3 years old!…and finally talking

Remember when Clara was a baby and I blogged her progress each month?
I know people always say this—but it really feels like yesterday.
NOT over three years ago.


Of course when I look back at pics and see the other things that were going on in our life at the same time, I realize how much time has passed—Lucy was once in Kindergarten, there was another Celebrate the BOY series, Casey learned to pickle beets, Owen played 3 seasons of baseball.
And we moved into our new home! and said goodbye to the old one.

Things have happened.
And somewhere in the middle of it all, Clara turned into a kid.
That’s it!
I have no more babies.
Sorry.  Don’t mean to be dramatic.  It’s just fun to have documented her milestones these years—since I never did that with the other kids—and to see the girl she’s turning into.

She’s a girly little goofball.
She can rarely keep a straight face and is often looking at you out of the corner of her eye.
Or she completely closes her eyes with the old “if I can’t see them, they can’t see me” act.
She loves pink.  She wants to wear a dress every day of her life.  She hates her hair in a ponytail.  She prefers clean hands.
She like cats.  Correction: she loves cats.  And dogs.
She really makes me laugh!

And it’s fun to look back at baby pictures—having a better idea of her personality now—because it’s like I can see that same little person in her all along….through the serious moments and the needy ones, the sleepy faces, and the giggles.

She’s that same Clara, just a little bigger, and with so many wonderful things to learn.
Raising kids is really amazing!
How are we allowed to do this?
The biggest thing that’s changed since my last update is that she talks!
If you follow me on instagram (@danamadeit) I’ve mentioned a few times that Clara doesn’t say much, but I’ve never gone into the details of it all.

Maybe because there aren’t any real details.
We don’t know why she’s speech delayed, but she’s about a year behind her peers.
When she was 2 years old I didn’t worry too much about it, since the other two kids were late talkers.  But by 2 1/2 she still wasn’t progressing.  So we went to see a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) to have an evaluation done, and we had her hearing checked as well.
The good news is that her comprehension is right on-par for her age, and her hearing checks out fine.  It’s always amazing how much you can communicate with your child without words.  90% of the time I know exactly what she wants and needs and what’s bugging her.  But I know there is so much more she wants to share with us.  Maybe your child is experiencing, or has gone through speech issues too?

Our pathologist wondered if it was apraxia of speech, which is more of a neurological disorder rather than a muscle issue.  But as Clara learns and progresses, we’ve ruled that out.  Mostly she has an articulation problem–trouble making the proper sounds—and her language is behind as well, but largely because she can’t articulate what she wants to right now.

BUT.  She has made huge progress in the last 6 months since we started therapy!
I am amazed.
For the last year I watched her peers spouting off sentences with detailed words like “eagle” rather than just “bird” and all I hoped was that one day Clara could simply say, “milk?”

Of course it’s silly to compare our kids to other kids, because each child has their own timeline.  It’s the same battle we face as adults—the compare and contrast.
Why do we do that to ourselves?
It seems extra ridiculous as I type this out.

But it’s hard to accept when your child (or yourself) has an issue.  I know there are children and parents dealing with more challenging situations and my heart goes out to them.  I don’t mean to make light of the struggles many families go thru.  Clara’s speech delay is not severe and over the years, it will come together.  But this has given me a glimpse of that parental feeling of just wanting your child to “be normal”.  Well, normal in the sense of hitting the normal milestones—yet still being unique in their own special way.  I guess we all want to fit in and feel accepted….which ironically, despite my fears, is exactly how her school friends treat her.  They love her!  When Clara walks in the room the girls yell “Clara!” and smother her with hugs. And I want to cry.

So, we continue to see a Speech Pathologist once a week and we work on words with her at home (both with flashcards and with this cool app called Little Bee Speech).  And little by little it’s coming together.  Just this week she said to me, “Mom. Watch a show?….turn it up please.”
Um, no we’re not going to watch a show right now….but a sentence!  A (mostly) full sentence!

She can now say many of the colors, family names, she says “I love you” at bed time, and so many more words.  And most of all she’s making real efforts to try and say new words, to mimic sounds….which is a huge improvement.
So we’ll get there with our Clara Cat.
What a blessing she is to our family, as are your kids in your lives.
Parenting is one of the hardest things most of us will ever do.  But it has rewards you can never gain anywhere else in life.
I hope all is well at your house!  And that you’re getting extra help where you need it.

  1. 1) Julie Johnson

    My son is exactly the same. I always knew what he wanted, but we realized at 2 1/2 that he wasn’t really talking. He is now 5 and we have been doing speech therapy twice a week and he got into the special needs preschool for speech. Now we can’t get him to stop talking! His articulation isn’t perfect yet, but so much better. It used to be that no one but me could understand him. Now everyone understands him 99% of the time!

  2. 2) JeNae

    We went through the same thing with out 2nd son. Wasn’t talking at 2.5 years, and started the Speech Intervention program. He started seeing a Speech Therapist through preschool & made great improvements! He is in 2nd grade now, & “graduated” speech a couple of months ago. It’s amazing to see his progress. A boy who couldn’t articulate what he wanted to say, is now telling stories & loves to talk & will talk to anyone if given a chance.
    Good luck in your Speech journey!

  3. 3) Shannon

    I’m an SLP and I’m so happy for the progress she has made! I am so happy that you sought out help too. So many parents just write it off and then valuable time is lost. Kudos to you for being a great mom!

  4. 4) Melissa Haas

    I was a faithful follower of your’s before, during and immediately following Clara’s birth. I’m sure it helped that I was also expecting my 3rd child. Then my hubby accepted a job across the country, so we rushed to renovate our home, uprooted and found a new home in a very different place. I got out of the habit of blog following. I just thought of your blog a little while ago, and added your page to my FB feed. This is the first post of yours I have read in 2 1/2 years, and what a perfect one! My 3 year old girl is also behind in her speech and has one on one speech therapy each week. She is making strides, as well. Thank you for sharing glimpses of your life with the world. You, your family and your blog are lovely. <3

  5. 5) Brandi

    I used to religiously follow your site, before I had my “one and only” 20 months ago and internet use and sewing became sporadic (errrmmm, except for all the “should my baby…” and “why isn’t my baby…” searches). But I remember the pics of this sweet beautiful girl when she was born, and as she got older. So it was a shock to visit today and see such a big girl. Like a whole body reeling. Then I teared up because, well, relate relate relate. This will be my boy all too soon. And I wanted to go wake him up from his nap and just hold him.

    Incidentally, I’m already trying not to wig over my son’s lack of speech. Reading your story gives me hope.

    Congratulations on raising such a precious little girl. Here’s wishing time slows down a little for both of us.

  6. Clara is just gorgeous 🙂
    I have three children with similar age gaps and funnily enough our youngest, Dotty was really late talking. She just suddenly started as Clara is and now at nearly 4 she is completely caught up and never stops. I think part of her problem came in that we all talked for her and understood her so she felt no need to push herself. I predict you’ll soon be like us and relishing the odd time she is quiet! Love Gemma xx

    • 7) Lori

      I agree with Gemma- we had exactly the same problem with our younger daughter, and now younger grandson. They totally make themselves understood and are surrounded by non-stop talkers (guilty as charged!) My daughter now speaks 4 (four!) languages fluently- she still isn’t a run-at-the-mouth talker! Unlike mom and sister! gang in there!

  7. 8) Jessica

    What a sweetie! So glad to hear about her great progress. We are going through this right now (just about to start speech therapy) with our 19 month old – this give me hope!

  8. 9) Tasha

    Another SLP here! So glad you sought help for Clara, and wonderful to hear of the progress she’s making. Did you know that May is Better Hearing and Speech Month? A perfect time for this update. Early intervention is so important. I would encourage any parent who is wondering about their child’s language development to have them seen by an SLP. If there’s nothing to worry about, we’ll let you know! And if there’s a concern, we’ll do our best to help. There is a strong link between speech and language skills, and later reading skills, so as much as we as parents want to think that everything’s ok and they’ll develop in their own time, it’s best to help them early so that they’re not struggling later. Wishing you and Clara all the best!!

  9. 10) Emily C.

    Such a sweet girl! My daughter is close to Clara’s age, so it’s fun seeing the pictures of her and to read the comments on how she’s doing. So glad to read that her speech is improving! Thanks for sharing this update.

  10. 11) kim m

    I just took my 2 year also, also 3rd child, to get tested last week and he qualifies for speech therapy. He has few words but acts and can do things like every other 2 year around him. It can get very frustrating for us and him at times but we are optimistic that a therapist will help. We continually tell ourselves thing will bet better. Thank you for sharing it means so much that you were willing to share her story.

  11. My son is just like this – about a year behind his peers in language development. He has some other “quirks” as well, but he’s a smart, caring, sweet little guy, full of funny things to say at (now) age six. We’ve kept him back from kindergarten so he starts this fall. No big whoop, really, he wasn’t ready for kindergarten at age five, but he will be this autumn, so we’re good to go! We don’t know if there is a Reason with a capital R for his delays, or if it’s just who he is. I suspect sensory processing issues or “spectrum issues” of some kind, but whatever it is is pretty mild and he’s very high functioning. I think there is still so much to learn about neurological wiring and “spectrum disorders” – it goes far beyond what we have traditionally known about autism. Lots of people are “differently wired” and it’s okay! That’s what makes the world an interesting place!

  12. 13) Nadeen

    At age three my son understood everything I said, could identify any object, but couldn’t say anything intelligible. Within six months of speech therapy, however, he could speak many words and sentences clearly. But it took years before his speech was intelligible to everyone. He’s in second grade now, and you’d never guess he once required speech services. Clara will master her speech, too.

  13. 14) Stacey

    Dana – I could so relate to your example of “eagle” vs. “bird.” I remember very distinctly a little girl referring to a hawk and me thinking WHAAATTT???!! My son couldn’t say bird. He was 3 before he was able to say he loved me. In his case is was apraxia of speech. He’s 10 now and his speech is fine but he still struggles with language and reading. Definitely best NOT to wait and see.

    • 15) Susan

      Reading that part of Dana’s story made me cry. That’s where we are too. I actually got the call today that my 2.5 year old qualifies for speech therapy. I am happy, but I’m also super sad. It’s hard to admit that something is wrong with your child.

      • I have been there, and I get it. I used to avoid contact with some of my friends who had decidedly precocious children, not because the kids weren’t delightful, but because the comparisons would make me almost sick with worry and then I’d start blaming myself and wondering what I could have done differently (first time mom!). It’s hard to explain unless you’ve been there. I am happy to report my six year old is STILL about a year behind in verbal/language development, but as the years go by, it’s not that big a deal. If a 35 year old was speaking like a 34 year old – who cares, right? For us, we’ve seen a ton of progress, and if Joe never “catches up” that’s okay. That’s why we’re holding him back from kindy. It was the days of wondering if he would ever speak, while his peers were in like, Mandarin-immersion Montessori, that were the hardest. It has gotten easier.

        • 17) Mark Suman

          Inder – I love your comment. Very insightful and inspiring. And the “35 year old was speaking like a 34 year old” part is awesome. So true.

  14. Our son has similar speech issues… it is funny how he can get his point across with only part of a word and lots of actions. We see a speech teacher once a week as well. We think our son has Apraxia, which is more neurological then muscle related. He mouth can make the right sounds, but his brain has a hard time telling them what to do. But if we really make him work for it he can say the right word…sometimes… when he is in the mood! Keep up the great work!

  15. 19) Windie D

    I was the 3rd child and didn’t say my first word (cookie) until i was over 2 years old – the reason is because I didn’t HAVE to talk! My older brothers were smitten with me and also at my beck-n-call! According to my mother, If I wanted something I would point and grunt and they would either take me over to where I pointed, or go get what I pointed at (this also delayed my walking).
    If you ask my mom, she woud say I more than made up for my late start as once I was older, she coudln’t get to keep quite 🙂

  16. We are facing similar issues at our home..our son is 27 months and has said about 10-12 words since he was 1 1/2 but seems stuck on the same sounds and words. But he understands everything we say and communicates well with gestures etc, hearing is fine and no signs of any other issues…like you we don’t know why he is delayed. We’ve been working with a speech therapist…but haven’t seen much progress. SO…its so nice to hear that she is doing well after some therapy. And while you don’t wish delays on anyone, it’s nice to know others can relate to you and to read their stories and know you are not alone! Good luck to Clara (I have a Clara too–she’s 5 :))

  17. 21) Jessica

    Glad she is doing well. My little man was speech as well. He never babbled or made any of the “normal” baby talk so we did an early intervention program. He is smart and knew what we were saying and he knew what he wanted but it was like he just couldn’t get it out. The words wouldn’t come. We found an awesome speech therapist who was able to help him SO much and finally diagnosed with him with Apraxia. We thought we would be in speech therapy for years. Suddenly at 2 1/2 he really started talking and has just made amazing progress. He’s now 4 and still needs help “forming” words sometimes but we can understand him and that is worth it!! Keep working hard Miss Clara! It will come! Hang in there Momma, it’s so beautiful to see the progress these amazing little people make!

  18. 22) Sarah

    Dana, I have a son, a second grader now, that was delayed in speech as well and sounds similar to Clara. Turns out he has dyslexia. I would just keep an eye on that as she develops. All children will find their island of competence – it doesn’t always happen at the same time for each of them. Love your blog!

  19. 23) Paola

    Dana, I am grateful you took the time and effort of sharing this personal and intimate part of your family life to share with us. I am going through speech delay with my youngest daughter also and I had felt alone with the issue most of the time, you want the best for your children at the same time you know they all unique and perfect themselves.
    You gave me hope, milestones are just a guideline but they are not a deadline to be met.

  20. 24) Jennifer

    I hope this will be a note of encouragement for you. My oldest daughter had speech from 3 years old to now, at almost 10. I had to push the pediatrician to get her help then and actually had to push with the school to get her an official IEP now so she could have daily help, rather than 1x week. (Why are people scared of help? I’ll never know!) Now they pull her out of class for 5 minutes everyday. Since kids go in and out of the classroom all day long, she’s never had a problem from the other students. But amazing therapists, both through private insurance and the school district, have made a huge difference! The school speech therapist anticipates she will graduate the program in another 18-24 months. Also, one therapist told us that her second language would come to her so much easier and it’s true! While she still has some minor difficulties in English, she is completely fluent in Spanish, has a native accent (thanks to an amazing school, as our family only speaks English and is not much help), had zero difficulties in a second language, and just got 10th place in the state Spanish spelling bee! Quite an accomplishment considering where she started! She also exceeds in all of the state tests. She’s super smart, she just needs help with her speech. No big deal. So hang in there, stick with it, and when you’re able to look back on all of this you will be so amazed at how far she’s come and be so very proud!

  21. It sounds like she is progressing beautifully. My son is 10 and nonverbal so I can identify with your concerns. You are doing everything you should and she will be the best Clara sh can be!

  22. My almost three year old was having some issues a few months ago and we were sure she was delayed in her speech. But when we took her in for testing, she wasn’t that far behind where she should be and she is slowly getting a lot better and much easier to understand. So glad Clara is responding well!

  23. What stress it is to be a parent! My younger two had to go through a SLP. I caught on with my daughter when she was 3 and she was in therapy up until she was in preschool (pre Kindy). Now my youngest of four is also having issues. We spend so much time comparing to other kids we should just stop. Perhaps the youngest two didn’t have as much one on one time as the first two did and now that I’m also working it makes it even harder. Anyway, I’m going to hold him back (he turns 4 in June) and so he can be more confident when he starts school in 2016. All the best with Clara. It sounds like she’ll catch up in no time! She is so adorable just like your other kids xox.

  24. My now 10 year old was a late talker, also. At 2 1/2 she only had about 10 words, so we put in a referral for early intervention. There was a wait, so I started signing with her. It turns out (well, in my opinion) she was just afraid to speak and caught right onto signing. Then, she started signing words and just making the first sound of the word verbally along with the sign. By the time our waitlist finally came up for the early intervention referral, she fell below average, but within normal standards (did not qualify for EI). By age 4 she was super advanced. I think she just needed confidence!

  25. Hi! I just found your blog by following links for shirt dress tutorials. What a cutie Clara is! I had speech issues and needed speech therapy in kindergarten. After having gone through many breastfeeding issues with my son, I realized my problem was likely due to my posterior tongue tie and lip tie. My lip tie broke when I was maybe 13 and helped close the gap between my front teeth. I would like to get my tongue tie revised soon as I believe it contributes to my neck pain and migraines. It was hard to find doctors to do my son’s revisions but it helped with his feeding issues and I hope it will keep him from having speech issues. I highly recommend finding someone local to you to have your daughter assessed for ties. They are often overlooked by SLPs, ENTs, and dentists. Not all are adept at diagnosing and revising them so recommendations from other parents helps. Now to go find those shirt dresses!

  26. Dana, so glad to hear about the progress with Clara’s speech. As a pediatric speech language pathologist I feel like I have the best job in the world. Getting to play with kids and help them to talk… awesome! Sounds like you are not alone. If you ever want to do a q&a for mom’s with speech questions I’d be happy to help.

  27. 31) Eirian Alison johnson

    What a beautiful post, Dana. Thanks for sharing, as it helps so many more people than you can even imagine who have experienced similar things. Lots of love to you and the family, hope to reconnect in person soon!

  28. 32) Emily T

    When my son was 3 he didn’t even say “mama”, which was heart-breaking. I was young, and blissfully stupid and not scared, and thankfully it all worked out fine.
    Other preschool parents were floored when they found out he dressed himself completely every morning – he had some mad skills those other chatter boxes didn’t yet have 🙂 I’m sure Clara is the same.

  29. 33) Allison P.

    I have loved watching your Clara grow up. She is about a year younger than my 3rd daughter, and her personality seems so similar to my Hannah. We have gone through the same speech delays with my son. At 2.5 no one could understand what he was saying. It was so hard for me to watch him struggle to communicate with others. We took him to an SLP, got an IEP and started speech once a week. After 2 years of preschool, he will be turning 6 this summer and starting kindergarten in the fall. His teachers are talking about him even testing out of his IEP! It’s been a long road. Like you said, I know it could be so much more difficult, but it is so exciting to see him communicate with others now!

  30. 34) Sami

    As a mom of a 4 year old kiddo with severe apraxia, i know those exact feelings. I am so happy for you and for Clara and her incredible strides! Thank you for sharing your family’s speech struggles and making speech delay more of an awareness rather then the “late talker” response. 🙂 Keep going Clara and keep at it Dana!

  31. 35) jodie

    I showed my same age, same cat obsessed, same with the hair, same goofy nature little girl and now she cant stop talking about her cat jacket. I know that Clara will come along in leaps and bounds, we also had our eldest in speech therapy when he has three. He said about twenty words when all his mates said about a hundred. all good now cant get him to be quiet! :O)

  32. Similar story here, our first only started talking around here 3rd birthday. I have a small video from two weeks before her 3rd birthday and then she says: Baby, baby look! She couldn’t say her brothers name. This counted as a full sentence and I was amazingly proud of this, having catched it on video! A year later when she went to school she talked like her peers and now at 7 she talks all day! We were lukcy that she was our first, this way we didn’t worry, the other started talking much earlier, but our eldest was really very slow but took a big spurt afterwards.

  33. 37) Dara

    CUTE as a button!!! Thanks for sharing!

  34. 38) jen P

    Clara is such a doll! Good plan on getting her tested. Two out of my 4 have had to have speech therapy. My oldest daughter “graduated” from her therapy before she started kindergarten, but we have restarted it in the last few months – not due to her actual speech but due to comprehension and expression. My oldest son’s issues were more pronounced, but with proper diagnoses and evaluation almost 3 years ago, he’s making progress. Plus, I have learned so much about what kids should be able to say when. Just keep positive about it and if you don’t make it a big deal, she won’t make it a big deal.

  35. Precious! Your daughter is adorable, in every way!

    I know precisely how you feel – proud and elated but also sad and anxious. My daughter had several delays. Most notably was walking but I believed it was due to her natural spunk and desire to do everything in her own time. Unfortunately, it was due to very mild cerebral palsy caused by a stroke in utero sometime prior to birth (my daughters birth mother abused drugs). She experienced left-sided weakness that was something we didn’t notice until she began to walk. All of her strength quickly shifted to her right side and it was very noticeable. We quickly started OT and PT following extensive testing, but not before she experienced a series of seizures. Long story short, she’s happy and healthy today and that’s all that matters.

    But, like you, I often struggle with watching my daughter in some form of comparison to her peers. It’s such a real and complex struggle – because we always tell our children not to compare themselves to others but we are doing it in our own minds 🙂 With my daughter, we call it her “uniqueness” because that’s exactly what it is – she’s special and unique, and her own individual and radiant person. She teaches me A LOT with her attitude and that serves as a constant reminder of the responsibility I have in raising my daughter. We were all chosen for each other for reasons unknown to us. Embrace them all!

  36. 40) Gina S

    My oldest child had the same kind of issues you are describing. She had a seven word vocabulary when she was 2 and a half. I, too, watched other children form complex sentences and worried that my daughter was so far behind. She could communicate, she just wouldn’t speak words, much. We did all the evaluations and were told she was “normal” and communicated well, just not verbally. Just before she turned three she stared slowly adding words, and progressed steadily from there. Now, at almost 8, she is a bright, chatty kid who makes honor roll every semester. The only evidence we have now of her language delay is a “decoding” difficulty (sounding out words) and that is rapidly improving also.

    I say all that to say, kids develop differently. We tend to file them in little boxes of how developed they should be at certain ages, and it only gets worse when they get to school, but they are truly individuals with different skill sets and different development rates.

    Clara is a doll. I’m so glad she’s improving with her language skills. You’ll look back in a few years to see her chatting and giggling in the backseat and wonder “how on earth did I ever worry you wouldn’t talk!”


    God Bless.

  37. 41) Beverly

    Good for Clara! She is such a cutie! It is hard as a parent sometimes to know when to be concerned about our kids being a little behind their peers and when it’s okay. I think you did the right thing in having Clara evaluated to make sure there wasn’t something physical or neurological causing the problem. Sounds like she is doing really well and I wish you all the best of luck.

    My daughter talked much later than her older brother did, but I also talked later than my older sister so I wasn’t concerned. She started the babbling and saying words on schedule, she just didn’t actually use them much. When she did start talking a lot, it was very difficult to understand her for some words but not others. Her brother, who is 3 years older, was the one who usually could figure out what she was saying. Her pediatrician wasn’t concerned since the sounds she had trouble with are common trouble spots for young kids. Still by the time she was 4, there were still sounds that were not right – in particular her ‘S’ sound. She wore ‘Hoos’ and ‘Hocks’ instead of shoes and socks. We could mostly understand her, but people who weren’t around her all the time had trouble. She started the process to begin speech therapy in the last few months of pre-school but didn’t get to begin until kindergarten. She continued speech therapy until second grade. Like someone above mentioned, her frenulum (in her case, the tissue that connects the upper lip to her gums) was too far down and was causing part of her problem. She wound up having a frenectomy when she was 5. She is almost 15 now, and you would never know she ever had trouble. She is a bright, vivacious kid who loves to read and is very smart.

  38. 42) Anya

    Such great progress – yeah Clara!

    My son didn’t say any words really by age 3 either (although, just like you and Clara, we communicated just fine). We had him evaluated and he started weekly speech therapy. He had difficulty forming sounds – pretty much all of them – so he had a lot of work to do. Once he started getting the hang of more sounds, he started verbalizing so much – to the point where he loves to talk all the time and always has something to say. He’s 8 now and working on his last sound (r) which developmentally is one the hardest for kids. It has been a long journey but it’s been amazing to watch it all unfold.

  39. Thank you so much for posting your Clara story (along with the link to the app). Our first son was one of those kids who spoke in short sentences at 18months (blowing our minds) and our second is only starting to talk at 2. It seems strange that we should worry about his speech being delayed but when you do that comparison (darn those comparisons!) to his older brother, we, as parents, start to say, “Hmmmm…” He manages to communicate his needs and wants, but just to be on the safe side, our wee man is going to have an assessment with a SLP.

    All the best to Clara as she finds her voice.

  40. Thank you for sharing struggles. I think so often that we read blogs and think that everybody else’s lives are perfect. I know they’re not, but sometimes it’s hard to see that others are normal, just like me. We have dealt with speech issues as well. My daughter is now 9 and you would never know she ever had a delay. We started therapy early, mostly because we knew she would be behind since birth because she was born with a cleft palate. I couldn’t believe, though, that within 6 months of starting therapy, she no longer qualified! I had no idea how quickly she would catch up. Also, she used a lot of sign language to communicate, which was very helpful. Anyway, thanks for keeping it real.

  41. Hi Dana. What a beautiful girl Clara is. I want you to know one thing from my experience that someone shared with me. My now 11 year old had speech issues from the beginning and we did years of therapy. Speech issue got solved. I felt a lot of the same things you wrote about. Here is what I want you to know– What I didn’t fully understand at the time, was how much some of the things my son learned in speech would translate to great academic skills in late-elementary and middle school. Speech therapy teaches children skills that are so supportive of overall academic skills. The thing I am most amazed at is what a hard worker my son is – he tries so hard and is not phased when things don’t come easily for him. It is such a great life skill. Clara will have that too. Best wishes. – Joanne

  42. Joanne – interesting! That is a great bi-product of going through speech therapy. Understanding that life throws struggles at us and knowing we can work through them…that’s so important.

  43. What a delightful blog!!! Clara is fabulous, my Niece was also a delayed speaker but when she started she didn’t stop. She is now a young adult at University and really is the most chatty of the family lol and we have some “gabbers” in this family lol. Enjoy every moment!!!

  44. 48) Mikea

    So crazy but you just described my soon to be 3 year old!!!! Every part of this post! im glad you guys recognized a delay and did something about it. Everyone kept telling us when she starts school it’ll get better but she wont be starting until the fall! So she is in speech also and hopefully we can increase it to 2x/ week. Anyway, it has been nice seeing all your kids grow and getting to know you also. Thanks for letting us see a glimpse of your life!

  45. 49) Jeri

    Clara is precious and very blessed to have a mother like you. Being loved, accepted, and appreciated exactly as we are while being guided and encouraged to be all that we are capable of becoming is the most loving gift we can ever receive; you are giving that gift to Clara.
    Happiness and health to you all!

  46. 50) Bukofamily

    My heart goes out to you, as I can relate to this.

    My husband was a slow talker; myself and all of my children were born tongue-tied. For many years, my oldest child and I had our own, special language. People would stare at us as we talked with each other, especially when we laughed over something the other one said. (You just didn’t understand the jokes when you couldn’t understand the words.) We were finally able to see a speech therapist and it has made all the difference. We’ve been in speech therapy for seven years now; I’m grateful for how much my children have grown in this area.

    Hold on to those little moments of encouragement. They will help you during the times when you feel less encouraged. : )

  47. 51) Tama

    Our lovely daughter, now almost 21 years old, also had a “profound” speech issue diagnosed at age 3. She spoke but was almost unintelligible. After 18 months of twice-weekly speech therapy, she was speaking clearly and reading at age 4 1/2! She is now beginning graduate studies – an amazing woman! Things will continue to improve for your sweet Clara just as they did for our daughter. Hang in there!

  48. Dana,

    Thank you so much for this post. I kid you not when I say it brought tears to my eyes. Our 1st grader is struggling with reading and is receiving extra help at school to help her get up to speed. Your statement about wanting your kids to be “normal” hit home on such a visceral level for me. Our daughter is incredibly smart, but conquering reading has been a struggle for her for some reason. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks. 🙂

  49. 53) Lisa McGriff

    My oldest daughter had speech problems as well and I can’t tell you how many games of Candy Land we played. It was one of the games they suggested we play to encourage her to talk, say the colors, name the candy, how many moves… Etc. But proudly I can say my now 28yr old daughter is Manager of Nursing Quality at Childrens Hospital in Nashville, TN. She can talk to anyone, anytime, about anything!!

  50. 54) gena

    Dana, been following you for years & love your blog. I can see there are many comments with friends in your same situation. 🙂 My son started speech therapy at age 3 and finished it in the beginning of 4th grade. Now, at 14, he is still the quietest person in the room at any time, but it’s okay with us. For him, it was a bit of speech delay, and a bit of personality. He’s smart, athletic, totally verbal, has a million friends, but still doesn’t talk much! What can I say? Still waters run deep ♡ Glad Clara is progressing so well.

  51. 55) Vanessa

    Good luck to you and Clara with speech therapy — it can do wonders.

    I couldn’t talk (other than a few words- “juice”, “uhoh”, “cow juice” I think was about it) until I was almost 5– I had a severe speech apraxia. I saw a speech therapist a few times a week for several months, and learned to talk (and read!). I’m 29 now, and people don’t believe me when I tell them. However, I still don’t talk much– I just don’t like talking. Both my younger siblings also had delayed speech, starting to talk around age 3-4. I’m always amazed when I see my friends’ kids starting to talk at age 2 or younger!

  52. 56) Bec

    I’m an SLP in Australia and have 3 children myself (aged 2.5, 4.5 and 6.5). My first 2 kids spoke early and are way advanced in their communication but little miss number 3 was late to talk and is still getting her words together and is very tricky to understand. It can happen to anyone and why? we don’t know! Thanks for sharing this with the world – the more people that understand the better. I’d love for everyone to know it’s nothing to be embarrassed by or feel guilty about as a parent. Good luck with your journey!

  53. 57) Lauri L

    Good for you and for Clara

  54. 58) Christina

    I didn’t really talk until I was almost 4. Words felt weird in my mouth, so I figured I was doing it wrong and I hate making mistakes, so I just didn’t talk. My family and friends understood me, so there was no need. Then, when I was almost 4, my brother got the flu right when we needed to go to the family reunion, so I had to go alone with my dad. My mom told me I had to talk and keep my dad awake on the drive up and that it was very important. The family line when retelling this story is “…and she hasn’t shut up since!” I still got words wrong, I mixed up “f” and “th” until I was twelve, and I pronounced vegetables as “vaulchtables” until I went to school because it felt wrong the proper way. And I will never be a poker player because I still communicate more with my face than anything else. As an adult, I was eventually told that my tongue is actually too big for my mouth, so who knows what effect that had.
    Clara will catch up eventually! You are doing all good things to help her, and when she gets more into school and other independent activities, she will get frustrated enough to be super motivated to communicate more vocally.

    • 59) Dana

      This is such a sweet story! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  55. 60) Silvia

    Hi Dana, thank you for sharing this. I’ ve been following you for years now, and you really are inspiring for me. Especially now that I know you little one has a speech delay, just like my little one, and that you shared you feelings about it. Thanks again, really. Silvia, from Italy

  56. 61) Rachel

    I’ve been following your blog since Owen was teeny tiny but have never commented. My 3 year old also has a speech delay. I teach Deaf/hard of hearing kids, so she has signs but she’s very difficult to understand sometimes. At age 2, it was really bad and we had an Early Intervention speech pathologist come to the house for about a year.

    Now I’m going to sound crazy, but stick with me for a second. I have the MTHFR gene mutation (which 50% of the population has) which means that I have a reduced ability to absorb folic acid and B vitamins. It effects me by causing other vitamins (like iron) to be completely out of whack. Whenever an imbalance happens, I feel really spacey too. I was anemic for years even on iron before I knew about it and started to take the proper vitamins. Now I don’t even take iron and I’m not anemic.

    Since it’s inherited, I decided to start my daughter on broken down folic acid (methylfolate) and broken down B vitamins when she was 6 months into speech therapy to see if it would help. I didn’t tell the speech therapist about it. After 2 weeks on the vitamins, the speech therapist said, “well…it looks like someone is making progress…” She went from completely refusing to try to say any voiceless consonant sounds to staring at the speech therapist’s face and trying to make her mouth do the same thing.

    I know this sounds completely crazy and I wouldn’t believe it at all if I read it on the internet. It’s like all of the conspiracy theorists who try to link any childhood illness/disorder to something that seems irrelevant. I hate them, and yet, here I am. For her, it worked. Nothing else in her life changed, and we didn’t work any harder at our homework in those 2 weeks. The vitamins couldn’t hurt anyone without the gene mutation because they’re just vitamins that are already broken down and readily available for the bloodstream. Also, I’m not associated with a drug company, which is why I haven’t posted the brands that I like here. If you want me to explain more, feel free to email me.

  57. 62) Mandi R

    My youngest sounds similar to Clara. She’s 21mths right now and I just had a gut feeling she was more then just a slow talker. We started speech therapy a month and a half ago. She has two sessions a week and we are seeing a lot of progress.
    This past Saturday, the day before mother’s day, she said Ma-ma for the first time. Now I’ve been happy with every sound she makes. Because getting Etta to make sounds is hard work. But goodness what Ma-ma did for my heart.
    We’ve found a ton of success with Etta and learning sign language. She is picking it up so quickly that the rest of the family is struggling to keep up. Doing the signs coupled with sounds really helps her and now we have her signing “More” and making a mmm sound at the same time. If you have Netflix “Signing Time” is on there and is a fun kids show that teaches American Sign Language. My older kids like learning it too and have taking to using it as a secret language to talk to each other. 🙂

  58. 63) Stacey

    eeek….WHERE did you get that pink kitty coat in the last photo?? I need to get one for my BFF’s toddler. She is a Siamese cat lover. 🙂

  59. 64) Ali

    It’s great that you have shared your struggles, we were there too. My daughter didn’t start talking either til almost 3, she was in speech therapy since 2-basically only saying 1-2 words at a time. It took a lot of work and patience but I am happy to say that at 4 yrs old she is now assessed to be average! While a parent doesn’t ever really want to hear their kid is average – we were actually overjoyed to hear it. She also just recently starting asking why questions at Christmas, it has been so wonderful to hear it and even now with all the “Why??” questions bombarding you- I always think how I can’t be annoyed at all but rather grateful to finally have this classic preschooler phase. You will get there, just keep doing what you are doing and it will all fall into place. Oh and also Cod Liver Oil, I started it this summer after doing a lot of research and that is when her speech really took off- maybe a coincidence but worth a shot.

  60. 65) Kelly

    “…it’s like I can see that same little person in her all along…”

    I’ve thought the same thing with my children!

  61. 66) Susan

    I think that’s one of the hardest things to do as a parent (especially if it’s your first!) … the balance between not comparing your child’s progress with other kids and feeling “behind” or worrying and recognizing when it’s time to step in, get something checked out and advocate for your child. It’s important to let kids develop on their own timeline, but sometimes they really do need some extra support and early intervention can be so critical. It’s a challenge.

  62. 67) Farah

    Omg Q_Q Clara is so cute and growing up! When I first started following this blog I was in my first year of highschool and now I’m graduating soon so like, time is moving by so fast because I still feel like it was yesterday when she was born!

  63. Late to the conversation here…( I came here to find one of your tutorials ), but just wanted to share that my daughter was a super late speaker too. I was never really worried about it until people kept saying “she doesn’t talk much, or she’s so serious, or she’s probably confused because we talk to her in English & Spanish ( she’s originally from China, brought her home at 18 months ), or it’s probably because she’s the only child”. But none of that was true actually. We did take her to get evaluated & get her hearing done etc., & she passed the comprehension with flying colors. Dr. said she was just one of those kids who was just taking it all in, observing, learning, & that one day she would just surprise us. And that is exactly what happened. At three she started ballet/tap & started taking piano once a week, never had much to say & her teachers would confirm she was quiet but an excellent learner. Fast forward one year later, she just had her 4th birthday, & has had amazing progress, she continues to amaze us how well she can re tell us the stories we’ve read her or just talking about general things she’s observed, is curious about learning how to spell ( she can spell several 3 & 4 letter words ), very mature for her age, understands full Spanish ( although doesn’t speak it ), but if anyone quizes her on any Spanish word or phrase, or sentence, she can fully translate it in English. She’s also eager to learn Chinese, constantly asking us how to say certain words. I also really really think learning how to play the piano at such a young age has helped her immensely in language. She played two pages of “Let it Go” from Frozen at her first recital before turning 4. So, I’m sure you have absolutely nothing to worry about with miss little Clara. Each child is completely unique and develops at his/her natural pace. Love reading about her updates, you are so great at documenting it. I will have to update my daughter’s blog more often as it is really the only way I journal & hopefully one day she’ll enjoy reading it. take care.

  64. 69) Paige W

    It took us a long time to convince anyone else that our son’s speech was off but we finally did, and he has been getting speech therapy which is great! He does really unique funny things with his words which is adorable! And frustrating. He used to say “Jeth” for “yes” and “oggs” for “eggs!” Easter oggs were for sure my favorite thing next to “yanka taus” for Santa Claus. He was a cute little baby, I will miss it when he speaks like us.

  65. 70) Jennifer

    I now 35 years old I was just like your daughter. I did not start talking till I was 3 years old. I now a talker. I just found out the I have dyslexia when in college 4 years ago. Keep asking for help in school if anything appears. I used to stutter till grade 7 and still do if I’m stressed or can find the words.

  66. 71) CK

    How sweet!! I LOVE these years with my little ones, so hard to believe that there will be a day when they won’t be living at home! One of my children didn’t talk at all until 3 1/2. I tried not to compare so I never really became to concerned. Now at age five he’s a talker!

  67. 72) Dana N.

    Your Clara sounds so much like my niece, Molly, who will be four in a month! Especially with the delayed language. Molly has been getting help from Early On since she was maybe 18 months old, and she is currently in Head Start pre-school. Clara will soon amaze you with the words that come out of her mouth. Molly says the craziest things, for any four year old, let alone one that was speech delayed. She’ll say “gorgeous” and “delicious” to describe things just out of the blue. My friend has a daughter who is just two months younger than Molly. When they were both 2, Molly was barely saying a word while McKennah blabbered on about manners and other things. Now, the two are equally talkative with large vocabularies. Watching her grow has been one of the most fun experiences in my life; it makes me so excited to have kids of my own in a few years! But moral of the story, you are doing what is right for your child’s development and she will continue to amaze and astound you in the best ways possible.

  68. 73) Sally

    Dana, what an inspiration you are. For all the reasons that people have mentioned here, but I have another reason to add! While going about your life as a very busy mum of three gorgeous kids, tending to their various needs and wants, you have still managed to find time to do what you love! Sometimes I find myself so caught up in the various struggles of what my kids need (one with severe food allergies, another with a hip condition requiring multiple surgeries), my ailing parents needs, that I realise I am just existing for everyone else, but not doing anything for me. My husband and daughters are Number One to me, but it’s so important to be content myself. Happy mum, happy kids.

    Let’s not also forget that because you are doing what you love, you are making so many of us happy too! And Clara sounds like a total delight! x

  69. Dear Dana,

    my Little one also did not speak. And I refused to take her to the SLP until she was 5. At 3 also, she did not speak. At 5 she spoke quite well, but the articulation was not good. The SLP said she was a lot in advance regarding the richness of her vocable, but articulation was not OK. And now, she’s almost turning 7, I often think that I would have liked to be able to have a look in the future : instead of worrying, I would have enjoyed that time because now, you just CAN’T stop her, and her neverending blabla just makes me soooo tired :-))))

  70. Your post reflects EXACTLY my thoughts going through the diagnosis process for speech delay with my 2-y-o daughter. It sounds like they have very similar issues. I know that in the long run, it’s not a major issue but it’s always hard to hear a health professional tell you something is wrong with your baby. We just started therapy this week and I’m hoping she is responsive. I can’t wait to hear her say “I love you!”

  71. That is so wonderful that she’s made such progress! I completely understand what you say about not wanting to push your kids to be on the same timetable as their peers, but not knowing where the fine line is between taking her time to start doing something or her actually having a problem that needs to be addressed. I went through this with my daughter and now am going through it with my son for different issues. And I know that we’re lucky that their difficulties are nothing serious, but it does put things into perspective! I wish you lots of luck and continued progress! 🙂 Lisa

  72. 77) Lindy

    I am so glad I came across this blog. My oldest daughter just turned 3 and is just now really starting to talk. When she was two she would mumble a few things and only used 3 words. But right around her 3rd birthday she just started and haven’t stopped. I’m amazed some of the words she has learned and can correctly label and identify most items. We were going to start speech therapy, but It was like something popped and she got it. She always comprehended everything we said and understood when we were talking, but never verbally commented. Thank you, reading this was wonderful. I know how smart my daughter is, but it also made me worried at the same time. It was nice to read something that was so on par for what we are going through right now.

  73. Hey Dana,
    Thanks for keeping it real and your transparency. I’ve got 3 too and we’ve had lots of challenges with our middle one with milestones, growth and development. It’s so good to remind each other of the complexities and shadows in life and that beauty and curating the happy can co exist in them. What you do is such a good force for happiness and glee. Don’t stop bringing the Dana out into the ether. Unless, of course you want to 🙂 You and awesome and I love your work. The First Day Dress is my absolute favourite so far!!

  74. 79) Lisa

    It’s always good to have things checked out, but our 3rd child was very speech delayed as well, and it turns out it was mostly because her siblings never let her get a word in edgewise. She never had to really ask for what she wanted as they already understood her and translated her requests to us. I didn’t even notice until pediatrician said something at a regular checkup. Once we made sure the other kids gave her some space to talk, her language really picked up. Being the baby was the source of the delay! (For reference, 1st child didn’t really say much until about 2; 2nd one was talking in full sentences at 15 month; they were 2 and 4 when #3 was born so all close enough to get each other.)

  75. 80) auschick

    My daughter would *adore* that cat sweater! Did you make it? If so, can you tell me the fabric?

  76. 81) Erin

    My sweet baby is 23.5m and doesn’t say much either 🙁 He is starting play group next week with the birth to 3 program. In 2 months we will reevaluate and go from there. I know your frustration. I really hope my sweet boy has the success Clara has.

  77. 82) Anne Burrough

    It’s so funny. As you described Clara… loves pink, loves dresses, loves cats, hates dirty hands… I thought, “Wow. That is so Emma.” Emma is my youngest daughter, the youngest of four, 2 1/2 years old. And your description of Clara fits Emma to a tee. And then I read about Clara’s speech delay and have now decided these girls are long lost twins. Emma also has an expressive speech delay. She spoke later and doesn’t articulate well. She will start preschool in the fall and I already know that it will be hard not to compare. She’ll be the youngest in the class with an August birthday, plus the delay, will make her so far behind some of the others. I am so thrilled that Clara has an easy time socially. That gives me great hope. I do understand what you mean that while you are so thankful she is healthy and it’s not a major problem, it’s hard not to wish that she was progressing on a more typical schedule. Thanks for sharing your story.

  78. 83) Ashley

    I have been a speech pathologist for 14 years and it really is the most awesome job around. In the last few years, my day has been made with videos and texts of overjoyed parents hearing a new sentence from their child. Way to go, Clara cat!!

  79. I can relate so much to this post. I am fairly new to your blog and came to check out some of your tutorials this morning, but found myself drawn to this beautiful post instead. My third daughter, now 4 1/2, was diagnosed a year ago with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. I think as parents we beat ourselves up with such silly compare and contrast mindsets, especially when it comes to our children. Are they not exactly who they are supposed to be, delayed or “on track”, severe or not? I did not come to this view without heartbreak and worry and guilt, a year later these feelings are still there, but so is the perspective. After all “normal” makes everyone less uncomfortable.
    I had many meaningful friends discount the severity of this disorder, because all they saw was a healthy, happy (albeit frustrated) little girl. I listened to all the ” she’ll talk when she’s ready”s and “don’t worry about it” s, but the truth was I did need to worry about it. Without our SLP’s and my help she would simply never have intelligible speech.
    And maybe our daughters don’t have a life threatening illness, or a life long physical disability, but that should not diminish their personal struggle, however severe or long they will have to deal with it. See, now there I go with the parental comparing.
    Good luck to your little girl!

  80. 85) Valentina

    Here’s a story that proves that everything works out in the end: my brother didn’t talk till he was 4, while I started speaking on my first birthday and in full sentences right away. Now we’re adults with our own families and children and there isn’t any difference in our speech abilities. I didn’t grow up to be a genius, he didn’t grow up to have any special needs. So I would say that early development isn’t a very good indication of outcomes in adulthood.

  81. 86) Cath

    Thank you for opening up about the speech issues with Clara. So many people around me had no clue about speech issues when my second born was not talking by 3. He has now been diagnosed with Apraxia, which is fixable…but not common. So refreshing to have bloggers open up and talk about the “not normal” child….though I am pretty sure they are all not normal in their special way 🙂

  82. 87) Sarah

    Thanks so much for sharing this! My son is turning 3 in a month and has gone through the exact same issue. Great comprehension, no hearing problems, just delayed on his speech. Since Christmas he really opened up and all the sounds started coming out! He’s made loads of progress, but still has a way to go before he catches up to his peers. It’s definitely encouraging to know other kids are on a similar path. They will get there!

  83. 88) Emma Scott, England

    What a fantastic blog…thank you for this. Feeling rest assured that I’m not alone!
    We have an adorable 3.4 year old, loving, sociable yet not talking but he is getting there!! At 2 years old no words, 2.5 years 20 words now almost 3 and a half he is getting there but still a year behind his peers. Totally agree with you when you say you are so thankful that our child is healthy but it does break your heart when they can’t have a conversation with you.
    Charlie now says sentences like “mummy sit down” and “wee wee on the potty” but is still months off talking properly…no he’s not autistic…he’s just developing at Charlie’s rate but reassuring to know we arnt alone.

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