Friday, November 14, 2008

Severe? I think not

After spending a night enunciating so sharply and talking so slowly that I could have died, I wondered whether the diagnosis handed down to us by our son's speech language pathologist was really something to fret about.

When Mrs. Mustard first read me the report over the phone I started crying. I thought it was my fault, that my little boy would not grow up to be as intelligent as I once thought. When my rational mind awoke I realized their couldn't be anything that wrong. We had done everything right according to the pamphlet the SLP provided. But why is Sacha's speech so delayed? And will it catch up?

In pharmacy school we spent a whole semester learning about clinical epidemiology, that is how to research and then analyze primary medical literature (clinical trials, systematic reviews, etc.) It has served me well on more than one occasion, present one included.

A group in Western Australia published the results of a prospective cohort study in The Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research in December 2007. The study entitled "Late language emergence at 24 months: an epidemiological study of prevalence, predictors, and covariates" followed 1766 children over time, evaluating their speech, both receptive (comprehension) and expressive. 13% of children in the study showed late language emergence at 24 months. Having late language emergence (LLE) was not associated with parental education, socioeconomic status, parenting practices, parental mental health, or family functioning. A family history of late talkers (which we have), being male (3x more likely), and early neurobiological growth were all associated with LLE. As well, children born well below their normal birthweight (as was Sacha) and born 3 or more weeks early (Sacha) were also more likely than their peers to have LLE.

The great news comes from another study published by this group entitled "Language outcomes of 7-year-old children with or without a history of late language emergence at 24 months". It was published in the same journal as above in April of this year. The children who had LLE at 24 months fell within the normal range at 7 years for general language ability and specific language dimensions.

What does that mean? For unknown reasons, Sacha is a late talker. It could be genetics or his specific set of environmental circumstances with regards to birth but it is most definitely not our fault. However, we can help him catch up and I still do not think him seeing an SLP formally for 8 weeks will harm anyone and will probably be quite beneficial.

But for now, I can at least dispatch with the monotone slow talk.


Stephanie Gour said...

Jason and I were both small babies, just around 6lbs. We both didn't start talking until about 3 years. Oh I can't wait and see what our children will be like! And when Jay started talking, it was his own little language (like Sacha and that whole "cappi"-pumpkin thing.)
Because of my own non-speaking condition as an early child, I think that it doesn't really matter in the long run.

andi said...

Ah, Tonster. Always able to find comfort in published studies. I'm glad for that. :)

Seriously though, as I said in my comment at Sarah's place, I'm sure he'll catch up. It's a wait and see game and he's still so young. I know that drives your planning-self insane, but that's what makes having kids so interesting - their ability to throw our lives curve balls at any given second.

Love you (and your smart whippersnapper of a son). :)