Speech delay with my daughter who is 3 in June. - NCT


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Speech delay with my daughter who is 3 in June.

Jess1981 profile image

Hi everyone.

I feel so worried and scared that my daughter Francesca isn’t talking yet.

We discussed it at her last review & was given a list of things to try for Francesca & they would refer her to a speech therapist. . We do these suggestions all the time. And she is now mixing regularly with other children.

Her social anxiety has improved around children but her speech has not. I find it hard being around other children her age as most of talking and I just feel more and more of failure every time I hear them talking so well. I am so frightened for her future and am in tears frequently over it.

I expressed my concerns to my health visitor who was visiting for Elizas 6 weeks check up. And begged for a referral to a speech therapist & was supposed to hear back later in the week of course they never called me.

My area doesn’t have much funding & I fear they are trying to fob me off.

Francescas social anxiety around children is greatly improved but her speech is not.

I have texted the parent concern mobile but I don’t think for a moment they will respond.

I am not wanting to send Francesca to nursery as she isn’t speaking and I worry she will be frightened without me. That was the suggestion given to me by my health visitor but it’s not right for Francesca.

My first child spoke very well and clear by 2 and full sentences. I feel so out of my depth with this. She will be going to school in under 18 months time and I’m so scared she will be so disadvantaged if I can’t get her to talk. She also shows signs of autism too.

How can I get these professionals to listen to me? Should I speak to my Gp? Xx

16 Replies

Sending big hugs. Millie is really behind in her speech too and it is worrying. She started nursery in Jan and absolutely loves it, and it has helped somewhat, but it's not a magic solution that fixes everything.Lots of people around us telling us she'll just start talking when she's ready but it's hard not to look at her classmates and compare and wonder if something's really wrong.

I've also been putting off things like potty training as she won't let us know when she needs to go (or when she's already gone!!). And I do feel that I'm treating her as more of a baby than she is, because she doesn't talk, and maybe not stretching her to be as independent as she could be and the Mummy Guilt is strong!!

So I'm sorry, no advice really, just wanted you to know you're not alone xxx

Thank you, it does make me feel alone. I’m so sorry you are also going through this. It’s so worrisome. Everyone says it’s Covid but then I see other children her age talking 😥I also get told by family Francesca will speak in her own time! what has your nursery said about it? I’ve heard nursery’s can do an assessment on children and refer to speech therapist for an assessment.

Mummy guilt is real! And the worst. 🥲

I’ve also put off toilet training for the same reason even tho I feel Francesca could also be ready - but my sister in law said it is possible to train a non verbal child their son is autistic and they said to put Francesca on the potty several times a day and it will take longer than a verbal child they gave their son a chocolate button every time he did something in the potty! They said you have to be prepared to not go out at all whilst you are training & if it doesn’t happen within 3 weeks stop and to re try again in a few months time. Apparently there is online advice for toilet training with a non verbal child. Understand that isn’t possible if you are busy working etc.

I’m pretty certain that Francesca is autistic.

The parent line have texted me back and after answering some questions they are referring my concern to health visitor team & hopefully they will be in touch for an appointment & have an assessment on Francesca . Hopefully when that is done they will refer Francesca to speech therapist 🤞 i will keep on till they do it! 😂 us mums know when something isn’t quite right❤️Xx

We last saw our pediatrician in November and she said let her settle into nursery and see how she goes. The nursery aren't too worried and said give her a couple more months and see. They don't think it's autism. She's pretty vocal, she's always singing and sings along with me and with CocoMelon or Bita (her fave show in Portuguese) but she doesn't talk. If she wants something, she grabs your hand and drags you over and points 🤦‍♀️ The only thing she'll actually ask for is água (water). I do see some progress, but slow. And I see how much others her age can chat away and I feel so bad for her. I worry she will get left out and won't make friends (doesn't seem to bother her, she loves nursery). We took her for a speech therapy assessment when she turned two - it's all private here - and it was ridiculously expensive. 3x40 minutes a week costs almost as much per month as our rent!! My husband went crazy about it being a total rip off and won't even discuss the subject again. So I'm just waiting to see how she gets on...That's good news they got back to you. Hope the referral doesn't take too long. Hope you're all well otherwise xxx

Hi Jess , I’m sorry you’re facing this issue.

The first point of call would be your health visitor to do an assessment on where Francesca is with her development. They would then refer to speech and language .

Failing that a call with your GP for an appointment would be best as they can directly refer to Paediatric care .


Thank you. I texted the parent line & have had a response! After answering some questions they are referring my concerns to the health visitor team and hopefully they will give me an appointment to assess Francesca. I hope we then get a referral to a speech therapist. I’m pretty certain Francesca Is autistic but I’m less concerned by her quirkiness I’m concerned by the lack of speech. I will definitely keep on at them until I have the help I need for Francesca Xx

Hi Jess!

My daughter has a speech delay too. She says about 20 words

She is on the waiting list for an autism assessment as speech is not the only issue (doesn’t point, limited understanding compared to children her age, limited imaginative play etc etc)

Have you done an ASQ questionnaire for her? Look up on Google and chose the correct age interval. If there are a few things from the questionnaire that Francesca can’t yet do make sure you ter your health visitor.

My health visitor has referred us to speech and language and to the child development team over a year ago and very little has happened so these things take time unfortunately.

Can Francesca say some words at all? What other areas are tou worried about?

Do not delay getting help for her as waiting list for everything are usually long.

Even without autism a speech delay put children in disadvantage as you say, so I’d keep emailing and calling until they properly assess Francesca

Best of luck!

Jess1981 profile image
Jess1981 in reply to CatDV

Thank you. I’m sorry you are facing this too.

Francesca can say a few words but rarely.

She can follow some instructions, but won’t play with conventional toys such building bricks, painting or play doh. She only wants to play with sensory toys- she likes textures, sounds or lights. We’ve invested in lots of sensory toys now,

She is so sensitive to certain sounds- the lawn mower, the pressure washer and he carpet cleaner. And has to upstairs away from those sounds. She will cry hearing those sounds.

If there are too many children she will want to go somewhere quietly. Sometimes she just likes quiet time.

I’m not so concerned by her quirky ways tho it may be helpful to knowif she is autistic to know how to parent her better. I’m so sure she is autistic. The lack of speech is really worrying me. Especially as she is going to school in under 18 months time 😬 I

The parent line have texted me back and are referring me to health visitor team and hopefully I’ll have an assessment soon on Francesca and a referral to a speech specialist 🤞Xx

CatDV profile image
CatDV in reply to Jess1981

Yes, I am the same, just want to get some help to get her to talk.I don’t know how it is in your area but so far I am pretty disappointed with the SALT input we are having. We’ve had 2 x Microsoft teams session and 1x face to face but this was for parent education only, not proper therapy.

Because the therapist could tell my daughter was pretty behind she offered us another 4 sessions that will start now in April and they will be online again 🙁

I was hoping for weekly 1-1 sessions but not even close.

The health visitor said that a formal autism diagnosis will open some doors, so hopefully that means better SALT!

If you suspect autism too I’d push for an assessment with the development paediatrician.

With a formal diagnosis Francesca can have an Educational health care plan (or so I was told) and I suppose that can help her having more support at school. But if I’m not mistaken you used to work (or still do?) in a school so likely to know better about this than me!

Also, be sure to request OT if you think it’s needed. Can Francesca feed herself using spoon/fork? How is she brushing teeth/ with showers etc?

If she needs help in these areas ask for a referral.

Keep us posted on the developments if you can xx

If your not prepared for a nursery setting then a childminder might be an option for you, and they will also help with any referrals you might need. Alternatively I’m pretty sure spreads and language is something you can self refer for if you can locate a speech and language drop in locally.

What’s her understanding like? Can you give her a simple instruction she follows like “get your shoes”

Speech and language needs the foundations of understanding. Read to her lots, talk to her as you do things, you will get there. I’ve 3 children now and my middle child is nowhere near as good a talker as his sisters. My youngest turned 2 last month and she’s so clear but my son has taken ages to get to where he is. He still isn’t clear with a lot of words and he starts school in September so I do understand the worry, but you’ve still time and development in children can change so quickly.

If you manage a referral there will be a long wait.

Check out this link for advice as well xx


Thank you. Some instructions she can follow. I think her understanding isn’t bad.

She’s not interested in conventional toys she will only play with autistic sensory toys. She likes textures, sounds and lights. I worry that could be an issue with starting school,

We speak lots to her using no more than 2-3 words. We do try to read to her when she is tired tho she’s on the go a lot!

It feels like we are trying absolutely everything and doing our best but nothing is working. I fear we need professional help.

We realised at her last review something wasn’t right- but as I was self isolating due to being pregnant and having a still born baby at 20 weeks previously we didn’t start socialising her until the baby arrived. They wanted Francesca to socialise with other children she is now and her social anxiety around other children has improved massively l Everything else that was suggested we have kept doing. It feels like we are smashing our heads against a brick wall. People say it’s just Covid but I see children her age talking so I’m not convinced it is just Covid. I don’t know what else I can do Xx

When I say talk to her I mean just general stuff throughout the day, explain what your doing: “I’m putting the clothes in the washing machine, would you like to help me? This makes all the clothes clean”. If she won’t listen to a story just maybe talk about the pictures. Just talk talk talk!!

I know it feels like your not getting anywhere but I promise you, it will be helping.

What area are you? I’ll see what I can find. In the mean time phone your health visitor team, explain your worries again, don’t let them fob you off. I called mine last month asking about my son, I just know when he starts reception the teacher will refer him so I wanted to get the ball rolling if possible. so she asked me about what he can do now using the questions on the sheets they use for his age. She explained that he scored fine on their assessment but they are assessed differently at school age.

Just a quick thought, it might also be worth pushing for a hearing test. Sometimes speech and language issues go hand in hand with slight hearing difficulties xx

There are some online speech courses you can do while you're waiting for a referral, we did a Chatty chops one which was OK. If you use Instagram I'd recommend following Raisinglittletalkers and Speechsisters. Both are American but give some really good tips, Raising little talkers also has an online course you can do which seems to get good reviews x

Just want to add that nursery generally helps children's development massively. Kids learn so much from their peers and other adults, and its a much more structured environment than at home. My daughters development came on leaps and bounds when she switched from a childminder to nursery. I really would urge you to at least give it a go, doesn't have to be all day every day.

I think she needs to be in school. That will fox this.

Jess1981 profile image
Jess1981 in reply to Msze

Thanks. she's not of school age. I am considering a nursery (when she gets funding )that is able to cope with a non verbal possible autistic child and see if she likes it. She's very independent. I'm not convinced it will resolve the speech issue be wonderful if it did - she mixes regularly with other children although her confidence with her peers has improved the speech has not. The health visitor has referred her for SALT and thinks she probably is autistic we may get s referral to see if she is autistic tho this is will be a long process Xx

I have worked with a lot of non verbal children and I'm autistic. It would be good to get a referral to a speech and language therapist or to get a diagnosis but- in my opinion- this is not the most important thing. Dealing with her social anxiety is absolutely essential and a nursery is really important for this. I think it is really important that all children are included and a nursery setting- but also play groups and other opportunities to interact with peers- can help your daughter feel she is like any other child (we are all a bit different after all). You say you are already giving her lots of opportunity to interact and her anxiety is getting better. That is really wonderful and shows you are doing everything right.

It's very likely that your daughter will use her words as soon as she is ready but until then you can look at other ways to encourage communication. You can use little pictures (photos or icons) on a board that you and your daughter can use to communicate. For example you can offer a picture of a potty so she can hand this to you when she needs the toilet or a picture of a cup so she can let you know she needs a drink. This way you can also let her know what she is doing during the day: a picture for the shop or grandparents. You would still use the words but you have something clearer to support the language. Another thing that has proven to stimulate language development is Makaton signing (or baby signing). This is becoming more and more popular also in mainstream settings. You can learn so much on Twitter by following Makaton with Lucinda.

Maybe you already received these suggestions and if you did then I just want to confirm that I really have seen these work. But it takes some time and lots of perseverance. It makes me sad that feel so frightening for her future. I know so many people that developed their language late but have become doctors, artists and academics. I'm absolutely sure you are not a failure. Take care xxx

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