A story about a mom who didn't wait

Emma was 15 months old when her mom, Rebecca, noticed that she wasn’t using as many words as other children her age. As a resource teacher who worked with children with disabilities, Rebecca was familiar with the language milestones that children should reach, and she knew that Emma hadn’t met some of the milestones for her age.

But Rebecca’s family told her not to worry about it since Emma’s father had a speech delay when he was younger and Rebecca herself had been a late talker. They said it was probably just genetic and that she should wait it out.

Another three months passed and Rebecca was becoming more and more worried about her daughter’s language development. If Emma did have a delay, Rebecca decided that she wanted to make sure she was doing everything she could to help her catch up before the delay became more severe.

So when Emma was 18 months old, Rebecca had her assessed by a speech-language pathologist, who identified her as a “late talker” – a child whose spoken language is delayed, but who is developing as expected in all other areas. The speech-language pathologist referred Rebecca to The Hanen Centre’s Target Word® Program. Rebecca knew nothing about this program, but discovered that it’s offered to a group of parents whose children are late talkers. Led by a Hanen Certified speech-language pathologist with specialized training, it consists of five group sessions for the parents and two individual videotaping and feedback sessions for the parents and their child.

At the Target Word Program, Rebecca learned simple strategies she could use with Emma to help her use words and build her vocabulary. By making small but important changes to her style of interaction, Rebecca gave Emma the boost she needed to start using more words and interact more readily with others. Within a very short time, Emma was using more words and became much more willing to talk to others. She continued to progress and is now talking like other children her age.

When asked what advice she would give other parents whose children seem to be slow to talk, Rebecca said “If you have any type of concern, [have your child assessed by a speech-language pathologist]. Even if it amounts to nothing, at least you know that you called and that there is nothing to worry about. I really see how it benefited Emma – and not only Emma, but our family as well. Now we know how to better interact with her and we’re seeing a big difference in her personality. She’s more outgoing with other kids now and not as shy. We saw a big difference, not only in her speech, but in other areas as well”.

To read the full interview with Rebecca, click here.


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