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Seeking Advice W/19 Month Old Grandson Who Doesn't Respond to Name

My grandson is a very bright, affectionate little boy. Recently I've noticed he does not respond to his name. At first we thought it was because he had so many nicknames that maybe he didn't recognize his name so we stopped calling to him by his silly little names and started using only his name. He does not turn to look at you. I can shout his name and he goes about his business as if nothing. I don't think there is a hearing problem because he can be in a different room and when "Baby First TV" is turned on, he will come running to see it. He also likes to touch/push at the tv. When he does and we say "NO. NO TOUCHING TV" he will turn and walk away from it so I believe he can hear. Also need to mention that he is not speaking words at all. He makes lots of noises (baby babble) but no real words. Any advice from anyone? His mom spoke 2-3 word sentences by 12 months. I heard boys are slower, but this slow? Any help I can get I would appreciate. Thank you moms, in advance.

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I think this is fairly normal for a 19 month old boy. My daughter was talking sentences also very early, but I have a lot of friends with boys and the boys are way behind verbally. Eventually boys catch up and my friends son also had the not listening to his name issue, but by 2 1/2 it has gotten a lot better.

I would recommend you talk to his pediatrician first to screen for developmental progress, then get a speech and language evaluation so if intervention is required it starts as early as possible for the best outcome.

A little about me: I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Palo Alto with two children 19 yo boy and 12 yo girl and a husband of 21 yeas.

I would consider taking him in for a hearing evaluation any way. My daughter had 30-40% hearing loss that came on gradually and she could hear some things, but not others because of the decibal level and/or pitch. She was also reading lips, so if he was not already familiar with his name, he may not be able to recognize it if he is having trouble hearing. She ended up having tubes put in and her adenoids out and her vocabulary and behavior has improved SO much. It was scary and tough to watch her come out of anesthesia, but it has been the best thing.

You do not want his speech to be delayed much longer if and if it is due to a hearing issue, it can be corrected and is better done sooner than later.

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It could be he has a mild hearing loss in certain frequencies only, which might be why he doesn't hear his name, but does hear/recognize the theme music for the TV show. Maybe one of the nicknames, or the combination of high/low sounds you make while saying his name would be easier for him to catch.
Hearing loss can be deceptive because it is not all-or-nothing like many think. If they are looking at you and understanding, it may be that he is actually lipreading, not hearing. My husband was tested for hearing loss at 3yo but they tested him while he was watching them and he "passed" the hearing test. It wasn't until he was re-tested at 5yo that they found out he did indeed have a hearing loss. He went on to become a veterinarian, so it is in no way an handicap, it just needs a different way of doing things.
I strongly recommend the Signing Time series for *anyone* interested in learning or benefiting from signs, and sign language DOES benefit EVERYONE. It is a very fun show for kids too.

Anyway back to the hearing thing - different sounds may be at the same volume level but some will be heard, not others. For example, I cannot hear consonants such as S, Z, T, K, etc but I do hear vowel sounds. So I hear, but not in the same way you do. I hear, but without understanding, and my listening skills consist of matching what I hear with what I know (which is difficult for a little kid.)

And while it could be a hearing issue of some kind (there are some auditory processing disorders that have nothing to do with how much you hear but how you process what you hear) or autism or other developmental issues, it also very well may be simply that he doesnt "get it" that he is supposed to respond when you call his name???

I highly recommend you check out Signing Time (it is way better than anything else on sign language I have seen out there) and incorporate that in your daily conversations. It does greatly reduce the "terrible two's" because toddlers are more able to move their hands than manipulate their tongues to get certain sounds to say certain words at 2 & 3 yo. I didn't get any tantrums from my son until he reached his 3's when he decided he could handle more independence than I was willing to let him (as in, NO you cannot use the knife!) but he was able to tell me what he wanted which eliminates so much frustration from a little kid.

2 moms found this helpful

We had the same problem with one of our girls. The pediatrician also noticed that she wasn't making appropriate eye contact. We then took her to a developmental pediatrician who assessed her and felt she was many months behind in use of language. We have been taking her for language and occupational therapy for one year now and have seen a remarkable difference.

I would suggest making an appointment with a developmental pediatrician (these appts take months to get so book one now). They can help figure out solutions. And, if, by the time the appt time comes around your grandson is speaking more appropriately, the appt can just serve as a check on miletones.

1 mom found this helpful

If you're worried you should take him to get looked at. What does his pediatrician think? My oldest son was very late with his talking as was my little brother. My son at his 2 year appointment said 2 words, mama and dada. He understood everything though, when we would tell him something to do he would go and do it. I would suggest teaching him sign language to help him communicate you will be amazed at how fast they pick it up my son knew well over 50 signs and could tell us everything that he needed so there was no melt downs. Then as he gradually began to talk the signs faded out and we did the same thing with my other two although they spoke at a much earlier age. www.signingtime.com is a great resource. My 11 month old already knows how to tell me when she wants to eat, water, milk, and finished, as well as shakes her head yes and no. She is picking it up faster than the boys. My oldest was the one who benifited the most he could sign all his colors, truck, action words like walk, jump,more, eat, foods like grapes, milk, cracker, cereal, pizza, and much much more. Then as he began to be able to talk he would get so excited when he could actually say the word, grandma was his favorite at almost 3. He shows no signs now that he was even behind, infact by 4 he was saying everything even some big words and using them appropriately it was like he skiped baby talk. My 2nd spoke earlier but did the baby talk thing.
Anyway didn't mean for this to be so long. Hope it helps.

1 mom found this helpful

I know exactly what you mean. The same thing is going on in my house. My son is 20 mos and has no "real" words. He babbles for most part and can occasionally say "mom, dad, and hi" but not on a consistant basis. (My son has benign axial hydroencehilitis - which is basically excess fluid in the area between the brain and skull) Although the doctors arent sure if his condition has a direct link to him not talking, they told me not to be alarmed and that some kids are not "talkers". I had a second and third opinion as well an autism specialist check him and they all say he is fine. He has had 5 hearing tests in the last year and each test is better than the last. He can comprehend what we tell him (turn off the tv, sit down, open the door etc...)
I suggest you call VMRC (Valley Mountain Regional Center) they are a group that can assist you with getting your grandson tested (free of charge) and can help you with therapies etc... Currently my son has an infant teacher who comes to the house once a week to work with him with sign language and other developemental skills and she is AMAZING!! My son has 6 signs he uses on a daily basis (please, more, help etc) He also has speech therapy once a month and they do more intense sounds and lay out the plan for the teacher to work with him on during the week.
I hope this helps. Keep your head up but follow your instinct and get him tested. If nothing else, it will ease your heart. If you need assistance contacting your local VMRC let me know and I will give you the phone info for mine and I'm sure they could direct you. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My son was the exact same way. He didn't speak until 3 yrs. You can call your local school district and they will refer you to you County's dept. who handles this kind of thing. What we did was have someone come to our house and work with him on a weekly basis. They did a hearing test and he was fine, but due to the delay in his speak he qualified for their program. We didn't have to pay anything for the services. When he turned 3 the school district took over and he went to a sepcial preschool for speech delay where he got speech therapy. We held him out a year in Kindergarten so he just started Kindergarten this year at the age of 6. He is still in speech therapy and is doing great.

We also bought Sign Language DVD's from www.mybabycantalk.com That helped tremendously. He was my first child and I was always anticipating what he wanted and he never had to ask for anything. He had no reason to speak and I honestly believe that was the cause of the speech delay. He also use to throw extreme tanturums when we didn't know what he wanted and with the baby sign language he was able to communicate to us which caused him less stress. It was really hard not having him talk and very stressful for him as a child.

My 2nd son was only a baby when we started the baby sign language and by 18 months he was speaking full sentences and very advanced in his language skills. He is 4 and trying to read.

Both my kids picked up the sign language after only a few times watching the dvd and it was a lifesaver, esp. for my oldest. We had such a hard time with him. I wished I could have known about it when he was a baby.

Contact your school district and they will help get you the services that you need.

1 mom found this helpful

Grettings M.: It is so nice to see another Grandmother,at this sight. I am the mother of 5, been a foster mother, and am the proud Grandmother of 12 ( partly from my foster children that I am blessed to have our lives. My children range in age of 22-43.
Having worked with children for 40 years I can tell you from what I know--girls are just the same as boys in most areas. Only a very few areas have I found that one sex is quicker than another in so it all balances out. So give your little one time-- he may have others doing his talking for him.
I have one child that when he read you question-- actually thought it might have been me describing him!!!
Our son, didn't learn to speak true words until his 5th surgery on his ears for tubes & he was almost 5 years old. This guy spent years with ear infections. He did not speak sentences until he was able to learn sign language and then put the word with the sign. Later, when he wouldn't respond to us but did respond to things that interested him--sharks, whales, turtles etc it was in a bable that only his older brother truely understood. So the older sibling did his talking for him until he was 3. Our son, we learned much later has Aspberger's Syndrome, which is a form of Autism. He didn't respond to his name either until a friend that was learning sign language, taught him his name,how to count and his colors all in Sign!!! It was the most amazing moment to see him respond and pick it up so fast. Things were going on in his head but he couldn't get it across to us. The school distric, didn't catch on to what the problem was so they just wanted to put him in special ed. preschool because he was language delayed. Our doctors, loved this child so much but really felt that he was delayed because of the ear infections so it was years before we got to the heart of the problem.
My grandaughter's pre-school started teaching sign when she waas 2 and it has been wonderful for her to use it. I know that even Seseme street teaches it now. So give it a try and see if that will open up a world to your little one. Talk to the doctors and make sure that there is nothing else going on that might prevent language developement.
As an added note my son tells me that he thought his nick name was his name, so I am glad we stopped that when he was young. My older children's friends all called him "BUDDY".
This young man now at 22 attends Jr. College, and is a hit at his favorite hobby. He still doesn't respond well at times but we have a way of getting his attention so that he is looking at us when we speak to him. That is another trick to try-- making sure that you have the child's full facial attention when talking with him. I am sure you are reading with him as that is great way to develope language skills. But you little one is little and will do great with time.
I have always considered parenthood the greatest adventure ride I have ever been on. My children either birth or foster, ever gave me a dull moment. But I am proud of them all. Good Luck & I hope that you find what will help your little one. Nana G

1 mom found this helpful

Hello M.,

Your description of your grandson is very similar to how my grandson was at that age. Early intervention is important. I would encourage you to contact North Bay Regional Center
Phone: ###-###-####
They will evaluate him and if he needs speech therapy or other services North Bay Regional will help you/your daughter with that. Speech services for your grandson are provided at no cost to your daughter. There are a lot of services available in the Santa Rosa area to help him. Please do not delay and call them ASAP.
My grandson received services from North Bay Regional till the age of three. Then it becomes the responsibility of the school district to provide services. When we started getting services it was for sensory issues and speech delays.
Another place you can call is ELI (Early Learning Institute)###-###-####. They will also do free evaluations.
We are very grateful to ELI for all the help they provided for us. The teachers are super over there.

DVD's that our grandson really like and helps with speech are the Baby Bumblebee DVD's. Look on Amazon, they got great reviews.

Please don't delay in getting him evaluated. It is so important to catch any delays as early as possible. I know a lot of people say boys are slower, and they are, but you know your grandson and you seem to have concerns that needs to be addressed.

Another SR grandma

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M. I don't want to alarm you but this is one very prominent symptom of Autism so I think it should be brought to his drs attention. Does he make eye contact when you speak to him. You can probably google autism symptoms. It may be nothing but never hurts to have him checked out.

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