Please Stop Telling Parents Not To Worry Because It Will All “Click”, Sometimes It Doesn’t And That’s OK

TL;DR Telling parents not to worry over a genuine concern for their child does more harm than good. Just listen and be supportive.

This is going to be preachy and ranty, I apologise. But it’s been bugging me for years and I just gotta let it out.

When a parent raises concern over their child’s development, or anything to do with their child, I realise your natural instinct will be to tell them not to worry. It’s what we do. We comfort one another. And I know you mean well, I’ve told people not to worry too. It’s one of those things we say without really giving it meaning, just to help calm and relieve the other person.

But if you’re telling a parent not to worry as a form of actual advice, then please reconsider your choice of words.


It is dangerous to dismiss genuine concern for a child’s wellbeing

I am speaking from experience. From the time Ayub was 2 until he was 6, I kept telling people that I was worried about his development. Physically he hit all his milestones. But he couldn’t string a complete sentence together. His speech was poor. So very poor. Every time I raised the issue, the people closest to me, who I trusted the most, would tell me not to worry. He’s fine. Just a little slow. Don’t worry. When I was his age, I didn’t speak at all. When so-and-so was this age, they didn’t say a single word. When you were this age, you didn’t speak until you were this age.

Just let him be.

I was young and had no experience with children so I let it be.

AND NOW LOOK WHAT HAPPENED! Ayub never picked up a mothertongue. Still struggles forming coherent sentences. Is unable to verbalise his thoughts. Much to his own frustration. He only got diagnosed with autism at the age of 7. SEVEN.

worry about my special needs speech delay child

Ayub is the most loving, caring, and affectionate person I’ve ever met. And I completely let him down.

I know if I had just listened to my instincts and not the empty (albeit well-meaning) words of others, that Ayub could have had an intervention much earlier and may be speaking much more eloquently than he’s able to now. I don’t blame anyone, especially not the well-meaning people who dismissed my concerns. This was 100% my mistake for allowing others to dismiss my concerns.


It’s ok to worry

Every parent is going to worry about their child, whether or not that kid has special needs or not. I worry about Sulaiman because he’s incredibly smart, gentle, and apparently “acts like a girl” which makes him a prime target for bullying. (Screw you human who thinks acting “like a girl” is an insult, girls are fucking awesome. Screw you even more for using that “insult” against a boy who likes pink and thinks ‘Frozen’ is a damn good movie.)

I worry about Ayub because he has autism, processes the world differently, and has weaknesses that if left unattended, could lead to serious negative effects on him in the future. Mainly his difficulties in speech, comprehension, and social thinking skills.

worry about my special needs speech delay child

I will never stop worrying about my boys. Part of my heart lives in each of them.

It will not “click” one day

This is my biggest pet peeve. Telling parents not to worry because it will one day “click.” No. Things will never just “click” spontaneously. If they do “click”, it’s only because a lot of time, effort, and support went into hitting that milestone.

Take for example, Ayub learning to read.

He was slow to get it. But he finally got it. And now he can read and write. Some people love to tell me, see! Everything clicked eventually! No, it didn’t.

  1. Ayub received a ton of support and 1-on-1 coaching from his kindergarten teachers to learn how to recognise individual alphabets.
  2. From there he was drilled into memorising each sound that each alphabet produced.
  3. Then the wonderful teachers at the Dyslexia Association of Malaysia taught him tricks to make reading easier using blocks, colours, rhymes. Repeat Monday to Friday, five hours a day.
  4. Finally he started using Click N Spell, an online program for spelling at Acton KL.

All these steps over the course of two years from the time he was 5 years old until he was 7. Not forgetting his persistence and hard work to keep at it day after day. These are the things that went into his journey of learning how to read. After all that time and effort and support, yeah, you can say it “clicked.”

But it’s not something that just happened overnight.

worry about my special needs speech delay child

Sulaiman spends time “working” on his journal every day, using coloured markers and a calculator. He’s amazing.

Sulaiman taught himself how to read when he was 3 years old. It also took time and effort on his part. Just that it was a much easier and faster journey. It still didn’t just “click” overnight. He worked at it, albeit on his own, and he figured it out.

Nobody goes to bed not knowing the alphabet, then wakes up the next morning able to read. It doesn’t work that way.


Stop comparing children and their stories that are completely unrelated

I love hearing stories about kids. Please, tell me all of them. Parenting is a gift and I love it when people share it with me. But don’t use your experience to compare it with mine.

Unless you are deeply involved with raising an autistic child, don’t tell me not to worry because a kid you know was once socially awkward and now has tons of friends. It’s not the same thing.

Autism isn’t an illness. It doesn’t need to be fixed or cured. It’s just a term to explain the way a certain set of people process the world in a similar way, that is different from the majority.

Aisha’s speech is not just going to “click”

So, this is the main point that I’m upset about I guess.

Ever since I raised a flag about Aisha’s speech and that it seems to be quite obviously delayed, people have been flocking in to tell me not to worry and that it will click. I mean, she definitely understands every word we’re saying and is able to follow complex instructions. (Take of your clothes, put them in the laundry basket, then open your nappy and throw it into the dustbin. She can do this on her own after instructing her once.)

worry about my special needs speech delay child

Aisha has excellent fine motor skills and can feed herself soup with a spoon.

But she is almost 2 years old and can’t put two words together. Her spoken vocabulary is extremely limited. And it seems to me that every time she learns to say a new word, she stops using an old word.

I don’t care if you knew a kid that didn’t speak until they were 5. That kid is not my kid. That kid went through their own journey. My kid will go through her own.

Unless you dealt with a child who had an actual speech delay, I’m not interested in hearing your comparison stories.

I had enough people telling me not to worry about Ayub, which led to him receiving therapy very late. I refuse to make the same mistake with Aisha. “You mean you’re really going to bring her to a speech therapist?!” Hell yes. “What if there’s nothing worry about?!” Then alhamdulillah it’s nothing to worry about. But what if it is?

I know people say not to worry but I think it’s ok to worry

I am worried.

You know your child better than anyone else in the world. Including doctors and experts and therapists. If you think there’s something about your kid that needs attention, get attention. If people tell you not to worry, smile and nod then get yo’ kid attention.

It is ok to be worried. Sometimes there’s nothing to worry about. But you won’t know until you do something about it. So do something about it. There are only two possible outcomes when you get help for your child:

  1. There is really nothing to worry about, everything is cool
  2. There is actually something to worry about, now you can work on it together and give your child the help and support they need

Ayub didn’t speak at 2 years old. People told me not to worry, that he’ll catch up. He never caught up. We sang and read books and pointed to objects and did all the things people told us to do. He’s 9 years old and he still struggles with speech. If I had started him in speech therapy earlier, maybe he would be speaking and communicating better.

worry about my special needs speech delay child

I am bringing Aisha to speech therapist to find out if this is something I should really worry about. I apologise if this post is very unhelpful! All I’m saying is that kids are individuals, and some individuals need extra help in specific areas, and that’s ok! 

If you’re worried about your kid, I strongly recommend Oasis Place. Thank you for reading my rant.


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Laila Zain

Laila is a working mama who married young, had two beautiful boys, went through a shitty divorce, met an amazing man, remarried, and had a beautiful girl. Her eldest boy is a rainbow baby and special needs child. Her second is ridiculously smart. Her baby is a baby.

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