Thoughts and Feelings in the Trenches of a Speech Delay

Sometimes when I go to write the words flow easily. It’s like therapy for me – the way I best express my thoughts and emotions is through writing.

But trying to write these thoughts. These feelings. I’ve backspaced and deleted this post more than any other that I’ve ever written.

Usually I like to write posts from a “hindsight” perspective.

I face a bump in the road, I get over the bump, I then write a post looking back on the bump.

I’m able to see the benefits of the bump when I’m no longer staring at it trying to figure out how to best get over the beast.

But sometimes it’s helpful, to both myself and other, to share my feelings before the bump is conquered. Before I figure it all out. Before it is all ok.

And this is one of those times.

Having children is a total crap shoot. Every time. Whether a child enters your family through birth or adoption, you really don’t ever know exactly what you’re going to get.

We worry about their health. Development. Well being.

We worry about their futures. Their hearts. Their lives.

There is NO WAY to predict what challenges your children may face, as infants – as kids – as adults.

And so often the bumps in their roads become the mountains in ours that fill our minds with worry and our pillows with tears.

That’s what mama’s do.

We worry. We pray. We plan. We prepare. We do everything in our power to give our children the best we can in every area possible.

And when we can’t give them the best? We find out who can and seek them out.

Typically the more children you have, the less you worry about them.

I’m a lottttt more chill as a mom at this stage of life than I was with just one kid. You live and you learn and you stop stressing over the little bumps and can better distinguish the tough stuff that is actually tough and really does matter from the distractions along the way.

But in many ways my fourth baby is also my first baby.

When we chose the path of adoption I knew that parenting this child would be different in some ways from the biological kids.

I didn’t carry him in my womb. I don’t know his family history. I don’t know many details about his life before birth.

And because of that? I worry the most about him.

I don’t treat Spear like a fourth baby when it comes to his health or well being. I worry more. I pray more. I notice little things and wonder if they mean something bigger is going on with him.

I don’t want to speak for all adoptive parents but I like to think I’m probably not the only one to feel this way!

Spear started babbling at an earlier age than most of his siblings. He has always been very vocal, interested in conversation, likes to be the center of attention.

So when he didn’t start saying true words I worried. I mentioned it at his doctors appointments and was met with a “wait and see” approach to those concerns.

If y’all know me, I don’t DO “wait and see.”

So I started down the path of options. Seeing the lack of speech as a bump in our road. Assuming it’d be one that would be passed over quickly and seamlessly.

I knew Spear understood what we said to him, and I knew he had the ability TO speak since he babbled so frequently. I assumed something was just preventing him from talking and we’d figure that out and BAM he’d be good to go.

mom and toddler boy on beach - life as a mom of a child with speech delay

I knew early on that he had a lip tie so that was my first route. He wasn’t even 18 months old yet. Surely releasing his lip tie would be the instant fix to get him talking.

I took him to specialized physical therapists in hopes that releasing the tension in his head and body would help get him talking.

I started giving him omegas as I heard they can help speech. I have a roller ball of oils I put on the base of his neck that I’ve read may help. I bought a random DVD that was recommended.

I read books. I sing songs. I took him to a speech evaluation and he’s starting speech therapy.

I even have him heading to a mom’s morning out program one or two mornings a week so he can be around peers his age and adults who won’t know his ways of communication, forcing him to communicate more.

I’m putting off potty training to be avoid overwhelming him and to best be able to focus on helping with his speech.

I’m doing all the steps. All the things.

Every suggestion someone offers, I go for it (yes, getting an ENT to check his ears for fluid is my next step…got any others?).

I like having a plan of action. I like DOING.

I like feeling like I’m doing everything in my power and that confidence that I have taken every step possible to get over the bump in our road.

And deep down, I have full faith that it WILL all work.

That my son WILL be one of the MANY kids who just take longer to start talking and will be spewing out words left and right soon.

That I’ll be one of those parents saying “Don’t worry, my kid took ages to talk and now he won’t stop!”

That really most likely it’s just probably a simple delay. That even if I did NONE of the things that it’d correct itself in time.

He’s the youngest of four kids. We all talk FOR him. He was slower to walk and is just probably taking his time to talk too.

It will all be okay. It will. We will get over this bump. We will look back and say “that wasn’t so bad.”

But y’all. I’m not there yet. We aren’t over it.

Spear is now 20 months old. Still not very delayed, I know.

But old enough where it’s getting harder on my mama heart.

He has some words. But just no where near the level of his older siblings at this age. And not on a consistent basis.

I know it could be worse. I know there are a MILLION things that are much, much tougher to face than a simple speech delay. I know if this is the biggest obstacle he faces in life that it’ll be a HUGE blessing (and unlikely event!).

But I also know there are other moms who are facing this same experience.

Worrying about what the cause could be. Was it something in utero? Something I did? Something genetic? Something physical? Some sign of some bigger concern?

Worrying about the best path for a solution. Am I do everything in my power to best help my child? Should I do more? Push harder? Try a different path?

Looking at their babies and just wanting to know what they are thinking.

What is Spear thinking? What is his favorite food? What experiences bring him joy? What does his voice sound like? What is he trying so desperately to say but can’t?

I look back at memories with Kye, Britt and Tess and am just in shock at the amount of language development they had at this same age. And I want that so badly for Spear too.

To help him feel less frustrated. For him to better be able to connect with his siblings. His peers. And especially his parents.

toddler boy sitting - from the tenches of speech delay

The older he gets the tougher the feelings are for me.

At Disney recently Spear looked SO OLD and was having SO MUCH FUN and it just hit me super hard that I had no idea what he was so happy about. I could see his joy, but I couldn’t hear it from HIM.

I started thinking about his birthday party and how the older kids all had favorite things I could revolve their party theme around – but y’all I have no clue if he likes Stitch best or Goofy better. I don’t know what his favorite animal is. What random interest he may have.

It made me think a lot about moms of non-verbal children and how they may never get to hear their child say “Mommy” or “I love you.” My heart just breaks thinking about how difficult that must be.

I have had a very tough time with Tess starting kindergarten.

I cried a good bit after her Open House. Which isn’t something I did with Kye OR Britt when they started kindergarten.

I couldn’t figure out why it was hitting me so hard that she is going to school all day. Why my third child seemed to be my toughest to let go of for me so far.

I still have a toddler at home! It’s not like my LAST baby is going to school! (Y’all I can’t even think about the day when ALL my kids are in school all day…someone better send ALL THE ICE CREAM my way!)

But then coming home that first day it hit me.

Without any of the older kids at home, I don’t have anyone to talk with.

Having a child at home with a speech delay means a quiet house. It feels lonely. I want so badly to talk with him rather than AT him.

For our lunches together to be more than grunts, whines and signs for “more.”

At times it can also be very frustrating.

I feel like I’m a record on repeat all day long. “Cup. Cup. Cup. Here is your CUP. Cup. Cup. Cup.”

I feel like I’m an actor constantly pretending I don’t know what he’s whining about in order to get him to better communicate his needs and desires to me.

I feel like I’m failing him and falling short and missing some “it” thing. That I’m not doing enough. Not giving him enough of my full attention. My time.

I’ve had some rough moments. All the worries take over and the longing sinks in and I just need a good cry about it.

A moment to feel sad for my baby boy and to just have a little pity party for the stage of parenting I’m in right now. For the bump in our road and the inability to get over it just yet.

I know we will get there. I know we will. Just as if you’re reading this and have your own speech delay speed bump that you know you’ll get there too.

Keep having that faith. Keep doing alllll the things. But also know that it’s okay to feel frustrated. Sad. Scared.

And until I’m over the bump I know I’ll probably have more days like this one.

Days where I just want to snuggle my baby close and make every path in his life smooth and straight for him. Where I want to fix it all and feel defeated when I can’t.

If you’re a parent who has gotten over the bump of speech delay, I’d love to have your suggestions for more things we can do and how you helped your child through the experience in developing their language and ability to speak.

And I’ll be sure to come back and share mine once this bump in our path is behind us.

Update on Spear’s speech and tips we’ve learned here.


  1. Kelly
    August 15, 2019 / 6:27 am

    This post makes my heart hurt for you! Praying you see improvement in Spears’ speech very soon!

  2. melisa
    August 15, 2019 / 8:38 am

    My sisters kids didn’t speak until well after 2 years. They are fine. But i totally get the anxiety, its natural specially if you have early talkers. Just remember Einstein was speech delayed and didn’t really talk until 3.

  3. August 15, 2019 / 11:58 am

    I have 2 little boys with speech delays. My 2 older kids didn’t struggle with speech, so it has been a learning curve. It does get better! My 4 year old is now speaking full sentences and it is so wonderful! My 2 year old is where you are at with your son. I feel the same way. It’s so hard! We want to help them and do anything to move forward and progress, but we just don’t have control. You are doing everything you can. When my older son had the opportunity to go to preschool for his speech delay he blossomed. I’m hoping for the same with my youngest!

  4. Catherine Carraway
    August 15, 2019 / 1:59 pm

    I can sooo relate! I keep my cousin’s 3 kids….almost 8, just turned 4 and Kit, who just turned 3. When Kit was 22 months, we were so concerned because he wasn’t talking. His older siblings talked up a storm at that age. Pediatrician wasn’t worried….just give him time. So we did. And yes, he just turned 3 in July and talks all.the.time. Complete sentences and much better than the older two. So hopefully in a few months Spear will be the same way!

  5. Lauren
    August 15, 2019 / 3:44 pm

    My first child probably only said about 5 words from 1-2. She exploded around 2.5. Luckily she was my first and I had no concept that she may have been delayed – my second child spoke way sooner and I imagine I would have been super stressed if they were reversed. No advice, but hang in there and give him time. My oldest is 7 now and totally caught up 😉

  6. August 15, 2019 / 6:13 pm

    My twin boys had speech delays. One was really bad. At 2 yrs old he wouldn’t even say da da or ma-ma. We had early intervention (free through the state so look into that) they came to our house once a week and they were fantastic and made speech therapy fun. One of my boys though just stared at his therapist for the first 6 months, I’m talking like totally just looking at her like she was crazy and wouldnt’ participate or move his mouth like she wanted…they were even recommending we go up to twice a week therapy and then we switched therapists and all of a sudden the speech started. It is sooo weird when it just all of a sudden starts…within 1 year he was out of therapy. He is now going into 6th grade. Was in Gifted all through elementary and now in honors classes. Sometimes there is just nothing you can pinpoint and it is just something that will come with time. I remember taking them on walks and feeling so weird just talking out loud to myself like well..there’s a tree and a bird and then I’d just walk in silence with them…it was very isolating. My moms club really saved me in those lonely days. I did a once a week playgroup with others their age and also a once a week moms club outing. I needed more adult conversation during the day because I needed to talk to someone. 🙂 You aren’t alone.

  7. Michelle
    August 16, 2019 / 1:56 am

    I didn’t necessarily have a kid with a speech delay, but there have been other “bumps” in the road that my kids grew out of and turned into non-issues. I’m sorry this is such a burden on you and I do understand why. Part of me wonders if it’s something the Lord is allowing during this time to help you learn to trust Him and not to worry. I know it’s easy as mamas to start to really let certain things bother us and feel our worry can be validated, instead of believing we are truly not to worry. The Lord can direct your path if you are to DO something. But He can also speak to our hearts if we need to stop, wait and REST in Him and hand our worry over. I pray wisdom for you in this. I really believe it’s something that you’ll look back on one day and say, “boy, I can’t believe I used to worry about that….look at him now.” 🙂 Bless you for your transparency in this issue because we as mamas can all relate to it on some level. I realize that being transparent like this can invite unsolicited opinions and I really don’t want to be one of those, but just offer encouragement and hope. (My youngest had a health issue when she was a very young baby–unexplained continual seizures that would last a minute and she’d start to turn blue from not breathing–obviously a scary thing! So many people at the time told me that she would grow out of them. How they knew that?–well they couldn’t. They were just believing. Honestly, it was the Lord who protected my heart from the worry I could have had. What’s interesting though is that those people were right. She did grow out of them. I”m glad it wasn’t a season where I became overwhelmed with worry. I certainly did all I could for her, but it really was a day by day thing and trusting the Lord to help us.) I just want you to hold onto hope and not let your soul be burdened or your joy to be stolen by “what ifs”. The Lord knows and will help you day by day. 🙂

  8. Rg
    August 20, 2019 / 11:24 pm

    My son is 28 months old and is slowly adding to his vocabulary. At 24 months he said maybe 15 words. Some of them only being animal noises, such as vuff vuff for woof woof, booooo for moo, guck guck for cluck cluck 🙂 like you I was starting to get worried but So many of my friends have said that their sons weren’t talking hardly at all by 24 months, but that 6 months later they were talking quite a bit … my uncles on my mom side and one of my brothers didn’t talk till they were 3, so even tho it’s disappointing I’ve decided that will prolly be my son also. Maybe it’s hereditary for your son to be a late talker.. love to you. He is a precious boy!

  9. Megan
    November 29, 2019 / 11:05 am

    I feel you all. My son is 3.5 and still has a significant speech delay. My 12m old has just as much langue as him. He first did a evaluation at 2 for early intervention in our home and did not qualify because he scores so high on comprehension and fine motor. He went to go get hearing tests too. When he turned 3 we were able to do another evaluation with the local school district and he qualified. He has been doing speech therapy 3 days a week since and still has a very limited vocabulary. He loves to sign and he has a way to communicate nearly anything by gestures (clapping, thumbs up, shaking of head, pointing). I have heard many times by his speech therapist and as well as seeing it for myself, he is clearly intelligent. With him it is from what we can tell a personality thing. He power struggles constantly and wants to do things his way, witch I have always been the same way. But they all think he is using speech as a form of manipulation, he has shown speech and will occasionally say things and it sounds clear as day and in therapy is able to make all the sounds. He will be doing a behavioral evaluation soon. But I have been dealing with this for years at this point and I have tried EVERYTHING since before he was 2, just to be told he is stubborn. Hopefully your journey to speech is shorter than mine!

  10. Ashlyn
    August 4, 2020 / 11:49 pm

    How’s your journey going? I think the hardest part is the unknown. Going through something similar with my daughter.

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