I have twin girls and one of the many things that you are warned about with twins is that one or both might have speech delay. One of my girls was born with laryngomalacia (floppy airway) which resolved itself pretty quickly, but can cause speech delay and so I had been tapping up Google since they were very little so I could be panicked – prepared I meant prepared, but I do love a preemptive panic!
Getting my knickers in a bunch about something that may possibly happen is how I waste time when I should be working! I also waste work time hanging out washing and singing sleeping bunnies on repeat as I can’t get it out of head even when they are all asleep!
Anyway during my consultations with Doctor Google I also discovered that children in large families tend to speak later as they don’t get as much eye contact or 1:1 time with their parent. So all my fault for having twins and a larger family. This was compounded by the fact that my sons both spoke really clearly, really quickly and one of the twins was also an early talker. So that left one…
By the time she was 20 months old there really was very little sign of any speaking. I was starting to get concerned especially as her sister was busy rabbiting away constantly and fairly fluently. I do try not to do a twins development comparison, but I also find it really hard not to. We went to the two year review appointment with the health visitor and they said that they were just at opposite ends of the development spectrum for speech, but well within the realms of normal. I tried not to worry and just waited for the words to come.
Ways we tried to help
I also carried on reading blogs etc… to see what I could do to help her as I could see how frustrated she was getting. She couldn’t join in the games with her siblings in the same way as her sister without being verbal. It made me so sad to see her struggling. Her brothers did try to include her, but their games are all about imagination and pretending. That is tough to join in with if you are non verbal.
It was interesting to see that some of things we were doing to help her might preventing or slowing progress. For example her brothers tried to help by asking for a drink for her when they asked for themselves and I tried to guess what she wanted when she got frustrated. We were trying to help, but were babying her. If you have a twin who speaks for you and two big brothers who sort out everything for you then there really is no need speak. So I stopped ‘helping’. I stopped allowing her brothers to get things for her and asked her sister to let her answer when I was talking to them both. I tried to spend quiet 1:1 time with her; reading books or practicing sounds and named everything we saw, but still no real change.
Let it Go!
I became more concerned and considered speech therapy. Then one day in car her sister pleaded for the Frozen soundtrack for the billionth time and I gave in. We got to ‘Let it Go’ and every concern I had about the little one’s speech delay disappeared. She began to sing at the top of her voice along with the track. OK, she didn’t know the verse, but the chorus she was belting out as clear as a bell. I was amazed. She could speak she just didn’t…
After that we watched a little bit more of the old Disney princesses during quiet time and she was transfixed. She repeated what they said and sang the songs. We regularly do singing at home and it has totally boosted her confidence. I love a good sing song myself so it has been great fun. It has taken a while for that to filter through into everyday life, but it gave me the confidence to relax about speech delay. She was going to get there.
I know that many think that Disney Princesses are an unrealistic representation of women. That may be true, but they do know how to hold a tune and write a cracking ballad! So thanks Disney for stopping this mummy stressing about speech delay.
Where we are today
Roll forward to just under 3 and it is one of those be careful what you wished for scenarios… Our quiet little girl now loves a shout. She is still working on long sentences, but can stand up for herself amongst the chaos and spends much of her time telling me ‘No – I do it myself’. She now volunteers ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and loves nothing more than telling me what she sees as we go about our day. There is still some catching up to do, but all my worries are really gone and yes she still sings Frozen songs at the top of her voice amongst others!