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My Childhood Speech Delay and Problems; Auditory Discrimination & Expressive Language Disability

Updated on August 11, 2012

No one could understand me at 4 years old; at age 8 my speech was almost normal

I said my first word at 18 months, and by 4 years old I was talking a lot, but people couldn't understand most of what I was saying.

I had two problems that gave me a great deal of trouble. The first was an auditory processing problem. Although my hearing tested fine, my brain heard sounds wrong. An easy example is when someone said "pat" I may have been hearing "cat" so when I went to repeat the word back, I said "cat"... To me it sounded like the same word that I was hearing, but of course other people couldn't understand me.

The second problem that I had was fine motor control of my tongue and mouth movements. I had trouble putting my tongue in the right place to say the sounds.

That's my understanding of my problems. I still have the therapist's reports and at 4 years old I was described as a very bright girl who couldn't be understood. I could do simple addition and subtraction, my knowledge of vocabulary was about a year ahead, and I could comprehend what was being said to me, but when I talked the words came out all messed up.

From a Psychologist's evaluation of me at 4.8 years old:

"She was very talkative despite my inability to understand much of what she said. She was very resourceful, expressing herself through gestures and motions, when she could not make herself understood verbally."


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Page updated 5/31/2011

Catching up on my speech

I went to a special preschool and then a special kindergarten class. I had lots of speech therapy. By the time I was in 2nd grade, my speech had improved enough that I was declassified. I still continued speech therapy through 4th grade, but on a much less intensive schedule.

In speech therapy, the therapist showed me how to make sounds. She often had a mirror that I could look at so I could learn how to form the words.

I'm not sure how the auditory discrimination got corrected. Somehow practice helped my brain to figure out what sounds I should be hearing. To this day, I have more trouble than most people in understanding others if there is a lot of background noise. I'm just not as good at filtering out the voice from the background. I do rely on looking at people's lips as they talk to me.

However, I think practice is a big help. I used to not like music because everything would sound cluttered and singers' voices were hard to understand, but now I love music. In that case, practice plus clear speakers/headphones have made a world of difference.


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Brilliant in some ways

and a bit abnormal in other ways...

Just how the brain is, it seems.

A Very Unscientific Survey

Does your child have a speech problem?

See results

Books about Children with Speech Delays - it's actually quite common!

Possible Reasons for a Speech Delay - so many choices, best to have your child evaluated

My parents were very worried when I was a kid. If you have a child with a speech problem, you're probably worried too. The good news is that if your child appears to be bright, then the speech will probably get better.

With emphasis on early intervention, more kids are getting evaluated at a younger age, and some of them just have a maturation delay, which means that they would have acquired their speech without intervention. However, other kids might have a problem like I had, which was a disorder that needed treatment. If that's the case, then early intervention is very helpful!

For more information on these causes, check out this article.

  • Hearing Loss
  • Maturation Delay (late talker, common in boys)
  • Expressive Language Disorder (this is what I had)
  • Bilingualism
  • Psychosocial Deprivation
  • Autism
  • Mental Retardation (IQ under 70)

Sometimes things aren't exactly as they seem.

If your child talks funny, it might be normal - Complete ability to say all sounds correctly may not occur until 5-8 years old!

Normal Speech Development in Children
Normal Speech Development in Children

Comments or Questions? - I'd love to hear from you!

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    • Spiderlily321 profile image

      Spiderlily321 5 years ago

      I love your lens! My son started off with a speech delay that was caused by his seizures. His epilepsy caused a slowing on the left side of his brain. He is doing a lot better now and I have been helping him alot. I created my own lens about it too. I hope it is okay if I add your lens to my list on my lens. You did an excellent job. Thank you for sharing!

    • HulaHoops LM profile image

      HulaHoops LM 6 years ago

      Thanks for giving us mom's of late talkers some hope. My son is almost 6 and we still struggle despite early intervention. Hopefully he's able to join his peers in regular conversation in the future. I added your lens to my Einstein Syndrome lens.

    • Akitajitsu profile image

      Jen 7 years ago from California

      Thanks for sharing your experience with an expressive language disorder. I've lensrolled this lens to my "Living with Childhood Apraxia of Speech" lens.

    • SpeechCoach1 profile image

      SpeechCoach1 7 years ago

      Your page is very informative.

    • Sarah Switalski profile image

      Sarah Switalski 7 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for sharing your story. My uncle is a retired speech therapist for children so I know how important it is to diagnose early! I hope that your page will be helpful for parents of children with speech delays! Blessed by an angel and added to my angel lens :)

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 7 years ago from California

      I don't think I ever was around a child that had this speech or auditory problem. A lot of lisping toddlers, but that's about it. Interesting, and glad your parents recognized the need to get you help early. Nice job of relaying your experience.

    • Wendy L Henderson profile image

      Wendy Henderson 7 years ago from PA

      All 3 of my children had speech problems but my middle child was really hard to understand. We had a wonderful speech pathologist who was amazing. She helped all 3 of our kids. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • rwoman profile image

      rwoman 7 years ago

      It always worries me when I meet parents who ignore speech delays.Great lens!

    • kimmie1967 profile image

      kimmie1967 7 years ago

      My middle daughter had a speech impediment when she was small. Her sister (and her dog) was about the only one who could understand her, I could some but not as much as her sister. She went to a special preschool and had professional speech therapy. These helped but it was when she went to kindergarten that we noticed her speech improving.

      Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 7 years ago from Scotland

      How wonderful of you to share your story, and yes early detection is something we do need to work on.

    • profile image

      boutiqueshops 7 years ago

      Thank you for your courage and commitment to educate others about speech disorders & what they can mean to a child. Well done and informative!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Excellent review of childhood speech problems. I'll bet there are a lot of parents who aren't aware that their child has a problem that could be evaluated and treated. Thanks for the information.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      For me the biggest barrier to helping children with these sorts of difficulties is failure to get a diagnosis. Auditory Processing Disorder and related problems in the UK frequently go undiagnosed because of the lack of specialists who can recognise it.

      My daughter's speech was very delayed compared her her three older siblings and when she did start talking she frequently misprounounced words. We were lucky that her APD was diagnosed and her speech is perfectly normal, although she still has the processing problems from time to time.

      Its great that you have shared your experience so that others can use it as a resource :)

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 7 years ago from Sweden

      I think that the trick is to get professional help as early as possible. I am happy for you. Thanks for sharing with us!