Speech Delays and Multiples

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Categories Development, Theme Week, ToddlersTags

I’ve blogged before about our daughters’ speech delays here and other moms have also shared their experiences.  Speech delays are more common among multiples than single babies.

Here are some of the reasons that may explain the increased frequency of speech issues:

  • prematurity
  • less one on one attention
  • less need for verbal communication because they have developed their own language or they seem able to communicate nonverbally.

It was about this time last year that we began learning about speech delays when our 18 month old girls weren’t yet saying 18 words. (A general guideline is about 18 words by 18 months).  Our girls had some words, quite a few signs and lots of gestures to help the communicate.  The girls had a developmental assessment which was part of a research study.  They were about 4-6 months behind in their expressive communication.

It took a few months to get through the health unit process.  First there was a parent workshop where we learned how to support our children in their speech development.  Then there was a hearing test to rule out hearing difficulties.  Then an assessment with the speech pathologist.  Then the actual speech group sessions began.  Once a month three children, their parent(s), a speech therapist and assistant (and sometimes a student or intern) would meet. The kids would play while the therapist and assistant observed them and offered suggestions for the parents to practice at home. At home we worked on using words and signs to encourage their communication. We used words for things that interested them (food, babies, books, etc) and we used short sentences (1-2 words to start). Our girls quickly went from one word statements, to two words, then to three and four word statements.

We’ve had almost 6 months since our last session, and our girls are due for a follow up assessment.  They have improved significantly, but I still have some concerns about their language development.  Fortunately, from what I’ve read, if you catch speech issues early and provide support, there is less chance they will impact your child’s academic progress when they start school. The sooner they are addressed the better, and in our community there seem to be ongoing supports available for children with speech delays.

If you are concerned about your children’s speech development, there’s more information available from this site: Twin Speech Delay at About.com

Do your multiples have speech delays? What tips do you have to help other parents?

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2 thoughts on “Speech Delays and Multiples”

  1. Just wanted to add my experience…I have b/g twins that will be three next month. Our daughter has been speaking mostly in complete sentences for a year now, whereas our son really didn’t start speaking until after 2. We started him in speech earlier this year…

    Both kids have mild-moderate high frequency hearing loss and wear hearing aids a lot of the time, so we were a little anxious about his delays.

    His speech therapy was largely play oriented, and he loved it. His sister joined in most days.

    With all that said, he is now speaking in full sentences as well (finally) though clear enunciation is still emerging. I just want to advise other parents not to be alarmed about delays; they are very common, and *usually* work themselves out by age 3. I am happy we got him into speech, though, because had it been more than just a slight delay, we’d want to be “on top of things” to prevent later issues.

  2. This post is very timely for me. My twins are now 16 months old and are at completely different stages when it comes to speech. I’ve lost track of how many words my son knows, I’m guessing 20. My daughter on the other hand, prior to this weekend, was at 3.

    I found an article about things to do to encourage toddlers to talk. Everything from trying to get the kids to blowing bubbles to “repeat, repeat, repeat”. I’ve been work hard with her and this weekend she started with about 3 more new words. I intend to really raise the issue at their 18 month wellness visit to see if we need to pursue things further. Like you, I want to make sure I catch things early enough so they aren’t a bigger issue later on.

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