The Tale of a Late Talker

Meet Ishaan – two years old, but taller for his age, smiles like fresh morning glory, is a cleanliness-freak, and loves to cuddle and roll over on the bed! He has a world of his own. When taken to a park, Ishaan is not excited about the swings or the merry-go-rounds. He would rather squat near a parked car, and thump its wheels. He does not ride the bicycle, but rather throws it flat on the ground to analyze the spokes of the wheels. He looks at the children playing, and claps as hard as he can. He joins the children running in the park but starts his own sprint in between. He plays his own little games, when at home. He speeds his little cars up and down on every possible item or person in his reach. He makes tunnels by pushing both ends of the carpet, and places a line of cars inside it. This can go on for hours, and he wouldn’t show a bit of ennui! When the game is over, he finds a new amusement quickly – like he stands head over heels and watches the world upside down, or performs somersault or makes paraphernalia out of the toys he broke, and builds houses out of blocks. When all the games are over, and Ishaan is tired of scribbling and painting the walls, mummy puts on the television for him. What does he watch on the television? Well, he claps along the audience in Tech Grand Masters, his favorite among the quizzes, and grins when a cooking show comes along. He carefully observers Vicky Ratnani cooking delicacies, and would scream bloody murder if you change the channel! When daddy is back from work, Ishaan slices fruits or shoots birds or races cars on daddy’s i-pod.

Ishaan does all of this except for one thing; he doesn’t talk. He points to objects he wants, and communicates his feelings in imaginative non-verbal babblings, and an occasional ‘No’ or few garbled syllables. He seldom responds when called by his name and hardly listens to what people are talking around him. The medical milestone for children to start talking is two years. In addition, a 24 month old should be able to speak at least 100 words, and combine two words together. Ishaan certainly has failed to reach the target. His doctor suggests that he needs speech therapy. Does he? Well, the concern arises in situations where a two year old child:

  • Doesn’t use gestures to point objects
  • Prefers gestures over vocalizations
  • Faces problems in imitating sounds
  • Does not understand simple verbal requests

Does Ishaan use gestures to point objects? Yes. Does he prefer gestures over vocalizations? No, because he always makes an attempt to verbally put forward his need, and not remain mute. Does he find it difficult to imitate sounds? No, because he imitates most kinds of sounds, from the vroom-vroom of a car to his daddy’s hoarse voice. Does he not understand simple verbal requests? Yes, he does because he actively responds to ‘eat’, ‘drink’, ‘give’, ‘take’, ‘do’, ‘don’t’, ‘sit’, ‘stand’, ‘throw ’, ‘catch’, ‘pull’, ‘push’, ‘open’, ‘close’ to count a few. Then, why doesn’t he talk? Ishaan’s language development trajectory is typical. He is amongst ‘Late Talkers’ – children who have perfectly normal development but may not speak until they are four or even more!

Thomas Sowell’s book ‘Einstein’s Syndrome’ vividly describes that late talkers are not to be confused with children who have hearing and speech impairments. (The book is named after Albert Einstein who did not talk till he was four and a half years.)  Late talking can be accounted to a number of reasons, right from family history to issues in articulation of hearing-listening-understanding. I agree it’s prudent to undergo therapy before it’s late. However the therapy chosen should be based on accurate diagnosis, and not mild assumptions. Just like Ishaan many other late talkers are misclassified to have Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, or Down’s Syndrome, leading to the adoption of the wrong therapy for the child, and creating havoc and trauma in the little one’s mind. Late talkers’ speech-language skills suffer a set-back during early development. However, owing to their brains’ prolonged involvement in creative activities, a significant section of late talkers often develop extraordinary analytical, mathematical, reasoning, musical, and literary skills.

Ever since we are born, life’s struggles are hurled onto us – struggle to eat, struggle to sleep, struggle to walk, and struggle to talk. We have faced it and know that how difficult it is, and yet we fail to understand the same when it comes to our children. We all want our children to start doing things in two shakes of a duck’s tail! Six months passed since birth, and now Ishaan should have all the teeth. Few more months and he should say his first words. A year gone and now he should walk. A couple of months and he should socialize. Another year and he should talk. He is a kid, and not a robot! Can’t we spare the child some time to catch up on his pace?

Ishaan may not talk, but he sings ‘aaaaaa….baaaaaa…daaaa…waaaa’ and ‘chibe… chibe… tibite… tibite…’as he cleans his toy cars with a tissue that he discovered underneath the set of new diapers. He engages in sorting a muddle while garrulous kids play around him. The moment an airplane fills the house with its noise, he leaves the puzzle and turns his head all around to decipher the direction of the sound. The noise of the kids does not amuse him as much as the sound of the airplane. His brain is yet to tell him that it is time to talk. He is still busy exploring the world around him. He has yet not unraveled all the mysteries that baffle him in his day-to-day life! He is treading upon life unaware that he is moving towards future, and each day he is learning a new way of life, and a new way of expression.  Ishaan’s parents may worry about his development as they are anxious of what will happen to him in the future. In their anxiousness of the future, they forget that he has a present too. Let him live his present in peace, and one day he will surprise every one with his intriguing skills!

“The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.” – Pablo Casals


34 thoughts on “The Tale of a Late Talker

  1. awsome write up…
    i think parents need to read this…
    this can prove to be a silver lining for all children…
    nice very nice keep up the good work

    1. Hi Rinni!
      Thanks. As always I am delighted that you liked the post. 🙂
      I would be more than glad if a parent could empathize with what I am trying to say.

  2. Absolutely gorgeous article!!!! I love children and life brought me close to children with various disabilities…. They are not “handicapped”, they are absolutely beautiful, amazing and great…. Our notion about normality is a very sinuous thing… Sometimes I almost tought that they can be perfect despite all their limitations… 😀

    1. Hi Andela!
      Thank you so much. I am really elated that you could relate to the post.
      No doubt that children are the most beautiful gifts of God.
      They all are very very special, and so is my darling Ishaan. 🙂

  3. It’s so true!
    We are so bogged down with the future that the present just slips away!
    “stop and smell the roses!”

  4. So beautifully written.I could totally relate to this article as I too have a same kind of story going on.More than parents,the people around make the parents worried comparing their kids and their developments.Each child is born with a different DNA. We need to understand this and yeah enjoy the present whole heartedly … !!

    1. Hey Richa!
      Ahh the DNA thing is so damn true. I totally understand what you are trying to say.
      This article is straight from my heart, and I am glad that you are among those who could get the essence of it. 🙂
      My love to laddoo. 🙂

  5. Dear Lopamudra,
    You may call it a coincidence of sorts, but honestly I feel it was God who answered me when I read your post. Bewildered??…Let me explain.
    Today, being a Sunday (the most eagerly waited day in our lives for those working in the corporate world & take a special note: we have 6 working days a week), I was dilly-dallying slumbering all day long & pondering over the reasons why this world was created, why do we exist & importantly, why do we suffer. (You can see what effects peer pressure of work can have on poor souls like us!)
    So I concluded my spiritual dilemma with the most absurd notion of all – let all of us stop giving birth to children, let the evolution stop, let the world & this universe come to an end so that there is no pain & no suffering and all that remains is absolute peace.
    With this enlightened thought I was going to call it a day at 12.30 in the night and lo & behold, “lopascribes” comes knocking at my FB page with a brand new post about children.
    It was beautiful, the way you got into the mind of a two year old and narrated it with such innocence and maturity. Touching! Effect on me: The universe can stop later. I want a child who is a miracle, who, since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.
    Last but not the least, I learnt:-
    1 A new word-Ennui
    2. A new phrase-in two shakes of a duck’s tail (reminds me of Donald Duck ;-))

    1. Hi Devneet!
      Wow…! I am really glad that this post could bring a whole new view point into your life.:)
      Thank you for being such an amazing reader. Your comment always a smile to my face.
      No doubt that children are wonders in this world, and we all can learn a lot of things from them.
      It was a pleasure to hear from you.
      Thanks again!

  6. wonderful write up Lopa, My daughter is Autistic and i know what you are saying thanks for spreading the word,….more and more parents and teachers need to read this
    hugs n love:)

    1. Hi Soma!
      Thanks for liking the post, and for your comment!
      I am glad I am able to contribute in some way to a great cause.
      Hugs and Love to you and Bonita…:)

  7. Well articulated.. Every parent compare their child with other child and forgets to realize the special talent of the child..
    A good awareness article about the “Einstein’s Syndrome” and worth to be shared 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment! I really appreciate it. 🙂
      Comparisons are the worst things when it comes to children.
      I hope more people understand this.

  8. NIce 1 lopa…a must know for parents…parenting isn’t easy (though havnt managed yet,he he)…ur writing wud inspire parents to show some patience nd not to push their child too far in this first world of ours!!!good job..

    1. Hi Deepak!
      Thank you so much!
      I am happy that you liked the post.
      Children are tender flowers. Let them bloom on their own is all i am saying. 🙂

  9. I’m coming over to play with him whenever he’s here ! 🙂
    Would love to observe him and spend some time with him.

  10. Beautiful write up dear, an attempt to make ‘every child is unique’ concept crystal clear. Each one of us is different, different personality, having different needs, different learning styles and moreover having different pace to grasp new things. I can connect myself to Ishaan as I too started speaking late but once i started speaking It was too much…my mother always shares that she felt as if i was observing for so long & learning everything well so that i don’t falter and could speak out complete statements fluently….one should not easily tag any child as Autistic etc, Let the child grow in his own pace …… Hope very soon you will share naughty talks of Ishaan. ….God Bless !!!

    1. Hi Lata Didi!
      Thank you so much for the lovely comment!
      You have completely got what i have tried to convey.
      Ishaan’s mother (my sister) was also a late talker, and my mother underwent the same experience!
      I just felt the need to spread the word so that children enjoy the innocent days of childhood, and people at least make an effort to stop comparing children!

      Thanks again for visiting my blog. Come often. 🙂

    1. Many renounced people from the fields of Maths, Physics, Music, Arts, etc. were late talkers. Their excellence is often accredited for their late talking. It is because late-talkers’ brains are involved for a significant time in a lot of analysis during early childhood development, and so language skills catch up late.
      It’s good to know you are taking interest in this matter. Spread the word!

  11. Washed away principles with innocence so kind.
    I have a feel of the world so different from yours.
    I see the story being told in the plastic blocks.
    Know my sense, beyond the sensibility it goes.

    wonderful post !

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