26 answers

Almost 2.5 Year Old Not Speaking in Sentences

Hi,

i'm very concerned for my niece who is 2 years and 4 months.

She hardly says a word. But she's a very happy, go-lucky little girl. And seems to understand a lot. As far as if she's in trouble and did something bad, and we ask her to apologize. She knows..you can tell by the look on her face/facial expressino. However, when we try to ask her anything, she just gives a big grin and then runs away. But never really answers back. I've never heard her verbalize a full sentence..like "mommy, hungry..eat please". Not even something small like that. I thought for a 2 year old, that should be the case.

i'll ask her what color is this, and she doesn't say anything. just grins and smiles. :)
my son just turned 21 months and he is able to verbalize to me the names of the colors..like "wed", "geen", "boo", "waawo"(yellow), "puppo" (purple)

i hate to compare. please don't take it the wrong way, but they are 6 months apart and my SIL, is getting worried. My niece doesn't seem like she has any developmental problems, just a happy little girl who plays and smiles a lot.

what are your thoughts? i know that there are very bright 2 year olds out there. but i'm just curious about the 'average' 2 year old, and their speaking developments. where should my niece be?

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

also, i want to say that she does say words like "mommy' or hi and bye. but never hear a 3 word sentence. and 2 words, are sometimes.

HI MOMS,
(i'm not yelling :)) JUST WRITING IN CAPITAL SO EVERYONE WOULD CATCH MY 'UPDATE'. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE WONDERFUL ADVICE AND COMMENTS. YOU'RE ALL BUSY, I'M SURE. AND IT WAS VERY THOUGHTFUL OF YOU TO DO THIS. I THINK MOST OF YOU CAUGHT THE PART THAT MENTIONED, 'MY SIL IS STARTING TO WORRY'. I DIDN'T KNOW THAT PEOPLE CAN MAKE SO MANY ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT ME & MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY SIL FROM WHAT I POSTED. I GUESS I JUST ASSUMED THAT PEOPLE TAKE MY WORDS FOR FACE VALUE AND NOTHING MORE.

THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WAS ACTUALLY MY SIL COMING TO ME ABOUT FOR SOME TIME NOW. AND AT FIRST IT WAS JUST TO SEE WHERE HER DAUGHTER IS AT...BUT NOW IT'S WEIGHING ON HER. YES, SHE DID TALK TO PEDIATRICIAN, WHO SAID NOT TO WORRY AND THAT THEY GO AT THEIR OWN PACE. PLEASE, LET ME CLARIFY THAT I'M VERY VERY BLESSED TO HAVE A VERY CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH MY SIL. HER CHILDREN ARE LIKE MY OWN AND VICE VERSA. IF YOU KNOW MY SIL, SHE IS ACTUALLY A VERY SWEET, GENTLE SPIRIT AND USUALLY GOES WITH WHATEVER A PROFESSIONAL TELLS HER, SHE HAS A HARD TIME GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN, TELLING SOMEONE THAT SHE DISAGREES (ESPECIALLY A PROFESSIONAL), UNLESS IT'S DIRE LIKE A PHYSICAL HARM. BUT SHE WAS CONCERNED ENOUGH TO TALK TO ME ABOUT IT AND ASKED ABOUT MY SONS PROGRESS...EVEN THOUGH SHE IS WELL AWARE THAT THEY ARE 6 MONTHS APART. I THINK SHE JUST WANTED TO AT LEAST SEE IF HER CONCERNS WITH HER DAUGHTER IS VALID. I'M SURE ALL MOM WOULD PROBABLY DO THAT.

SHE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO HANDLE A FORUM LIKE THIS BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY.

AND KARIANN,
HUH????

More Answers

Hi SC,

I just answered another post about a child's speech, and that child was younger than your niece. You and your sister-in-law are right to be worried. If your niece weren't so cute about it,if she were throwing tantrums because she can't express herself, etc, perhaps the doctor would have given your S-I-L good advice before now.

Tell your S-I-L to insist on two things - a hearing test and a speech evaluation. Tell her not to accept no for an answer - find a different ped if the one she works with won't help. The eval will give her the answers to her questions about what is expected and "average" for a child that age. The quicker she has this done, the quicker her daughter can start getting help so that she'll be ready for kindergarten. It is devastating to be a happy little child who smiles all the time, and then get hit with the "mack truck" of school where kids make fun of her because her words are unclear. My son had 7 years of speech therapy due to a hidden submucous cleft palate that wasn't diagnosed until he was 4 1/2 years old. If we had waited for a diagnosis, he would not be where he is today (honor roll in 8th grade.) I insisted on an eval at 2 years old and started speech therapy right away. It may be the best mothering "job" I ever did, where my children are concerned. In the grand scheme of things, getting my son the early intervention he needed certainly dwarfs every other job I have ever had in my life.

You can find lots of threads on Mamasource about speech development - perhaps you could copy them off and let your S-I-L read them. All my best to you both - you're a great auntie and S-I-L to try to help her!!
D.

4 moms found this helpful

At risk of being jumped on by the "wait-and-see" moms out there, I'm going to dive in on this: Please, gently suggest to your SIL that she have her daughter evaluated by a developmental pediatrician or, as some have already mentioned, a 'regional center' or the school district or whatever free developmental assessment team your community provides (all states are different, but an internet search or call to the local school district should help you out).
My son had more language at 2.5 than your niece does, but it still wasn't on pace with his peers. My gut was telling me something was wrong, but everyone -- including the pediatrician -- told me not to worry, that he would catch up. It was finally a total stranger coming up to me at a park and saying, "don't worry, people with autism can grow up to lead normal lives" that shocked me into having him evaluated. (Trust me, your SIL does not want to learn it that way.)
After many assessments, it became clear that my son did have autism. We immediately began to get him help, and he has progressed very well. I am so proud of his accomplishments, and he is, too. However, I really wish I had followed my instincts and had him seen earlier, because early intervention means a lot to kids with autism. The sooner kids can start any needed therapies, the more they'll learn the skills they need to overcome their autism symptoms.
Just to be clear: I AM NOT DIAGNOSING YOUR NIECE. Neither are you. You're just concerned, which you should be. In a perfect world, just waiting for a child to develop at their own pace would be the answer for everyone. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control now lists the incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders at 1 in 110 children born. Hopefully, your niece is just fine and will soon be speaking in full sentences. But there's every reason for your SIL to have her assessed just in case. With early intervention, autism is very treatable, as are speech delays, processing disorders, hearing problems. She may just need a little help. But it's help she deserves! You are a very brave auntie to want to help -- It's hard to talk to another mom about their child. I really commend you for reaching out. Of course, all you can do is bring it up. It's up to your SIL to decide how to proceed. If you or your SIL would like to contact me directly, please feel free. (Sorry for the long post.)

3 moms found this helpful

Jeez - first of all KARIANN h. relax!! u sound bitter and obviously have been judged by your parenting skills or you would not be so quik to judge!!

Anyhow A.C. - when we were growing up we did not have resources like we have now and we just left it up to all children are different and develop differently. However, since we do have resources now, I would recommend having your niece checked out. What does her pediatrician think? Maybe he can refer your SIL to a specialist of the Ears, Nose and Throat and also a Developmental Specialist. Goodluck, sounds like you are a great SIL - I HAVE ONE TOO ;)

2 moms found this helpful

I work for Early Intervention. We provide services for kids who are developmentally delayed. I'm stilling here looking at a developmental profile. At 2y4mo (24-30 months), most kids are able to follow at least 4 verbal directions, use 3 word sentences, name 5-7 objects or pictures, and ask simple questions. At 30 months (2 months from now), you'd expect for a child to understand 2 preposition, respond to at least one comprehension question, be able to explain the use of 3 objects and know a few simple songs or rhymes. I don't know where you are at but I'd recommend her mom talk to her pediatrician or her local school district to get the phone number for her local early intervention office and have her daughter evaluated. Where I'm at, services are free. I've heard some states charge based on what families can afford but I think most don't (I haven't seen any who do but I've heard they exist). Here we have speech therapists (among others) on staff. Basically, if it were my child, I'd have her hearing checked (EI can typically do it or you can take her to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor - most have an audiologist they work with), I'd want to have her evaluated by a speech pathologist (part of the EI process), and I'd want to have her screened for autism (part of the EI process, here we screen all kids over 18 months old). Speech delays are incredibly common in kids this age. They can exist by themselves or they can be a symptom of a bigger problem.

I'm also a mom. My 6 year old was non-verbal at 3 years old. He has autism and is doing extremely well - once we identified the problem we started services and he's doing very, very well. 90% of people 90% of the time would never guess he has an autism diagnosis. My 3 year old is a "typical" child. At 2 years, 4 months old, he could easily string together 4-5 word sentences and most kids can at that age.

If you've got a kid who is almost 2.5 and not talking well (at 2.5 you can't get most kids to shut up), if it were me, I'd want to know why and I"d want to address it. The further kids get behind the harder it is for them to catch up. And all therapy at this age is play based and fun. If they would have eventually caught up on their own, great. The therapy won't hurt them.

Good luck!

T.

2 moms found this helpful

My son will be turning 3 at the end of this month, and his speech development is very similar to your niece's. Up until recently, he had refused to repeat words I say, and would only do so when he felt like it. I decided to take him to the school district to see if he needs speech therapy. Still going through the process, meeting with a Speech Therapist soon. His hearing test was perfectly normal.

During that initial meeting the Services Coordinator gave me a lot of information based on his observation of my son's behavior (he had a bit of a tantrum during the meeting!). Basically, he told me I do a lot for him w/o him asking for it first. I just automatically fulfill his needs, he doesn't even have to say a peep. Totally didn't realize I was doing this.

Since that visit about 3 weeks ago, my son has started to talk more, thanks to some changes I've made, and perhaps also because he's reached the point in his development where he's ready and able to say more words. Now, **I don't give him anything unless he asks for it**. He may cry and put up a fight, but I don't give in until he asks nicely using words. Not pointing, not whining, but words. When he wants me to hold/carry him he has to say "Hold me, please, Mama". If he wants juice he has to ask, "Apple juice, please Mama." or if he needs help with something, "Help, please Mama." If he wants something, "I want ______." If he doesn't want something he says, "No thank you." If he doesn't like his brother bothering him I'm teaching him to say, "I don't like that." instead of crying and screaming. It's helped out a ton, and his words are starting to come out, some sentences he's starting to say on his own. Sometimes he still needs help and for me to "give him the words" to repeat, but he's saying them now because he knows he won't get what he wants if he doesn't.

My older son was also a late talker, but after age 3 progressed quickly on his own and is now 5 1/2 and is very clear and articulate. It is important to remember that every child is different.

I would recommend that your SIL start looking into getting her evaluated for speech therapy (try her school district, usually by age 3 they provide free services, but she can go in before 3 to be evaluated. Now is the perfect time to go), and in the meantime, encourage her to ask for things using her words. Your SIL can give her the words to repeat. She can start with 2 word sentences, then 3, and then 4. Don't give in until she asks! Of course, reading books is always helpful, too! I totally know how your SIL feels, I think about and worry about my son's speech everyday, but little by little, he's making progress, your niece will too :)

2 moms found this helpful

Hi S.C.
My daughter is the same, she's a slow talker. I was really concerned, because it's more common for a boy to be speech delayed than a girl. I expressed my concerns to my pediatrician at my daughter's 18 month check-up, and she wasn't too concerned about it at that point. I was concerned, so I contacted our local Regional Center. They did a free evaluation of my daughter, and determined that she was expressive speech delayed. Her comprehension was fine; it was only a delay with her expressive speech. They had us take a free group speech therapy class through the Regional Center. If you're curious about the methods they taught us, get the book "It Takes Two to Talk". As part of the course, my daughter met with a speech therapist at the beginning, middle and end of the course. She still hadn't made much progress, so the Regional Center approved her for individual speech therapy sessions (again, free). The speech therapist comes to our house once a week, and my daughter loves working with her so much that last week she pushed me out of her room and shut the door to start her session! My feeling is that even if there's nothing wrong, and my daughter is just at the later end of the range of normal, the therapy can only help and can't hurt.

My daughter is now the exact same age as your niece, and she still isn't talking much. She has a daily vocabulary of about 10 words, but she does make 2-3 word sentences with that limited vocabulary. But she is intelligent and she understands everything I say. Her pediatrician was concerned that she still wasn't talking much at her 2 year check-up (and that she threw a major fit during the exam), so I'm supposed to schedule a follow up visit with her this month.

I think the Regional Centers only handle the delayed speech kids until the age of 3, and then they turn them over to the local school district. If your sister-in-law wants to contact them for a free evaluation, here is the link to the list of centers in CA.

http://www.dds.ca.gov/rc/rclist.cfm

So let your SIL know she's not alone - there are other mothers of little girls out there who are not talking much at 2 years 4 months.

2 moms found this helpful

There was an article in the NY Times today about this that you may find useful:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/health/09klass.html?th&...

Good luck to you and your family...

2 moms found this helpful

My son is the same age and is on the slow end of normal so when I spoke with his pediatrician about it, the Ped. said that as long as he can put together simple sentences by the time he is 3, there is nothing big to worry about. Well just this past couple of months he's been doing that. Some children develop one skill and then another. Some really work on their muscular coordination one month and then their communication the next. Just keep encouraging your SIL to continue reading books to her and asking her questions and maybe one day your niece will answer with a complete sentence out of nowhere. I had a brother who refused to talk and then one day he dove right in with complete sentences. Good luck!

I think Kariann is just a little sensitive about this subject.... maybe she's had some difficulties with people judging her harshly.

1 mom found this helpful

Thie is tricky -- since it's your niece and not your own child -- but you should absolutely encourage the parents to get some evaluation from developmental specialists.

EARLY INTERVENTION is essential -- if there are speech or developmental issues/delays, the sooner they are identified the better. The child's frustration will increase dramatically as she is less able to communicate her needs, but becomes more cognitively aware of them -- and therapy is most effective the earlier it begins. There could be any number of issues -- delayed speech, auditory processing, physiological. I would not focus on testing her knowledge of colors (not really the issue -- and it will look competitive if you do this in front of the parent). Knowledge of colors at that age isn't really indicative of anything in particular. An evaluation of her receptive language skills (ability to understand) and her expressive language skill (ability to verbalize needs) would need to be evaluated to see if there are other global developmental delays or if it is specific to speech. But getting her evaluated and getting her some therapy is key. Many cities have regional centers and once a child is evaluated and diagnosed before age three- insurance will pay for the therapy

As you have a verbal 21month old -- it will perhaps be particular painful for this advice to come from you. But if you can navigate encouraging them to get help -- perhaps by enlisting the help of another relative as the spokesperson -- you would be doing the little girl a great service. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

my son was 2.5 when he got tested to be enrolled into preK.....i dont know if that is something you are wanting to do, but i really felt that my son would enjoy and learn so much by getting that extra year of prek. He too was not talk at the leave that i assumed most kids his age should. he would mumble most of his sentenses and get like one or two words out.....so when they tested him and i explained my issue they did a hearing test and other fine moter skill test and it got him into the head start program at our local school..... i kinda glad that he was able to test at the age because it was a way of getting him into school (at age 3) and he got speach classes and was able to start early in the whole school envierment,.It has been great for him and our school did 3 reviews through out the school year and i was so blown away(i cried at all the reviews) at the progress he was making. i highly recommend looking into your local school and finding out when they start these screenings( ours iscoming up on March).
good luck ...feel free to ask me any questions you might have....

1 mom found this helpful

Have her call your local school district for slow speach development. They should have some sort of program for young children. Usually they have a speach therapist come to her house and spend a half hour with her a few times a week. The earlier the better. Because they teach them how to say things proper when they get to be 3 the teachers want them to speak anything so baby talk is ok, then you have to get past the baby talk. She is probably very smart, many children have this issue, so tell her not to worry just call the school district they will put you in good hands, they will do some simple tests with her to find out what her comunication problems are and then get the teacher who can help her the best. My son had this issue also said a few words but never progressed from there, we found out about the program when he was almost 3. Doctors told me boys are just slow he'll catch up and talk when he is ready, this made it worse because I knew something wasn't right. He was talking perfectly when he hit kindergarden, or at least as well as the other kids he still used the W for the F sounds like Woggy not froggy, so we had my older kids work with him on the phonics game to see the letter and put the sound with it. This helped 100%. The teachers never new that he had a speach problem at all.

Good luck to you and her. Be sensitive with this issue, to her, she already knows something is wrong so watch how you word things that she doesn't take offense to you. J.

1 mom found this helpful

my first son didn't speak much until he was almost 3, now that he just turned 4, he talks non stop and has very intelligent full blown conversations. My 2.5 year old is the same way, only just starting to say a few words, but he is also very bright.

So long as hearing isn't an issue, just know that children develop at their own pace. If you feel there is an underlying concern that needs speech therapy, consult with ECI, since the prgram runs out once the child turns 3.

To help encourage her to speak more, involve her in conversations, use flash cards, read to her daily, ask her lots of questions and her opinion on things, does she want the blue bear or the pink bear and have her say which one... always be encouraging but never get angry. reward her when she does speak

1 mom found this helpful

Have her look into Early Intervention - normally through the county or state. They can evaluate your neice. It sounds like she is behind on verbal skills but fine on cognitive so if she qualifies it should be an easy catch up for her. But the key is to start early - the longer she waits, the longer it will take for your neice to catch up. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Your niece sounds very shy and that could be just it. Most girls by 2yrs talk in sentences , kids I have met anyway, I almost freaked. I was told boys are little slower on the speech.
She needs to be encouraged to repeat the words and learn how to ask for things and say sorry, express her emotions and needs.
What is her daily environment, is she at home , does someone communicate to her, is she is daycare. My son is almost 3 yrs old, he is late bloomer but has been improving since I am laid off and I talk to him daily. I would also encourage reading books to her and let her pick the story, This is a very difficult transition for most kids, they are absorbing A LOT.
Since I learned English from scratch when I was HS age I can tell you there is a large doze of emberassment, stress and mind boggling amount of words so I can only imagine what it's like for a little child. They do learn faster though just need to have exposure to a conversation and opportunity to express themselves. i hope this helps

1 mom found this helpful

It is really hard not to compare! I know the feeling for sure. My son has just started in complete sentences and he's 2 yrs 10 months. His trouble was his hearing. She should consider having her child evaluated by a developmental specialist. You can find great help thru Early Intervention. My family just told me to chill out because I was a new mom and overreacting. Turns out they were wrong and I was right. If I hadn't been so persistent my son would have severe hearing loss and totally unable to speak! It could be as simple as parents who do all the talking work for her but it could also be something more. If it is a bigger issue then the sooner you know the better. I think a lot of parents don't want to face it because they are so concerned with what it might be. So many of us base our success as parents on how WONDERFUL and perfect our kids are. Well guess what...my son has speech delay, is so shy he won't say hello to his preschool teacher, has a crooked head, and won't eat fruits or vegis. I am a successful mom because I am an advocate for my child and love him totally! Your SIL should see a specialist if nothing else to calm her own anxiety. For the best help out there contact California Early Intervention.

HOLY cow. I didn't read what others had said. HUSH girls!! You know who you are! If you don't have something nice and supportive to say then HUSH!! Some of the responses would have made me cry...Kariann I think I remember you from elementary school. You were the one who pushed kids off the swing set and made fun of people with glasses. Being a bully as a kid is unacceptable. Being a bully as an adult.....I can't comprehend why you'd want to be ugly to someone you don't even know. This may not be the best forum for you to express yourself.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow, I never thought your question would get such a harsh response. It seems like you were simply asking what the normal range is. It does not seem like you are questioning your SIL's parenting. And if there was a problem, wouldn't early intervention be better? I agree that there is a wide range for speech development. Seeing the kids in my daughter's 2-year-old preschool class really brought that to my attention. One boy was still barely putting words together by the end of the year. You would never know that now. My guess is once she starts talking she'll be talking in complete sentences!

1 mom found this helpful

I loved the way you transcribed your son's words . . . boo, wed, etc.
Thanks for the smiles.
This brought me back to happy memories of my own son's speech some 35 years ago.
Meanwhile, probably it's not necessary to worry about your niece.
Sometime in the next couple of years, she will begin expressing herself
in full sentences, including parenthetical phrases, subjunctive tenses, et al.
It's good that you hate to compare. Excellent strategy.
Each of the children will develop in his or hr own way, in his or her own time.
Comparisons are not only unnecessary; they are often preposterous.
Gma S.

1 mom found this helpful

http://www.mamapedia.com/questions/7793441297695571969
Here is the link for a similar question, on this website.

Ultimately as well, you need to ask the Pediatrician. If your SIL is concerned, has she spoken to their Pediatrician?

All the best,
Susan

1 mom found this helpful

Hi,

My name is T.. I think your niece should have her ears checked out. My son was experiencing the same kind of issue. He would speak very little and when he did, it almost sounded like a different language. I got to wondering about it and one day while I was standing behind him, I said something to him and he didn't answer. Then I popped a balloon behind him and he didn't even jump.
That is when I took him in and sure enough he was having a hearing problem He had an inverted ear drum.
So, please tell the parents to take her in and get her ears checked out. My son has had to go through 3 surgeries to have tubes put in his ears. He is totally fine now.

T.

Her Mother/Father should ask their pediatrician if your niece is within the realm of "normal" - and if need be get a referral from the pediatrician.

My daughter was talking and then speaking in sentences very early, but few people believed me because she is very shy and did not (until she was about 3 years) care to engage in conversation with anyone outside her few "favorites." She hated it when people "quizzed" her about colors, etc and refused to answer those sorts of inane questions. At that point all that was important was that I knew what she was capable of. She will still occasionally shut down around strangers or people she is not comfortable with.

All kids do develop at their own rate, but if it is truly a concern for her parents, they should seek advice from a qualified professional.

i used to worry about my son not saying much at that age and my friend kept saying "just u wait...just u wait til he's just past 2.5" and sure enough the words started to come..now he's going to be 4 next month and he uses big words for a little guy..and knows what they mean..so don't fret too much..kids go at their own pace..she may just be embarrassed ...give her some more time

My son was much the same way, had maybe 1/2 a dozen words (but communicated fantastically with facial expressions). Then his language just exploded right around age 2 (slightly after). One month it was mama, dada, baba... and the next month it was "The squirrels are mocking me!" (and a longwinded explanation of exactly how they were mocking him... and yes... mocking did turn out to be exactly the right word). And then he was reading fluently at a 1st grade level by age 3.

If you sil is getting worried then by all means suggest she call the Child Find early intervention office in your area or a reputable speech therapist to have her evaluated.

She should definitely be able to verbally communicate wants and needs verbally and be speaking in 2-5 words sentences by 2 1/2

Good luck to you!

Hi there,
the range is so large. My daughter, now almost 5, was speaking at 13 months. By 18 months, she was putting together 5-6 word sentences. On the other hand, my niece, who just turned 3, just started putting 5-6 word sentences together. I really wouldn't worry.

Let her take the girl to her pediiatrition she might need to testen good luck A. no hills

Try to see a speech therapist. My son (now 27) did the same thing. Pediatrician recommended a speech therapist. There was nothing wrong, he just decided that to get what he wanted he did not have to talk. And our trying to make him had no success. She recommend that we basically "gang up on him" and insist he say what he wanted before he got it. It worked, in about two weeks he was talking as though he had always been talking and hasn't stopped since. I must say we made it easy for him to do that. We learned to read his sign language and never insisted on anything else and he got very good at using it. And could speak all that time. Just chose not to. Check with Ped though. Wish you well.

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