34 answers

Speech Delayed

My son just turned two and he's still not really talking. He says the first sound of words, but that's all. For example, ball is ba, water is wa, drink is dr. No second sylabols or two words together either. We've had his ears checked and they're fine. I read to him and even do flash cards. His comprehesion is great. He's throwing lots of temper tantrums I think as a result of not being understood. So, my question is is this fairly normal or should I look into getting speech thearpy for him?

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So What Happened?™

Thank you for all the suggestions. We do use some sign language with him, truthfully I think the tantrums are more from not getting his way. We had him evaluated by AZIP (Arizona Early Intervention Program. They said he is 40% delayed, but they will only help if he is 50% delayed. I can't have him evaluated again until March. The ped said just stick to AZIP and wouldn't refer to a speech therapist. So, I guess I wait and if in March he's still 40% I'll try to do something else. What I'm not sure!

More Answers

Have you considered teaching him some basic sign language? I have an 18 month old who I taught some basic signs to at about 9-12 months. It has proven to be very beneficial, as she can communicate her basic needs to me when she is unable to do so verbally. I always use the oral word when signing to her so she will associate the two and develop her speech appropriately. I think you are right on in your assessment that his temper tantrums are a result of not being understood.
This might be a good temporary solution until you can discuss with his Dr. whether or not speech therapy may be needed.

This is definitely one for your Pediatrician to determine. Boys especially take longer with the talking. Always say the complete word back to him when he is using just the first part, like if he says Ba, say "Ball?" and try and get him to repeat you. I would say tantrums can come from not being able to communicate his needs. Go see your Dr, this is something they need to determine on whether he has a speech delay or just taking his time.

Definitely have him evaluated. My ped. got u sin to Children's in Denver with no problem for the same thing, and my son is just 18 months. There may be a hospital near you that would do the same thing. I had to do the foot work and then just called and asked if they would call the number and get us set up. Also, our first son was delayed in speech and now at four they believe it was due to hearing loss due to allergies. Since the hearing came and went as the allergies changed, we never caught the hearing loss until age 4 1/2. Even now we have to consider him partially deaf since we don't know when he can hear and when he can't. He passed most hearing tests, but still struggles with speech. Learning to read has helped him a lot since he can see what the word should sound like.

I would look into speech therapy if I were you. My son also has speech delays and has been in SP since he was about 14 months. He's now 28 months and finally showing some progress and is increasing his verbal vocabulary. He also was only saying initial sounds, did not imitate, but had great comprehension. He does some music therapy through his speech and occupational therapy which helps train his ear to hear different frequencies and that has helped his speech too. We started teaching him some sign language early on and that has really helped with the frustration level. We also have some picture cards that help him communicate. I would suggest you have an evaluation done and then get on a waiting list for a speech therapist--they're in high demand and short supply.

Definately have him evaluated and look into Sensory Integration as well as it could be a link to his delayed speech. Here is a website you can check out: http://www.out-of-sync-child.com/

You can play word games with him too that will encourage speech. My son had delayed speech and it took us down the Sensory path.. With Speech classes and Occupational Thereapy he was talking great within a year..

Hope that helps.

When I was reading this I thought, "he must be a second child" and then I saw that he was. It is VERY common for the second child to be delayed in talking. Alot of times they can, but they won't. I would encourage him to use his words when he is frustrated. The best thing that worked for us was saying, "Show me what you want/need, etc"

Our grandson was having the same sort of trouble...right before Christmas he had his tongue "clipped". On Christmas Eve, he was already sounding out words - it made such a huge difference. Have you had your childs tongue checked for being "tongue tied"?

I would talk to your pediatrician about having him tested. By the age of two, most kids should have at least near 50 words that they are using, some more. They should also start putting two words together soon too. Arizona has a great early intervention program where the therapist come to your house to do therapy. Early intervention is key! Good luck!

To add: Someone mentioned the schools, schools will take them at 3 for therapy, but before then you have to go through Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP)

I agree with trying sign language. Your son is still pretty young, but have him checked if you are really concerned. Do not be worried about signing delaying his speech. There are too many reasons why that's not true to list here! To find the best qualified instructor in your area (possibly even one who is an SLP), try http://www.sign2me.com.

My son was 10 wks early and although he caught up everywhere else, he was speech delayed just like your son. He would say either the beginning or ending of a word but not the complete word. He just started on Jan 8th our city program for Priority Preschool which is a speech based program. He is doing wonderful and has really picked up a lot in just the last couple of weeks.
I would highly suggest trying to get your son at least evaluated. It's not going to hurt and it will help so much with the communication breakdown he's having at home.
Good luck.

My son also had no words at 2 years old. I was very worried at his check up, but it was obvious that his comprehension was good, so the doctor told me to wait 4-6 more months before I really worried. So I did, and 2 months later, he began to talk, going from one word to complete sentences over just one more month. I have 2 other friends who had a delayed speech at the same time and used the free speech therapy through abq public schools, and had the same results that I did, in about the same time. Short of it - don't worry yet! He's probably just a late talker, and there's nothing wrong with that.

M. (mother of 5 and 6 year old boys)

My daughter is 3 and had the same problem. Words were not coming out clearly with her and she was having a very hard time getting us to understand her. I taught her some simple sign language to help her get her point across, simple words like 'drink', 'hungry', and 'thirsty'. She uses the words, and the sign, to speak and it's help her confidence a lot. Give it time. Encourage him to say the words but don't push it, the harder he tries to the harder it may be for him to say it. Good luck.

My son was almost 2 when we had him elvaluated. I would definitely get it checked out. Better to know sooner than later. YOu can look up Early Intervention Services in Arizona on Google and you'll find a number. If he qualifies, you will receive free speech theraphy. My son had speech therapy for a year and now attends a preschool through the Gilbert School system for kids with delays. All of it is free. Just a word to the wise, if you ask your Dr., they will most likely say, he'll catch up. That is what ours kept saying, I finally took it into my own hands and come to find out, he was 1 1/2 yrs. behind.

Hi R.,

Sometimes children w/ older siblings don't talk as soon. However, you should probably get him checked out by a specialist, just to be safe. Early intervention is the key w/ a lot of issues.

Good luck! :)

I am a PT and these behaviors would possibly prompt me to refer you to a speech therapist. I would suggest you contact Early Intervention through the Department of Developmental Disabilities. Early Intervention covers children 0-3 and you can have someone evaluate your child and receive appropriate therapy as needed for free. It is a free service to all. In Arizona, there is a HUGE demand for speech. My daughter is 2 and getting speech. Most therapists come to the home for therapy sessions, however, to get my daughter services a little sooner, I said that I would go to a clinic and do therapy there. It did speed up the process a bit and Early Intervention will work to find someone in your area. Hope this helps.

My son was not saying whole sentences either when he was 2. When he turned 3 he had his checkup, he wouldnt follow there directons, he would not answer them. So I was told to get an appt for him to see a speech therapist. We havent seen the speech therapist yet, waiting for them to schedule him. Now he has been really saying alot, he is better than he used to be. If you want to be on the safe side you might want to go do that. He should be at least saying whole words not part. goodluck with that.

Hi R.,
My younger daughter was the same way. I had her tested and she did have a speech delay. The school district where I lived had a early education program and the sent a speech therapy person to our home for classes twice a week. When she was old enough for Preschool she was put on the top of there list for school because of the delay and then she went to regular speech classes at school. She had speech classes up to the age of 5 1/2 years old. Since we caught it early she no longer has a speech delay but her current school is keeping an eye out for it and will test her 2 times a year to make sure she still is on course.
I would see if you can get your little one tested. Ask his doctor or even your school district.

Have you tried sign language as an alternative communication tool? This might, actually it will definitely, help with his frustration until his speech improves. Little ones pick it up EXTREMELY fast. Classes are offered all over the valley. Check with Babies'r'us.

Hi R.
It cant hurt to have him tested but some kids just start a little later. I would go get a book on sign language for kids and teach him signs so you can communicate better. I think it will help a lot. I did it with my son when he was 9 months till he spoke. You really just need to learn a few easy signs. It made things much easier. My daughter who was 3 and talking would do the signs as well to me and her brother.
Good luck,

Hi R.,
Has the PED caught on to his speech delay? At two years, he should be saying all kinds of whole words. I would be concerned of his hearing even though he has already gone. Definately something to discuss with the PED and if necessary, go for a second opinion on the hearing.

Hi R.,

I have a just 2 year old grandson with similar traits. The pediatrician says he is normal. He too throws tantrums and I believe it has to do with being frustrated. His older brother 4 1/2 spoke early and we are hoping that he will help his brother to be more vocal.

So I wouldn't be too worried. Just as some toddlers walk sooner than others, so it is with talking.

Blessings to you and your family,

Also, have him checked for heavy metals -- he may be experiencing effects of mercury toxicity (from vaccines, fish) which can mimic some aspects of autism. The rising incidence of ear infections correlates with consumption of cow's milk products, peanuts and other allergens in pregnancy and while nursing, or in formula feeding in infancy. If your son has repeated infections, try eliminating these allergens from his diet. Temper tantrums are normal at this age but should not be indulged, so help him to find other ways to communicate his frustration, and let him know you're listening and you understand he has "big feelings."

Hi R.,
My son was two when we first inquired about his speech because he wasn't talking much, and only said a few words. It wasn't until he was two an a half when I talked with our pediatrician about Speech Therapy for him. So I got the info from the doc on who to call and they came over to evaluate him and sure enough..He was fine on all other development areas, except for his speech. He was only doing a 16 month old speech, and he was two and a half. So after they did a couple of evals on him, they did therapy once a week until he turned three years old. Then the school district got involved. He's now in Developmental Preschool two and a half hours a day for four days a week since the end of Oct. He's doing GREAT and has already shown massive improvement in his speech! They have the teacher, with two assistants and a speech therapist that comes in and works with him each day he is there. And they give us things to work on with him at home to help continue his learning. I am so glad I got him the help because it has helped us to understand him better, and his frustration with us from not knowing/understanding him has lessoned because his speech is improving. I would suggest inquiring with your pediatrician about speech therapy and possibly starting him on it now. It will greatly help him and you as well. :-) If you have any questions about this and would like to talk more about what our son's have in common, please don't hesitate to email me. We can get together too and let our son's play while we talk. :-)

Hi R.,

I have the same problem and I've come to accept that boys develop slower than girls. I've had my little man checked out and he's fine too. I am guessing that my older daughters 61/2 and 3 1/2 are speaking for him and that's why he hasn't talked yet. We're starting the tantrums but I tell him that all he needs to say is "help me mama" then he stops and says it. This helps the both of us not to get frustrated.

I hope this helps.

My son did not really start talking much at all until 2 1/2 and then he just took off - my mom said I did the same thing. However, kids under 3 in AZ (are you in AZ?) can be evaluated free and they can tell you if there is a problem and if he needs therapy, I believe it is also covered free. You can call your pediatrician's office to ask them where to get evaluated - but I believe you just call your local elementary school and they can point you in the right direction.

I would recommend calling your local school to see if they offer speech evaluation/testing. My twins were 3 and barely speaking, and this was our pediatricians recommendation. We are in the Chandler Unified School District, and they qualified for their speech program at 3 years old - the best part is it's free! They are now in Kindergarten and are pulled out twice a week for speech. I believe most school districts offer something of this sort. I hope it helps, and best wishes to you!

Are there any other things that he does? Like not make eye contact, shake his hands alot? Did his sister start talking way before she turned two? If your daughter developed eraly, that's normal, girls tend to start talking, etc faster. Boys start a little slower, but he should be talking more by now. Speech therapists don't usually start on them so young. If you haven't been to your Dr recently I'd go again and see if there is anything else you can do. If he has good association skills it may just be that he doesn't want to talk... plain and simple. But if there are other behaviors that are much different than your daughter's I'd have more tests done. Check for Autism, it is getting pretty common these days, but the earlier you find it, the more likely he is to deelop more fully as he grows with the proper stimuli now.

I am a speech pathologist who is in the same circumstance. My 20 month old boy is at the same stage with his speech. I also have a 3 year old girl. I would recommend looking into a speech evaluation. It sounds very scary, but it is better to know if he needs a little boost than let him be delayed. Speech development is very tightly linked to reading abilities, and the tantrum thing as well. Have you looked into using some sign language as a bridge? That is what we do at our house. Your local hospital and school district will have screenings available at no cost just ask for the speech and hearing specialists. Everyone will tell you that boys develop later and they do, but you may want to look into it.

Have you thought about BabySigns, it is sign language for babies, I took a class and taught it to my daughter (who is only 13 mo) and it has really helped her to communicate with us on what she wants. You can go to babysigns.com for info. It is also suppose to help with speech and cut down on tantrums. They have a new potty training packet out now also to help with that, it is really cool. Also if you are wooried bring it up to your pedi, they should help you figure out if you should look into speech therapy or not.

My son was the same only he seemed to swallow certain sounds. You can talk to your doctor if you are really concerned but most times there is a wait list at least three to six months to get in to see a speech therapist. Some of the suggestions the one I spoke with are to speak to your son in full sentences (in other words noun, verb combos with adjectives thrown in), give them crunchy foods to strenghten the muscles involved in speech, and give it time. If he has a vocabulary of 50 words (incuding animal sounds) then he is not really delayed. By the time my son was 2 1/2, he was talking in full sentences and we couldn't get him to be quiet. The other thing to consider, if your son is very active he could be focused on developing the physical stuff and not the verbal. As long as his comprehension is fine and his other milestones are met within a good time then I wouldn't worry too much. My son is now 7 1/2 and still active and now gets in trouble for talking too much!
M. B in Phoenix, AZ

My son did not speak until he was two because he had chronic ear infections that made it impossible to hear properly. The fluid on his ears distorted his hearing to something similar to sound waves underwater. As a result, he even developed his own language based on what he was hearing, which we eventually spoke with him, and it sounded like words but garbled. Now I understand that it was the "underwater effect" of the fluid on his ears from the ear infections.

He finally grew out of it at around two years old. It had something to do with his tubes. Because he was our first and we were young parents, we had no idea that his speech development was not on par with all of his other developmental milestones which were at or before their expected date.

We learned of this after taking him to the Michigan School for the Deaf at the suggestion of a family member who explained that he should be saying much more by this time given his intelligence and they would even sneak up behind him and make loud noises, to which he would not respond. This worked sometimes and sometimes he did hear the sounds, but his lack of response correlated to the times his ear infections were the worst, which we finally figured out later.

This may be something you want to check into. Again, if the cause may be unnoticed ear infections, as was the case with us, he will be able to hear sometimes, so you may put it off, like we did, but the result of having his developmental years without hearing resulted in our son's using other ways to communicate, and now, although he is hearing fine, he tends to not rely on that sense as one normally would. This obviously inhibits his verbal retention when given commands, so we must interract with him in more kinesthetic ways.

Still, he is 15 now, and other that being a bit inattentive to verbal cues, he is a wonderful young man and is quite a bit more sensitive, mature, and compassionate than most other boys his age since, even after regaining his hearing, he was treated poorly by many adults, who, regarding his age and size, expected much more from him in the area of following directions, not realizing that even though he was 3 or 4 years of age, he had only been hearing for about a year, so their verbal command expectations of him should be what they would expect a one year old to obey. When he didn't understand their directions they would call him rebellious or defiant when he really just didn't know what they were saying to him.

I am not sure if our experience sheds any light on what your son may be going through, but perhaps it will be a stepping stone in the process of finding out. I wish you the best, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions, although I think I gave you as many details as I have. On a side note, however, I have an uncle who didn't say a word until he was four for no reason at all and he is a brilliant man today, so you never know... I hope that helps! :)

Hi I have a 6 yr old that has the exact same problem. Definitely speech therapy to start off with. My oldest had everything checked out since she was 2. They are now considering a neurological disorder and because of her speech problem she throws fits because she is not understood. She might have a bi lateral speech impediment and when she was 3 or 4 she started saying full sentences. It will get better it just takes time. Keep doing the flash cards and the books from wal mart or learning stores(the learning books)works too. My daughter is going through speech therapy in Kindergarten too. She still can't say thirteen or sh. Other words she can say but they are hard. The way I found out about speech therapy is I went to her doctor and asked them if they knew of any organizations that can help. I went through Cartwright school district(a reg elem school)and they made an appointment to do an IEP(it's just a series of playing tests that they see where your child is at)I live in AZ so it might be different wherever you are but just ask your pediatrician.

My friend is a Speech Language Pathologist and said what you have described is concerning and she suggests that he be evaluated. What area do you live in? She said she could look into some resources for you. As soon as a child turns 3 they can have a screening through the school district but you have to go another route since he is younger. Hope this helps.


My son will turn two in two weeks and he is not talking iether. I had the same thing with my older son who is a little over three. My older boy didn't start talking until he was 2 and 1/2 and now he is perfectly fine and I don't know how many words he DOES NOT know!!
I don't know if you should be worried, but boys talk later then girls and if he around other languages , that can be the reason too. My kids are around 4 languages and they understand all of them, but my older son can speak fluently two of them and he still understand the two others.
Good luck!

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