Jessa Duggar says her son Henry’s speech is improving after she revealed that the two-year-old suffered from speech delays and had been in just the sixth percentile of speech ability for his age group.
The 27-year-old had opened up about the toddler’s delayed problems on the last season of TLC’s Counting On, in which she took Henry to several specialists to determine the root of his slowed development.
But writing on Instagram this week, she told a fan that the little boy is still having his progress evaluated and she believes he is improving.
Jessa had previously revealed that Henry only starting saying a couple of words around his second birthday, and months later, he was still far behind other kids his age.
But things are improving. On January 7, Jessa posted an Instagram photo of her husband Ben, 24, cuddling on the sofa with their smiling sons Henry and Spurgeon, four.
They also have a seven-month-old daughter named Ivy.
When a fan asked how Henry is doing with his speech, Jessa fired off a reply.
‘We are going back this morning for a follow-up speech evaluation,’ she wrote. ‘I think Henry is really catching up!’
She didn’t go into more detail, either about what they’ve been doing to help Henry’s progress along or how he compares to other kids his age.
However, she’d previously been a bit more candid about Henry’s struggles, allowing TLC’s camera to document them on Counting On.
‘He’s had some speech delays,’ Jessa explained in an episode early in the tenth season. ‘We realized, probably since he was about 18 months old, that he wasn’t communicating like his older brother did at that age, or like other kids his age.
‘We realize that each kid develops at their own pace, but he’s not been really catching on,’ she said. ‘He’s not really able to talk and communicate what he wants. A lot of the times it’s just grunts and pointing and that kind of thing.’
Jessa admitted she has been worrying about Henry’s speech delays, but Ben has tried to keep her concern in check.
‘I feel like especially as a mom, it’s easier for me to kind of stress out, like, “Oh no, he’s delayed. What’s wrong with him?”‘ she said. ‘And Ben is a little more level-headed, like, “It’ll be okay, we’ll figure it out.”‘
To figure out what was wrong, the couple first took him to an ear, nose, and throat doctor, speculating that his hearing might be at the root of his speech delays — though that didn’t turn out to be the case.
When meeting with the doctor, Jessa explained that Henry was born with a ‘really bad tongue-tie’ — a band of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth — that had to be clipped.
After examining the little boy, the doctor told the couple that Henry didn’t seem to have any issues with his hearing.
‘We know that between [age] two and three is a very important time in their development as far as speech goes,’ the specialist said. ‘So this is the time to probably really focus on getting that development going and really jump-starting it.’
The doctor recommended that Jenna and Ben take Henry to see a speech pathologist and ‘go from there’ — advice that they followed.
‘We were very happy to hear that Henry’s hearing is not an issue,’ Jessa said. ‘His hearing is perfect. Developmentally, he’s not behind, he’s on track with where he should be. It just seems to be a speech issue.’
In a later episode, she had a family friend and speech pathologist evaluate the little boy, who only starting saying a couple of words around his second birthday.
‘Henry is six months delayed with his speech,’ Jessa said. ‘You never want to see your kids face challenges or delays and it is hard as parent so see that.’
The Counting On segment was filmed soon after Henry’s second birthday back in February.
‘Henry just turned two, and most kids his age will have about 20 to 50 words that they can say. Henry, he’s got two words. He says mama and dada,’ Jessa explained.
Jessa has plenty of other examples of what a child Henry’s age should be able to do or say, having grown up in a home with 14 younger siblings.
And she herself has a four-year-old, while her older sister Jill has a four-year-old name Israel (and a two-year-old name Samuel, who is five months younger than Henry) and her older brother, sex pest Josh, has five kids age two and up.
‘I really recognize how much he does not talk whenever he is around other kids who are even six months younger than him,’ Jessa said.
‘Like, his little cousin Mason is already saying more words than he is, and can communicate when he’s thirsty or when he’s hungry by using words. And so when I see those things happening it more sets in like, OK, this is not normal where Henry is, and I can see why he’s frustrated.
‘With Henry’s very, very limited vocabulary, it seems like [he resorts] to screaming a lot. And so that can be frustrating, because he should be able to communicate more of his needs,’ she went on.
‘That can really be draining to us as parents,’ Ben commented on the screaming. ‘That’s the time when maybe you have to go in the other room, pray for some patience.’
Jessa added: ‘There are definitely times where I just think, am I doing something wrong as a mom? Am I not helping him enough to overcome these challenges in his life? At some point you just need to reach out and get extra help.’
To that end, they enlisted the services of Deedra Branscum, a family friend and speech pathologist. They’d already had doctors check his hearing and other development, and found that speech alone is the problem.
Deedra came to Jessa and Ben’s house to evaluate Henry, speaking to the couple about what he can and can’t do and testing Henry’s ability to identify pictures.
She eventually told the couple that though Henry had just turned two at the time of filming, he fell at the 18 month range for speech, putting him in the sixth percentile. That’s a ‘moderate range of delay,’ she said.
Jessa appeared unhappy at the news but also determined, agreeing with Deedra that she’d set up weekly therapy if he was still struggling withing four to six weeks.
‘He’s learning at his own rate and you have to be patient with that,’ she said.
Jessa and Ben do appear to have taken some additional guidance from the speech pathologist, and in a video posted in May, they are seen using Preschool Prep Company materials to help with his reading and pronunciation.
‘Sight words and letters with the 2-yr-old,’ she captioned the clip. ‘This is not a sponsored post, but just want to share for other Mamas out there who are looking for educational videos for their toddlers! @preschoolprepcompany videos are our favorites!’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Carly Stern