forked tongue tie
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Healthcare for children and possible tongue tie

Trying to get hold of the right people in healthcare is a nightmare.  I expect most people can relate to that.

I always thought, if you’re trying to get appointments for children, it’d be straightforward and hopefully the lines would be easier, but it seems to be harder than working out who to go to for myself.  For me I just do pharmacist, doctor and that’s it, although admittedly it’s a lot rarer for adults.

I don’t take N to the doctors very often as if he’s ill, it’s usually just a cold and nothing serious enough to warrant anything more.  I’m a great fan of the new 111 – I’ve only had good experiences with them on the 2 occasions I’ve used them (admittedly neither were ever going to be life threatening issues); both times they’ve been able to get me an appointment within 45 minutes of calling.  With the old NHS direct you had to wait for someone to call you back and then I would always have to phone out of hours myself for an appointment.

But a few weeks ago when I picked N up at nursery, one of the staff mentioned that she thought he might have tongue tie.  Bear in mind this is an almost 2 ½ year old who wouldn’t breast feed at birth even with help from the hospital, you would have thought it would’ve been picked up back then.

I’d not even thought that N might have a problem as there is nothing obvious that tells me he’s doing anything differently speechwise compared to his peers.  He chatters incessantly, sings, eats well, has a good vocabulary, and although isn’t talking in full sentences that make grammatical sense, he puts together 3-5 words and they make sense.  But, what the nursery staff member said she was hearing was the same as her similar aged nephew who’d just been diagnosed.  Some sounds were very similar, and when she tried to get him to move his tongue up and down,  he was unable to do so.

She recommended we get it checked out in case he had it, and then to try and get help in case it would impact his speech development as he gets older.

My understanding of tongue tie is limited in that I know quite a few people whose young babies struggled with breastfeeding only to then realise they were tongue tied, quick snip and it’s sorted.  Of course I Googled and get on the text/online to friends who’re speech therapists to get their views.

Although if I answer questions on speech therapy websites about N’s speech, letter formation, clarity, understanding he comes out as perfectly normal for his age on speech development, he does have a few of the tongue tie symptoms.  Lots of dribbling (although it has improved over the last week and he can now go without a dribble bib) and if he sticks his tongue out it’s a bit forked rather than rounded.  So the next step was to get hold of the health visitor.

Nursery were surprised at how it hadn’t been picked up at his 2 year check.  Well, given our area were between health visitors, and we had a random one visiting from Oxford who didn’t try to interact with N at all, there wasn’t much chance for her to see what he could or couldn’t do.  To me, he was learning lots of words that I could understand so I didn’t have any concerns.

But contacting our health visitor was a nightmare.  She works 3 days a week but whenever I called was on voicemail.  3 days later I’d still not had a reply, so time to try the doctor.  Receptionist thought it needed to go via the health visitor rather than doctor, so back to trying her again.

Finally got hold of the new health visitor.  She seems really nice (but so busy – totally booked up for 3 weeks) and said that it was better to go directly to the doctor as she would just refer to them anyway, and they could just refer him to have it snipped.  Managed to get a doctor’s appointment, in a couple of weeks time, so will have to see what they say.  I’m not sure it’s that bad as it’s not stopping him eating, chewing or chattering, but if it’ll impact his speech I’d rather get it solved earlier rather than later.

It’s interesting now I’ve been asking around, how many friends had tongue tie and had theirs snipped when very young.

I do think it’s such a simple procedure when they’re young, plus it can be one of the reasons for breastfeeding not working, that it should be something that is checked by midwives at newborn stage.  Until you hear of someone else who’s been through the issue with their child, you never hear about it – surely it should also be included in breastfeeding classes at NCT classes, as a possible check that can be done if there’re any problems with establishing breastfeeding.  Makes me wonder if that was one of the reasons that N wouldn’t breastfeed.

Let’s hope once we see the doctor we can work out whether he really has got it, and whether we can get it sorted out with the least possible effort.

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