On the day he turned two, Max only spoke that many words. "Hi" and "Dad" were his only utterances, and even those rarely came unprompted. Sara, his twin sister, delivered speeches in comparison, counting, reciting the alphabet, and chatting about whatever came into her little toddler mind. As new parents, we were stumped having no comparable yardstick and were unsure whether the constant, "Oh, he's just a boy, sometimes they just take longer to talk" from family, friends and strangers actually held water. We had no idea where to turn or what to do.

After a routine checkup appointment with Max's pediatrician, she recommended we contact our state's early intervention program (sometimes referred to as Birth to Three) and have Max evaluated for any developmental issues that might lend cause to his lack of speech. It was her expert opinion he was just a slow talker, but the testing was free and could shed more light on Max's situation. We called, scheduled an in-home evaluation, and were off to the races.

Two women, a speech pathologist and a teacher, converged on our home and tested Max in a variety of developmental areas. The second half of our visit consisted of an interview with us, Max's parents, to get a better gauge of the case. In a little over two hours after they arrived, we had definitive results in our hot little hands: Max had a significant expressive speech delay, and minor delays in the areas of fine motor skills and self-help. It was recommended that a speech pathologist work with Max every two weeks for 6 months, at which point a reevaluation would be conducted.

If we had known about the statistic that 30% of twins and higher multiples have communication problems, and that boys are at 2/3 greater risk for delays, that might've saved some stress in the beginning of the whole process. Plus, being born four weeks early might've contributed, too. Regardless of the cause, we had the information and we were going to try our best to make a change.

Fast forward a few months, lots of in-home visits, and one speech pathologist who became a part of our family later, Max now tests well within range for expressive speech. All the singing, reading, stressing, reservations and researching was well worth the result: one extremely chatty boy. But, it doesn't end there. Had the outcome been different, his progress a bit slower, our local school system would've taken over after Max's third birthday and continued helping him in a preschool setting.

Bottom line: If you have concerns about possible delays, first check with your pediatrician. But, don't be afraid of discussing early intervention. The benefits could make all the difference.

It did for us.