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  • 'I Suspected My Son Had Language Delay, and I Am Thankful I Took Him to the Doctor'

    A mom shares her journey to finding acceptance when faced with her child’s developmental delay.
    by Anj Montejo-Tan .
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.

    Motherhood can be a lonely job. What helps is having a community who cheers her on and listens to her without judgment. And that's what our "Real Parenting" section is for: a space where moms can share the joys, pain, and the mess that is parenthood.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Anj Montejo-Tan


    January 18 is a date I will never forget — it was the day we decided to bring our eldest son, Tobi, to a developmental pediatrician to have him assessed. He had been 3 years and 2 months old at that time.

    Tobi, a very sweet and smart boy who blends in with other kids because he is very social and friendly, could already do sign languages before he was 6 months old, and he was hitting all his other milestones. His locomotor skills were remarkable! We even thought he would be an early talker since he started uttering clear words at 10 months.

    But, at 1 year and 6 months, we noticed that Tobi's speech development wasn’t as it used to be. He could follow instructions but, in some situations, especially when we had to discipline, it was hard to communicate. He would ignore us or do echolalia (defined as the "unsolicited repetition of vocalizations made by another person."). This happened until he was 3 years old.

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    Tobi was hitting all his other milestones, but at 1 year and 6 months, his speech development slowed down.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Anj Montejo-Tan

    (People with echolalia, according to Healthline, would repeat noises and phrases that they hear. By the age 2, children will start mixing in their own words with the repetitions. By age 3, echolalia should be minimal at most.)

    It broke my heart when I realized that my son could not understand me when I looked him in the eye.

    I read a lot about what he might be going through and shared it with my husband. For our peace of mind, we finally had him assessed. In our hearts, we hoped that it was not what we feared, but it was confirmed: Tobi was diagnosed with Receptive and Expressive Language Delay.

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    Tobi started with occupational therapy as recommended by the developmental pediatrician.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Anj Montejo-Tan
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    It broke our hearts into pieces. Most of the tears I cried was because I was blaming myself. I kept thinking what I could have done to prevent this from happening. But I did not dwell anymore and put that aside. What was important was what my husband and I could do to help our son with this developmental challenge. We requested from his doctor a list of recommended therapy centers where we could have Tobi’s therapies done.

    After two sessions of occupational therapy, our son suddenly started speaking in sentences! We felt victorious. The occupational therapist decided to cut his sessions three times a week to twice a week. After another week, they already recommended him to go through speech therapy despite the initial recommendation of the doctor to finish a quarter of occupational therapy.

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    Tobi thrived in therapy — he was recommended to go through speech therapy despite the doctor's initial recommendation of finishing a quarter of occupational therapy.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Anj Montejo-Tan

    In May, after three months, we went back for a follow-up. The developmental pediatrician was on the fence about releasing our son from therapy as his improvement was impressive! As exciting as that news was, we decided to continue with his therapies to make sure he got all the help he needed. There were still areas where he needed additional assistance.

    After our October assessment with the developmental pedia, a few more sessions were recommended. Then, Tobi was finally released from all his therapies! We couldn’t be prouder of him as he did most of the hard work.

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    Allow me to share some of the things I’ve learned throughout this journey:

    1. Pray

    Always pray for guidance and wisdom in raising your children. I am grateful that I was able to catch the early signs of developmental delays. And, with the Lord's guidance, the supposedly two-month wait to get assessed by a developmental pediatrician became three days — this alone is a testimony of God’s miracles.

    2. Denying the truth and reality will only cause misery.

    We have heard of sad stories of parents whose kids got diagnosed with developmental delays, but the parents decided not to push through with the therapies recommended for their child. Thus, it resulted to learning delays in school and irreversible damage to the child.

    Please do not resist and help your child. Do what can be done to help them than regret it for the rest of your life.

    Tobi finished therapy nine months after being diagnosed with Receptive and Expressive Language Delay.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Anj Montejo-Tan

    3. Don’t blame yourself or anyone else.

    It wasn’t easy, and I couldn’t help thinking about what I could have or might have done [to prevent the delay]. It made me angry and resentful about myself and the people in our household. It wasn’t helpful at all and only caused division. Remember: there are things that are beyond our control.

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    4. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

    When the final diagnosis was given to our son, I immediately reached out to those whom I knew could guide and help me. I spent time talking to my friends who are speech and occupational therapists. Though we have not communicated for a while, they were very much willing to listen, comfort, and assist us.

    5. Be consistent

    Our child’s improvement is not only in the hands of their therapists and teachers. As parents, we must work with them and be consistent with the instructions given and follow through at home. Therapists can only see our children one hour per session. Our children spend more hours with the people at home. Make sure you share your child’s situation with the yayas and other guardians at home.

    Anj says that when dealing with developmental delays, it's important that parents work with therapists and teachers so your children can continue improving at home.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Anj Montejo-Tan

    6. Be proud of your child no matter what.

    Each child’s progress is different from the others. If there are times you feel that your child’s development isn’t as significant, do not forget their progress in the past. Ponder all these in your heart and be grateful for all that they are. They need us the most, and our love and support are the best we can give to our child.

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    If you are a momma who is going through the same journey as I am, let me send you a virtual hug. You are doing a great job! You got this!

    If you are a momma who is considering bringing your child to a developmental pediatrician, do so. This is a gift you can give yourself and your child. There is nothing wrong with it. It does not mean you are doubting your child’s ability but providing the support they need from you.

    I hope my family's story encourages you and give all of you hope!

    Anj with her husband, son Tobi, and daughter, Cate.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Anj Montejo-Tan
    This piece was originally a Facebook post by Anj Montejo-Tan, mom to Tobi, 4, and Cate, 2. She is part-owner of a company that supplies office and school supplies to corporate offices and schools. She hopes that her son's story can inspire other moms who are going through the same struggles. She also hopes that it will help others to be more aware and accepting of children like Tobi.

    Want to get something off your chest? Or share a slice of your parenting journey with fellow moms? Send it to our Facebook Messenger or email at smartparenting2013@gmail.com with the subject "Real Parenting." Join us at the Smart Parenting Village here.
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