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Averageness and Appropriate Worry

I’m not  a neurotic mother.

Ok, I’m a slightly neurotic mother but generally I think I have my head screwed on OK. If I’ve learnt one thing as a parent it’s that children tend to do things in their own time, in their own way and there’s not an awful lot you can do to change that.

I try not to worry about stuff. Or I try and worry an appropriate amount anyway.

But for a while now there have been some concerns about Kai’s speech. I’ve had that awful balancing act of not over-reacting and accepting his speech was developing slower than other children but that it would all happen in its own time, but at the same time not burying my head in the sand and missing the opportunity to pick up any REAL problems nice and early.

I was told a few months back to get in contact with my health visitor if Kai hadn’t shown any progression in his speech development by 18 months. And he hasn’t to be honest, at least, not in terms of recognisable words. Ironically he is the most chatty child you could ever hope meet and babble and sings in his nonsensical language all day long. But at nearly 19 months he doesn’t really say ANY proper words. And the odd ‘real’ word he used to say he’s now stopped saying at all, or says them once and twice and then not since.

So I phoned the health visitor this morning, and after a few questions she asked to come over this afternoon.

She stayed for over an hour, observing his play and our interaction and asking lots and lots of questions. And she tells me she is concerned, not so much about his speech but about his speech coupled with his behaviour, wanting to see him again in six weeks and possibly regular checks after that.

I don’t know how to feel. On one hand I think she’s probably just being very cautious, wanting to stay vigilant and ensure any problem is picked up early – that she’s doing a good job. On the other hand I think she’s hugely over-reacting, that surely 19 months is way too young to be worrying seriously about this kind of thing, and that most things can be explained by Kai’s temperament and personality and will work themselves right in time.

Either way I’m left feeling a little worried and upset.

On the positive side she thinks that Kai is very bright, and that his comprehension, imaginative play and concentration is very advanced for his age. He has an excellent internal vocabulary, understands very complex instructions and ideas, and a very good memory for detail. She suspects that he may actually be perfectly capable of talking properly if he wanted, but can’t see the need, or doesn’t want to. Despite knowing what a huge number of words mean he makes absolutely no attempt to say them and has no interest in trying to imitate word sounds. In fact, he just laughs if you try and ask him to.

She predicts he will talk when he decides to, and that he may need some help in the future but that long term he’ll be absolutely fine.

What she’s worried about his disinterest in speech coupled with his behaviour, more specifically his very obsessive and hyper-attentive nature, his complete inflexibility and fixation with things having to go a certain way and refusal to compromise or be distracted, and his general anger and frustration when things don’t go how he wants (which is most of the time!).

She’s also worried about his difficulty socialising. Admittedly he does find socialising with children very difficult, getting very easily overwhelmed and upset. He’s fine with younger babies where he feels safe and in control, but really struggles to handle and relate to older children that do their own thing. He tends to keep away from them, rarely if ever initiates play, and is usually that child at playgroup sobbing hysterically because someone else is playing on the bike that day. He barely last more than an hour before getting completely overwhelmed and asking to go.

I don’t know whether any of these are real ‘problems’.

I don’t know why this is concerning.

I thought all these things were just Kai, part of all the things that make him unique and special and wonderful. I LIKE that he’s different and quirky and strong willed.

I don’t want to change him.

I don’t want to be neurotic.

But I also want to be responsible. If there IS a problem I DO want it picked up early.

I guess we just have to do as the health visitor suggested. Watch, wait, and see. And try not to worry too much. She says we’re doing everything right, which is reassuring, and that we shouldn’t force anything. Just wait. She was lovely actually.

But I’m a little sad that already, at not even 2, my boy is being told he doesn’t ‘fit’ and that he is different. Why must we insist that all children fit a certain box? That they all be the same? Is there no room for individuality, personality, temperament? Or is everything ‘not average’ a ‘problem’?

Do I really want an average child anyway?


  1. Just sending a big, big hug your way. With chocolate. x
    .-= Mwa´s last blog ..Pregnancy (with photo) and poo (without photo for once) =-.

  2. Hey hon – i come late to this but I have some input – the social skills and stubborness and exacting behaviour sounds like my bub1 – exactly like her – we took her to music group and she would NOT do anything, would NOT share the drum, would NOT play with the other children – she has been and always will be fixated on how she wants things to be, is fixated on this and will not budge, everything had to go exactly her way EXACTLY – only in the last year (at 9) has she realised the profit of compromise – although she is still incredably stubborn and exacting. The speech sounds like Bub 2 – he didn’t speak till later and then had his own language entirely that we, as a family, knew and understood – by the time he hit preschool he was speaking, a little, but had missed a whole set of sounds entirely – still struggles with “S” even after speech therapy – but he didn’t need to talk – at first Bub 1 did it for him, and I anticipated his needs and then we all understood his language anyway – there was no need for him to so he didn’t – he may well have been almost 2 before any more than 3 words were put together. I have very strong memories of Bub 1 and my parents struggling to get her to do something their way and her getting so upset, she just couldn’t deal, and also my parents and bub 2 asking him questions , as old as 4, and them not understanding what he said – we did and his kindergarten teacher did – but it wasn’t ‘regular’ speech.
    I think it is wise to be cautious but also try not to be too scared, there is so much that can be done if there are issues.
    And both my Bubs are now quirky and themsleves but when it comes down to it no real problem children – not in a medication constant treatment sense anyway.
    Hope this has helped – sorry about blather and *hugs* for both of you.
    .-= april´s last blog ..Rose Coloured World… =-.

  3. I haven’t had time to read through the other comments here, but I’m sure the majority say not to worry…and are full of reassuring stories.
    A friend’s son didn’t really have any words until he was two and a half, then he just started talking and you can’t tell his ‘slow development’ apart from any one of his peers.
    Also I have spent a lot of time wondering if my daughter’s socialising skills are lacking, as you describe, she is very much on the outside of play when other kids are around, (she’s two and a half)
    but actually what I really believe is that the majority of comparisons whether to expected milestones or to other children lead to unnecessary stress on parents’ part.
    .-= carolb´s last blog ..golden rule number 1 =-.

  4. Hi – I think I’m going to echo what others have said, but your post was very interesting and I didn’t just want to read and run. I met someone today who didn’t start talking until they were 3 and is now a chatty and confident woman. On the otherhand I agree that if your child could benefit from support then it’s better to start this as soon as you can. And although some might think the HV is over-reacting – and perhaps is – I agree this is better than not listening to you and dismissing your concerns. However this turns out, your son is lucky to have such a committed mother, who knows him so well and celebrates who he is, just how he is. Hope you’ll let us know how he gets on.
    .-= Cathy at nurturestore´s last blog ..Valentine carrot printing =-.

  5. I don’t have anything to add to the advice given above except to give another example. My son didn’t smile at me until 9 months, get the hang of rolling over until a year old and didn’t crawl until 14 months. He was behind in everything, and yes, I worried.

    From that point it was fast forward though. Walking was mastered in a matter of weeks, and from starting to talk 3 months ago he now has a vocabulary in 3 figures (even if the majority of it is CBeebies related).

    They all develop differently, and once a certain switch flicks in their head, it may surprise you how quickly things happen, so being ‘behind’ may not be a problem as the catch-up is so swift.

    Best wishes to you and your adorable and unique son

  6. It’s good that you are being aware and taking action, even if it isn’t needed in the end. Hopefully this is a case of being overcareful.
    Kai will develop into whoever he is. He is lucky to have you there with him.

  7. So sorry you’re having to go through this. Your HV sounds very good, very cautious and hopefully will be worrying you needlessly. All my children have been labelled with something as a baby and all have grown out of whatever it was – didn’t stop me worrying though, hugs xx

  8. Just got to this lovely an had to comment. I haven’t had chance to read other comments so apologies if someone else has said this but the school run beckons. First of all hugs, and I think Kai is far too young to be labelled etc, but have you had his cheering checked. He sounds very like my niece who had speech issues even though she was bright, meeting milestones etc. She also had some behavioural issues. Whilst other problems were found with her,(none major) one of the main issues was glue ear. This affected speech, balance and behaviour and now she has gromits the improvements are unbelievable and wonderful. Just a thought. xxxx

    • Thank you Jo. Yes, we have had his hearing checked and it’s fine. Actually, it’s brilliant! He can hear a bin lorry from three streets over :) Thank you for your lovely comment x

  9. Josie, I am so sorry. I saw this post a while back and meant to comment but completely forgot. I have no advice but just wanted to say that we are in the same boat and offer you a hug! We’ve got a speech therapy assessment session scheduled for the end of the month and I have no idea what they’re going to say. Thinking of you and lovely Kai x


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