Tubes in Ears and No Speech Improvement?

Updated on July 07, 2016
L. asks from Florence, KY
15 answers

Hello moms out there I have a boy who turned 2 yesterday and 5 months ago he had tubes put in his ears bc he had fluid in his middle ear and because he was not talking. He had three ear infections with in a few months and that coupled with the speech delay the doctor thought it would be the best thing to do. The procedure went well but we saw absolutely no improvement in his speech. Since getting the tubes he has been working with a speech therapist once a week and progress has been very slow. He still doesn't say momma or daddy or any words. He babbles like crazy but makes no sense. So I had his hearing checked again today and the test results came back the same as they did before we got the tubes put in. The audiologist says he hears but it is like he has ear muffs on so everything is muffled.

My question is has anyone else had this issue? What is the next step? Is there anything I can do to help my son on my own? I am in the process of going back to the audiologist who put the tubes in my sons ears. The test today was done at a different doctors office. Usually everyone who gets tubes takes off after the procedure I know my nephew did but not the case for us. Any info would be wonderful.

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answers from Indianapolis on

When I was a child, I had a similar situation, but I had 20 - 30% hearing loss in each ear and a lot of problems with my tonsils. I had tubes which didn't seem to work with my hearing and ended up having my tonsils and adnoids out as well, which worked. Afterwards, I did speech therapy and today you would never know that I ever had any problems. If you son has issues with his tonsils or strep, maybe that should be looked into since ears and throat problems seem to go together. Good luck!

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answers from Columbus on

Hi Suzie,

I am not one to help in the way of ear infections - i had them most of my childhood and never had tubes and even though i had hearing test after hearing test, I'm fine and I can hear and all is well :) Who knows what happened!

Second - Sign Language YES! I'm a certified interpreter, used to have my license to teach and taught ASL for 6 years, and my husband is deaf and i have my degree in Deaf Education - kids who can hear perfectly fine but have deaf parents, always end up talking just fine - sometimes the oldest talks a bit late, but the younger ones talk with their older sibling and talk sooner.

Anyway my point - for frustration it will help if you use it consistently - my daughter uses about 40 signs and doesn't talk yet - her cousin is the same age and mom talks all day and her two siblings talk all day and she doesn't have any spoken or signed words yet - both are 15 months old and I'm the one who is happy because I know exactly what my daughter needs/wants. It's a lifesaver!

My point? Take care of your kid, if you feel speech therapy will help or and audiologist will help - do it, if you think sign language will help - go for it! p.s. the Signing Times videos are a big hit: I haven't seen them yet but all the parents I know who use them, love 'em.



answers from Indianapolis on

My question was: Is the fluid still there?

I know of a girl from when my 1st was in daycare - they were having similar issues to yours. Speech was affected, and they noticed she wasn't responding much to them, and discovered fluid in her ears. They put tubes in, and it helped some, but the fluid still remained. They ended up putting 2 sets of tubes in her ears at the same time, which ended up helping immensely.

Just a thought...

Good luck!



answers from Dayton on

Dear L.,

First thing you can do is take him off all dairy. It causes mucus which is what give him the ear infections. DO NOT substitute Soy anything for the dairy. It is like giving him birth control pills with a lot of estrogen and other bad stuff.

The tubes are a common approach but it is better to fix the underlying cause rather then chase the results. Dr. Merkle is the best one to help your son get healthier. He does it by diet and supplementation based upon blood work. His system is very good at fixing subtle problems that don't have a simple, clear cause. He is in Dayton but can work with you wherever over the phone because he is using blood work that you get done at a local LabCorp office.

You might have to face the fact that your son has a hearing problem that requires help in the form of a hearing aid or that he is just a late talker.

God Bless,




answers from Cincinnati on

Our youngest grandson was very late in developing speach. He still bables in his own little lingo but usually I can figure out what he wants. I don't think the other sitters worked with him at all and mom and dad work full time and part time. I have watched him since Thanksgiving of 07 and he has made leaps and bounds. I get him to talk to me constantly. The first time Uncle mike heard him say a word he was surprized but stated I knew Mom would work with him. He counts and says some of the alphabit. He even sings a little. Keep working with him. Don't be discouraged. BTW he's turned 2 in FEB.



answers from Cleveland on

The sign language is a great idea. You also need to be seen by a ped neurologist. My son had speech delay before 3 but was not tested until 2 and a half and was put into preschool at 3 which was the youngest age he could go in. He had hearing tests but they were always normal. Nut he was diagnosed with speech delay and received speech therapy privately and at school. We also located a preschool who had a specialized program for kids like mine. I don't know where you live but there is a great one in Middleburg Hts OH. Later he was diagnosed with expressive and receptive language delay. And today at 10 he has pervasive developmental disorder which in simple terms they just address those areas he has weaknesses in. He gets speech therapy and has had therapy for social and sensory issues. Speech therapy is the best thing to do and I would highly recommend sign language. It will help later by helping him process his thoughts now. Then when he begins to talk it may come easier for him. Also look for a good preschool that has what he needs there. Make an appt with a neuro to evaluate him. They will look at him and his development. I have been through this for 7 years now and can share with you later every step I took to help him develop socially, academically, emotionally and maturity. Best wishes to you. Oh and has an ENT seen him at all?



answers from Cleveland on

My son got bacterial meningitis at 6 1/2 mos from ear infections. My son had tubes in his ears at 6 1/2 mos. He did not have any more ear infections after that. Because of the brain injury from meningitis, he was speech delayed. He did not lose his hearing (one common side effect from meningitis), but he was only saying mama, dada, ball, one syllable words at 2 yrs. While I agree that you should try sign language if it works for your child, we couldn't do it with my son because of his CP, he could not control his hands. So, my only course of action was speech therapy. He is now 5 years old and he has caught up with his peers on his language and talks like a typical toddler. His speech still needs work, but you can understand him. Don't give up hope. Keep questioning the dr until you get an answer. Sounds like you won't give up until you do. Good luck.



answers from Mobile on

Hi, I know this was written years ago but I'm just now coming across it. My 19 month old is going through literally the exact same thing. Tubes were placed in about 4 months ago and we have seen zero changes and a repeat hearing test was performed and we got the same results as we did before the tubes. Also going to speech therapy once a week (only 3 visits so far). Just wondering what your outcome was and the next steps you took for your child. Thanks so much!



answers from Cincinnati on

Your message almost brought tears to my eyes L.. I did go through this with my son. In fact, my 6-year-old received his FIFTH set of tubes at age 4-1/2. We went with permanant ones at that point (stay in up to 4 years).
My son had a lot of speech problems. He would get so frustrated because he thought he was speaking clearly with jibber jabber and didn't understand why we didn't know what he wanted. I would make him breakfast and he would throw it across the room because he apparently didn't want it and couldn't tell me. It was really hard. I honestly wish that I would have taken him to those baby sign language classes that are so popular now. It would have made our lives easier at that time. You might want to consider it.
We realized when my son was around five months that he was completely deaf. He regained his hearing with the tubes but not completely right away. I noticed that he didn't hear noises again by the time he was a year and we went for our second set of tubes and so on.
We started speech therapy through First Steps at age 2. They came to my house twice a week for speech. It seemed to go better at his own home versus a strange place. Once he was three I placed him in the local public preschool that offered speech therapy during the school-day.
My son just finished kindergarten and has been completely released from speech. He speaks very well now and has a vocabulary like you wouldn't believe.
One thing you need to rule out L.: was he born with hearing loss or was it completely caused by ear infections? If it was caused by ear infections, he should regain his hearing. Is it possible that tube already fell out? Or can they remove the fluid in his ear?
You may also need to go to therapy more than once a week.
Please feel free to contact me more if you just have mommy questions or need to bounce ideas off someone. I know how hard this can be. I also wrote an article (freelance writer) for a local magazine a few years back on this exact topic. I doubt I still have it but will look for it and share with you.
Good luck.



answers from Fort Wayne on

You need to take him to an audiologist and ask if he has permanent hearing loss. They need to look into inserting a hearing aid of some sort. If he can't hear, the speech assistance isn't going to help. You need to contact your family doctor and/or another audiologist to ask for further examination. Something is causing him not to hear, and that needs to be assessed before speech classes.

You should also see if he can be tested by First Steps for other delays. They can test I believe in 4 different areas (maybe more) such as speech, cognition, hearing, etc. If a child has a hearing loss and speech delay, then he is likely experiencing a cognitive delay as well. I experienced more development in my child with cognitive development assisting his speech development verses speech classes.

You can obtain their services until your son is 3 years old... most of the time it's free or a reduced price. I encourage you to call them right away. After he's 3, the school system takes over the learning assessment. The school system works very slowly, so I encourage you to contact First Steps right away. Usually they can start the testing within the first month after contact. Call 211 for their phone number.



answers from Cleveland on

My daughter was 24 months and the only "words" she could say were mummum, da, and bup. (mama, daddy, and up) Speech therapy every week worked wonders! However, she did not have ANY ear problems, like your son, so your situation is more serious than mine was.

But what I would strongly recommend is sign language, since one of the primary concerns is communication. My daughter could let us know everything she needed/wanted through signing, at the age of two. So at the very least, until the speech therapy starts helping more, or the doctor is able to do something for his hearing, your son would be able to communicate with you, and ease frustrations for both him and you.

And I know they (speech therapists) are the experts, but I disagree with them 100% when they tell parents NOT to sign because it inhibits the speech. Both my children signed. And it was speech apraxia that kept my daughter from speaking until 25 months, not the signing. My son started signing at 8 months, and talking at 10 months. Children will stop signing when they start talking because talking is more efficient and gets them faster results.

If you want/need any recommendations on where to start with it, email me, and I'll be happy to help.

Best of luck to you! J.



answers from Columbus on

Hi L.!

My suggestion is that you make an appointment with a Developmental Pediatrican. While his hearing may be the thing that is causing his speech delay, it may also only be a contributing factor and you will get a complete evaluation of why he has this problem (along with referrals to every dicipline that is necessary to be used in a multifacited evaluation process that will be compliled into one report by the Devl. Ped) you will also get an action plan that will tell you not only how to work with him at home, but his recomendations for therapy. This is a knife the cuts both ways, while he may just have physical a barrier to speech that may or may not be corrected at some point, he is loosing valuable input daily, and is now behind in his linear development because he has yet to engage in joint speech exploration. This is not to say that he won't ever catch up, just that there is help out there for him to catch up in the most effective way possilbe and you need someone to look at the whole picture to be sure that you don't miss anything.



answers from Lima on

my daughter went to a preschool where speech was 99% of the delays most kids had.
Since you've already gone to a ear specialist, I would now try a speech person.
I have a 2 yr. old daughter now, and she really doesn't talk at all, but you can tell she understands everything. She jabbers and she is carrying on a whole conversation, but it makes now sense to us. We can tell when she says done or down. She says ma ma, or mom, but not always sure that is what she really means.



answers from Cincinnati on


My son had similar problems. He had constant ear infections starting when he was 16 months old, and it did affect his speech. Although he did speak a few words at age 2, they were all partial words - like "ba" for "banana", "ga" for "grandma", or "ma" for "mommy".

We expected immediate improvement after the ear tubes were inserted (age 2), but it didn't happen. It was gradual improvement with weekly speech therapy.

The tubes fell out after a few months, and he was still experiencing ear infections, so they had to insert larger ones (age 3) and they removed his adenoids (which were enlarged). These tubes fell out, too, but he no longer has problems with ear infections.

Now, at age 5, his speech is normal. He hasn't had speech therapy in over a year.

BTW, I'd never heard of dairy causing ear infections. My son has always loved his milk. But, if that was the cause, he must have grown out of it. He still drinks lots of milk, and he doesn't get ear infections any more.

You may already know this, but your son may qualify for state help with Early Intervention/Help Me Grow. Your pediatrician can give you the contact information. They helped my son quite a bit.

Good luck!!



answers from Columbus on

goo back to your audiologist and have them retest. Your sons problems may be more complicated and the audiologist will have some options for you. I currently work at Auditory Oral Childrens Center which is a preschool for children with mild- profound hear problems that could be an option for your son when he is old enough...however, that is really jumping FAR into conclusions. Your audiologist will know what steps to take. With the amazing technologies today and what theya re working on for the future your sons future no matter hte issue looks bright. good luck and let us know what the audiologist had to say

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