Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Connor and speech delay

I'd mentioned before I thought Connor was a slow talker compared to other kids.  Well meaning relatives and friends comforted me with the usual "Oh, it's just boys!  Boys are slow!" and tales of their cousins/friends' sons/uncles etc etc who didn't say a word until they were four and then couldn't shut up.

But I knew deep inside something was not quite right.

End of last year, we had a school report.  The school also noted Connor's speech wasn't developing as it should.  They also mentioned that he showed signs of having ADHD as he's quite active at school and he won't pay attention to some things.

I immediately rang up speech therapists for a diagnostic appointment.  Guess what?  Most of them were booked solid for months.  Fortunately for us,  one of them rang back saying a patient had cancelled their appointment so he had a free slot.  Would we be interested in coming over?  I said yes immediately.

He administered a test which consists of flash cards and sequential story cards.  He would ask Connor questions.  At first they were easy ones.  "Point to the monkey."  They got progressively more complicated as we went along. "Point to the monkey first, then the giraffe."  He was also asked to repeat what was said in a story and the phrases got longer and more complicated as the story progressed.

Results showed Connor had a moderate speech delay.   When the therapist saw my alarmed expression, he said that speech delays were very common in boys.  He also assured me that he could help and with practise, it can be fixed quite easily as the delay was not related to a cognitive disorder.  That is, if the delay was related to say... Asperger's, then it would take longer to help him overcome the delay as there are other issues in play.

 When I brought up the issue of ADHD, the speech therapist was quite annoyed.  ADHD can only be diagnosed after tests and after the child has shown very specific behaviour consistently in different environments.  Based on what I'd said about Connor's behaviour at home and the speech test results, it was very likely Connor was being disruptive at school because he didn't understand what was being said to him.  He was annoyed the school had put the idea in my head as he could see I was worrying too much about it.

Connor now attends speech therapy once a week.  During speech therapy, we work on vocabulary and concepts like before/after, first/then... stuff that Connor hasn't quite grasped but should have.

I understand why the school brought up the ADHD issue.  I think their concern was if they don't highlight it and that turns out to be the case, the parent will accuse them of not spotting it and of ruining their kid's future.  Better to highlight it as a possible cause and then be wrong later.  I spoke to a friend who said her daughter's kindy had confided to her that she could be autistic as she kept having this spaced out look in class.  What the school didn't realise is that M was advanced for her years and was looking spaced out because she was bored!  M is now studying in the Aust Intl School here in KL and is a year ahead of her class.

What I really want to say is this - parents, you know your child best.  If you think there is a problem, act on it.  Listen to your heart, listen to what you know.  I know relatives and friends mean well with their reassuring stories and I appreciate that but this is YOUR child and his future at stake.  If you think he needs help, GET IT.  If you are worried that people might think your child is "abnormal" or "slow", don't be.  The earlier your child gets help, the better his chances will be.

I was utterly distraught the first few days when we had confirmation of Connor's speech delay.  My first thought was "Oh no, what about Cambridge now!"  LOL  After I'd calmed down, I thought of all my blessings.  Of what a loving, happy, good boy he is (apart from the usual toddler tantrums).  Of the fact that he is a healthy and otherwise normal child.  We knew Connor wasn't stupid.  He's just not talking as he should.  The therapist was confident Connor could overcome this easily with help.  Why shouldn't I as well?

Lately, we've noticed something has switched on in Connor's little head and sentences are just tumbling out non-stop.  We have been working on his speech, making him say more before he gets stuff he wants and it's working.  He's still not quite there but I'm happy to say that he's making good progress.

I just wanted to post about my experience so that other parents can benefit from it.

Speech therapists in Kuala Lumpur/Selangor:

Marios Genethliou (we go to Mario for speech therapy, Connor adores him),
KL Sports Medicine Centre
Damansara Heights
Tel:  03-2096 1033

Care Speech,
Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, KL
Tel: 03-2161 6618

Jennifer/Melissa Peters,
Tel: 03-4252 7611 or 03-7981 5958

EDIT:   Just for parents' FYI, this is what Mario charges:  RM200 for initial consultation, RM165 for each one-hour session thereafter.  The test he administered for Connor cost RM300


  1. hananinur@yahoo.com.sgApril 4, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    hi there.
    my son will turn 3 this may and hes also a very slow talker. he is still unable to form sentences with more than 3 words. im dead worried and seemed to be clueless on what to do. my son is cognitively normal (based on my observation - no signs of ADHD or Aspergers). your entry has shed me some light on how to deal with this matter.

    how much does it cost you for your son's diagnostic test and weekly classes if i may ask?
    your input most valuable to me. thank you.

    1. How is your son's speech and language coming on now?

  2. Hi, the test cost RM300. Initial consultation was RM200 and each session therafter is RM165.

    We've been doing this since Feb and I have to say the results are dramatic. Sometimes all it takes is a little kickstart and they realise Oh, I've got to start talking. We work on it at home as well, can't just rely on once weekly sessions to show results.

    Your son may just be a strong silent type as my youngest bro was, and still is at the age of 28. But as you're concerned, just get him checked out. It could be hearing affected as well so you might want to take him for a hearing test. Let me know how things go and don't worry too much (as I did!).

  3. hi, my boy who is 4 has exactly the same signs of connor, and he is attending speech therapy at care speech right now, shows signs of improvement, how old is connor? and my husband keep on saying our son has more than speech delay and he indeed shows all the autism signs. for me, our boy is really having slow development. for daddy, son is autistic, and he has been bring up the topics that we need to test him on autistic features.. i listen to my heart and my hubby listen to his heart and end-up i ask him to bring the boy for the assessment, i will not attend.

    1. Connor is 3.5yo now.

      I'm sure your husband has your son's best interests at heart... Is he your only child and/or first child? Connor is my first and only and so I was extremely worried, as your husband is, and wondered if he was autistic as well but when I ran through the red flags (no eye contact, repetitive behaviour, hypersensitivity etc), he didn't show any of the signs. Sometimes only a check by a qualified professional is the only way we parents can get assurance. Autism is a very wide ranging disorder, some children may only show some signs of it.

      Great to hear your son is improving after the therapy, hope he keeps on improving his speech!

  4. Worried about my boy, who seemed to be able to understand instructions but still speaks gibberish. Only recently started calling me "ma-ma". He will be 3 in a month's time. He is active, very smart, has an excellent memories but shows minimal interest in books (even picture books) but loves to draw and colour, besides playing with cars and trucks. His paed says his hearing seems fine and to give him some time. I work full time and he's mostly at home with the maid. What should I do? Husband thinks nothing is wrong with our son and refuse to have him checked.

    1. My reply's kinda late so I don't know if it's still relevant. I can't tell you what to do as it's your son and you know him best because you're his mother. If you feel he needs an assessment, try Mario. For me, there is no harm in an assessment. It just helps you to know if you need to take further action, that's all. This is a decision that you and your husband need to come to by yourselves. Use your judgement and your knowledge of your son. The advice of friends and others is just that - advice. In the end, it's the parents who have to choose which decision to make.

      Good luck and I hope your son's doing better now!

  5. I wanted to thank you for this post. We've met Mario and we adore him. He's great with my son and I know we'll see progress. We've only done 2 sessions but its very promising.
    Thanks for posting. I would have never known.

    1. Hi J-ok, thank you for your comment! When I wrote my blog entry, I hoped that it would help other parents who faced the same situation so I'm glad you found it useful. I'm happy to hear that you can see progress ahead, we were the same with Mario. He's fantastic and I owe him so much. He's the best.

      All the best to your little boy and keep the faith.

  6. Hi Mrs Top Monkey,

    My boy is turning 2 in this Sept, he is active, short focus span unless it comes to something he likes. Overall he is developing well in all areas except slow in talking ( still using single words or repeating 1st syllable) . Is it too early to go for a speech evaluation?
    Thank you :)

    1. Hi Joyce, thanks for your comment! We had Connor evaluated sometime after his third birthday after feedback from his school teachers. I am not an expert in this area so I can't really advise if it's too early or not. Perhaps you can get some feedback from your regular doctor first? He/she may be able to advise if your son needs evaluation or if this is just normal. In the meantime, just keep talking with him, keep your end of the conversation up and who knows, he might just surprise you one day!

  7. Good Afternoon, thank you for sharing your experience with all of us with your blog. Our son is in the same situation too. Speech delay. :(
    Somehow Melissa Peters came very highly recommended to us. We stumbled upon blog in the process of trying to look up the contact number for Melissa Peters. We have tried using the site and the number listed here in your blog but the link doesn't seem to exist and the number too is not in service. We were just wondering if you could verify the number or the link, or even if you know of an alternate way getting in touch with Melissa Peters. Your help will be greatly appreciated.