Speech is a very integral part of life and having Down syndrome can sometimes complicate speech in various ways. Delays in speech are often one of the the most troublesome problems for many youngsters with Ds and other times, hearing issues and as well as low muscle tone can complicate speech further.
We (the DDSA - Durham Down syndrome Association) decided to create another partnership event (our 2nd one) with our local speech pathologist to provide free Speech Assessments as a service to our Association members with further sessions at 50% off (paid for by the DDSA). Jill Clements-Baartman is the Owner of TLC (Talking Language Communication) and she is a dedicated Speech Language Pathologist. She has also been Hunter's "speech path" since he was about 18 months old.
When we first learned about Jill, we decided to take Hunter to see her for an initial assessment to see where he was with "language". At that assessment, Hunter was doing great and did not need any additional services in terms of speech but I knew that we should definitely re-visit that area again for a future follow up assessment after he turned two. With this partnership we had created through the Association (making "speech" a priority event for our members) I decided to take advantage of the very same service we put together and get a new "FREE" assessment for Hunter. Turns out, we are still on track, falling in the ranges of what is considered typical in terms of speech for our son.
Even BabyCentre advises parents not to panic if their toddler (aged two) isn't speaking the way other children are, charts or people in general think they should.
"Don't rush to consult a speech therapist if you have no idea what your 2-year-old is saying half the time (or if you understand perfectly, but Grandma and the babysitter are baffled). Speaking involves a lot of coordination. Kids this age commonly lisp, stutter, and mumble. But certain speech problems are considered red flags. If your child never imitates your words or speech patterns or drops particular consonants consistently, mention it to her doctor. "
EVERY child is different when it comes to language, expressive language and communication. It is important not to panic and to know when one should have their child assessed and also if there are obvious delays with language. Things to consider are, is the child mimicking language and sounds? Is he or she expressive? Is he or she communicating needs in other ways? Is your child using more or different consonants and vowels as time goes on? Is there an obvious and excessive amount of frustration in your child due to lack of language? Ranges are normal and obvious in the general population, as they are within the Down syndrome community. Parents have to remember, their child will talk - it's only a matter of time. I believe "How" they talk is what parents should focus on rather than "when". To me, pronunciation and building vocabulary should be more important than worrying about how quickly their child starts speaking with more than one or two word combinations. As well, it's key that we don't frustrate our children (and ourselves) with trying to push language in a way that is counter-productive and possibly hindering.
Here is how our DDSA assessment went during "fun time":
(We went together with my Girlfriend Penny and her Son Vaun who also has Ds)
|I'm waiting for my teacher Ms. Jill!|
|I've been here before and we had a blast!|
|Some fun and colourful cards for me to see before we go in.|
|Since my Buddy Vaun is with me we get the BIG room!|
|Look at me! I'm a STUDENT!|
|Uhhh, I wonder what that is up there?! (A Toy Holder)|
|Hey Vaun, let me show you how it's done!|
|Yes! That's it! Let's make music!|
|What on earth is this thing?! It rolls and makes sounds....|
|Time to put away the toys for the day.|
|Ms Jill is talking to us, helping us to learn!|
|I'll show Vaun his belly - I can teach too!|
|They all are lying down! Maybe I should lie down too?!|
|I'm getting good-bye kisses from Ms. Jill!|
|And I'm giving Ms. Jill a good-bye kiss back!|