17 answers

Seeking Advice on Delayed Speaking

My son will be 2 1/2 at the end of Sept. He is speaking but started very late and cannot speak in full sentences yet. Other kids in his classroom seem to be speaking fluently. Additionally, he cannot pronounce words with the letters, L,R,S or W. I have two concerns. First, will he ever be able to speak correctly? Should I consult a speech therapist or some other specialist? Second, will this delay or slow down his academic progress? If anyone has any experience or advice on what I can do to help him please, please let me know.

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I have the same experience. My son had a speech delay. He didn't say to many words. So at his dr's request we enrolled him in earlt intervention. he speaks beautifully now.
The theapiist said that it's common with boys.

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Hi M.,
My first son was also speech delayed. When he was 3 he was hardly talking. The pediatrician did recommend speech therapy so I did call. They were very backed up, so it took months for them to get back to me for an appt and by the time they did, my son started speaking in sentences, so I didn't go. Then we had the problem of pronounciation. I can't remember everything that he couldn't say, but I do remember that he couldn't speak his J's, ch's, and sh's, and his name starts with a J so nobody could understand him when he said his name. In kindergarten, I asked to have him evaluated and was told that the sounds that he couldn't say were not supposed to be mastered until 7yrs old. He was not eligible for speech therapy at the school, but I could've gotten private therapy. I decided to wait because other than that, he was doing fine in school according ot his teacher, and had no other issues. I did some research on my own and tried to get him to work on his speech, but he wanted no part of that. He just started speaking correctly all on his own, before he finished kindergarten. He is now going into 2nd grade and is doing great. He is not delayed or behind in anything.

Now, I know that I've typed way too much, but there's just one more thing. I just want to let you know that my second son, who was born when my first was 2 1/2, started speaking very early and had none of the speech issues that my first son had. I know that everyone is different, but I just don't want you to worry yet about your next child because he or she may not have any speech issues at all.

Well, that's my story. I hope it helps. Please let me know if I can be of any other help.

Hi M.,
My son Christian will be 2 on August 27th. I believe he is also experiencing speech delay. Granted he is a bit younger than your son, but compared to other toddlers his age his vocabulary is lacking. He can probably say about 10 -15 words and I think he is supposed to be saying close to 50 by now. He does not say any phrases or sentences. THe words he does say are usually missing the ending consonant. For example bus is bu, hat is ha, and ball is ba. The pediatrician wanted us to have his hearing checked first because he had many ear infections this past winter. His hearing checked out perfect. We go for his 2 yr old well visit on the 28th. I suppose I'll see what the dr. has to say then. I am a first grade teacher, and through my experiences I think my best bet is to contact Early Intervention and have them evaluate Christian for a speech delay. I do not have the phone number yet, but I am looking into it. Let me know what you decide to do.

Hi M.. My children started speaking right on schedule, but I had my youngest evaluated for free by early intervention for speech (he wasn't pronouncing L, R, W, or Y correctly). If you look up on the internet, you can do a search for Early Intervention. You just need to find the one that's applicable for your county. It's free until your child is 3. They do an in-home evaluation on everything (motor skills, understanding, speech, etc.) and then they'll tell you if your child qualifies for additional services. I believe after the age of 3, if your child qualifies, it's partially covered by the public school system (you'd need to check on this for sure, but I know that under 3, it's free).

The other thing that I might suggest is getting your child's hearing tested. My son has had chronic ear infections and basically couldn't hear (he had significant hearing loss), so I brought him to an ENT, he got ear tubes and now he has no hearing loss and his speech is improving.

Keep in mind also that all children develop at different rates...best of luck!

- K.

Hi M., C. here. Speaking from experience, my son started nursery school at the age of 3. I too had concerns about his speech, but the trouble was understanding what he was saying. I informed the teachers and within a month together, we came up with a plan to contact a speech therapist through the school system. He was tested and received assistance.

So it is not too early to get your child tested and should you run into any problems getting the assistance you need for your child, ask for help from the day-care, and the board of education. I found that I had to push people to do their jobs, which was unfortunate, but having my son's teacher on board was VERY helpful. His pediatrician was also helpful in writing a letter to the board of education explaning the need for testing. I hope this was helpful.

You child may just be a little slower than others right now and will probably catch up before you know it and be just fine, but it is better to look into it now, rather than later.


My daughter will be 21/2 next month and she is just starting to speak. I dont know where u are located, but i am in Brooklyn and they have free speech therapist that come to your house to see if your child is eligible. Its all free. My doc recommend me to this, but my daughter wasnt eligible bc they had said she understands when you speak to her. That was a year ago. She only says a couple of full sentences now like "I like pizza, but then she says 2 word sentences like"Dadda work". So, if you are interested i have the #, just email me back and i would be more than happy to give it to you.


The general guideline is 25-50 individual words by two, and phrases by three. If he is not meeting those, then you may be looking at a speech delay. My best advice to you is to get him evaluated. ASk your pediatrician to give you the contact information for your local Early Intervention Services. Having hime evaluated should be free, it is not difficult, and they can tell you if he needs a little bit of help.

A speech delay does not mean an inability. It means he is behind his peers. He does speak, and that's the big hurdle. My son has been getting speech therapy services for a year. What a difference it has made! To tell you the truth, more than half of the little boys I know, between the ages of 2 and 5 are in speech therapy. Boys just seem to pick it up slower than girls do. Get him checked. If he's fine, then you'll be reassured. If he needs some help, he'll get it. The earlier the better.


My son was not talking by 18 months and I started to pursue hte doc for answers. His older brother spoke words well before a year. My doc kept telling me it was normal for a second child to take his time speaking. He was pleasant and happy as a toddler but miserable as a baby. After months of bringing him back and forth to the doc my friend suggested we go see a specialist for ears, nose and throat. We did and it turned out my son needed tubes in his ears. After he had that done he started saying many words and short sentences, but he had definite speech prob;lems. My son ws put in special preshcool through our school district and received speech therapy every day until kindergarten. In his kindergarten he received speech twice a week and extra help in the resource room. Having a speech problem has really made his learning to read very difficult. We kept him back in Kindergaten and continued with the speech therapy. Some of his academic are getting caught up but he is still struggling with reading. He will be 8 this year and going into the first rade. His teachers and therapists agree that his speech delay has made it difficult for him to read and he seems to finally be amking friends. He had a hard time bc of the speech. Kids couldnt understand him and would just walk away. It has been hard for us to watch, but getting help has made a huge difference. I wish the best of luck. Take yur concerns to the dr and push until they get his ears checked. Get into with Project Child for early intervention. If he is the right age the distrct can give him help in a daycare environment, or if he only has speech delays they can get you to see a speech therapist as well...Good LUck!

M. - I experienced a similar situation with my son who is now almost 5 1/2. He was delayed and spoke fewer words than those around his age. I consulted with his pediatrician and we both decided to have him evaluated. She got me in touch with the proper people in the town that I live in. The woman came to my house and did simple tests with him. She said she would come back in 6 mos to do another round of tests when he was 3 and based on that outcome would decide on how to proceed - whether or not he needed speech therapy. So I guess my advice to you is, check with his doctor first and see what he/she says.

FYI - The evaluator came back in 6 months and she couldn't shut my son up! One day it was like a lightbulb went off in his head and it all made sense. Now there are days that I beg my son to stop talking just for a few minutes so I can think. Good Luck! Let me know how it all turns out - A.

Hello M.!

I have been a school psychologist for 8 years now. For the last 3 years I have been doing preschool evaluations with our speech pathologist. It does not sound as if your son has a speech/language delay. In fact the sounds that you expressed concern over (l, r, s, w) are typically later developing sounds. At his age he should be able to communicate using phrases, that begin progressing towards complete sentences. If you continue to have concerns, I would speak to your pediatrician about having him evaluated by your local Early Intervention Service, or wait until he is three and then have him evaluated by your school system. Good Luck!


Hello M.,

First off don't compare your child to other children in his class. Every child progress at their own speed. If you are concern about his speech you could have him evaluated by a speech therapist to make sure it's not a speech delay and if it is, you and the speech terapist could help him increase his vocabulary. Also check with his pediatrician to make sure he does not have a mild hearing lost.

Hi M.,

My name is N.. Well I could tell you that I have two children, a daughter 4 and a son 2. My daughter is very advanced and my son is autistic. He is not high on the spectrum but he has no speech whatsoever. He had it a one and lost it all. At 18 months our pediatrician recommended early intervention. I must say it has made a huge difference. I don't know much about your son, but i think that children that see themselves in a mirror have curiosity and it encourages them to speak. Flash cards are marvelous. Repition in a word or card is important. Through music is also another great way to get them to express themselves.

Try early intervention, it's free through NYS and they will evaluate for free. Good Luck.

N. O.

I have the same experience. My son had a speech delay. He didn't say to many words. So at his dr's request we enrolled him in earlt intervention. he speaks beautifully now.
The theapiist said that it's common with boys.

Each state offers speech help. Contact your local town and they might be give you the Number of the person to contact. I know in NY if your child needs speech help they send someone to your house and it is FREE.

Hi M.- I experienced a similar situation with my son, at 20 months he was barely saying "momma or dada".While all the kids around his age were saying 50+ words.I was very concerned b/c Autism was big in the news and of course you fear the worse.After researching I found "Early intervention" it is a government funded program that's available through you County Health and Family Services.Just call and they will come and evaluate him through a series of tests(through toys and play). If they see a delay in any area they will approve him for i.e. speech, occupational therapy. My son qualified for both and after 1yr, he is actually above average in speech and congnitive skills. I hope this helps. M. K

I am the mom of a 7 year old who had a speeking delay at the age of 21 months i had her evaluated by early intervention and found out that she would need speech therapy. she had it for one year and tested out. At the age of three years I had her reavaluated by our school district because I was not pleased with her speech progress ( I am an early childhood educator) and she was classified as a preschooler with a disability. At the end of this past school year she tested out of speech, but she was evatuated for other learning problems and now is classified as learning disabled or what I like to call learning delayed. She is about a year to a year and a half behind her fellow classmates. So I want to say the sooner it is looked into the better.

i wouldn't worry just yet. take him to a speech therapist and see how things go from there! when my brother was starting to speak all the way until he was in the end of elementary school he couldn't say words with those letters in it either....my mother just thought it was a lisp until a teacher suggested speech therapy, it did wonders for him! he actually still has some problems with certain words if he's tired or not feeling good and doesn't pay attention to what he's saying, but for the most part, his speech is at least 90% better. just talk to the professional and i'm sure things will get better with the classes. good luck!

You son seems to be at the far end, but still within reason, of "normal" for delay in the speech. He'll talk and you won't be able to shut him up! But I would consult a speech therapist... it sounds like he could use some speech therapy. My second child, a son, was the same way, and it took him, actually, a few years of therapy, they did it in his school...to get the sounds right, pretty much the same letters your son's having problems with. I don't think it's going to interfere with his academic progress, since you're already 'onto it'. Speech is the basis of memory: until you have words, you aren't able to have memory, because you can't 'name' your thoughts and experiences... therefore, when he's older, he's not going to be able to recall, say, a trip you made to a really nice resort, or... once you have words, you can have 'memories'. It's kinda weird the way it works, but that's how it goes. I'd see a speech therapist, though, do that one as soon as you can. And once you've done that, relax, you're doing everything you can for him. And he'll be fine, don't worry!

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