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.