17 Month Old Still Not Speaking

Updated on March 25, 2008
S.G. asks from Glen Allen, VA
39 answers

My 17 month daughter is still not speaking...she babbles off and on throughout the day - but does not talk. Any suggestions?

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R.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Do you speak to her in babble or real words? That makes a difference to babies. They immulate what they see and hear. Also, play children's music that enounicates the wods clearly, she will pick up the sounds. There are lots of videos for infants and toddlers that teach them to say words and have fun while learning. PBS Kids Sprout is a great place for children to learn words, their shows are geared to the toddler to pre-school age.

P.S. Try to remember this time when she's 4 or 5 and won't stop talking...(smile)

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J.K.

answers from Washington DC on

Try a hearing test too. Sometimes if they cannot hear correctly, they will not repeat sounds and words. A pediatric audiologist should be helpful

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A.J.

answers from Washington DC on

Nancy Kreible owns a company called Chesapeake Speech and Language, she helped 2 of my children with speech issues. My son ended up having serious hearing problems that she was able, with the help of Dr. Heacock, to diagnose. She worked with him for about 6 months after having tubes and he is doing great. I recommend you have him evaluated if you are concerned. Even though my son's pediatrician gave me the "some kids just talk later than others..." I knew there was something delayed. Nancy is in Annapolis and she is wonderful. Tell her A. sent you:)

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S.M.

answers from Norfolk on

My son just turned 18 months and barley talks. He says Mama, Dada, Goggie and Bopi and that is about it. I really try to make him tell me what he wants before he gets it. He signs about 20 words, but I really want him to talk. Bring it up at her 18 month check up and see what the Doc says. Try taking about 15 minutes a few times a day and sit down with her and really work on the words she needs to use most like Mama, Dada, cup, snack (bites), and other things in your house or common words in your conversations with her. We have a 3 1/2 year old girl who talked early and she talks for our son so he really couldn't care about talking since his big sis does it for him.

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A.R.

answers from Norfolk on

There could be absolutely nothing wrong with her and she may be a late bloomer. Take a look at other things developmentally. Is she on track or excelling in other areas? It may be that her brain is working on developing those areas instead first. Try reading to her a few times a day. I do some simple board books and longer "mature" ones with my little ones. They seem to appreciate the variety no matter which I read. Also my son's speech therapist recommends Nouns, nouns, nouns. Stay away from using general words like "more", "in", "out", "all done" When you know she wants more of something... say the thing, not the word "more"... One way I work with my son at home is to give him one or two crackers at a time, then when he wants more, he has to say "cracker". since your daughter doesn't seem to be verbal at all. I would respond positively to any vocalization and reward her for it.
Anyway... just a few at-home ideas. All that said if YOU feel there's just something not right. I would definitely talk to your doctor about two things: A hearing test, which may or may not indicate any hearing loss... even a small amount can cause speech delays and a speech evaluation... Chris Edmondson at Physiotherapy Associates in Kempsville is who my son sees and she is fantastic!!

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A.B.

answers from Washington DC on

My son, now 4, was the same way - First I had him evaluated by an infant and toddler program which found that he was delayed (they require a great delay in order to receive their free services and of course they said it wasn't enough with him - so I took things into my own hands) I took him to a mommy and me sign language class. It was offered through our local YMCA and it was taught by a young mom of 3. Together he and I learned over 100 (basic need) signs by that I mean hungry, thirsty, food items, animals, family members, feelings,toys, weather, clothing items, diaper and things like that. Whenever I would use a sign I would say the word and slowly but surely he caught on and began to repeat after me and as he did that, he dropped the signs and just talked. It was an amazing experience to see how easily he picked up the signs. In class we practiced them together, then the instructor would read books using sign and sing songs. My feelings are if they are not communicating through speech - try giving them another option. It was good for us and a strong bonding thing as well. I taught the other members of our family what they needed to know to also basically communicate with him too. Good Luck - like everyone told me, "he'll talk when he is ready" and as reluctant as I was to believe that, I guess they were all right. He talks and talks and talks now - it is realy warming now to hear him sing (that's his newest thing). He still has many words that are difficult to understand but as a parent you know what they are saying so then I point to right under my bottom lip and I encourage him to look and watch how my mouth moves and we practice the correct pronunciation. Hang in there - there is hope. It is understandable that as a mom you want to exhaust every option.

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T.H.

answers from Richmond on

I have two children, 8 and 4. The 8 year old started talking early so when my younger child wasn't talking at 15 months ... I too be came worried. I started teaching him sign language (there are many great books you could get) and he communicated to me thru sign and other gestures. Then all of a sudden one day around the age of 2 or so ... he... just started speaking in full sentences. Don't worry ... if your child can communicate to you in a way that YOU understand ... and understands you and your commands ... give her some time ... she will talk before you know it ;-)

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L.L.

answers from Washington DC on

S. -

If she is babbling then she has the ability and is just waiting to use her skills. Some old wives talkes that I've heard over the years are... Little ones either walk or talk early. If she's very mobile and physical she may take a little longer to speak. Also, if you talk baby talk to her (even if you don't notice you're doing it) that can hamper her development. My next door neighbor does it and her child at 3 still isn't talking. Lastly, we as good moms try to anticipate our children's desires. This unfortunately gives them a reason not to verbalize their needs. Try to gently push her to respond to you. It will come, just be patient. One day she'll roll out a full sentance and blow you away.

Good Luck!

L.

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C.B.

answers from Charlottesville on

There are Early Interventions Services available in every state. They have different names, but they all do basically the same thing. Most states are funded through the 'No Child Left Behind Act'. Trying to get kids ready for Kindergarten before they get there and have potentially bigger problems.

Milestones 12 to 18 Months:
* Experiences a burst of language development
* Comprehends approx. 50 words

Milestones 18 - 24 Months
* Talks, making 3-4 word sentences
* Points and identifies objects by request
* Follows simple instructions
* Points to pictures in books when asked

The review process and testing for services is free. They will test Cognitive, Communication, Social-Emotional, Adaptive/Self Help, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Hearing, Vision, and Health.

My second child had 4 understandable and usable words at 18 months of age. Completely opposite of my first child. A lot of people tried to brush me off saying that second children do not try as hard to communicate because the first will do everything for them. Or each child develops differently (which is true).

My gut was telling me not to have the wait and see attitude. Especially since the evaluation is free. What harm would it do to see if there was an underlying problem. She passed all of the tests except for communication. She qualified for Special Instruction / Speech Services. We had a teacher come to the house every week and then twice a month to work specifically with her in developing her speech skills.

She aged out of Early Intervention at 3 and then went into the Public School System for Speech Therapy. She is almost 4 and I am so glad I found the services for her. We moved out-of-state during the middle of her services so I have info for both MD and VA.

Maryland
Infant and Toddlers Program

Virginia
Infant and Toddler Connection

If you have any other questions, please e-mail me.
[email protected]____.com

C.

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J.G.

answers from Washington DC on

Have you tried baby signs? Great tool for communication and only helps language development if you use it in conjunction with words. I used a book from the library called "Baby Signs" and I think there is also a website. Great tool for baby to be able to express needs and "talk" about the world around them.

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K.M.

answers from Norfolk on

S.,
My daughter was not speaking at that age either. She would "talk" all day long, but it sounded like Japanese, lol. I had her hearing tested and it was fine. Then I had her evaluated by a speech pathologist, and she was "moderate to severe" in her expressive language. She is now getting therapy twice a week in our home and it is going great so far. The therapist said she is what they call an "avoider", which means that she just runs off if I'm trying to get her to do something that's too hard for her.

I started putting her in a high chair to keep her contained and we do an activity while she's in there. I try and do this 3 times a day, but even once a day is better than nothing. Have her ask for something instead of just grabbing. She was reluctant to do the signs at first, but after I quit giving in and just handing her whatever she wanted, she's started doing the signs for more, drink, eat, etc., b/c she knows that's the only way she's going to get it.

It's been great so far and it's amazing how just little every day activities you wouldn't think about make a big difference in making her want to try. She's only been doing the speech therapy for 2 1/2 weeks and already is saying 10-15 words. Hopefully, she's just a late bloomer, but it doesn't hurt to at least get her checked out.

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S.S.

answers from Cumberland on

If her hearing has been checked and is fine then just wait and she will start to talk one day. And once she does you'll never get her to be quite after that! I am not a doctor just a mom of 3.

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J.L.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi! My son was the same way and it was frustrating that all the the other children around him were talking. If your child is understanding what you say when you speak, then I would give it time. My son understood approx. 70 words, and would respond to simple requests. A relative of mine is a speech therapist, and she suggested just waiting. About three months later he was speaking in full sentences (about 3-5 words). Every baby develops differently, so your child just may not be ready.

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J.N.

answers from Houston on

Hi S.,

I have 3 children, 3, 2, and 7 mos. I wouldn't worry too much about your daughter. Every child learns to speak at their own pace. My daughter wasn't speaking at 18 mos, and at her checkup, her doctor told me that if she still wasn't speaking at 2 yrs, that we should have her checked out & possibly go through speach therapy. However, just after she turned 2, she was speaking better. Now, she's almost 4 and can carry on a conversation with anyone. So, don't worry about it. She'll pick it up when she's ready. Good luck & God Bless, J. N.

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T.S.

answers from Norfolk on

I have a 26 month old who only in the past month has actually started talking. Every one says they talk when they are ready. I will say that I took my daughter in for her 18 month check up and the Dr asked how many words she says. I said 2 , Mama and Dada. She said that she should be saying 7 - 20 words by this time. But then I also asked how many they are suppose to say by the time they are 2 and it was still the same amount. So My honest opinion is you jut tell her what everything is she could be looking at. My 26 month old is the youngest of 3 and none of my kids have really started talking till between 18 and 20 months and now when they speak they are very articulate. They spoke so well that when they were 2 and 3 people all the time thoght they were older. SO just keep working on it with her and I would see what the Dr says at your next appt.

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S.O.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi S.,

I haven't read the previous posts (not enough time at the moment) so I don't know what was suggested. But I can tell you that my son, who is now 25 months old, just started talking within the last 2-3 months. He babbled toddlerese before then, but it wasn't intelligible...to me anyway!

If your daughter seems to be hearing okay, seems to understand what is being said, and your pediatrician isn't worried, then give it a little time. Every child develops on their own little schedule and some are just late talkers. Also, if your daughter is in the midst of mastering some other skill (like walking), that could be the reason for delay. It was for us....my son was too busy learning to crawl, walk, and run (all of which he did late as well) to bother with talking. He also knew a good bit of sign language, so he could already communicate with us.

If, however, she's not talking at all by age 2, or has difficulty answering questions (you can see her trying to process what you said and come up with a response but it's not happening), and possibly combined with watching your mouth too intently when you talk to her, then I would definitely seek help. Get her hearing tested and meet with a speech pathologist to see if there's something more going on.

Chances are, though, that she's just a late talker...so again, I'd give it a little time before getting it checked out.

Good luck!

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A.R.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi S.,
You are gettting some excellent advice in these responses! I want to tell you that the fact she is babbling is an excellent sign this is a normal stage of communication development. I am a speech-language pathologist who works primarily with toddlers through school aged kids and I think the best advice is to take advantage of the infants and toddlers program offered through the county you live in- I think one of the other responders gave your your local contact info. They in most cases will come to your home and provide an indepth eval to determine if there is indeed a delay. Therapy is always play based at that age, and when you watch, you are able to carry over what the therapist has modeled. Another responder mentioned that you should narrate everything that you do- this is great advice! The other thing I often find with little ones, is that their moms and dads know them so well, that their needs are anticipated before they actually are required to vocalize a request on their own. So what you might try, if your daughter points to her juice let's say, you would encourage, "Tell me juice", and then try modeling the single word by itself for each item she wants. Another trick I use is the word "more" if you give her only a few cheerios or finger food that is small, and she would like more, have her tell you "more" or at least model the "mmmm" sound so she connects the verbalization with the reward. Another website to check out is the ASHA.ORG website- this is the site for the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and they have some great info for parents/consumers on there. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions
[email protected]____.com Luck!
A.

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J.P.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi! My daughter who is 13 didn't say real words till she was about 2 years old. She had her own sounds for things that I understood but people told me to bring her to a speak therapist. I didn't. Turns out when she started talking she never stopped. She turned out to be a gifted student who thinks a lot. Einstein didn't talk until he was 2 either! My friend's daughter didn't talk until she was 2 1/2 but she understood every word and started out with a huge vocabulary when she started to speak.

More practically.... My advice is to talk to her a lot. Talk to her about whatever you are doing whether it's putting dishes away or going to the store in the car and seeing things pass by. NARRATE EVERYTHING YOU DO. The conversation that you are having with her is forming neuron connections in her brain and she is learning the whole time. She may just wait till she feels ready to start using them for words!

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K.H.

answers from Dover on

Like others, I wouldn't worry. I had a neighbor, whose daughter didn't really start talking until she was 2, and her speech was just fine when she did start.
K.

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K.C.

answers from Washington DC on

She is completely fine, I promise. My oldest was about 18 1/2 mos and barely saying anything besides Momma and Dadda. I spoke with a good friend of mine who has 2 boys and was a former school principal and she told me that he was fine and he would talk when he was ready. 2 weeks later he was talking in full complete sentences and has not stopped since. My youngest will be 2 next month and only a couple months ago did he really start saying words. She is completely normal and I would definitely not worry at this point.

K. - sahm of 2 boys, 5 and 2

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A.Z.

answers from Washington DC on

S.,
I son just turned 2 and he still is not talking as much as the charts says he should be. Some children just develop differently. My son started walking, running and climbing stairs a lot sooner then most children. He is just now starting to say things like Daddy, Mom, eat, car, no, etc. If you are worried you can contact Infant and Toddlers and have her tested.

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B.W.

answers from Washington DC on

I am a pediatric Occupational Therapist and have worked with many speech pathologists! Just some things to think about. First if you are worried it can't hurt to get an evaluation. Your gut is usually right. Overall how is her language besides words? Is she using any gestures waving for good bye or hello, hands up for up, pointing, ect. She should be using many gestures even if she doesn't have words. Also, does she have any words yet, mom, dad, bye bye??? Does she understand simple commands (put doll in the box, sit down, go bye bye, ect.) Also are there other concerns about motor milestones? Just some things to think about. Again always go with you gut reaction. If you are worried then it never hurts to get it checked out. You can get a free screening through your county, so if you are fairfax it would be Child Find. Or you can always go to a private speech language pathologist and get checked out. Feel free to respond if you have specific questions or concerns.

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T.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi S., my grandson was not speaking at two years old were anyone could understand what he was saying. So I would have my granddaughter communicate with him and she understood everything he was trying to say, and she helped him speak clearly. Plus, if you're talking baby talk STOP!

Make her ask for what she wants and not just point or babble.

She'll be fine! She may just need to be around other children.

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L.K.

answers from Cumberland on

Do you have Birth to Three in your area? They are a federal/state agency which provides services for very young children for free regardless of income. We were recently accepted into the program after the initial evaluations. They are paying to send our dd to an audiologist, pediatric optomitrist, occupational therapist, and sign language instructor. Some of this is just for evaluation to rule out hearing and vision problems, but if we had to pay for this out of pocket, it would be quite expensive.

If you have any concerns she may have a hearing or auditory processing problem or any other hearing/speech related issue, I would talk to my dr and get a referral to birth to three. If nothing else, they will evaluate your dd, find her on target and put your mind at ease.

If your instincts are telling you to be concerned though, I would listen to that. You know your dd better than anyone. Trust me on this, because we were not able to get help for our older dd with high functioning autism until she was nearly four - you want to catch any potiental problems early. That first four years was a very miserable time for us trying to deal with this and having no idea what was going on. I'm happy to say a year after intervention, she's whole new and above all, happier kid.

This program is totally and completely free. I'm not suggesting your dd is not completely fine, but to set your mind at ease, I would have this checked out. All its going to cost you is your time.

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A.S.

answers from Richmond on

Hey S.,
This is so funny that this is out there, I am an expert at this. My son was the same way and I felt so bad because I thought something was wrong with him. I told his pediatrician and they recommended him speech and now I lie to you not, my son says any and everything it is a MAJOR difference. It was free to me. They came to his scool each week and worked with him (they can also come to the home). And the good thing is being that this is called early intervention, they have to let him in head start even though we dont have one in Midlothian. They good very good treatment. Now he is at JB Watkins once a week obtaining his speech. Just advice for you if you need to move forward.

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N.D.

answers from Washington DC on

I agree with Crystal. Go with your instinct. No offense to the other moms who responded, but my son was only babbling at eighteen months and we were told the same things, even by our nurse practitioner. It will do no harm to have her evaluated by your county infants and toddlers program. Especially if your feelings are really strong about this. At least this way, you can get some insight. Even if you find out that's she's on track it's better than waiting to "see" what happens. If there is concern, then you will be on the right track by having her evaluated. With development in our children being in the forefront, we need really to trust ourselves as parents when this type of concern arises.
I wish you all the best!

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C.B.

answers from Washington DC on

My son didn't start speaking until very late and he will be 3 in May. He is very mobile and super coordinated sometimes we still have a hard time understanding some of what he says. His problem was because he has so many ear infections when he was younger before they put the tubes in that everything he heard sounded like it was under water and he wasn't hearing very much on top of that either. Once he could hear everything clearly he started getting frustrated and hitting and kicking until he could get it all out and understood by everyone. If she doesn't have any problems like that then I think some just start later than others.

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S.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Too soon to worry! I had a friend that babysat a child from 6 weeks - 4years. He hardley ever spoke a word. Every now and then he'd shout, "Noggin", in toon with the jingle. Anyway, just after his 2nd b-day, he wouldn't shush!! He had been taking it all in. When he did start speaking it was with unbelieveable clarity for a 2 year old. "There once was a wise old owl who lived in an oak. The more he heard, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why can't we be like that wise old bird?!!" Hope this helps ease your worries. I understand. I over analyzed everything my 1st child did. By the 2nd I could relax and enjoy! Try to do that with the first. You'll enjoy her more. Something I wish I could have achieved the first time around.

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J.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi S.-

I'm not sure what this does, but two friends in different states whose toddlers were in speech therapy for the same thing you mentioned (their children were closer to 2) told me that it was recommended that they have their toddlers drink out of a straw. Obviously this isn't the only advice they were given, but it stuck in my head since I heard it twice. Maybe somehow the shape your mouth needs to make to suck from a straw helps form words. I don't know....but I guess it can't hurt.

J.

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J.P.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi S.- If you do have concerns, you can contact your local Infant/Toddler program. Below is a website to find the one in your area:
http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/divisions/early...

However, Allison (below) was right. There is a wide spectrum of normal development and theh fact that she is babbling is great- as that comes developmentally before speech! To qualify for the infant/toddler program, a child needs to be 25% delayed. However, often these programs will track and monitor a child who is a little less than 25% delayed and can give you information and strategies to use on your own! Hope this info helps!

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K.C.

answers from Richmond on

Hi S.

PLease do not worry about your 17 month old yet. Many don't talk until after 2 years old. The spectrum is wide in what is acceptible..a few words to many. I have 2(two) 24 month olds..one says about 10 words and will repeat a word I say once in a while. The other says a rare word. I do have Early Intervention working with the 2. If you are concerned, contact your local school system and ask for Early
Intervention to evaluate your child. You may be asked to wait until she is 2. If she is meeting her milestones in other areas, then give her some time.
I was worried about my 2..so I know how you feel, but try not to worry. Be sure you are not answering her needs too quickly. Mine have begun to say a few words now that I say the word and ask them to say it before I give it to them.

K.

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B.W.

answers from Richmond on

I have three children. The first one was 2 1/2 and not speaking but showing frustration signs. He would hit us, kick us, throw things at us, bite us, all because he could not say what he wanted. He was diagnosed with an auditory processing delay and spent years in speech therapy. Now he is 14 and makes honor roll. My second child started saying words around 15 months. My 3rd child was almost 2 before he started saying anything but was always able to communicate with us. He is fina, just talked a little later. So, you have to evaluate your child. If they are really frustrated I would go to a developmental specialist. Don't rely on pediatrician. My first son's doctor told me he was fine just slow to talk and that was wrong. She's probably just slow to talk and working on other skills, like walking and playing. Good luck.

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B.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Contact your local Infants and Toddlers Program. Try this number if your still living in VA ###-###-####.

D.S.

answers from Allentown on

Hi S.,

Have you called your peditrician about this concern you have? Hope this helps. D.

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C.H.

answers from Norfolk on

Don't worry about it. My three year old did not start really talking until he was about two, and his doctor said he was fine. If by two years she is still not talking, then you may want to ask her doctor about it and see what they think. Some babies are just not that talkative. I have a cousin who didn't speak his first words until he was three, even though his parents were taking him to a speech pathologist. He just wouldn't talk. He is now 10 and has no speaking problems, and quite frankly, you can't get him to shut up!

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D.N.

answers from Washington DC on

Call the Infants and Toddlers Program in your state and request for a home visit to evaluate your daughter for speech and language. I have a 5 year old girl that was also speech delayed, and I called ITP when she was about 18 months and requested for an evaluation. She was 9 months behind her peers. As a matter a fact, I just had a meeting at her school on Thursday to review her IEP and now her receptive language is at 70 month level and her expressive language is at 65. Now she does not have any discrepancy between her currrent chronological age, and her developmental age equivalency.

Donn N.

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L.H.

answers from Washington DC on

Hang in there- kids all start speaking at different times. 17 months is not bad to be just babbling. My older kids were closer to 2 before they really had many words. If you are still concerned, you can always have her evaluated by a speech and hearing specialist, but I would wait until she gets closer to 2.

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C.T.

answers from Dover on

Hi S.,
Has her hearing been checked? If it has and there was no problem with her hearing I wouldn't worry too much about the speech. You should work with her every day, telling her what things are. When she wants something make sure you're saying the word as you hand it to her. Another thing we did with my son was to not let ANYONE use babytalk with him. Each child does develop differantly. Really, you just need to go with your gut. If you think there may be something wrong then you should ask a dr what can be done. Good luck!

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H.C.

answers from Washington DC on

My twins were both late speakers, they babbled constantly and made sounds. They also grunted and pointed for things that they wanted. Our county in Maryland has a free speech therapy, it's a program called Infants and Toddlers. I would check out Health and Human Services where you live. They have these programs throughout the country, and it's totally free no matter what your economic standing is. They are still recieving speech therapy today and they are now 2 1/2 and won't stop speaking.

YOu can also check with a private therapist, most will take insurance. It won't hurt to have her evaluated.

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