I’m a Speech Therapist, and My Baby Needs Speech Therapy


I was on an EHDI (Early Hearing Detection and Intervention) phone call recently and one of the participants talked about how parental guilt can prevent parents from moving forward with treatment…and I’ll be honest, I didn’t really get it. I mean, I thought, well, you just do it. But I was coming from my therapist perspective, where you can step back and assess the situation rationally.

And Then It Was My Child

The same week, my youngest was due for his 15 month well baby check. As a nerdy therapist mom, I also look up the next ASQ checklist before we go (pro tip–google “ASQ ____(your child’s age in months), and you can find them too), so that I can think about what my kiddo is or is not doing. And I realized…despite all of my speech therapist mom efforts, he’s behind in speech. Yes, he’s communicating and doing some babbling, and giving us things and using joint attention and pointing, but he isn’t using any words yet. Or either of the baby signs we’ve been using consistently since he was about 8 or 9 months old.

And my less than rational mom brain kicked in, and crowded out my rational therapist brain. And now I totally get it. When he needed physical therapy it was easier for me to reach out because that was totally not my area. But this? I feel like I’ve failed him in some way. Like maybe I’m just the worst SLP, and I could’ve done more. But, here’s the thing…that guilt (real or imagined), isn’t helping my child. It’s not solving the challenge we’re facing, and it isn’t helping me be a better parent, so I need to let it go (cue your favorite Frozen Youtube video).

So How Do You Handle It?

I tried to step back and think about what I would tell a friend or a client in this situation, and here’s what I came up with, and what I did:

Scheduled a Hearing Screening

My first step was to schedule a hearing screening for my little, since I know that hearing loss can impact speech and language development, and there have been times I’ve questioned his hearing sensitivity. He turns to louder sounds, but I wonder if he might be missing softer sounds, or have a fluctuating loss due to fluid or something. In our state, our local School for the Deaf does FREE hearing screenings for any child in our state. I called them and set up a screening.

Talked to My Pediatrician

If you remember from the beginning, the catalyst for all of this was looking at the ASQ in preparation for our well baby visit. And you have to understand our ped…she is amazing, super well educated and knows the research and is personable and analytical. Basically I love her and want to be best friends. She is also quick to listen, and often suggests watchful waiting as a first step. When I’m worried about something, she’s usually calm and just wants to keep an eye on it.

But, this time, she said something like “Yeah, it can’t hurt to get him evaluated,” which told me yep, it’s time.

Set up a Speech and Language Evaluation

The next expert I reached out to is an SLP in town that I trust and think is great. And I’ll be honest…I had actually texted her before our pediatrician visit, and then chickened. I wanted everything to be fine and my kiddo to not need intervention and not feel like a bad SLP.

So after the ped visit I texted her again, and you guys, you want to know the best part? I told her my fears, simply because I believe in being honest and I know that sometimes speaking your fears makes it easier. I told her that reaching out for help makes me feel like a bad SLP, and she admitted she totally got it, and felt the same way when her kid needed speech therapy. So you just never know.

Shouldn’t We Just Give Him Some More Time?

So this is where we are right now–we have a speech and language evaluation and a hearing evaluation set up. And I know some of you (and honestly, me, at times) are thinking…he’s only 15 months, shouldn’t you just give him more time? Maybe he’s just a late talker…everyone develops on their own time line.

Yes. That is true. And yes, it’s possible he’s a late talker and words are right around the corner, but here’s the other thing that I know is true:

Early Intervention Works

If he’s close to words and just needs a little more support, a little speech and language therapy now won’t hurt him. But, if we don’t do anything, and the delay continues, it just creates a much larger gap between where his language is and where it should be.

This graphic from Mrs. Speechie P illustrates the point well:

Like all parents, I want what’s best for my baby and want to give him every opportunity to reach his full potential (as cliche as that sounds). So basically, what I’m saying is this–I have had to get over myself, take my own therapist advice, and do what needs to be done. For him. I’ll let you all know how it pans out as we rock our evaluations the next couple of weeks!