11 answers

Speech Therapy for 17M Old?

My almost 17 month old only uses a few words and doesn't seem to pick up much at all, but does understand almost anything we ask him to do. He does talk gibberish to himself all the time, but I've noticed that he really lacks a lot of consonant sounds. I keep hearing from friends and family that he'll probably just be a late talker and to wait it out, but I really think there is a real issue since he picks pretty much everything else up very quickly. He gets so frustrated not being able to communicate verbally, so we've gone back to baby signs, which he picks up after only seeing a sign a couple times. After seeing this and reading some books on language acquisition, I am highly convinced something is wrong. Have any of you started your child in speech therapy by 18 months? Do you have any recommendations for where to get him evaluated or for speech therapists? Thanks!

* I forgot to mention that he does use about 5 words that are all very similar in sound (Daddy, doggie, kitty, Katie, titty, dirty). He initally only used them with the correct object, but now he generalizes them to anything since that's all he can say. No normal words for a child his age like mama-never!

Also, I'm a SAHM mom, but he's around family and friends almost every day and is read to very often. I repeat words millions of times and try and hold off giving him what he wants until he tries to say the word-but he doesn't. He either repeats the wrong word or "uh" with pointing. In 4 months he has not gained a new word at all, only 1 animal noise. From what I've learned and read, this is all cause for concern and are similar symptoms for those with apraxia.

What can I do next?

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Neither of my kids spoke much at all before they were 2. From my experience, this is completely normal. My son was visibly frustrated around that age as well - Being unable to verbalize seemed more frustrating to him than it did to my daughter. I haven't read any of the other responses yet, but I hope you get some helpful feedback.

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As, parents we have an instinctive feeling when something isn't right. Although, we often rely on pediatricians, they generally don't work with children with specific delays on a regular basis; they are generalist not specialists. I would play it safe and give my child the benefit of the doubt and have him evaluated by a specialist; you don't want to wait it out and let a possible problem get worse. The younger a child starts therapy, the better the outcome. Try contacting the early intervention program (AzEIP) first. The process can take a long time and they usually don't have many therapists available. If you have private insurance, contact them as well since that process will be quicker. You are your child's greatest advocate. Be proactive, so he can receive what he needs. You also want to have an audiological exam to rule out any hearing concerns even if he seems to hear ok (in case he has fluid, etc).
Having him play with other children close to his age is also helpful. Kids are more likely to imitate other children than adults. Best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Neither of my kids spoke much at all before they were 2. From my experience, this is completely normal. My son was visibly frustrated around that age as well - Being unable to verbalize seemed more frustrating to him than it did to my daughter. I haven't read any of the other responses yet, but I hope you get some helpful feedback.

Hi, M. -
I'm no expert, but based on what I know from my three children, I think it is too early for you to be overly concerned. The rule of thumb our pediatrician gave was "two word sentences by two", and my kids seemed to hit that mark pretty accurately. Until then, it seems as though they are just "gathering" words. After two, it all just comes tumbling out. I don't suppose it would hurt to consult a therapist, but perhaps just ask your pediatrician first. If your child is understanding language, babbling and using some words, you probably have nothing to worry about.

That sounds a lot like what we went through with our daughter and she was diagnosed with a language disorder. It may be nothing at all, but I would recommend getting him evaluated by a pediatric speech and language expert. We took our daughter to Foundations Developmental House in Chandler www.fdhkids.com and they have been a great resource for evaluation and services. Best of luck!

You situation is exactly like my neighbors. In the end she followed her gold old motherly instinct and had her 17 month old son start speech therapy after evaluation(s). In general boys are late talkers. Your son is probably very focused and/or advanced in another area, typically physical. If you feel you can add this to your plate right now, and have the financial resources to enroll in speech therapy a few times a week, as most insurance companies will not cover this, that is what you would be considering. Otherwise, an important reminder to you, or his primary care taker, is to repeat, repeat, repeat the same words/phrases over and over for him. Play one game, and repeat the same starting phrase A LOT. I notice that children who are exposed to secondary language (especially ones cared for by Spanish speaking nannies) become less active in their own mother tongue until they sort it all out in their little heads. He will learn to talk, be patient, don't mock, just sweetly correct at all times so he knows that you know. Best of luck

Give your local public school (or district) a call and they can have someone from the state come out and evaluate him (for free) and if he is speech delayed in their opinion they will send someone out to work with you and him (again, for free if they still have the resources). My old babysitter's son was speech delayed and they started having a therapist come out when he was about that same age.

I don't think there is anything wrong with the child. I believe that mom needs to give baby time to develop. What does your doctor say? There is no one set time that all babies begin to express themselves with a plethora of words. Some develop a bit sooner and others a bit later. The child is only 17-18 months give it some time. Continue to encourage/teach the child new words but don't be over welmed if the child is not learning fast. We had the same concerns with our child and with time things are much better. He began going to child care a few hours a day and that seemed to really help him along.

I have had three kids who were speech delayed, 1 typically developing speech kid and two infants. What you are talking about is definitely something you need to follow up on, and IMO is cause for concern, but not for freaking out (I am not saying you are freaking out). What I would suggest is that you get your child evaluated by a speech therapist who understands apraxia (since that is what you think his difficulty relates to). My son had apraxia along with autism, we found a good evaluator at Nelson Therapy, I don't know if she is still there and can't remember her name - but she was a supervisor to our speech therapist and they did a double visit.

From what I know about apraxia, doesn't exactly match up with what you are saying about your son, but you know him better. Regardless it does sound like he is having delay issues (don't buy into the "boys talk later" thing. If someone tells you that, ask them how do you tell the difference between a boy that is delayed vs one who is late? There is no answer to that, and waiting makes things more difficult on him and your family.)

You could also have him evaluated by AzEIP ###-###-####, which is a state run Federal program for children ages birth to three (it runs parallel to Special Education in the 3-21 program found in public schools). It is free for an evaluation and services, however your child has to be 50% delayed (or have multiple areas of delay totaling 50% or an established condition like Cerebral Palsy, autism, etc).

If you have the insurance, I would definitely have him evalutated by someone who is familiar with apraxia as well as speech delay. MAke sure you get a copy of the report. If they are contracted with AzEIP or DDD then they should be able to tell you if you would be eligible for services through them, but you would then need to go through that application process (but give them the copy of the report you already had, so you don't have to get your child re-evaluated, and it should take less time that way).

If you want to contact me for more information, I can help you out more.


17 months is very early for most children to speak. Do not stress yourself or your child out over this. Also, girls generally speak earlier than boys. A lot of children start really talking between 2 and 2 1/2, so do not worry and enjoy your time now. One day you will wish for this peace and quiet again:)

I would definitely have his hearing checked. I have a grandchild who had the same problem. He had been having ear infections and the beginnings of asthma, so the fluid in his ears prevented him from hearing the words correctly, so he couldn't repeat them. He had tubes put in his ears to drain the fluid and was given a mild antihistamine to help get rid of so much fluid. Within only a week or so, he was repeating words like a champ! Now, it could also be a physical problem of not being able to form the words, but it is usually an ear problem. Good luck!

I think it's too early. You don't mention if you stay at home/work/other kids in the house/if he's around other kids....if it's just you and him most of the time, why talk? I was worried about my 2nd (and he was in day care pt) but by 2 he was talking great. And the difference of 2 to 2.5 is huge. Give it time, and make it a little harder for him....meaning he needs to talk to you. Promise....soon enough they will be talking so much you will miss the baby talk days! :)

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