HBM076: Griff's Speech

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As a baby, Griff Eldridge was quieter than most. But he slept well. He fed. He played with his big brother Ira. And he smiled easily. For a long time, his parents Luke and Davinia didn’t worry, because he was so happy and healthy.

When Griff became a toddler, Luke and Davinia started to compare his speech to the speech of other children and to the standards laid out in the Personal Child Health Record, a book issued to new parents by the UK government.

Griff was on track when he started to babble around 12 months old. But, unlike other children, the babble never evolved to understandable sentences.

Luke and Davinia began to track Griff’s speech in a notebook and test his hearing. They took him to several doctors, none of whom agree on a single diagnosis. They learned of “Verbal Dyspraxia” and “Phonological Disorder”. He’d see a speech therapist.

Griff is nearly four years old, about to start primary school, and still he’s never spoken a fully coherent sentence. They have 18 months to get him up to speed. Recently, Davinia’s been teaching Griff the signing language Makaton (see below).

In this episode, producer Luke Eldridge (Griff’s father) shares scenes from their home as his family works together to help Griff learn to talk. Bethany Denton edited this episode, along with help from Jeff Emtman. Additional editing help from Nick White at KCRW. 

Makaton is a signing language meant to supplement spoken words.  Davinia is currently teaching it to Griff.

Nursery rhymes performed in Makaton.

Griff’s pronunciation notebook

Mouth & Tongue Let’s Some Fun! One of the mouth exercise books that Luke and Davinia think can help Griff learn to speak.

Girff’s shoes

A matching game that Griff plays.


Jeff Emtman

Jeff Emtman, Bethany Denton