24 answers

Does My Son Need an "Intervention"?

Hello all,

My son is almost 21 months, and my mother in law, who works with older special needs kids, told me she thinks he is speech delayed. I have wondered this myself, but have been conflicted because he DOES talk. He has actually a fairly extensive vocabulary, however, a lot of it is still indistinct. Is this ok? I.E. he says several phrases like "I got a car", "It's a car", "Where's the car", "I did it", but they're still fairly gibbery and sometimes hard to make out. He also says things like "Keeeee" for "kitty" and "Da" for "dog". His comprehension is amazing . . . there is really very little he doesn't understand when we say it. He follows directions well and is a very bright, interactive, and energetic little boy.

Do you think there's a problem? Anyone have experience here? He was also slow to walk (14.5 months) and roll over (6 months) but none of his doctors were the least concerned, as he is and always has been a very big boy - he is right about 3ft tall and 30 lbs - and he had more weight and height to manuever. He isn't around other children frequently, though he does have a few buddies. None of them talk extensive either and I am wondering if this is part of it.

I would love some input or experiences . . .



What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much for all of your input . . . I think I am going to follow my original instinct on this matter and bring it up at his 2 year check up if it still is a concern. He is picking up more and more vocab, and my husband and I have been trying to help him with his words.

Thanks all!!

Featured Answers

Sounds to me that he is on track. If the Dr. isn't concerned, I wouldn't worry. My son was slow to talk as well, but he's making up for it now. It's nice to hear that you are staying home with him. Keep up the verbal cues with him. Talk about everything you do throughout the day. Ex. "Let's go get the laundry out. Help me find the blue shirts. Here are Daddy's socks." Just keep the verbal stimulation going and he'll catch up.

More Answers

Hi J.,
I'm a speech pathologist and it sounds to me like your son is doing great! He's not even 2. You said he has an extensive vocabulary? 50-100 words? He's already putting 2-4 word phrases together. At 2 he is expected to start put short phrases together. Consonant sounds aren't expected for mastery till 3 yrs. (m, b, p, w, h). Then others are expected at 4, 5, 6, 7, etc. There are a lot of great websites that give you this info. and you can use them to periodically check how he is doing with his speech/language.
But put your mind at ease; he sounds like he's right on track.
Take Care,

1 mom found this helpful

J.~I owned a nursery school most of my life (just retired last June), and often we had little boys who spoke as you are describing. When they got into preschool and were with other children, it was amazing what a difference it made! Mothers would come in all worried that we wouldn't be able to understand their child, but in a short time, we would be able to, and the child would have lots of opportunities to express him/herself verbally, which helped the language process mature. I hate to say it, but often boys talk later than girls, and that is okay. I wouldn't worry at his age. If, by the time he is three and a half, his speech is still not intelligible, then you might want to have an IEP for speech. Sounds to me like you just have a case of a young child who isn't around other children much, who will be stimulated to talk when he is ready and exposed to more language later on. Meanwhile, be sure to talk to him a lot when you are with him, in the car, reading stories, and in any everyday situations possible. I talked to my children constantly (I have 10 of them), and I talked to them about things you would never think they would understand at an early age, but they responded, and have all become excellent readers and all possess amazing vocabularies. One of them (a boy) did not talk until later, but he now has a BA in literature and is a civil engineer besides! Don't worry, and don't cave in to everyone else's concern. Follow your instincts. He will be fine. If you look for a preschool, find one that is "whole language". Hints will be: lots of children's books, labels all over the room like "chair", "table,"window", etc, teachers who get down to eye level with the children and talk to them (NOT with baby talk), color everywhere, and a feeling of FUN when you enter the room. My school had many centers: Kitchen/role play, blocks, creation station (art), science, sensory table, reading, large motor, and more. Good luck. Marti

No harm can be done by doing some early intervention. My son, who sounds fairly similar to your son, was diagnosed with mild to moderate autism. He was verbal by age 2; he was reciting the alphabet, named colors, shapes and other random objects. But by age 3 to 3 and a half he wasn't really progressing past a certain point. For example he wasn't using pronouns correctly ("you want some milk" is how he would ask for his milk). And there are a host of other much more subtle signs that I was not aware were indications of Autism. When I voiced my concern to his pediatrician he merely wrote down the number for the Regional Center and made no more indication that anything could be out of the ordinary; not all pediatricians are well versed in the signs and symptoms.

My intention is not to frighten you. Your son may just be like so many other little boys who just happen to be late bloomers. But if in your heart of hearts you think there might even be slightest hint of concern then contact the Orange County Regional Center. The evaluation is free and because he is under 3 years they are obligated to respond to your request within, I believe 30 days, perhaps even sooner.
As I said, no harm can come from having the testing, and it will put your mind at ease!

Best of luck!

R u Kidding me? You seriously want an intervention for your 21 month old? Listen every child grows at their own pace....don't rush him talking...my daughter didn't really talk until about 23 months. She starting putting syllables together, and once she learned how to "manipulate" her tongue when using different words and sounds she is a constant chatter box. I would wait and see until about 3y/o if he's stuttering, or having problems with easy words like kitty, or puppy..it seems to me that your mom in law is putting ideas in your head that you needn't worry about with your son still being very young and learning his language. My mother in law tried telling me that my daughter was "slow"! My MOM WHO IS A SPEECH PATHOLOGIST AND MY DAD WHO IS A FAMILY PSYCHOLOGIST AND FORENSIC PSYCH, BOTH TOLD ME TO RELAX. EVERY CHILD DEVELOPES AT THEIR OWN PACE. IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS, TALK TO YOU PEDIATRICIAN...BUT TELL YOUR MOM IN LAW TO BACK OFF AND THAT YOUR DAUGHTER IS DOING JUST FINE IN HER COGNITIVE LANGUAGE. So my advice to you is to stop worrying, and ask your pediatrician what is normal. Good Luck!

I am not an expert on this subject, but with experience as a preschool teacher for many years, I would like to put your mind at ease, at least for the time being. The most important step toward speach for a toddler is their receptive language; their knowledge of words and what they mean. Even if a toddler just grunts and points at objects, and you know they have a vocabulary (when playing little games such as where are your toes? does he point to his toes?) he will most likely be talking before long. You wont know if he has a speech impedament for some time yet. Treatment and evaluation would be very immature for him at this time. Read to him as much as you can, talk to him a lot, and check back to see how much progress he has made 6 months from now.

Hi J.!
I have extensive experience with this. When my oldest son was 21 months old, he has maybe two words but mostly grunting and pointing to tell me what he wanted. He was advanced in every other developmental area but speach. Your boy sounds like his is doing just fine, it is a great sign he is putting two words together, that usually doesn't start happening until at least two so that is a big deal :). But it sure isn't going to hurt to have him evaluated. Since you live in Orange County you just have to contact the RCOC program and they will come to your home and evaluation your little guy. Then withing 45 days he will either be placed in some therapy or they will tell you he is not delayed and your at peace. You may already know this since your mother in-law is in this field. It won't hurt and he will have fun at the therapy sessions! All of it is free to you until he is 3 years old! You can't beat that!
Good luck!

I have 3 children, 18, 11 and one almost 3. My 3 year old talks up a blue streak, however we only understand about 1/2 of it still. Trust me, as a preschool teacher for 13+ years, your son sounds normal. He will talk when he is ready and the pronunciation comes later. (If you are still concerned, have his ears looked at, a lot of children who have chronic ear infections or allergies have difficulties hearing, therefore pronounce things differently)

I would agree with the other responses. And I would also contact Regional Center- they will do a basic interview over the phone with you to see if he needs an assessment...at least it would put your mind (and your mother-in-law's) at ease. I think that "age appropriate" language at 24 months is that 2 word phrases should be emerging, and that they are intelligible to others at 50%. Somebody may want to correct me on the intelligible part but I think that is close.
Good luck with everything and enjoy your little man!

Oh boy, the mother in law thing, she works w/ special needs kids, but she's not a pediatricians isn't she? Well, as long as your doctor see him develope normally, then you have no worry about that. He's not 2 yet, some kids don't even talk clearly until 3. Your kid even say phrase, then not to worry. He still gibbery trying to pronounce correctly. Give him time, he'll master it soon. I've seen my husband nephews didn't talk any clear words until he's over 3 year olds, and once they talked, they were chatters. So, don't worry, just have his pediatrician observe him while he talk, either at the doctor visit, or video tapping and show to his doctor.

Good luck,

Before you spend any more time worrying, I would spend 30 minutes observing your child (or another adult can do this)and write down everything your child says. Do this again in a couple of weeks. Often we do not realize everything they are saying, or that we actually talk for them. Children learn and express differently. If after a month you have not seen any changes see the Regional Center for free assessment; remember to use your notes not your memory!

Ask your son's doctor for the Regional Centers #. What this does is helps your son with his speech. once you have called the Regional center they will ask you a series of questions and then they will send in 2 speech therapists to your home and they will examin his activity and speech and then they will then tell you what to do next, there may be nothing wrong or maybe he will be refferred to a class that will help him with speech. It is a class 3 times a week for an hour and 15 mins and it's all on video so you can watch your child interact w/ his teacher and other students. But you need to do it quick because it is only until he is 3 yrs. old. The best thing is it is all free, the state pays for this little extra attention your child may need to jump start his speech. My son started the class at 33 months, so his time was limited, but boy o boy did it jump start him to saying more words.
K., in Lakewood

your son actually sounds like he is doing great. My son was 18 monthes old and barley spoke. we found he needed tubes and has had some great support and that he is almost 3 he is talking with 2-4 word sentences.

IT sounds like your son is right on target also I have learned that between 2-3 years old kids learn like 1000 new words. The speech therapists I wk with said that it is normal for kids to talk like your son bc atleast he has a sound for a word and they have meaning behind them.

If you want him evaluated that would be alright just to make sure he is okay. but truthfully he sounds like he is doing great.

The best thing to do would be to take him to a specialist and have them check him out. Children develop at different paces and it's hard to talk to other mothers sometimes because everyone wants to make comparisons. But milestones aren't something that you can really compare-it's different for every child. Putting him into a preschool environment at a child developement center would probably be a great idea so he can be around other children who he can learn from. Also, 14 months is not late for walking in fact it is more like average. Good luck and hang in there, he sounds like a great kid!

Call your school district ask if they have a speech program. They should be able to help you find one. They will ask you questions, then if they feel he needs help they will test him and place him in a class or with a speech tutor. They are great. I beleive the earlier the better. Doctors don't seem to care about the speech delay thing either. They simply tell you boys are just slow, he'll catch up. But a mother knows best. Get him help now.

Good Luck! JP

My friend has a son who is 3. He understands everything, is not hard of hearing and really communicates well non-verbally but he has had trouble learning to talk. He can say some words but not group them like "go in car." He is going to a special preschool where speech therapist is working with him.

Sometimes children mature differently. If his hearing has been checked, just continue to let him know when you do not understand what he said or repeat what you think he said then he can agree or not.

I am no expert but if he gets to age 3 and has speech problems, then you might be concerned - also as soon as he is potty trained, he could use some socialization.

i think he is just fine with where he is at. i wouldnt be worried at all. if he is still doing that when he is older like 4ish. then ask his dr. my nephew talked like he did but he was aloud to get away with the babbling. maybe try to get him to say the right word if he wants something. like if he wants the dog get him to day dog instead of da. anyways i hope this is helpful!

I actually think your son is on track-- BUT if you are concerned and want to make sure....contact Regional Center-- which is through the state. They will evaluate your child based on your concerns and if he is 30% or more delayed they will cover speech therapy etc at no cost to you. I did it for my twins & found out they were fine but I wanted to know. It was really easy and worth it for peace of mind.

Here is the number you would call. Intake and Assessment Main Telephone # ###-###-####

Hi J.,

I think it's nice that your mother in law is concerned about the development of your son. She's just be a caring grandmother. However, from what you described about your son...it seems like he's doing just fine. My son is 19 months and a lot of his words are still indistinct. We talked to his pediatrician about our concerns and she said not to worry. As long as he's learning new words and we could understand (for the most part) what he's saying then he's on the right path. Our son has a hard time with the hard "c" or "k", instead of cat, he says tat. Since his last well check-up he's starting to say more words and is beginning to form two-word sentences. I think you should still monitor his progress and watch that he's continuing to expand his vocabulary. If his pediatrician had concerns, I'm sure he'd bring it up. Also, remember each child is different and some reach their developmental milestones a little later than others, but that doesn't mean something is wrong. A teacher recited a quote that I found so true..."All children are gifted, some just open theirs later than others".

Take Care

It sounds to me as if your son is very smart! He is still very, very young. I wouldn't be concerned, he sounds very normal to me, perhaps even above normal. Give him more time to grow and develop. Every child is different and your Mother in Law may be comparing him to her children's speech when they were young. If he is behind at age three, then I would ask advise of his doctor. Enjoy your baby and let him grow at his own rate. Read to him often, it is very good in helping him to develop his word base and skills even if he doesn't speak them for a while yet!

my nephew had the same situation, and my brother decided to look at it like this: It can't hurt him to have a little extra help with speech, If it helps- great! If not- no harm done!

I think your son is my daughter! :) My first daughter did everything early or on time, and my second has taken a little longer, but she's doing just fine. I'm sure Grandma is worrying, my mom (who was a long time teacher) does the same thing. We joke with my mom now about it, it's about them not wanting their grandbabies to have anything wrong with them. Heed her advice, along with the knowledge that you have since you're with him the most. The most important thing we can do is when they say something, is to repeat it back the correct way. So, when my daughter says, "huia" (this is Sofia, her sister), I say, "Sofia, you're looking for Sofia?". This way, I'm not encouraging it, though I think it's cute, and she's not feeling like I'm constantly correcting her. You can also break words up like, "kitty". You can practice saying, "kit-ty", just pepper it in here or there. I hope this helps. I also have a 3 yr old nephew who is a little incoherent still, and my sister bought him this phone handset that echos their voice to themselves. So, if you feel like he's just not improving over the next few mths, there are things you can do. Happy Talking!

Hi J.,
I have 2 sons ages 3 and 6. My 6 year old had speech problems too. I am a physical therapist and I can tell you it was a little difficult getting him services, I had to be persistent but I did get them. In general, the medical community wants you to "wait it out" with small children and see if it corrects itself. I had to stress how it was affecting my son's ability to socialize, that I was seeing a change in his behavior because no one could understand him. There are 2 ways to get help. I went to his pediatrician first and made sure to stress to her how I felt it was affecting his ability to socialize with other kids and adults. She gave him a referral for speech therapy. I noticed him having difficulty between ages 2 and 3. I think he was on track before that, but around 3 I always had to translate for him. He knew what he wanted to say, but had difficluty artculating sounds correctly. No other adults could understand him. He could say some sounds correctly, but not enough. I sought treatment because I was going to start him in preschool and other adults and kids could not understand him and he became less talkative, especially if he was in a group situation. He was not wanting to socialize with other kids unless it was one on one. It's like he was embarassed and aware that he could not talk as well as others.
The second way to get help is to contact the public school in your area and request an evaluation. This is a free service they have to provide. They have 90 days to complete this, even if your child is not school agae yet. Unfortunately if the school is closed in summer the 90 day period stops for the summer and resumes in the fall. I requested services in May and did not get an evaluation until late August. Because of this I also requested a speech evaluation through my health insurance. He did not get the eval until late July, but it was very complete and I learned my then 3 1/2 year old was very bright, just had trouble articulating. He was able to start treatment in August with my insurance and was evaluated by the school in late August. After 2 months of speech training he made huge progress! I was very happy I pursued it. He went from August through May and it was a great experience for both him and me. Initially my insurance said I would have to wait 6 months after the eval to start treatment- but I called and spoke with them repeatedly that this was unacceptable. They stated that their provider was so full, I requested they send me to someone else, which they did. I would pursue the school system first.

Your son is still so young that I wouldn't worry too much just yet. I think that it is great that you are aware of potential problems this early though.

My son was three when finally my sister-in-law approached me and said she thought he had a speech problem. Being my first child, I just thought that was the way he talked. He was like your child with an extensive vocabulary and he had much to say. Sometimes it would all be jumbled and there were certain letters he could not say.

Through research, I found out that the school district could and did assess him. They placed him in a speech preschool two days a week and his therapy continued at his own school when he started Kinder. He is now ten and speaking like everyone else. His therapy lasted through second grade.

I also know another mom who has a three year old daughter in speech preschool through our district. Her child did not speak at all (she was a preemie) but is now making great strides with sounds.

Call your school district and they can set up an appointment to have your son evaluated at your closest school. My experience was fantastic, everyone involved was very friendly and helpful. It was a positive experience for both me and my son. The programs are high quality and the speech services are all free.

Sounds to me that he is on track. If the Dr. isn't concerned, I wouldn't worry. My son was slow to talk as well, but he's making up for it now. It's nice to hear that you are staying home with him. Keep up the verbal cues with him. Talk about everything you do throughout the day. Ex. "Let's go get the laundry out. Help me find the blue shirts. Here are Daddy's socks." Just keep the verbal stimulation going and he'll catch up.

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