Octopus Mom

Life as a mom who has her hands full

3 year old language problems…or just a boy?

When my almost 5 year old son was 3, his preschool began to get worried. He was a late talker ( after 2) and although his speech was very good, he had difficulty with conversational skills (don’t all men??) He did tend to “echo” phrases back to you instead of actually responding, but I just thought he was still “learning”! Language problems were discussed and the dreaded word “autism spectrum” was even thrown around. I became increasingly distressed to say the least.

I had him evaluated with the county school district’s early childhood educational system, but the evaluation was going to take 3 months to complete, so I made an appointment with a neurologist. The neurologist evaluated him for 20 minutes and then concluded that he must have a language disorder but that he was not autistic. (Relief!!)

We patiently had him evaluated with the school district, and had his hearing tested. All the while, I maintained the belief that while he was a bit behind, he was still making progress. I just thought he was a bit immature for his age and that in time he would catch up. When the 3 month evaluation ended, they concluded the same thing. He was just a bit immature and in time, he should catch up.

Now he is 5 and doesn’t have any language issues. He talks fine, and carries on conversations pretty well (or as well as a 5 year old boy can!) He is still a bit socially immature and has some minor disciplinary problems in preschool, but we are lucky that he still has one more year to go before he goes to kindergarden.

This whole experience was a little more than unsettling, but it really got me thinking about the school system and our little boys. It seems to me that since our experience we have met more mothers whose little boys have been through the same process. Why is that? I believe it is because we expect our little boys to behave more like little girls. We expect them to be extremely verbal, conversational and interested in arts and crafts. We expect that by 3-4 they will be sitting still in circle time, and will sit and follow directions with ease.

Maybe that is not what little boys are made of. My little boy is extremely bright, but sitting in circle time is just not that interesting to him. He would rather play baseball, or pretend that he is being attacked by a giant squid, than drawing a picture or singing in music class. But is that so wrong? I realize that children like Aidan are difficult for the average school system to teach, because they don’t fit the “norm”…but maybe it is the norm that needs to change and NOT our children. Aidan is carefree, silly, and confident. I don’t really want to beat those qualities out of him in an attempt to have him sit in circle time.

The jury is still out over whether Aidan will do well in kindergarten or not, but you better believe that I will not loose too much sleep over it anymore. If they can’t teach Aidan, then I know that I can. I have begun to look into homeschooling approaches and I may consider it, if he struggles next year in school. But for now, we have a whole year to mature and grow…and a whole year to enjoy being a little boy. And I will let him play with frogs, roll down the hill in the yard, make a mess with ice cream, and karate chop the bushes…after all, he is a little boy and I am proud of it.

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5 comments on “3 year old language problems…or just a boy?

  1. riddlej
    January 23, 2009

    Good for you! I totally agree. Ive been there before, myself.

  2. Nicole
    November 17, 2009

    WOW! Thanks so much- this is EXACTLY what my 3 year old son is doing and I have been researching all sorts of disorders! It can be so overwhelming! My son has NEVER sat for circle time (even when we did Mommy & Me) we were actually told that we would be given our check back as my son did not want to sit in circle and wanted to look around instead! I was told Mommy and Me couldnt do him justice! Even in Nursery school he does not participate and sometimes wont do the craft. He just started and goes PT. I think he does have a language delay as he doesnt hold a conversation and only used 3 word sentences, sometimes more, but I would say 3 is the norm and they are mostly related to his wants. So YES- I am having him evaluated, but everywhere you turn you read to familiarize yourself with at least 10 different disorders! So thanks again- this is really what I have been looking for!

    • Coughlin
      November 16, 2010

      Nicole,
      It’s been a year since you posted. What has happened with your son since then?
      I am in the thick of this and am anxious to hear what you have to say.

  3. audrey
    November 18, 2010

    relief i thought my grandson was going threw the same thing.this really y help me get over thinking my grandchild has autism.

  4. Suz
    February 4, 2013

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

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