PEOPLE spoke with Phyllis Kupperman, M.A., CCC/SLP/L, founder of the Center for Speech and Language Disorders, who gave some general comments about developmental speech delays in children. (Note: Kupperman is not Greyson’s doctor.)
“It is important to figure out if he is understanding language or if his speech/language expression and his comprehension are both delayed,” says Kupperman. “It is good that they have had him evaluated and that he is getting speech/language therapy already.”
“Research has shown the importance of early intervention, regardless of whether there is an associated disorder or whether the child is just a late talker,” she continues. “I assume that they have ruled out any possible hearing loss.
In response to Farley’s comment that she’s reduced the preservatives in her son’s diet, Kupperman says, “Although research does not support a connection between preservatives and developmental delays, many parents feel that their children should have healthy foods.”
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The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has a collection of reference charts organized by age to give parents an idea of what speech milestones they can expect their child to hit by then. From age 1 to 2, some of these include using many new words, using the p, b, m, h and w sounds in words and naming pictures in books.
“Children develop at their own rate,” reads the ASHA website. “These charts tell you when most children who speak only one language will reach each milestone. Your child should master the skills listed by the time he reaches the top of the age range. Missing one skill in the age range does not mean he has a problem. You may want to seek help if you answer ‘no’ to most of the skills.”
The organization also lists “signs of language problems” to help parents identify gaps. By age 2, this includes having a verbal vocabulary of fewer than 50 words and, by age 3, “having trouble playing and talking with other children.”
Some of the ways ASHA suggest parents can help their children with language development is by talking and playing with them, speaking in the language you’re most comfortable with, not being afraid to use longer sentences as they grow and regularly exposing them to other children who are speaking.
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On last week’s two-part season 2 premiere of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, Farley opened up about her son’s condition and, later, thanked fans for their support.
“To everyone that tuned into @jerseyshore last night and messaged, commented etc about @greysonmathews with similar stories or just showing love I cant thank you enough,” wrote the star, 32. “As a mother, I will go to the moon and back for my kids … no question. I live my life differently because of them.”
“To find out Greyson is ‘behind’ or ‘delayed’ crushed me … but only for a moment … that moment came from wanting to have ‘perfect children’ and ‘how could this happen to me?’ ” she mused. “But Grey is PERFECT and it CAN happen to anyone.”
For more information about what you can do if you suspect your child may have a problem with language development or hearing, visit asha.org.