Speech is often the last skill to develop in children with Down syndrome, but most will learn to speak and use speech as their primary means of communication. Low tone is once again one of the main culprits behind the delays, as are difficulties with oral motor planning and with the coordination of breathing, vocalizing and producing speech sounds.
Speech is definitely Frankie’s Achille’s heel. When her therapist gives me a pep talk, she assures me that she is only about 25% delayed. I try to keep calm about it – after all, Tristan was not an early talker by any means and now he does. not. shut. up! But it’s the area I see her falling behind her peers in the most.
Although it is what I’m most concerned about, I feel like we recently turned a corner. In the past month or so, Frankie will often dutifully repeat what we ask her to. This is huge for us – we always knew her receptive language was excellent and she understood everything we were telling her, but we think it was her stubborn streak that kept her from approximating the words we asked her to try. In the past we would hear her say some words, but they were inconsistent and even when we thought she had something down, it might disappear from her vocabulary without warning. But her willingness to try has made all the difference in the world and is resulting in spontaneous language as well.
This morning after her bath, I wrapped her in a towel and sang a song to her. She giggled hysterically as I rocked her as if she were a baby. Looking down at her perfect, happy face I said “I love you.” And then it happened.
“Ah wuv oo.”
The milestones can take longer to achieve, but boy are the highs high!