As a mom of a 3 year old boy, I thought my job was all fun and games to raise a boy who eats well, sleeps well, plays well and learns well. Like all moms I thought 3 is the age when he’d be less dependent on me and more dependent on school with his teachers, peers and friends contributing to his upbringing.
little did I know, I would be needed to get even more involved in his routine because of his slight speech and language developmental delay!
Last 6 months, we as parents have been taking my son Yaldurum to various schools around UAE, where we live, for admission in the Foundation Stage 1. This is where I thought it all had to start. But lets just say, we learnt that what also matters is what the child has learnt pre-start.
Yaldurum has met all his milestones, comes across as a very friendly, fun-loving, ready-to-explore and super loving kid! He knows all his numbers, colors, alphabets, shapes since 2.5 years of age. A year before he had to even start schooling. However upon starting our admission process, we were told by the schools that its great if your child is a fast learner, an intelligent child but what the Foundation Stage (also known as Kindergarten stage) is all about is the child’s social skills, interpersonal skills, speech and language development, motor skill and his ability to communicate better with his surrounding by developing bonds, adapting to new places and solving problems.
So because the last 6 months of research, meeting experts that include teachers, doctors, therapists and early intervention specialist really put things into a better finer perspective for us first-time-parents, I decided to compile my “Getting started on early intervention journey” on my blog for other parents to get a direction from, because I understand how it feels to be clueless, to question your parenting and to be unsure what to do next when you first realise your child might need some extra help.
So I am speaking strictly from a parent’s point of view (but based on how the experts guided me) and I will be sticking to the topic of “Speech and Language development delay” from my experience but some of the basics would apply to any milestone delay you may notice in your child (because I have also talked to a lot of parents who go for Occupational therapy, behavioral therapy etc. and noticed the basic way to wrap your head around early intervention is more or less the same)
I recently talked about our speech and language development journey on my Instagram and sooooooooooo many parents reached out to me to either thank me for speaking up about it, to send us love or to ask me questions. I have compiled the FAQs after the talk to answer them all here on my blog so let me address them one by one.
How do you realise if your child needs early intervention?
- Don’t compare but analyse other kids the same age as yours and how they behave, communicate and perform. Every child is different ofcourse but if you feel your child is struggle to be on the same level as majority of the same age kids, you might want to work on the aspect where you as a parent notice a delay. Give extra attention to that bit.
- Behavior issues, recurring tantrums, aggression – These could be due to your child ‘struggling’ with something on a daily basis. For us, I noticed it was speech because he wanted to explain something that sometimes I would not understand or would take too much time to fully understand.
- School tests – This was our turning point. We had been waiting for him to speak more that he did but having school teachers tell us we might need to give him a push through early intervention is when we decided to pull up our socks and get working on this.
How to wrap your head around the concept of therapies and early intervention?
- Understand that its pretty common these days! Coming out about it helped me connect to sooo many parents in my own circle whose kids require early intervention to come on par with their peers.
- Speech and language development delay specifically is really common because of of lack of positive stimulus and presence of a common negative stimulus i.e. exposure to screen for eg.
- A delay is not an abnormality (thank God first and calm yourself down) its just a gap that needs to be bridged through early intervention.
- At least till your child is 5 (because of a rapidly growing brain -as per all therapists I met) look at it as an investment! Your child may come out as a kid even sharper than those who had no delay because of professionals helping him.
What to do when you realise your child might need early intervention?
- Trust the experts – Don’t try to be one. This is when you go get your child assessed.
- Do your research on good early intervention clinics around you and schedule a screening appointment.
- The screening is usually free and its the first step. Based on a short time spent with your child, the experts will tell you if he needs to be further assessed.
- the assessment is when he/she is properly observed. It usually lasts for 2 hours and based on the results the experts actually give you a detailed feedback and a report explaining how the kid performed according to his age.
- Based on the report, your child may not need therapies at all, may need intervention just from the parents, may need a few therapy sessions or maybe more.
- Therapy sessions could be provided in the clinic, or sometimes even in his/her school! Discuss this with your clinic.
“Therapies were not even this common in the earlier days ‘ why now?” – Have you heard/thought that one as well?
This is something I was told by the society, our friends, my family etc. And frankly, the question made sense so I directed it word to word to our therapist.
and this is what she said “Its true! Because firstly there was a lot of positive stimulation in the earlier days when the concept of nuclear families (at least in our part of the world) was not that common, people had more kids, they spent more time talking and playing outdoor. Now there are also some negative stimulation involved, specially the screen time! Plus people are now more informed with more information available to them and they kids are exposed to competition from an early age now”
Thats it guys, from a mom who is herself relatively new on this journey, but because I have received such incredible moral support, advice and ideas from other moms like myself, I wanted to make myself useful and write down this blog for more such moms!
On that note, lets all try to be empathetic, not judge ourselves, not judge other mommies and be helpful in whatever way we can be! More power to all of us!
More details in form of videos (IGTV on instagram) and updates on our journey on my Insta-blog Maharat – Feel free to reach out to me there if you have any more questions!