Jenni 'JWoww' Farley is worried about her son's delay, but it's more common than we think

TV viewers watch her interact with her Jersey Shore family on the reality reboot, but Jenni "JWoww" Farley was missing her real family during the season two premiere of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation.

She talked candidly about her 2-year-old son, Greyson, during the episode, noting that his speech has been delayed and that he's started seeing a therapist.

Clearly, Farley was feeling troubled by the fact that her 2-year-old isn't talking yet, but it's something a lot of parents can relate to—speech delays are very common in 2-year-olds, something Farley heard frequently from supportive TV viewers who reached out after the episode aired.

The mom of two (Greyson's older sister, Meilani, is 4) recently took to Instagram to thank all the fellow parents who messaged and commented with similar stories about their own children's delays and challenges (and post a video of Greyson saying "mama").

"I cant thank you enough," Farley wrote. "To find out Greyson is 'behind' or 'delayed' crushed me... but only for a moment…"

Farley says that she recognized her disappointment over the delays was related to a desire to have "perfect children" but she also recognizes that her son is perfect the way he is. That doesn't mean she's not doing everything she can to help him (he's in therapy three times a week and she's made some changes to his diet).

"I've had almost every test done you can think of," writes Farley, who notes that she chose to share this part of Greyson's life on television so that other parents might feel how she did when she got all those messages from viewers.

"I want to help anyone going through what I'm going through... I'm sure people need support the way I've needed it," she explains.

What parents need to know 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, most kids at 2 years old are speaking in sentences of two to four words (something like "I want milk" or "good morning mama") and the CDC encourages parents to check in with their doctor if a child isn't at least using two word phrases ("drink milk," for example) by age two.

But the reason why experts recommend parents loop in the pediatrician isn't because there is necessarily anything wrong with a 2-year-old who isn't yet speaking a lot, but rather so that parents can have access to interventions that might help, and like Farley mentioned, get tests done to rule out physical problems.

"Your child's doctor will likely consider possible underlying reasons for a speech delay, from hearing problems to developmental disorders," writes Mayo Clinic pediatric expert Dr. Jay Hoecker.

"If necessary, he or she might refer your child to a speech-language pathologist or a developmental pediatrician. Treatment options for toddler speech development depend on what's causing the speech delay and its severity. When treated early, however, speech and language delays and disorders generally improve over time."

Research suggests between 2.3 to 19% of kids between 2 and 7 years old have speech delays, so it is common. About one-third of kids younger than 3 and a half who have a speech and language delay don't need therapy a year later, even without intervention. But intervention (like what the therapy Farley's son is getting) is recommended, because in two-thirds of cases, the kids do need it a year later, so starting early doesn't hurt.

One study found that about 13% of 2-year-olds are late talkers and that boys are three times more likely to be in that group. The researchers also found that by the time the kids were 7 years old, 80% of the late talking toddlers had caught up to their peers in language development.

So, JWoww, when it comes to Greyson's speech, you're doing everything right, mama.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

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As a mom of three, I frequently get a question from moms and dads of two children: “Ok, so the jump to bad is it?"

Personally, I found the transition to having even one kid to be the most jarring. Who is this little person who cries nonstop (mine had colic) and has no regard for when I feel like sitting/eating/resting/sleeping?

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