29 answers

21 Months and Not Talking

I am wondering if anyone can give me any advice. I have a 21 month year old son. He has very few words and has invented some. He will tell you the dogs name, mama, dada, ball, nana, papa, and he is trying desperately to say outside. He follows directions extremely well. He will put his clothes in the hamper each night, clear his dish from the table, and will usually follow most direction that is given.

I have spoken with my pediatrition, seen and audiologist and ENT and his hearing is not the issue. The pediatrition has said that if his vocabulary has not increased by 2 (July) we may do early interevention. In the meantime, I am wondering if anyone else has a late talker and if there is anything I might be able to do to get this little guy speaking.

Thanks for your help.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you for all of you help. I have contacted Early Intervention services and I will let you all know how it goes!

Featured Answers

Hi M.,I have worked in daycares on and off for the past twenty-five years.Verbal skills vary with children.I have found that the best ways to get children to become verbal is to constantly say what things are like, name things as tehy are using them or seeing them. Also, reading to them especially books that name items.

Good Luck, and try not to worry.

P.

Hello! This is a topic that has come up so many times in the past few days. I have a son who is 19 months old, and many many friends with young babies around the same age. A few that are a couple months older, a few that are a couple months younger. I know so many moms that are getting really worried about their sons that are in between 14 months to 2 years that don't talk much and get frusterated. It must be more normal than not if I have had this dicussion with three of my girlfriends in the past two days. All babies develope at different rates, walk at different times, etc. It doesn't make one baby more intelligent or less intelligent. My son's pediatrician had said to me when he wasn't walking, "he won't be the only kid in kidergarten crawling", in other words they all catch up! It is ok! Don't let him fool you, he understands you, and in time he will begin to talk! :)

M.
EI is a great thing for kids!!!
my 6 yr old was a late talker, we signed him onto speech therapy once a week for a year and now he won't STOP talking
good luck and be patient
best
i

More Answers

I wouldn't worry about it too much before he turns 2 - my daughter talked much later than her friends, but now at 25 months she has caught up with most of them. In fact, in some ways she's ahead - she's gone from barely talking at 21 months to knowing every letter of the alphabet and what sound they make.

The one thing that helped us was I started checking "Signing Time" videos out of the library - it helped me understand what she was trying to say sometimes if she could sign it at the same time and I think that encouraged her to keep trying to talk. I actually wound up buying the entire series because it was so helpful, and I plan to use it with my son. Her enunciation still is not always great, but it's getting better every day, and most of her early words were ones she could sign. I think it's entirely possible that she said other words I just didn't understand and since she didn't know how to sign them I didn't have a clue what she was saying.

Good luck - it sounds like your son is very bright, I'm very impressed that he follows instructions so well at such a young age! If you do end up doing early intervention, I've had friends who've had that with their kids and they have all been really happy with it.

Hi M., I have a son who is now almost three and the most chatty boy you ever saw. He had roughly the same pattern you are describing at the same times. A few words, good direction following , but no real talking. I had his ears checked because my own ears are bad and they checked out just fine- even had him checkedout by early intervention folks. nada. The 'law' of 24 mos being the time to talk is just an average. My son was late to crawl, 10 mos. and late to talk, 25 mos. He just took his own time to do these things, and then exploded into action when he was ready. I never did anything out of the ordinary, gave him a couple signs to cut down on frustration, 'more', outside, etc. Try not to let your pediatrician freak you out. Early Intervention never hurts anyone, but the advice and recommendations can really make a mama nervous- when a kid is just being his own self... I hope this is helpful..

I had a late talker as well and I enrolled him in Early Intervention. I did not need the pediatrician's approval and they did nto need any paper work from the pedi.
We had a neighbor who works for an office and I contacted her to start the process. He just finished as he turned three and he is doing so well.
Just htis past week my parents said how well they could understand ewverything our son said on the phone and a week and half ago that was not the case.
He is vocabulary grew so much in the year or so that we did EI. I highly recommend it. We only had to pay a one time copay and that was it. He did one on one sessions at our home and went to a group once a week.
I have to say it was the best thing. You can only help to add to the development. There certainly is not a disadvantage to more help.
The team works on skills via play. So you may feel like you can do that with out the help of EI but I felt our son worked better with someone other than me as I am here all the time with him.
We still did our thing in between sessions, works, books, letters, sounds, and some TV (Super Why and World World and some others)
It all helped.

Hi M.,

My son was only saying single words at 2. By 3 he was talking, but way behind other boys his age. We had a speech therapist come to our home to work with him and it helped a lot. By age 4 no one would ever have known there was a problem. P.

early intervention is the best thing to do right now.. call, there may be a waiting list.. and if there are issues, then the sooner he gets services the better.. you can try to start signing with him to help with communication too..

Hi M.,I have worked in daycares on and off for the past twenty-five years.Verbal skills vary with children.I have found that the best ways to get children to become verbal is to constantly say what things are like, name things as tehy are using them or seeing them. Also, reading to them especially books that name items.

Good Luck, and try not to worry.

P.

Our 4th (and final) was a boy that didn't speak until into his 3rd year. Almost nothing. We kept at him with correct pronunciation, and over the next 2 years he caught up, speaking properly.

Now high school honor roll. Don't give up; not everyone is 'normal', but that doesn't make them 'abnormal'; he's a math wizard.

Hi M., My youngest daughter was late talking also. I got her into early intervention and it was the best experience. I would contact early interention now instead of waiting until he's 2. I think the earlier the better. My daughter was a little over 2 by the time she got in but it really helped. They would come to my house once a week for an hour and she also went to the center for a playgroup once a week for 2 hours. The name of the center is Thom Neponsent Valley Early Intervention. It is located in Norwood and it services the following towns: Canton, Medfield, Norwood, Dedham, Millis, Plainville, Foxboro, Norfolk, Sharon, Walpole, Westwood and Wrentham. The phone number is ###-###-####. If this one doesn't work I'm sure you Dr. can recomend one. Good Luck.

my 24 month old talks when he wants but doesn't say half as much as other 2 year olds .. but hes super smart and his motor skills and everything are way beyod hisn age.. I wouldn't worry ur son can obviously hear fine and is able to make words hes just simply deciding not to i wouldn't worry he'll get there he just doesn't see the need .. hes getting what he wants/needs without them :) just my opinion:)

I suggest you just keep on talking to him and encouraging him to say words. Read plenty of stories with him and asking him what things are in the book, if he doesn't say it tell him what it is, then encourage him to say it. Also everything he sees and touches tell him what it is and encourage him to say it too. : )

M.
EI is a great thing for kids!!!
my 6 yr old was a late talker, we signed him onto speech therapy once a week for a year and now he won't STOP talking
good luck and be patient
best
i

hi,
I have noticed that the most important thing that we did for our daughter in encouraging her to speak was to be patient and give her time to say the word. I notice even now that if I ask her a question there is a lag time between the question and her anwser. It is very easy in this lag time to say the word for them rather than wait for them to try and say it but it has helped us tremendously. As others have mentioned, children do develop at their own pace and we can't rush their development. Be patient, it sounds like your son is a pleasure to be around and helpful to boot.
Ca

Hello! It sounds like you're on top of things. My younger son was a late talker as well. I expressed my concerns early on and again at age 2, but the pediatrician reassured me that as long as I observed continuous improvement within a couple of months after turning 2 that there most likely wasn't any problem. At least you've ruled out potentional hearing and other ent-related issues. Just keep a watchful eye and ear. Maybe keep a log of every new word he says so you can track the improvement. It's so hard to know if there's a problem since kids at that age are at all different levels of speech, yet are quite developed with other skills.

Why wait until your son is two. If you are concerned about his language call your local EI and have him evaluated. This way you will know if is language is delayed and treatment could start. Or you will find out that his language is on the learning curve and he does not need any services, just time.

Good luck.

I am a SAHM to a 5-year old boy and a 2-year old girl. My daughter is receiving EI services for a hearing loss.

M.,

My daughter, now 28 with 23 mo. old twin boys, was a late talker and had Early Intervention. She was just a thinker and when she wanted to talk she did! Don't worry too much, they all catch up by 13. R. hill

I have 20 month old, who does not say a word. Nothing, not mama, dada, ball nothing. He makes plenty of sounds, such as brumm when driving a car etc. But he does not make animal sounds or anthing. He follows directions to the tee. He hears fine, had that checked as well. He has no problem with tongue movement, gagging when eating, and drinks from a regular cup often. So it is not an oral issue either. He is, however, the 4th boy and the youngest. Our first spoke full sentences and completely understandable to all at 18 months. I had Early Intervention come out and they are going to begin working with him in June. He is 24+months on everything else, fine motor, gross motor skills etc. He just apparently does not have to talk. We all know exactly what he is saying or wants, although I and everyone else in the house tries to get him to speak he just laughs at us. I know he will talk, he just needs an outside source to make him.
So I would not worry, if he is understanding directions the speech will catch up. We have 4 boys (9, 7, 5 and 20 months) and they all spoke at different times and different levels.

I agree with the many posts. You've already eliminated hearing issues, which is a great place to start. It's clear by his actions that he can hear you and understand you. Those are huge precursors to talking! (as well smart problem solving...doing multistep tasks, etc.)

Go on to an early intervention evaluation and the specialists will have many suggestions for you. Continue to read, talk, label your environment, etc. It will come when he's ready. Did he recently master some other skill...like riding a tricycle or doing a puzzle or throwing a ball? I've heard that it's hard for them to "master" more than one thing at a time, so maybe speech is on hold because he's more motivated to achieve other tasks right now. I know you don't want to hear that, but kids develop at different rates. He may not be ready yet. And look out when he does...because you might see an explosion of language development.

My situation was not exactly the same, but just in case it makes you feel better. My second son was not talking at 15 months. He made sounds but everything, and I mean everything, was mamamamamamamamama. He did not associate the sounds with objects. He did use signs to communicate some basic things and never really got frustrated or anything. We had him evaluated because besides not talking he was not walking either (or even really trying to.) Then, all at once, at 15 mos and 2 weeks (about 2 days after the early intervention evaluation) he started jabbering - really talking. My husband taught him about 10 words in 10 minutes and he just never stopped. Some kids just need more time and if your child is not frustrated and the doctors are not overly concerned and cognitively and hearing-wise he is normal, you probably just have a similar situation. They are ready when they are ready! Good luck - keep working with him. He might surprise you and start talking in complete sentences by the time he is really ready!

Please call Early Intervention NOW!!! I work in EI and we see so a lot of pediatricians taking a "wait and see" approach, possibly to avoid alarming parents.
But why wait if you already know he is speech delayed and could be getting help? It certainly won't hurt to get the help now, and the EI evaluation is free. You can refer him yourself, your pediatrician doesn't have to do it. An EI therapist will have a lot of strategies for you. The best I can think of is called, "Communication Temptation" where you basically play dumb. Even if you know what he wants, act like you don't, so he HAS to communicate somehow to get his needs met. Also may want to consider teaching a few basic baby signs (more, all done, me, help) to decrease frustration and give him something functional for communication - sometimes the visual of signing is really helpful to kids.
M.

Hi M.,
Definitely follow everyone's advice on getting an EI evaluation. My DS is 22 months and I had him evaluated last month and our first speech therapy aptmt is next week. I'm really looking forward to the 6 months of 1:1 (for 1 hr) that he'll be getting (after that he'd have to requalify but I think he'll be caught up by then).

What I wanted to ask is, does he use a pacifier a lot, or did he? Or perhaps is a big thumb sucker? The pacifier is the main culprit in our case, and after being told to limit it to only nap/bedtime and times of distress (crying, traveling) or new situations that could make him feel stressed... they suggested that we (1) make sure he only eats snacks one piece at a time. Is your son a "stuffer"? As in, a handful of goldfish goes in all at once? If so, single piece chewing enhances the mouth muscles more, so try that. Also, make him use a straw instead of a sippy cup as often as possible. There are some straw-style sippy cups out there that are great for no-spill comfort. Again, the object is to get his mouth muscles to move differently. Lastly, just play LOTS of "imitate my sound" games and focus on what different animals say (moo, baa, bleet, chirp, tweet, woof, bow-wow, meow, cluck, hisss, etc.). That makes the mouth move in all different ways.

These are all things you can do before the EI eval and will possibly have an immediate impact. I noticed they did with my DS and he sounds a lot like your little guy. Of course, every child is different, but I really think EI is the answer (or at least a step toward a solution) in this case. Good luck!

I would not wait, I'd ask for an early intervention evaluation now. But in the meantime, you can keep doing the things you're doing. Model words for him, label everything in his environment verbally. I would also highly recommend teaching him some sign language. In my experience working with the kids I do (multiply disabled) sign language takes some of the pressure off and actually often leads to more verbal speech, it gives them what's referred to as multimodal communication so there is more than one way to say what you need to. Singing is also a great way to help kids develop muscle control in the face and jaw as well as introducing sounds and words in a fun way. Good luck, but don't be afraid to advocate and ask for that evaluation now, you gain nothing by waiting!

I am glad you are going with early intervention! Don't listen to those who say don't worry he will start talking soon, when he is ready! I cannot stand those people. However if this makes you feel any better my husband who is now totally normal in every way with a some what high IQ as well did not talk until he was 4!!!!!! He like your son said some words here and there but did not really talk until 4. His mom says it is because everything he wanted his older sisters got it for him so what did he need to talk for. Besides being a quiet somewhat shy guy he is normal and developed fine in every other area in life.
I also have talked to many parents of boys and girls and they all said the girls talked before the boys (my brother was a somewhat late talker too, my sister a year younger than him was talking more than he was at 2-3 yrs old). He is also very normal and smart in every way! But still go with the EI!!!

You can try to call Birth to Three they are on info line or your pedi should have their number. they can out and evaluate your child then determine if he or she needs help and how often. they come out and play games that are directed to their problem. It is worth a shot. I used them for my son because he was 13 wks preterm and they were great.

Hello! This is a topic that has come up so many times in the past few days. I have a son who is 19 months old, and many many friends with young babies around the same age. A few that are a couple months older, a few that are a couple months younger. I know so many moms that are getting really worried about their sons that are in between 14 months to 2 years that don't talk much and get frusterated. It must be more normal than not if I have had this dicussion with three of my girlfriends in the past two days. All babies develope at different rates, walk at different times, etc. It doesn't make one baby more intelligent or less intelligent. My son's pediatrician had said to me when he wasn't walking, "he won't be the only kid in kidergarten crawling", in other words they all catch up! It is ok! Don't let him fool you, he understands you, and in time he will begin to talk! :)

My son was a late talker. He was very communicative non-verbally so he was able to get most of what he wanted without words. My pediatrician suggested making him "work for his words" and before we gave him a cup, we asked him to say "cup" a couple of times. We did it, although it took a while for us to get into the habit as well. It took a couple of months, but he caught up and now people remark about how conversational he is and how verbal.

Good luck!

I personally wouldn't worry about it. My daughter is 22 months and still not saying too much. She WAS in EI and was just discharged because she didn't qualify anymore. I never noticed EI helping all that much to be honest. I also think it is pretty common for kids language to pick up around the 2 year mark. I believe that is probably why your ped said to wait. Of course, if you are concerned then by all means seek a second opinion - I always encourage moms to follow their instincts. But I personally am not worried about my daughter (she probably has about 30 words - although she has MUCH more sign).

Speaking of sign language - have you ever considered that? Sign is so much easier for kids to pick up and the studies show that kids vocabs are so much better when they learn it. Plus, it will reduce some of the frustration when he is learning to talk. That is completely a personal choice though. I recommend www.signingtime.com videos. You can also get them off of Amazon.

Anyways, I wish you the best of luck.

Sounds just like my daughter, when she was 2 she was not speaking, although she tried to say words and I knew what she was trying to say. As it sounds like your son also. I finally got involved with early intervention, and they did a full evaluation, as they are required to do for any child coming in to the program.. They found a definite speech delay, but her language&cognitive abilities were above average, I already felt this way as I could see her compemsating by inventing words and getting her point across in other ways. She was given services and got involved in a group with other kids. They also taught her some sign language which did not make her talk less as I worried but actually had taken the pressure off and actually had her trying to talk more. She quickly began talking more but remained in speech therapy until she went to kindergarten. Now she is an avid talker, reader and writer.

Hi M.,

My oldest (8 years now) didn't talk understandably till he was over 4. The only reason I realized something was amiss was when he was hospitalized for an infection when he was almost 3 and the litte boy in the bed next to him just turned two and was talking up a storm, and my little guy was hard to understand by the nurses.

He eventually got the assistance he needed and he is doing just fine now and entering 3rd grade in the fall.

As far as things to do with him, it never hurts to read as much as you can to him. Also, talk constantly to him, that will probably help.

One REALLY cool thing that one of the EI teachers did with my son was with PlayDoh and little shapes/cookie cutters. They would have my son cut out different shapes and repeat them. So if it was a square, the teacher would say "Square" and ask my son to repeat it. That was fun for both of us at home.

Good luck and keep us posted!!

Hi M.,
I have a son who is now 3 1/2 and was a late talker. I had him evaluated at 18 months and did end up receiving speech services. He had originally began talking at 12 months and then just stopped out of the blue and just refused. As like your son he understood everything I asked of him and was able to communicate with me in his own way, but I was still concerned as well at his pediatrician who said better now to receive services than later.
Well, we did for 6 months and by 24 months he was talking up a storm. They just really reinforced things that I could work on at home with him, photo books with his own things and basic words and how to bring things to my mouth when I spoke so he would watch my lips.
Anyways, he is now 3 1/2 and everyday I ask my husband how do I get him to STOP talking. He talks from the time he wakes until the time he goes to bed. My family laughs at me for getting him services and thinking something was wrong. Everyone just kept telling me that he's fine and he'll talk when he's ready or has something important to say and that's just what he did. He did it on his term. So...I wouldn't be too worried at 21 months. I'm sure within the next few months he'll start up when he's ready. If not you can always get services if needed.
Good luck.

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