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It might surprise you to know that when families come to SpeechKids, they don’t always end up in speech therapy. 

One of the services we often provide for families is a Developmental Consultation to help figure out what (if any) types of help a child might need. Here’s Jonah’s family’s story.

Jonah’s family was having questions. Jonah was born just before the world went into lockdown in 2020. Home with his parents, Jonah seemed to be developing along the expected path. Everything was fine.

Until he got to be about a year old. 

That’s when Jonah’s mom started wondering and worrying.

  • Was Jonah talking enough?
  • How many words should he have by now?
  • Was Jonah playing alone too often? 
  • Shouldn’t he want more attention from his parents?
  • Was Jonah’s need for sameness normal? 
  • Did other kids get this upset from a change in routine?
  • And what about his obsession with that one song? 
  • Why did he seem to need to hear it over and over again?
  • Should she listen to her friends, family and pediatrician who were saying that Jonah would begin talking if he went to daycare?

Jonah’s mom decided to reach out and ask these (scary) questions. She scheduled a Developmental Consultation appointment with SpeechKids.

At that first hour-long appointment, the therapist got a developmental history, including information on birth, sleep, nursing and eating, play, language milestones, motor milestones, sensory milestones, parenting philosophy and more.

Jonah’s parents were able to talk about their observations and their fears with someone who knows child development inside out. The therapist was able to observe Jonah in his home with his parents.

Based on that Developmental Consultation, Jonah’s parents began to understand why they were worried. They began to have hope that the next few months could be different, and that they could worry less. With the therapist, they developed a plan for what would happen next. (This step is different for every family, since every child is different.)

In Jonah’s case, it meant that we made several referrals to other specialists, including:

  • Occupational therapy to investigate sensory processing difficulties
  • Ear-Nose-Throat doctor to make sure he could hear and breathe well
  • Parent coaching to make sure that Jonah’s parents could stimulate his development in the best possible way.

Throughout the process, the therapist was able to guide Jonah’s parents to find the right people who could help them: other helpers who would be a good match for Jonah and his family based on their goals and values for Jonah. Jonah’s parents began to feel supported and heard by providers who understood and could validate, rather than minimize, their concerns.

Through parent coaching, Jonah’s parents learned how to see Jonah’s behavior differently. They learned how to look for cues, how to play differently, how to talk differently: small changes that had a big impact on how Jonah responded. Jonah’s parents began to relax and enjoy playing at home for the first time.

Through occupational therapy, Jonah is making rapid progress to help keep his body and brain regulated and in control. This has made a huge difference in his behavior and in his overall demeanor throughout the day. He is a happier, more “plugged in” little guy.

Jonah was lucky: his parents were already on the right path. They had set up routines that worked for Jonah, they were spending lots of time outside, and they were ready to make changes quickly.

But before coming for the developmental consultation, they struggled to know what to do next and how to do it. They didn’t know what they didn’t know. They were tempted to listen to friends and family who told them not to worry; who gave lots of advice that always felt ‘off’. Their attempts to stop worrying didn’t work.

After their initial appointment, the answers have become clearer and clearer. And Jonah is making rapid developmental strides.

If you have questions about your young child’s development – especially if they’re 12-18 months old and not saying many words, I hope you’ll consider a developmental consultation for them. Answering those worrisome questions is a GIFT that you can give yourself and your toddler. And doing it earlier, rather than later, is good for everyone.

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