Mom begs people to stop talking about 4-year-old with speech delay like he can’t hear them

Any self-respecting mother or father will tell you that there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for their child.

The mere idea of them being less than content or, God forbid, seriously upset about something is enough to give us fits – no parents can truly be happy unless their children are first, after all.

Sadly, the world can be a cruel place, and it isn’t always fair. Some kids, through no fault of their own, are born different to others. Some live with disabilities, others are forced to combat adversity that their peers aren’t.

Ashley Austrew is a mother who knows a thing or two about being a parent to a child in the latter category. She recently wrote a piece imploring people to stop talking about her son, who lives with a speech delay, like he can’t hear them… and it makes for compelling reading indeed.

According a piece Ashley wrote for CafeMom, her 4-year-old has trouble enunciating his words due a speech delay. It can make everyday life trickier to navigate than it otherwise would be, especially since strangers he meets can have a difficult time understanding him.

Ashley wrote for CafeMom: “He has excellent comprehension and a huge vocabulary – both of which are more than on par with what’s expected for his age – but he has a speech delay that causes him to mix up letter sounds when he speaks. “Soccer” becomes “yokker,” for example, which doesn’t seem all that hard to comprehend, but sometimes he mixes up sounds in the middle of words, too.“

Posted by Ashley Austrew on Friday, March 10, 2023
Ashley also referenced a particular recent occasion wherein she took her little boy to get his hair cut. While he was there, the hairdresser happened to ask him a question.

“What grade are you going to be in?” the woman reportedly asked.

“Um, pee-tay,” the boy responded.


“Pee. Tay,” he said again.

Ashley explained how the rest of the appointment had continued in the same manner, with her having to translate for the hairdresser whenever her son spoke.

That in itself would have been understandable, only the hairdresser would occasionally say to Ashley: “How’d you understand that?” or “How can you tell what he’s saying?”

Ashley went on to explain that, sadly, this happens often with her son, despite the fact he has “excellent comprehension and a huge vocabulary.”

“I don’t blame people for misunderstanding,” she added. “Sometimes I misunderstand, too. I’ll ask him to repeat what he said, and he knows it’s because I didn’t catch it.“

She continued: “I know it’s a struggle for anyone who just meets him or who hasn’t spent as much time with him as I have. The problem comes when they talk about it like he can’t understand what they’re saying.”

Simply put, Ashley wants people to stop treating her son like he’s an oddity, and that Ashley translating for him is some sort of marvelous show. Questions about his speech are frequently asked, as are questions about his medical history.

As Ashley explained in her CafeMom piece, though, her son is enrolled in a special education program where he works with a speech-language pathologist three days each week.

“His regular teacher is trained in working with kids with developmental delays as well,” Ashley said.

“I’m so grateful for them and how he’s enveloped in their kindness every day. I’m so grateful that in just the month or so that he’s been in school I already notice an immense difference in the way he talks.“

She concluded: “Yes, my son is difficult to understand sometimes. But that doesn’t make him, or any other child with a developmental delay, less real. And the way you speak to and about kids like my son has an impact, even if they can’t express it.“

Here’s to hoping that Ashley’s son is treated with the respect he deserves moving forward!

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