Jessa Duggar Opens Up About Her Son's Developmental Delay

Jessa and Ben Seewald are no strangers to parenting at this point — after all, the 27-year-old mom and 24-year-old dad already have three kids: Spurgeon who's 4 years old, Henry who's 2, and newest addition Ivy who's just 5 months old — and seem to have a general idea of the progress their kids should be making as they grow. 

With Henry, however, the Seewalds are noticing some delays (via People). On Tuesday's episode of Counting On, the 19 Kids And Counting spin-off, Jessa opened up about her son's developmental progress. "He has some speech delays," she said. "We think it might be a good idea to just have him evaluated, have his hearing checked, and see what they think we should do next." 

Jessa explains that when he around 18 months of age, she noticed Henry "wasn't communicating like his older brother did at that age, or like other kids his age." While she says that she understands each child develops at their own pace, she noted that he hasn't been catching on the way she thinks he should be. "He's not really able to talk and communicate what he wants," she explained in the episode. "A lot of the times it's just grunts and pointing and that kind of thing."

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald took Henry to the doctor

Because of their concerns, the TLC couple took a trip to the ear, nose, and throat doctor with Henry. Jessa, the fifth child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, admitted that she was nervous to bring him to the doctor. "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.'"

Sister Jinger agrees that it's easy to play that comparison game in your head, and start to stress about where your child is developmentally. "I definitely compare Felicity to other kids her age. I think most parents probably do that. You see another kid over there who's crawling, and maybe your baby isn't crawling yet, or they're not rolling over, and you can get kind of scared," she admits. "But also, at the same time, you can't compare too much because every kid is different."

Once they got to the doctor's office, Jessa explained that besides the speech delay, when Henry was born, he also suffered from a "really bad tongue-tie," which had been clipped. Thankfully, the doctor said that based on the tests they ran, they didn't think Henry had any hearing loss. The doctor did mention, however, that the ages between 2 and 3 are crucial for speech development, saying, "So this is the time to probably really focus on getting that development going and really jump-starting it."

Tracking a child's speech and language development is important

Their doctor was right. It's incredibly important to make sure that a child's speech and language development are on the right path around 2 to 3 years of age. Although every kid is different, the Mott Children's Hospital says that there is a rough timeline parents can use to track their child's development. Around 12 months babies should be able to say a word or two, should be able to recognize their own name, should be able to imitate familiar sounds, and point to objects.

Around 2 years, which is the age Henry is at, they should be able to say short sentences, know somewhere around 50 words, and start becoming more aware and articulate about the world around them, asking questions and communicating better. However, WebMD says that speech delays in toddlers are extremely common — in fact, it's the most common form of developmental delay — and though hearing loss or a learning disability could be the culprit, other times no cause is identified. 

Clearly, Jessa and Ben are happy to know that Henry will have a bright future ahead of him. "We were very happy to hear that Henry's hearing is not an issue," Jessa said on the show. "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. So at this point, she's recommended that we see a speech pathologist and go from there."

It seems that Jessa and Ben are doing everything they can to love and support Henry, as Jessa shared a sweet Instagram video of Henry identifying words that she wrote down. Go Henry!