Speech delays and misdiagnosis: why wishing your baby was the best can get you in trouble

Everyone wants their baby to progress normally–OK that is a lie. Everyone wants their baby to be a  genius–growing, speaking, engaging ahead of schedule.

Bodhi is 18 months–that key age where speaking begins to emerge–he has a number of words, but until the full sentences come I will worry. The window of progress for toddlers’ comprehension and verbal skills is so great, it is a time many people find stressful and full of pressure from practitioners who may or may not be well-schooled on child development.

After seeing Bodhi for something else, my diagnosis-happy doctor has me worked up. After talking to me in passing for 30 seconds about my son he informed me I may have wasted time intervening a speech delay. Ack! Mother guilt triggered. So I started to read and research.

The window for toddler development in speech is significant and there are a few slots that a child can be put in if they aren’t progressing at a rate considered normal.

Developmental Apraxia is one of the diagnoses given to speech delays. It is a neurological disorder that causes the inability to form the correct sounds. For this single speech disorder,  75% to 87% of cases are wrongly diagnosed. This means families have gone through the stigma and worry of their child having an illness, spent thousands on specialists and wasted time they could have spent with their family in other ways.

The main reason for the misdiagnosis: the physicians were making it too early. According to the linked article, early intervention is important, but a diagnosis shouldn’t be made until age 3 not 18 months! http://www.speechlanguagefeeding.com/seventy-percent-apraxia-cases-wrongly-diagnosed/

I am listening to my gut, the scientifically-valid information I have read, and the mothers I trust.

After coming to my senses, my pediatrician was fired–there is a difference between a concerned doctor and one acting out of ego.

Use your intuition about your child and couple it with scientific fact. I am the expert on my child–not my doctor. The doctor we are taking him to now asks me if I have any concerns. At age 3 we will put a heck of a lot more weight on the doctor’s assessment, but the question about speech at 18 months isn’t if the physician is concerned–it’s whether the parent is.
RESOURCES:

I found this to be a sensible website for child speech development: http://www.talkingpoint.org.uk/Parent/My%20Child%20Is/18-24-months.aspx

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