Monday, April 4, 2011

Sometimes I forget my triplets have milestone delays

Every day at our house is so filled with basic care of toddlers and concentrated efforts to guide each of them along at their particular level, that sometimes I forget about where a “normal” (I hate that word) nearly 2-1/2 year old should be regarding developmental milestones. Aside from the internal comparisons to what I remember life was like when my 14 year old was their age (which is its own bad idea for many reasons, not the least of which is bad memory). I know intellectually we have significant delays, especially in speech and language, but as we live our lives, I adjust my expectations and continue to work with each triplet where they are today. Teaching wherever I can, trying to emphasize sounds, using sign language, encouraging simple words, etc.

Then, come the days when you work in the church nursery or visit friends with kids of similar age or go to the park, etc. Suddenly, you see a little girl their age doing things you are still dreaming of for your children - things like saying, “I want my mommy!” or following easy directions like “can you get a book for me and I’ll read it to you.” Sometimes even from children younger than they are and all of a sudden the reality of significant milestone delays hits you like bricks falling from the sky.

Then you fight off tears as best you can, smile and keep going. You see, there’s no one in the world who wants to hear our 2-1/2-year-olds speak and share their thoughts more than Tripped Up Daddy and me, but we can only get there one step at a time. And by the way, that’s their steps not necessarily the big giant steps I’d like to take.

Sometimes I think back to when I first had that painful thought, “Are my kids behind? I mean, like behind enough that I should be worried? The doctor hasn’t been worried, should I be?” and all the other questions that raged in my head. There are all the comments you get from everyone - “kids develop at their own rates, don’t worry so much” and the like, which I think I listened to too long. When you’re dealing with the initial 15 months of raising triplets, sometimes survival and immediate needs keep you in a potential state of denial longer than is healthy. We started asking the serious questions when the triplets were 18 months, like it or not, I still wish we would have begun pursuing help at 12 months or 15 months.

Our first call was to the Early Intervention group in our state, once our pediatrician indicated he would support a call to the organization. Since then, we’ve had the girls assessed and are busily working on their Individualized Education Plans, which are updated every 6 months with a new assessment. We don’t talk a lot about “catching up” anymore with their special ed teachers, speech pathologists, and more, instead we just focus on the goals for each girl.

I found the tagline of the group very compelling, “Don’t worry, but don’t wait.” Recently a friend asked me about who I called, because she had some concerns about her own child. Once she visited the site, we talked about that tagline. It was interesting because we’re both writers, and we both thought, “Damn, that’s good copywriting.

The hardest part of having kids with delayed milestones is being willing to make the first call, I think. It’s hard to admit your kid may be struggling. It makes you confront all kinds of worries you may not want to really acknowledge. The key is to make that call. Every state in the U.S. has an Early Intervention program which will help assess your child.

If you’re even worried at all about milestone delays, check with your pediatrician or family doctor. Both will have information on which milestones should be occurring at which month, etc. You want to know what to expect and what to keep an eye on with milestones and specifically speech delays. In short, I advocate calling for help earlier rather than later, because if there really are delays, the sooner you know, the sooner you can start helping your child in specific ways.

I know someday my triplets will talk to me, but today it’s a dream. And I’m doing all I can to help them get there in the meantime.


  1. A note of encouragement: My nephew had what I would consider significant delays in his gross motor skills. My sister-in-law got him into a class that worked with him one on one for a year. He is 4 years old now and you would never know he had any delays. Yet at the time, it was difficult and scary for his parents. It's hard not to be fearful when you think there is something "wrong" with your children, but being proactive rather than worrying is the best course of action.

  2. Thanks so much Julie! We look forward to reaching that day too.

  3. thanks for the post!. My 5 year old is globally developmentally delayed.. I know it is very hard!
    you can read about his story on my blog (url below)
    I would love to keep in touch!

    My Big Blue World

  4. Being busy with triplets is more than a full time job just trying to get through the days, let alone keeping up with everyone else and making sure your children are up to their milestones. Many times therapists told me my twins (both sets) were delayed because they are multiples, but I still wanted them to catch up. Which they did, but it's frusterating and a full time job just working with them and being on top of all the therapies. I couldn't have read this on a better day. I'm sitting here miserable that the integrated class that I had fought for a year to get my daughter into has closed the class without her. Now she is stuck going to a special ed class even though she would do much better in an integrated. As with many things in life you'll fight for the best for your kids, sometimes you'll be let down, but it usually works out for the best in the end. I can't imagine having triplets, all the work that goes into twins is hard enough, but I'm glad you have EI on board to help you.

  5. Jennifer, thanks so much for your comment. I will definitely check out your story and value input from one who's been there.

  6. Aura, I'm so sorry about not being able to get your daughter into the integrated class. I know you get the particular toughness of dealing with delays in multiples. We take it day by day, don't we? Smile and do victory laps with each new step. Thanks so much for your heartfelt comment.

  7. at what age did you triplets begin to respond to their names?

    1. While that seems like it would be an easy question to answer, the truth is "I'm not sure!" Throughout the first year it seemed to us that they would respond by turning to look at us when we would talk to them and call their names, sometimes but not always. Sunshine triplet responded by turning and looking and with recognition by 18 months (don't ask me exact month because I don't remember, I just know I wasn't worried).

      Angel and Princess triplets seemed to change in their awareness of us as people and whether or not they chose to interact. This post was written before the Autism diagnosis came through which is discussed in this post:

      To this day, Angel and Princess triplets still can struggle to respond to their names, it's part of the social interaction piece which can be difficult for those with autism. We are seeing major improvements because of various therapies, but they still are less than 50 percent at responding appropriately to the direction, "(insert name) come to Mommy or Daddy." It's a function of their disorder, not necessarily a discipline issue, however, it may also be a choice to simply not do what they're asked. (As parents, we get to guess which it is! Lucky us!)