When my child missed his first developmental speech milestone, doctors said ‘he was fine, just a bit delayed, no need to worry’. When he continued to miss speech and cognitive milestones (still not speaking at 18months) they began to worry. Them taking his issue more seriously did give me some hope that maybe we would finally get to the bottom of this. I really thought my baby was losing his hearing. Not only did he not speak…he didn’t react to loud noises or the sound of his name.
All his hearing test came back normal and at 2.5years old he was diagnosed with autism. “But what does a social developmental disorder have to do with basic speech?” I wondered.
I began looking at how speech is formed in the brain. The Broca’s area of the brain is where speech is formed. What science knows about autism is that it causes some areas of the brain to be over connect and other areas to be under connect. Its possible that this connection issue happens around this region which is why speech is impaired…but scientist are still researching. With early intervention and consistent teaching, we can help our kids build up these connections.
At 8years old my child is only now beginning to mimic and say a handful of words with meaning. He’s very good with his AAC (Augmentative Alternative Communication) device and he can get most of his needs and request met that way.
But each child is different. I’ve had support group friends tell me their child gain speech at 5, 6, and 7. Others have adult children who still don’t speak.
I know the “non-answer” is frustrating (trust me, I know!). But no one can really predict what is in store for our children’s future. The best thing we can do is learn as much as we can about all the services and therapies that might help and become our children’s biggest advocates.