13 answers

Non Verbal Toddler

Hi- I have posted before for advice on my 23 month old, non verbal son. He has a vocabulary of "mama, dada, ma(which means No), yeh(yes), Braby(our dog, whose name is Brady)He was saying "ball", after my 5 year old spent days repeating it until he finally copied him, but has since "forgotten" the word. we are all getting frustrated, especially my son, he knows exactally what is being said to him, and will perform any task asked of him, he just will not speak. I know every baby is different, but i think this is something that needs attention. we encourage him to say simple words, but are having no luck. I have called the pedi- they said just to wait until next month for his 2 year check up., I have scheduled a "sick child visit" because Im that concerned, then they decided they were overbooked, and canceled it. I have called the health coordinator at mass.gov, she was very kind, and gave me the # to the early intervention in my area, I have called twice, and have not recieved a call back. alls I want is for my son to express himself, he gets SO frustrated, and just screams at the top of his lungs. ANY advice to help my little boy would be greatly appreciated!

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So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the advice! Kyle did get evaluated by early intervention and they are coming once a week for speech. He passed his hearing test and does have an appointment with a neurologist next month to evaluate for autism(he showed some concern on the mchat given by the pedi and e.i) We are now starting sign language and he is doing great with it. They have showed us many techniques to get new sounds out of him, and he is now saying "more" and "ba-na-na" We are very happy so far with the outcome and are excited to see his developmental growth that has yet to come! His screaming has also calmed down a bit! Thanks for everyones support and advice-I appreciate all of your kond words of encouragement!

Featured Answers

Signing Time (video sign language series) was a lifesaver with my daughter, and most local libraries have it.

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Hi S.,
Keep calling the early intervention number you were given. You could also try to call the local elementary school or head start and ask to speak to the special needs coordinator. That person should be able to get you in contact with others who do early intervention in the area.

Another avenue would be sign language. http://www.sign2me.com/ Pick up the package and when you speak you sign at the same time. Your son should pick up the signs quickly and be able to communicate before he is verbal thus reducing the frustration tantrums.

Good Luck,
D. C
48yo SAHM being treated for breast cancer. Girl 16, boys 14, 11 & 8.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.,

I can imagine how frustrating this is for your family - especially your son. I am definitely not an expert at all, but I do remember reading somewhere when my kids were a little younger - probably a parenting magazine, that if your child is developing normally in other areas and follows commands and understands what is being said to him (not diplaying signs of autism, not hearing impaired, etc), then there may be nothing wrong with him. They gave several examples of very intelligent people who didn't talk much at all until 3 or 4 years old - one of them was Einstein. I can't remember the others. The article basically said that they may not say much until they're older, but when they do finally speak, they say everything. I would definitely get him evaluated, but in the meantime, just be very patient and don't put too much pressure on him - that will have a negative effect on him. Every child learns and develops at their own pace. Try to do as much research on line as possible.

On a side note - I would seriously consider finding another Pediatrician. What kind of doctor cancels a sick visit on someone???

I hope everything turns out ok for you.


1 mom found this helpful

Hi S., I'm a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist. IF you are not getting a response from EI right away (they sometimes take a while to get the ball rolling, which leads to more frustration all around), you can check into outpatient SLP services at a local rehab facility (not sure where you are located?). Most insurances will at least pay for the evaluation, and many cover treatment as well (BCBS, HP, etc... NOT TUFTS). Pediatricians are quick to have you "wait, wait, wait", but I highly suggest that you don't. You are right that every baby is different, but judging by all your reported (and you are your child's best advocate), you are on the right track by seeking something RIGHT AWAY. I also agree with providing some sign language in conjunction with language.... simple stuff to start (more, eat, all done, drink, help, I want, etc.) It will hopefully significantly reduce the tantrum behaviors and frustration. Also, what might help is picture choice/schedule type boards. For example, you could put pictures on the fridge of the common items that he likes to have from the fridge - milk, juice, yogurt, cheese, etc, and he can point to what he wants when it's time to choose, etc. We can talk more if you want info on that. Sounds like the biggest frustration for your son is expressive language delays or troubles.... Good news is, he has some words... that's a start! Now we have to work off of those words he does have to help him say some new ones. For example, he has the 'b' sound... so now work on baby, or bubbles, etc.... something he likes. Keeping things out of reach so he has to ask for them is a good trick, but at this point might frustrate him. Although it's written specifically for parents of children with Autism, I highly recommend the book "More than Words" by Fern Sussman... as well as "Learning Language and Loving it".... great books that are actually excellent for language stimulation in general - and not JUST for kids with autism even though it's written for that reason.... Also some sign language simple picture books would be great. Real pictures with babies signing would be ideal. Keep smiling and encouraging him. Great news that he seems to understand all that you say to him. Sounds as though he MAY have some praxis issues (motor planning), but without seeing him, I couldn't be the judge of that for sure. Good for you for checking into it - and not giving up! : )

1 mom found this helpful

At 15 months, my third child (a girl) was only saying "no" and mama. (She would say no all day long, though). I talked to her doctor, and he said to give it a month, and then call early intervention. I decided to call early intervention right away, since I know their process can take about three weeks to get rolling.
My daughter did great with sign language in the meantime, just a few simple ones to help her get her point across.
Early intervention was wonderful, and within a few months, she was saying a few more words, and by the time she was two, she was at and beyond her age level with her talking. We did early intervention playgroups at the site in Framingham, MA, and loved those as well.
I can't say enough how wonderful the experience with early intervention was. I hope that the early intervention team near you starts answering the phone! Keep calling, it is a great place to start.
If you want to start signing with your son, you don't have to use American Sign Language-- you can just pick gestures that come naturally to your son, and sign every time you say that word.
Give him choices-- Do you want milk, or water? and wait for a response before giving him whatever it is. It may be frustrating at first, but it may help him to know that he needs to talk.
We found that my daughter had some low muscle tone, which may have made it harder for her to learn to talk. Having him use straws and blow those unrolling party noise makers would strengthen his tongue muscles and help him if that is an issue.
Some days my daughter would by silent all day, and not make any noises at all. Now she speaks volumes all day long. Almost everyone of my neighbors has used early intervention with one of their children. I hope it is as great a resource for you as it was for us. Good luck.

Hi S.! Sounds like you got some good suggestions. Definitely keep calling the EI, but in the meantime, I have a couple of names of SLPs/psychologists who could eval your son (although the wait could be a while) and could then give you some individualized things to do with him to help with the language. Let me know if you want to go that route, and I will post a private message to you with the names.

I too would be concerned. EI can be very busy and they take some time to get back to you. If you are unstasified with your pedi's response, I too suggest looking for a new one (easier said than done though, right?). But then again - he does have an appt in one month to evaluate him for a "healthy child" visit. A month seems like forever when you have concerns regarding your children - but it will go by faster than you think!

Is it possible to teach him sign language until you can get the help you need with him?? It might be a temporary fix and atleast he can express himself a little more with out being so frustrated.

Signing Time (video sign language series) was a lifesaver with my daughter, and most local libraries have it.

I had the same problem with my daughter. If you have the 2 year appointment set up already, at this point you might just have to wait for that...I would assume you will be going in a week or so. I would keep calling Early intervention though. In my experience, it will take them a while to get you in anyway (I think it took me 6weeks to 2 months to get my daughter in). DEFINITELY keep calling them. I'm sure you'll be able to get a referral from your doctor and you don't need that until you show at your appointment anyway (if I recall correctly). The process if you don't know is that they do a full evaluation and then recommend what type of services they can provide. I think you can also have your own outside eval done. Also, something that I had trouble with was if you are trying to get an evaluation from an autism specialist (a dr. outside of EI) you need to have it actually done before your child is 3 otherwise chances are insurance won't pick up the tab. I'd had an appointment scheduled and then found out that because she was over 3 it was going to cost us over 1200.00 with the specialist so I ended up having to cancel it. Also, if you don't already know (which I didn't really), after the child turns 3, early intervention in MA stops and the school system picks up where EI left off. In my experience, I would say if your child is not making progress in EI after a few months if you have a general person visiting, ask if they can reevaluate. I waited to the 6 month secondary evaluation because I didn't know any better and it turned out that once I got an actual speech language pathologist instead of just the person with the masters and a general knowledge, my daughter did much better (she was "apraxic" so the SLP really helped). The good news is that she's now 6 and has been released from her IEP

hi stephanie
your child needs an in depth eval from an expert. if EI is not calling you back call your ped and insist they refer you to a developmental pediatrician.
In the mean time. Picture cues will help your little one express his feelings. pictures of favorite foods,people and toys so he can show you what he wants. I can walk you through it if need be

That must be very hard to deal with. I think changing doctors might be a good first step. Then, spend every morning on the phone until you receive the state evaluation you need. Did others in your family start speaking late? Early or late development can be a family trait (nothing to get too worried over). If he is hitting or exceeding all of the other milestones, he may just be a "late talker". How many hours a day do you spend reading to him? What type of books do you read to him? Does he have the chance to pick out books that interest him at the library or bookstore? Many public libraries have early literacy programs for tots, and even bookstores have "story time": You could brush up on your reading-to kids-technique and get some pointers from professional educators. Is he engaged by music or videos? These can also be vocabulary builders (maybe your librarian could direct you toward educational ones). Don't give up! You can find the resources you need if you keep trying. Good luck!

I understand your frustration. You are getting an early lesson in advocating for your child. Hammer the early intervention, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. As for the doctor, I would switch so fast your head would spin. I went through something similar, and the heartache of waiting to hear, getting shuffled, mollified and basically mollified. Well, then I switched doctors and realized that the other was completely unacceptable. I am so happy with my new practice it isn't funny. You may just have a late talker, the interventionists can tell, but you need to see them. If a call isn't returned within a few hours, call again. Two days, call the supervisor. If it was the end of the week, I would think about paying a visit in person, early, they get on the road about 8:30, and they can't not deal with you then.
Good luck,

First , get a new doc!! I am a mother of a 19 month old who does the same thing! I know what she wants because I am home with her all day so I speak her "language" you can say. She points to what she wants and babbles, trying to speak what it is. All kids as you know go their own pace. I know your child will start at anytime and then wont stop!! I just keep repeating all the time whatever it is as I am handing her the item she is wanting. Eventually they will get it. My daughter says mama, dada, hi , bye ..all the basics , and whats funny is that you can talk to her and say go throw your cup in the sink , or tell her anything to do and she understands and will comply with it in a second!! Does your child understand what you tell him?? If he does than I dont think you have anything to worry about, just keep an eye out to see how he is progresssing...I know he will be fine. Keep me updated...

As I read this the tears are pouring out it's like you are speaking about my son he is also 23 months he is non verbal his list of words are momma and ball he can make noises a dinosaur and monkey and dog say and that's it I too know something isn't right we called early intervention he was evaluated they said he was delayed but not enough to get help that he understands what we say to him he just can't say it and he passed all the other requirements so I am paying out if pocket for him to get speech is it working ? I say not really he can do sign language but can't say anything other then his few words now we are at the temper stage if he can't figure out how to make me understand what he wants he hits or just screams he starts day care in September I am only putting him in there so by chance maybe other kids will help him talk I wish I could offer you advice or tell you it's going to be fine but I just don't know my head says somethings wrong and my heart says Jacob I perfect if you find any answers please share ____@____.com I will do the same

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