If you’ve followed my journey (aka my life) then you might know my oldest struggles with a little speech delay and earlier this year we began the process of ruling out any related hearing concerns. This would eventually led to an appointment with an ENT doctor and getting tubes in his ears. We are now 2 months post-op, and thing are looking up.
Where did this begin?
Because I noted speech delay and concern at our 18-month vaccinations, the public health nurse sent a referral for speech therapy. We waited a few months for an appointment, and then casually saw the speech therapist every 3-4 months until recently, where we now see her every month or two.
Sometime last year, the speech therapist referred us to audiology for a hearing test. After waiting 7 months, we got in with the local audiologist for a hearing test. He didn’t pass. They gave some excuse like it was just common for 3-year-olds, and come back in a month we will try again.
We went back, and he didn’t pass again. This time they blamed a cold he didn’t really have. I was less than impressed with this experience and didn’t feel that we were getting the answers we needed.
I tracked down a private audiologist in Vancouver.
We travel to Vancouver often and making this part of our next visit wasn’t too much of an inconvenience.
You have to pay to see a private audiologist, and we found one that worked with kids. She confirmed that he doesn’t pass the hearing exam either and was responding in a way that indicated he had fluid in his middle ear.
She felt that this could easily be something that he grows out of, but worthwhile to follow up on. Because I know it takes forever to see anyone in the health system, I ask that suggest a referral to an ENT (Ear Nose Throat specialist). It takes upwards of 9-12 months to get in with a local ENT. If you start doing the math, he could be 5 before we got in for a problem we knew about.
Next Stop the ENT
We got into an ENT in a neighbouring community by some fluke cancellations and availability. That’s all I’m saying.
He confirmed that yes, my kid did have middle ear fluid. And recommended we deal with it now and get him speaking because it could make a difference.
What’s the connection? If you can’t hear well then you struggle knowing how to talk. Earlier this summer, it was identified that he is progressing slowly in his speech but not entirely. He has final consonent deletion where he doesn’t say the end of words very clearly. Anyone I’ve told this to has said “oh, my so-and-so talks like that and she’s partly death.” That really pushed me to keep going on this and get it dealt with.
In September, he had tube surgery.
We travelled and stayed overnight because he had a 7 am surgery call. That was a pretty stressful week because I just didn’t know what to expect and naturally, heard a ton of horror stories.
But he did great.
Dad took him, and then he woke up. He was groggy but bounced back to life pretty quickly.
We had intended on staying a second night because of potential side effects to the surgery and sedation. However, he was great and we ended up driving home after having lunch at my favourite restaurant.
We even sent him to preschool the next morning since he was really just being a normal preschooler.
In the 2 months since Tubes, he’s been speaking more.
He’s really trying to talk more with each day.
In the past two months, he’s finally started to copy the sounds that you say and copy them correctly. Before he would sometimes copy you but the sounds were incorrect or completely base.
He still has a few sounds he just won’t say and is largely incoherent, but I’m not quite sure what’s considered within normal toddler speech development. I lean towards it’s mostly normal, and that just trying to guess the sounds your kids make is incredibly hard.
He’s still not a talker, but at least now I know who he plays with at preschool, and he’s beginning to ask for things and sometimes even says a sentence.
Somedays I even regret that he knows how to say mom.
Yesterday, we returned for our final visit.
And all clear to go. Looks like everything is functioning properly and we just keep working on the speech development and encouraging it along. Which admittedly is not something I enjoy doing but thank goodness for preschool and peer-to-peer interaction.
Moral of this story is to make sure you do get your hearing tests done.
Pursue all those avenues and be a champion for your child. But I totally get that it is incredibly hard to do, and even more challenging if there are limited resources available. We had to travel to Vancouver for a second opinion on the hearing thing. If I didn’t call around and ask for help with getting an ENT, we’d still be waiting. It’s a long game if you live in BC or maybe another province, so start taking action as soon as you suspect you need.
Trust your gut, and hassle your friends for advice and support on the journey.
I really couldn’t have done this without my best friend who really kicked me in the pants and made the phone calls I was too anxious to make. She’s an amazing woman, and I can’t wait to support her in crazy future endeavours when she needs me.