Speech is Overrated

Sadie’s speech eval was this morning.

I was asked a shitload of questions to which the answer was always no:

“Does she point for things she wants?”
“Can she identify at least two body parts?” (not even one)
“Does she have any words besides mama and dada?”
“Can she do a simple command such as bring me the cup?”
“Will she imitate or identify animal sounds?”
“Can she identify a picture of a person jumping or running?”
“Does she recognize by name people not in her immediately household – like extended family members or friends?”
“Does she know ‘over’ and ‘under'” And many more, and while she asked this she watched Sadie walk around the playroom exploring the toys and complimented her on her love of music. The kid loves music! Especially rap.

Turns out…drumroll please…that my almost 18-month-old, babe scored at about 9 – 12 months (closer to the 9). Did I cry and say “that’s not possible! Not my Sadie! She can’t be that far behind!” No, I did not. Why? Because the new Zen me, realistically, knew that that’s about where Sadie is and the new Zen me is all about just getting her the help she needs.

Plus, there are some positives about a child who is quite behind speechwise:

1) Have you ever noticed that kids who talk a lot and repeat everything you say are annoying?
2) Pointing is rude.
3) Throwing things you don’t like to eat on the floor is such a direct and more honest way to communicate that you don’t want to eat something.
4) I enjoy a good guessing game.
5) Men love a quiet woman.
6) Maybe she’s just planning to think before she speaks which is something I should really learn to do.
7) She never interrupts.
8) Babbling is adorable and cute.
9) Hearing the word “mama” never gets old.
10) Speech therapy is free.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on May 19, 2009 11:11 pmSadie,Speech,Twins53 comments  


  1. Mrs. K said,

    When my daughter was 2 I was freaked out because she barely spoke- granted we were a bilingual household and she only had a handful of words. And the rest was babble- I took her to therapy religiously for like 8 months, and then I wanted to sue the therapist because by her 3rd birthday my kid would not shut the hell up.It was like cramming 3 years of not talking into one month. I seriously wanted to buy her a muzzle.

    But I think she got sick of all the noise and although she has her moments, she’s not a yaker. But she’s a straight A student in 3rd grade and talks as needed (right now to gossip with her friends and then pass the information onto me)

    hang in there…it’ll come.

    | May 19, 2009 @ 11:40 pm

  2. Aunt Becky said,

    Oh, the speech evals. I was always like, “uh, they’re supposed to do that?” The EI people thought that *I* was a moron. Which, I admit, is true.

    Ben was completely non-verbal for ages and I didn’t know how lucky I was back then. He never, EVER stops. EVER. EVER. EVER.


    I’m sorry, Stef. Sucks.

    | May 19, 2009 @ 11:56 pm

  3. Kim said,

    Your posts lately are literally like therapy for me. Good therapy. FREE therapy. And I know that this is about you and Sadie, but really.. it all applies to me and The Chicken. I’ve really changed the way that I look at things, all because you changed the way that YOU look at things.

    P.S. I have one of those kids who never stops talking and repeats herself 800 times a day. She may be four, but she may very well be even more of a sarcastic smart ass than me. Trust me, speech is HIGHLY overrated.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 12:01 am

  4. Cheryl Lage said,

    From BrainyChild.com:

    “Quite interestingly, an example of delayed speech is of Albert Einstein, who did not talk until 3 years of age and was suspected of being learning disabled.”

    Stay Zen…Sadie’s got her own groove…and a great mama.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 12:05 am

  5. Kelsey said,

    Oh you know she’ll get there… Our ped does not adjust my son’s age when asking all those questions so I am constantly answering “no”. They all take their own time!

    | May 20, 2009 @ 12:25 am

  6. Booklover1212 said,

    Stay strong and stay Zen! You know your baby better than any doctor.

    I know I should practice what I preach. My 10 mos. old is still not crawling and our pediatrician wants to have her “evaluated” by a physical therapist. Never mind that she’s pulling herself up into a standing position. Never mind that she DOES roll wherever she wants to go. And never mind that she IS trying with every ounce of her stubborn personality to crawl.

    As moms, I think we put too much emphasis on these “milestones” that put our kids in a box. As someone else said here – they all take their own time.

    Hang in there! Big hugs!

    ~ Jennifer

    | May 20, 2009 @ 12:35 am

  7. Anna Marie said,

    screw the evals! Sadie has her own little thing going and it is Just Fine.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 12:42 am

  8. Anonymous said,

    As a educator, the good news is that these things can be taught. Developmental delays mean simply that there s a delay, it does not mean that what she cannot do now is permanent. You can teach Sadie all of these things, which I am imagine you are doing and are engaging Elby and others to teach her.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 12:57 am

  9. Marinka said,

    Yes, talk is cheap. But you’re absolutely right, it’s about getting her the help that she needs. The great news is that speech is one of those areas where they can totally catch up.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 1:48 am

  10. bobeesah said,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and have really enjoyed it! I couldn’t NOT comment because what you wrote here really struck a chord. Our own 19 month old is still not talking, and the worry over that just needs to stop. Thanks for writing about your experience. And good for you getting the help your baby needs!! Go zen!

    | May 20, 2009 @ 1:54 am

  11. Angry Julie Monday said,

    She will be fine. There is soo much help out there in this age.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 2:26 am

  12. Suzy said,

    Dude, I’m at 9-12 months and look how I turned out.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 3:16 am

  13. Cass said,

    Kyle was 21 months at his speech eval and scored at 12-15 months. And literally the hour after the therapist walked out the door, the kid started sounding out words and mimicking like he’s never done before. It’s bizarre. Anyway, she’s not trying to drive you nuts. She’ll get there. And now with speech therapy, you get a sort-of babysitter once every couple of weeks who will play with and engage her for free! It’s win win, really. I think speech therapy is awesome.

    And personally, I think if my Kyle didn’t have FOUR other people in his home who talk nonstop, he’d talk more. Instead, he keeps quiet because he CAN. I would, too, if I were him, come to think of it. 🙂

    | May 20, 2009 @ 5:08 am

  14. Julia said,


    You do know that the rebound is going to be a bitch, though, right?

    | May 20, 2009 @ 5:46 am

  15. Wicked Step Mom said,

    She is just the strong silent type. 🙂

    Speech therapy does work great. Just do what you are told and hang in there.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 11:55 am

  16. jill said,

    YOU embrace it. That’s good. my friends’ kid is 5 weeks older and is trying to crawl. but she said only a few weeks ago he started dada and has started ma ma too. and our baby has mamamad for a while and is trying out the dada part. you can’t rush a kid unless you want them walking around outside naked eating ice cream. what else is going to motivate them, really? no one can really put a time limit on it, can they? if even she never talks, she can sure communicate with you! which is what’s important. Keep up the healthy attitude!and the hair. so cute! you have gorgeous babies!

    | May 20, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

  17. Denise Thomas said,

    Sweetie, she has YOU for a mom. In the long run, speech will not be a problem! And p.s. she’s a knockout.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 1:38 pm

  18. Sarah said,

    I LOVE your outlook! If everyone would adopt your way of looking at things, the world would be a better place! Children should grow and develop at their own pace. I always hated those charts. My Hope began at the top of the growth scale and then slowly started to fall. It worried the hell out of me. She is now a tiny almost 11 year old and you know what she is adorable and her smallness has benefited her greatly. I also love that she is still small enough to curl up in my lap. The things others see as “wrong” with our children can be blessings. My brother, who is 23 months younger than I am did not speak a single word until her was 3 years old. He is now in his 30’s and is a very healthy, normal and productive member of society. Enjoy this special time with your Sadie and keep up your new outlook!

    | May 20, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

  19. pcohen said,

    I borrowed your sippy cups book from a friend and loved it. Just ordered the toddler book from amazon. Thanks for keeping me laughing and offering a refreshing perspective on motherhood. This post reminds me to stop comparing my baby to other babies and just enjoy her!

    | May 20, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  20. WA said,

    You are seriously so close to Oprah-level enlightenment. I’m so proud of you.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  21. Summer said,

    I am actually hoping Chloe doesn’t walk, talk or even think and have opinions. It would make my life so much easier.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 3:19 pm

  22. Anonymous said,

    My youngest son was evaluated as having the speech of a 6 month old when he was 17 months. This scared the crap out me. He had speech therapy at his daycare once a week and now, a couple of weeks from turning 4- he pretty much talks all the time. Honestly, NONE of my kids met all those milestones for speech at that age. And now they never, ever shut up. I mean, stop sharing their beautiful words with me. That is totally what I meant. Good luck!!!

    | May 20, 2009 @ 4:42 pm

  23. kiwidebra said,

    Don’t forget – a speech delay can also mean FREE preschool. Think of all the money you can save! I was a little bummed when mine started talking. I was like, why can’t you save mama a few bucks?

    | May 20, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

  24. Chris Mancini said,

    Evals and milestones only serve one purpose: To make you feel bad. Well done on seeing through their little ruse.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 5:06 pm

  25. Lee of MWOB said,

    A lot of us need to get made into new Zen mes. At least I do.

    And your reasons for embracing the speech delays rule.


    | May 20, 2009 @ 5:32 pm

  26. Kay said,

    Stefanie –
    I always get the “oh, poor you/him” comments from well meaning people when I tell them my son doesn’t walk/talk/etc.
    And then I watch THEIR monsters throw things, yell that they hate them, then repeat that “bad” word 492 times.
    I just smile and remind myself that MY child doesn’t tell me he hates me. And that endless childlike chatter? I much prefer an ear to ear smile from him.

    You’re doing very good with your zen-likeness. Keep practicing. And don’t forget the bottle of wine and/or xanax.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 6:47 pm

  27. jen said,

    thanks so much for the free advice/reminders for my little one. She was 20 months or so when evaluated for speech and PT and came out a little under 12 mos. Oh joy, I’m a teacher so I was always reading and talking to her and doing all the right things. Giving her opportunities to crawl, walk, and talk and damn her if she had other plans. Anyway, keep up with the Zen, it helps all of us other mommies going through this to remember to be zen (at least on the outside).

    | May 20, 2009 @ 8:20 pm

  28. Kendra said,

    6) Maybe she’s just planning to think before she speaks which is something I should really learn to do.

    That’s a good lessone for me too.

    You’re really being such a terrific role model with this stuff. There are certainly lots of moms dealing with similar things, plus those of us who are dealing with the everyday worries of parenting, who could use a reminder that kids do things in their own time and in their own way. That’s not to say she wouldn’t benefit from some therapy; by all means, take advantage of help that’s offered. But she’s Sadie, and you wouldn’t wish her to be anyone else.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 8:22 pm

  29. Kristin said,

    She’ll get there. In my humble and basically uniformed opinion (all anecdotal research gleaned from observing lots of small children my son’s age)speech has got to be one of the least understood milestones. Most of my son’s friends and classmates at 18 months were on the same page for the physical milestones, with a couple of months variation for certain activities.

    But they were all over the map when it came to speech. For example, take my tiny sample size of 4 kids who played together constantly. At 18 months my son knew and used (repeatedly) over 100 words. Granted, most pertained to construction equipment and other vehicles, and he didn’t say “mama” until he had mastered the difference between a backhoe and a digger, but still. That’s a lot of words for that age.

    His best buddy had about 10 to 15clear words, all nouns, relating to food or her parents. One of his other friends had two intelligible words, dada and kitty. The other friend was the girl I commented about yesterday, who had no words at all until she was almost 2 and half, and now has completely normal speech.

    Of those kids, I think the only one who was “normal” on the development chart was the one with 10–15 words. I am happy to report that now, at age 2.5, all four of them have about the same speech ability.

    Take advantage of any help you can get for her if you think she needs it (free is awesome), but I think you have the right attitude. She will develop at her own pace and in her own way, like all kids do. And you are very right that speech in young children is overrated. Once they start, they NEVER stop talking.

    | May 20, 2009 @ 8:53 pm

  30. limefreckle said,

    Hey, thanks for your kind comments on my blog!!

    I agree that speech is overrated, I ALWAYS say “be careful what you wish for” as my little Limefreckle. Jr. doesn’t SHUT UP now…and he didn’t start to talk until he was 4!!! When I think of all the HOURS AND HOURS spent agonizing about whether he might talk or not…..what a waste of time that could have been put to such better use at a spa, or having drinks with my friends, or, I don’t know, just enjoying my son!!! Keep your sense of homour about all of this and your little girl is going to be just fine!!!

    Kristin made such a great point about speech being a milestone that is really not very well understood…..

    | May 20, 2009 @ 10:17 pm

  31. Chris said,

    Oh dear, I know the feeling. If it helps, the twin thing just makes it worse.

    | May 21, 2009 @ 12:04 am

  32. michelle said,

    My son didn’t say mama until he turned 2. The evaluators needed/wanted to find a reason for his delay (didn’t much matter to me). After a year of speech therapy, he told me a story about his african grandmother who ate only fruit and vegetables, and made metal bowls. What??? I decided he was born thinking in swahili, and it just took a couple years for english to make sense. Bottom line: EVERY child IS absolute perfection

    | May 21, 2009 @ 1:14 am

  33. Mama Snyder said,

    I never knew how useful a sense of humor was until I started needed a lot of advice from medical professionals. Hang on to your Zen.

    If it’s any consolation, I have 20 month old twins and one who has no words yet. We have an OT and a speech therapist every week. Now I have more advice than I ever even thought to look up. Unfortunately, I’m not put together enough to blog about it yet, but I can feel it coming.

    | May 21, 2009 @ 1:43 am

  34. Catwoman said,

    Remind me of the birth order again… Sadie’s the youngest of the twins, right?

    Reason I ask is that my youngest sister is the youngest of the three of us and a twin like Sadie (?). She didn’t talk forever.

    The doctor actually told my mom at one point that my sister was clearly “retarded”, because that’s how they spoke back then. Nice, right?

    Of course, my mother being how she is, she told him to ‘f’ off.

    My sister is the most brilliant of the three of us. She just didn’t have a reason to talk then because me and her twin wouldn’t shut up.

    More than likely, Sadie’s behind because she’s got two sisters to do everything for her.

    But speech therapy can never hurt.

    | May 21, 2009 @ 2:31 am

  35. MommaNecey said,

    heh. Let me just say, one of my monkeys was rating at 9 months when she was 3 years!!! Her twin sister – yeah, she NEVER SHUTS UP!!!! And it’s always been that way. Of course, even my “delayed” girl never shuts up NOW (age 7) – but very few can understand a blamed thing she says!!! ha! I have to “interpret” for her everywhere we go. And if I’m not available, God provided a twin for her who is MORE than happy to speak for her! haha We are working on getting her a communication device, so if the “zen” you decides to take a vacation…keep your head up! There ARE other options for our special ones. Although, considering what I have gathered from your blog, she will be gabbering in no time! 🙂

    | May 21, 2009 @ 3:50 am

  36. wheelsonthebus said,

    It’s all about getting the help she needs. Preferably for free.

    | May 21, 2009 @ 4:48 am

  37. Formerly Gracie said,

    I’m only the 100th person to tell you this, but I figure it’s can’t hurt…

    My son was slow to talk too, but at approximately 2 years and two months a word explosion happened and now…

    Yeah, some days I don’t really want to discuss where we are going, and why, and how are we going to get there, and why and…

    Don’t worry about it. Just hug your baby and know that she’ll get there too.

    | May 21, 2009 @ 7:28 am

  38. Shannon said,

    Steph… The whole freakin’ “evaluation theory” is horse-shit if you ask me. But hey, it’s just me… nobody. I’ll bet you, when Sadie gets to be about 3 or four, you will never know she was “lacking” anything. My younger stepson has a speech impairment and a bunch of other learning disabilities that no one can quite ‘label”. We hjust work with him a little more and he improving incredibly. One day you will be saying “Sadie, go play and stop saying so much!” Hang in there girl!

    | May 21, 2009 @ 11:03 am

  39. adrienne said,

    how darn lucky are you to have your own personal cheer-leading squad out in the blogoshere?!!!

    the best of luck to you and sadie…

    | May 21, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  40. badassdad05 said,

    A smart person recently commented that you can tell the first time parent because he’s the guy who’s in a hurry for his kid to start talking. Enjoy your girl and get her the help she needs and hang onto the Zen. You’ll all be better for it.

    | May 21, 2009 @ 4:30 pm

  41. MereCat said,

    Listen, everything’s going to catch, she’s going to catapult to her level and beyond, and you’ll hardly remember that there was any delay. Seriously. I don’t think my kids did all that stuff at that age either.

    | May 22, 2009 @ 3:38 am

  42. Tuesday Girl said,

    My daughter is never quiet. NEVER!
    Your baby will speak soon and then never shut up.
    She will get the help and be all right.
    Talking is overrated.
    Enjoy it because it is short lived!

    | May 22, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

  43. Becky said,

    That could have been the same exact scenario for my little guy when he had his speech evaluation at about the same time. He just turned 2 and will point. He just started ‘talking’ a bit. Though I barely understand him. He will say something that sounds like ‘phone’. He says something that sounds like ‘drink’, ‘juice’, ‘milk’, ‘corn’, ‘broccoli’.

    And he can tell one mean knock knock joke! So he barely says any of the words…I get it and I laugh my butt off.

    This all just started within the past couple of weeks. He’s 2 years and 1 month.

    Thanks for posting your thoughts on your little ones. It truly helps me on my journey as well.

    | May 22, 2009 @ 7:21 pm

  44. LuLu and Moxley's Mom said,

    Your outlook / attitude is great; love your “positives” list. My friend just recently said the benefits of a kid becoming a teenager is that they finally stop talking to you for a few years… So as you say, speech is overrated.

    | May 22, 2009 @ 8:01 pm

  45. Captain Dumbass said,

    It’s not even 10am yet and I can’t count the number of fights my boys have been in. I wouldn’t wish any speech problems on them, but would a mute button be too much to ask?

    | May 23, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

  46. Wishing 4 One said,

    Sadie is da man and she will catch up and blow everyone away when u least expect it. Shes into rap, love it!

    You know I am so appreciative of your posts, both informative and entertaining. I admire your positive attitude so much and am so happy you share so much with us, you have taught me much indeed.

    | May 24, 2009 @ 7:32 am

  47. musingwoman said,

    My youngest was slow to talk. The doctor said I’d gotten so good at translating his nonverbal cues he almost didn’t need to!

    So, I started playing dumb and that helped (he’s now 18 and has no problem talking).

    | May 24, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

  48. Maggie May said,

    Found you through Petunia Face and enjoy your blog and your honesty.

    | May 25, 2009 @ 6:22 am

  49. LiteralDan said,

    There you go, right on. Every kid is different and, let me tell you, my son has speech therapy for most of a year and he is all kinds of sophisticated in speaking, understanding, and thinking.

    Keep on not sweating it.

    | May 26, 2009 @ 5:12 am

  50. Lisa said,

    You’re right, mama doesn’t get old. I hate it when they outgrow that and it’s just mommy, followed by mom.

    | May 28, 2009 @ 3:06 am

  51. blooot said,

    My son is in speech through the school system, and it has made a world of difference.

    Speech-prior, it was impossible to understand the boy.

    Now, I get it when he tells me he has to pee. Instead of thinking he's telling me that he can't see.

    | June 8, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

  52. Marissa L. Swinghammer said,

    Thank you! You're list of positives made me smile and nod.

    My daughter (now a few weeks away from being two) was diagnosed when she was 22 months at being around 10 months speech wise. I always knew she was behind but me and my husband downplayed it. This was very sobering.

    In this past month and a half with EI we've been making slow but increased progress.

    They'll get there when the time is right. They just need a little push sometimes.

    | August 17, 2009 @ 6:21 pm

  53. AMomTwoBoys said,

    STEF- this randomly showed up in my referring links today (http://babyonbored.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-05-26T11%3A49%3A00-07%3A00&max-results=20) Weird, right?

    Anyway, the totally freaky part is that this post was at the top AND that the speech therapist who did Zach's evaluation two weeks ago just left after giving me her report. And? My 27 month old also fell into the 9-12 month range. He completed 6 of 8 skills that a 9-12 month old should complete. GAH.

    But, YAY for free speech therapy!

    | December 15, 2009 @ 11:46 pm

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