This post made possible through the support of Cochlear. All opinions are my own.

Sometimes this parenting gig is pretty rough. You have to navigate this journey with little to no preparation and the advice of a million people. 

You’d think that the second time around would be a bit easier. But you quickly learn that no two children are alike. They hit milestones at their own pace. They develop a unique personality. And, while you think you know what you are doing because you went through this once already, there are always a few curve balls thrown at you along the way. 

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When Ben was 18 months old, my husband and I were starting to worry about his lack of expressive language. At his well-visits, I dreaded the question “How many words does he say?”. At that time, he was maybe saying three words consistently: Mama, Dada, and Ball. I knew he wasn’t going to fall in the range of what he “should” be in and, in fact, I had already planned to discuss is lack of talking with his pediatrician.

His pediatrician? I love him. We discussed Ben’s lack of words and his doctor assured me that this was very common with younger siblings. He did, after all, have an older brother who liked to do his talking for him (still does). Why should he talk? He asked me a few other questions such as “Does he follow directions?” and “Does he try to imitate sounds?” Both of which I answered yes.

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It was then that we learned that Ben had an expressive language delay. Expressive language refers to the use of words and sentences to communicate what we think, need, or want.

After we knew what was going on, we could better address the situation. We worked with Ben by slowing down to tune in, talk more, and take turns. This wasn’t something we could just schedule for 20 minutes a day and think he would get the hang of it. We had to work with him all day, every day.

And that is exactly what Cochlear is so passionate about! Cochlear is about connecting parents who want their kids to have access to hearing to help with language and development so they can live their lives without limits. In operation for over 30 years, Cochlear is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, providing products (cochlear implants, bone conduction, and acoustic implants) that are designed to treat a range of moderate to profound types of hearing loss. Cochlear has helped over 450,000 people worldwide have access to sound.

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The Thirty Million Words campaign is an initiative to close the language gap. When we worked with Ben on his expressive language delay, I had to really pay attention to what he was trying to communicate. Instead of being frustrated, I would focus on what he was pointing or grunting at. When I figured out what it was, I would talk. A lot. I would repeat myself over and over so that he would hear the words and increase his vocabulary.  Then, it was his turn. In time, through encouragement, he would respond to my words. With words of his own. 

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Now, here we are three years later, and it’s hard to believe that we ever had that small hiccup. 

Cochlear wants to be a partner to families of children with hearing loss for their lifetime. Cochlear provides parents with the online support, information, and the connection they are looking for around hearing loss. Cochlear knows communication is the crux of everything in parenting, and an essential step in every parent’s journey is working on speech, language, and developmental milestones. For more information or online support, visit Cochlear’s website at http://iwantyoutohear.com.

 

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