. i think its gotten worse. so now im going to go with my gut and get it fixed now. i know looks arent everything but what if it causes issues later in life? i love him too much to take a chance.

    and again. thank you.

  9. abbiecadie says:

    We started speech therapy with our son at the age of 3, now he is somewhat better in understanding and speaking the words the way as it is. I’m so thankful for them who are very supportive in making things.

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  11. countdowntimer says:

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