When Your Child Is “Behind.” My Experience With Early On Michigan

A few months ago, I heard something that was a bit of a shock from our pediatrician. She was worried that Karina {then 18 months old} may be behind with her language development. She told us to wait until 20 months, and if there wasn’t a lot of improvement, to give Early On Michigan, a call to screen her for developmental delays.

Her language understanding is there — she can hear what we’re saying and react. She’s affectionate. She looks us in the eye. She giggles and has stranger danger — just like any kid at 20 months. But, her language is pretty limited. Sure, I get what she is saying most of the time, but outsiders do not. {For example, “apple” is “ba-bo” and “blankey” is just “b”}

Comparison is deadly, but no matter what you do — it’s there. Especially when you have more than one child.

Kinley was an early talker. She “babbled” starting at 6 weeks and hasn’t stopped talking since. She sings, makes up songs, plays pretend and talks to herself constantly…and those are all things she has done from a young age.

Karina has never been a big babbler, but she has skills Kinley did not have at her age — she can build with LEGOs for long periods of time, she has fed herself from day one, she is extremely affectionate {Kinley is just now starting to become more of a lover…and I think it’s because Karina inspires her!} and she is SO brave.

Early On Michigan

It’s astonishing to me how different siblings can be from each other — but really, it’s absolutely wonderful, too!

As we approached 20 months, the worrying started to creep in. I watched videos of Kinley at the same age saying “Happy Birthday,” and grew concerned since Karina still hasn’t mastered a single two-syllable word. I observed other kids in her age range and could see she wasn’t talking/attempting language like they were {without her sister helping!}. After stewing over the fact I might be over-reacting, I went with my gut and scheduled an appointment with Early On Michigan.

Early On is a FREE program through the State of Michigan that works with children from birth to age three, that specifically looks for developmental delays and/or disabilities.

Two women came to our house {one was a former special education teacher and one was a speech pathologist} for the evaluation. My girls HAMMED IT UP. Seriously. They must have thought these ladies were the coolest people ever the way they kept bringing out “toys” to play with and showering them with attention!

They asked me questions about Karina’s development and personality, and interacted with her with several games to test her fine/gross motor skills, language, memory, and more. The entire evaluation took a little less than an hour, and I felt that it was pretty thorough.

At the end, we discussed what I needed to do moving forward.

It was determined that she is behind in her language skills {she is speaking at a 16/17 month level versus where she should be at 20 months}. But we also learned she’s ahead for her age in adult interaction, social skills and concepts, so that helped some of my mommy guilt fall to the wayside.

Our plan of action is to just work with her more during the next few months {incorporating more sign language, working with flash cards, and soliciting Kinley for help — she truly is her best teacher}, and re-screen her in a few months if her language doesn’t improve. Additionally, I have scheduled a hearing test just to be sure that isn’t an issue, though that isn’t suspected.

I am SO thankful for this program to put my mind at ease, or if needed, help my child, in the future. Early intervention is absolutely key when it comes to little ones!

The reality is there is such a huge range of what’s “normal” for a child, especially during these early years, and reading things on the ‘net will only scare or confuse you. Only a parent can determine when something is just off with their child. Don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician questions or get an evaluation to determine where your child stands if you’re worried. I am so happy I did!

If you think your infant or toddler may have a developmental delay, contact Early On at 1-800-Early-On or complete the online referral form.

This is not sponsored in any way by Early On. I just really appreciated this program and wanted to sure my experience in case there is a parent in my same boat!

Was your child a late talker? What helped them develop their language over time?



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    • Mrs. Weber says

      Thanks, Carly! It’s so fun seeing how different they are for sure. I’m sure it’s even more crazy with twins! 😀

    • Mrs. Weber says

      Aww, so glad to hear that, Erin! I could see where it could make such a huge difference in a child’s life.

  1. says

    I contacted Early On when my daughter was 7 months old for global delays. She was subsequently found to have a mild neuromuscular disorder and sensory perception disorder and has been in early on since. We’ve gone through OT, PT, feeding therapy and most recently started speech therapy in the fall. They have been absolutely amazing. If you saw my daughter now, you wouldn’t realize where she was just over a year ago and I attribute all of it to them working with her and the “homework” they gave me to work with her on.

    Obviously all kids are different, but I think the hardest thing is admitting that something might be “behind” or even “wrong” with your child. Good for you, mama for recognizing that and being pro-active! Hopefully with the new ideas to work with her at home you’ll see her vocabulary burst soon! And if you do have to go into the program, feel safe in knowing you are in great hands!
    Holly recently posted..Our Happily Ever AfterMy Profile

    • Mrs. Weber says

      That’s amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Holly! So glad to hear there are so many parents taking advantage of this program :)

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I had no idea this resource was available to parents. Glad you had a good experience. I think it is always good to keep in mind the quote “it is not how smart you are, but how you are smart” every person has their own strengths and weaknesses.

    • Mrs. Weber says

      That is SUCH a great quote, Amber!!! Love it. And yes — such an awesome resource for any parent who has questions/concerns about their child’s development!

  3. says

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I noticed differences in language development with all three of my girls. My oldest was talking like a 3 year old at 1, my middle daughter seemed to be on track, and my third daughter, well, her sisters spoke for her and even now almost 5 years old, her speech is muffled and we have to work on that. I have a degree in Child Development and have worked with children with speech issues, yet it’s hard doing it with my own child. I’m thinking of a speech pathologist. It’s hard to not be in denial about it. This sounds like a wonderful program!
    Lindsey Clair recently posted..Original Loom Boom {Review & Giveaway} Ends 4/21My Profile

  4. says

    Xavier’s Pedi has mentioned this program several times since he was born premature and is a little behind. I’ve not looked into the program because I feel all children develop at their own paces. I know he will catch up and since he was born so early I’m not super worried about it. He is already showing progress in the last month since being in day care, he’s singing songs, talking more, and getting lots of interaction with other children.

    I hope that the program works for Kinley and puts you at ease 😀
    Shawn Ann @ Shawn Ann’s World recently posted..Ramen Noodle Pad ThaiMy Profile

  5. says

    Comparing is definitely difficult when you’re a parent because you don’t know otherwise where you child should be regarding reaching milestones, etc. My son is very talkative while my nephew, born a month later, isn’t. I don’t know if he is behind or if my son is just advanced, and that’s when comparing gets tricky. I’ll have to look into this program and tell my sister about it!
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