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
Tel: 03-2096 1033
Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, KL
Tel: 03-2161 6618
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