18 Month Old Not Talking

Updated on February 24, 2008
A.U. asks from Clarkston, GA
40 answers

My 18 month old son is not talking yet. He hasn't even uttered the word momma or ma ma. Everyone has always stressed the importance of not using baby talk with kiks, but to talk to them like a regular person. I have lived by this rule since he was born. He loves for you to read to him, so I read to him no less than 5 times a day, but he still isn't talking. People have also said that boys talk late, but he vocabulary of words that you can actually understand is about 3, when the doctors say he should have been talking months ago. Now his doctors has ordered for him to get evaluated by a speech therapists. I did everything the "correct" way and he just is not talking.

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So What Happened?

THANKS!!! I really appreciated everyone's advice, it really helped to ease my mind. Being a mom is sooooo hard and everyday is a challenge especially when your child isn't developing according to the "norms". But everything is going well, I did get my son's hearing tested and he can hear good, I think he has an inherited male trait of selective hearing because sometimes I swear that he is ignoring me. He is now 21 months, and is doing better with his speech. I still read to him daily and he has starting picking up on a lot of words. I'm in the process of trying to transfer him from an in-home daycare to a regular daycare. I think that when he gets around other kids his age I will see a huge improvement. Once again, THANKS for the wonderful advice.

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K.H.

answers from Savannah on

My daughter did not start speaking to the point that you could actually understand 10-15 words until a month ago. She is 27months. I would not worry about it because he will start talking when he is ready. My in-laws would compare my daughter to my neice who was pretty much talking sentences at 24 months but I believe that she was doing so well because she has an older brother.

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C.H.

answers from Atlanta on

Alright, first off, I know how stressful of a time that this is for you. My daughter didn't start speaking even simple words until she was 2 1/2 and she was into full blown sentences by 3. My advice is to listen to the doctors. They send my daughter for a hearing test, and to a speech therapist, and to a psychologist, and while this all discovered my daughter is ADHD, she still didn't speak, she waited until it was right for her. In fact, the speech therapist said to wait until she started school to worry about it, and her hearing is above average. I did everything the "correct" way too. Just breathe and take it easy and relax.

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V.E.

answers from Sumter on

A.,
I have worked with children birth to age 3 with developmental delays for the last 7 years. As an early interventionist I have served kids with a lot of different difficulties, but the largest population of kids we serve are boys with speech delays. Typically their cognition is normal and they have better receptive language than expressive. By 18 months children should have at least 20 to 50 words. The speech eval is a great idea along with any other intervention you can access. Firt thing they will likely recommend is to have his hearing checked. The kids we serve love therapy and the parents benefit too. Whatever the reason don't feel bad about being proactive.
Best of luck!
V. E

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L.F.

answers from Atlanta on

I am hearing more of these stories everyday and the kids are turning out to be just fine. Try not to stress about it too much, at least not yet. Is he around other children his age on a regular basis? If not, this may prove to be the motivation that he needs. Also, it is very easy for you as a parent to do more things for him thereby not making it necessary for him to have to communicate for himself. Make sure that his hearing is fine - whisper in his ears one at a time or more abruptly drop something intentionally while his back is turned to see if he responds with his body in any way. After that if there are no signs of not being able to hear, allow him to be around other children his age on a regular basis and train yourself to gently do less for him thereby requiring him to have to communicate more. I always recommend getting a second opinion from doctors too.

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J.S.

answers from Atlanta on

Before sending him to speech therapist I would have an audiologist check out his hearing, then worry about the speech/language part of it. Has he met all other milestones? Any other signs of other areas that you are worried about?
At least the doctors are sending you..mine in the past have given me the boys talk late thing...trust your own instincts get him evaluated and quickly..early intervention is key if it is speech or any other concerns you have

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K.R.

answers from Augusta on

My som is the same way. He is now 26 mos. He is bright and normal in every way except for talking. He is now with Baby Net. They are wonderful. Your Dr. can you get you in with them. They arrange all the services you need for free. My son is now in speech and has an early intereventist. A lot of people tell me not to worry, boys speak later than girls, but I would regret if at 3 he was still not talking and I passed up free services. He enjoys it and I have seen some improvement. I am waiting for the day that he just starts spilling words out everywhere. Good luck and know that you are doing the best for your son.

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L.K.

answers from Boston on

From reading books to talking to your child regularly since birth, it sounds like you have done everything you could possibly do to help your child with word usage, but clearly you're child is having a problem with speech. I'm the mom of a 12 month old and have friends with children of a similar age. Try not to beat yourself up about this. All children progress and develop at their own pace. Some things just cannot be helped by how we parent. I know sometimes people will suggest otherwise, which can be very frustrating. Just let those comments roll off your back. The best thing you can do right now is to have the speech evaluation done and take the advice of the speech therapist.
Getting the speech evaluation should be very helpful. Good luck.

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A.C.

answers from Athens on

Does he babble, talk in babytalk or jiberish? If he does maybe there is not a problem. As long as he makes some sounds. Also, has he been checked for a tounge tie? This is a real problem where the thing that holds the tounge down is to short. Doctors can clip it and release the tounge. Both of my nieces had it and one could hardly speak before she had her tounge clipped. Now she talks very clearly. Also I would have his hearing checked. The speeche therapist is a good idea. They can tell you what is going on.

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M.G.

answers from Athens on

Hi A., my son didn't start talking until he was about 25 months old. He is now almost 2 and half and he's talking so much. It happened very fast, they just start talking when they are ready. He is learning 2 languages, so I think that's also why it took him longer. The same happened with my older son. My advice to you is, as long as he plays and interacts with you, I wouldn't worry too much. He will start talking when he's ready. Having him evaluated will not hurt either so it's good you're going to do that. It sounds like you are doing everything in your power to enrich his vocabulary.

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J.N.

answers from Atlanta on

As a mother of two autistic boys I can say that there is no "by the book" when it comes to your children. It's great that you read to him often and that you are obviously concerned at this developmental delay. Please know that there are many exciting programs out there that can help you and are often covered by insurance or babies can't wait.

Early intervention is key when it comes to children. The sooner you address a problem like speech delay, the less problems you will have in the future. It could be very likely that your child simply isn't ready to talk. Rest assured, when his time comes you will have a veritable chatterbox in your hands!

My advise? Do the evaluations. If they recommend therapy, take it. And remember... Einstein didn't talk until he was five! You'll be fine!

Sinerely,

J. Northrup

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S.B.

answers from Charleston on

You haven't done anything wrong...some kids do take a little longer. It would be best to have him tested though. My nephew has autism and this was one of the things we noticed about him when he was very young, he hadn't even uttered simple words. I'm happy that my sister took him to be tested as soon as she could because it has really helped him. I'm not saying your son has autism, but if it's recommended that he go see someone then find the BEST someone you can. It may not even be anything but at least you would know sooner and you'd be more able to help your son.

Good luck and take it day by day. He may just surprise you and start blurting things out like crazy one day!

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M.D.

answers from Atlanta on

Don't panic... kids that age develop at such different rates. My second son was the same way. We did have him evaluated at age 2 (they checked hearing and everything) but said that it was developmental and to wait a little longer. He was saying a few words by then but we could only understand 50% of them. He did have speech therapy at age 3 but tested out by age 4 and his Pre-K teachers couldn't even believe he ever needed speech when they heard how clearly he talked. He is now in the gifted prgram at school and doing quite well. So please don't feel that you've done anything wrong. I'm sure he will be just fine.

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K.T.

answers from Atlanta on

Hi A.,

I have a son that is 3 and I personally didn't think his speech was as advanced as it should be. Especially after hearing all the stories about how I was talking at a very early age. Not to mention when you are around other kids the same age and some seem so advanced. To give you a little background, my son was born at 31 1/2 weeks, which although is not extremely early, it was still early enough to have me a bit concerned about his developement. I had my son tested for developmental delays at 1 year. The lady that tested him looked at me like I was crazy. They said he was fine, but when he turned three and his speech seemed delayed, I had him tested again. This time I also had his hearing checked. I have come to find in my research that most children with speech disabilaties have some sort of hearing disorder. A lot of times the cure is as simple as having tubes put in. My son fortunately is not hearing impaired, he just needs some extra therapy which I found is offered free through my county. The moral to the story is don't be afraid to have him tested, and if you don't like the first answer, get another opinion. Always keep in mind all children are different and develope at different speeds, but never be afraid to get outside opinions. We are our child's only advocate and it's up to us to go the extra mile. Even though I lucked out and found out that my child didn't have any special developemental issues, I found other resources that are helping to give him an extra edge. There is help out there so don't worry you are doin the right thing by having him evaluated.

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C.L.

answers from Atlanta on

Our son had the same problem. Didn't even say mama or dada at 20 months. He had already been in speech therapy for 6 months with no results to show for it. He was even learning sign language quite well. A nurse suggested we get his ears checked by a professional audiologist. We thought it was unlikely anything was wrong because he seemed to hear just fine, but we tried it anyway.

Turns out he had fluid in his ears (not an ear infection though) and even though he could hear, it was enough fluid to prevent him from hearing well enough to learn how to speak. We had ear tubes put in and about 6 weeks later he started talking and caught up very quickly. The test is painless and covered mostly by insurance. You have nothing to lose by trying it and possibly a lot to gain.

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H.B.

answers from Atlanta on

Did your son do the Newborn Infant Hearing screening? My daughter was the same way and seemingly depressed as well, she didn't have the screening. At almost 2 years I took her to get her hearing checked because I suspected something wrong. It ended up she was moderate/severly hearing impaired, and we had no family history of hearing loss. Now she wears hearing aides and is in Auditory-Verbal therapy to work on her speech. Just a thought....H.

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R.P.

answers from Macon on

My first responce to you is to pray to the Lord God Almighty, who will answer all prayers if we only trust in him. Also I would sugest that you take him to the speech therapist. My second granddaughter was not speeking cleary and my daught-in-law took her to a therapist and now she is doing great. She is in the first grade now. She talks all the time and even loves to sing. Her voice is wonderful and an answer to prayer.

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A.A.

answers from Atlanta on

Some boys do take a long time. My grandson will be 3 in June and he just started talking with understanding. When he didn't talk at 18 months, I thought maybe I should get him tested. But I anionted my grandson and prayed and he has been rattling every since. They thought they had to operate on his feet for him to walk, again I anionted and prayed. He started walking at 16 month. Now if I could pray patience for me to potty train him.

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M.F.

answers from Atlanta on

If you call babies can't wait through the health dept they can schedule a visit to have your child evaluated for free for speech or you can go private and have your doctor do it by making the calls. I had a child that couldn't hear because of too many ear infections got tubes but he couldn't talk because he didn't know how he was 18 months old he said 3 words "momma, dadda and baby". Yes at 18 months old your child should be talking and at least you should understand what your child is saying. My son was considered developmental delay which was fine we dealt with it and now at age 7 he yes has some issues not related to speech talks wonderful and is an all A one B student. Loves to read and sound out words now and corrects people if they say a words incorrectly...hey I look at it like this he had 3 years of speech he's done his time and if a person says a words wrong what the heck correct them it took alot of time and money for him to get to where he is now. My thoughts are with you and your family I'm sure things will be fine and better to do something now your are his advocate.

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B.W.

answers from Columbia on

A., I remember my sister taking my niece for her 2 year checkup and asking the doctor shouldn't she be talking more, she wasn't talking all that much, he said give her time because one day it is all gonna click and her vocabulary will become like a faucet and you know what, it did...she is 3 1/2 and doesn't shut up :) My mother also said my cousin...who is now in his forties and the life of the party didn't start talking until he was 3. Hang in there, if it will give you peace of mind go to the speech therapist, but it is true every child is different, your son will be fine, I am sure.

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S.W.

answers from Atlanta on

Evey child is different. Please don't blame yourself. Did your doctor check his hearing before sending you to a speech therapist? It sounds like you are doing a great job. My daughter didn't really star talking until well until I got her around other children. Then at 2 she started talking non stop.

I hope this helps.

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S.F.

answers from Athens on

A., there is a therapist I found in the mamasource files she works with all kinds of developmental delays, she helped us tremendously. Gave me all kinds of good contacts well established ones, an checks on us frequently. We were having some of the same problems, we now know he has autism. I don't mean to scare you but you need to rule that out. All of our kids these days seem to be delayed at something or another whether it be speech, walking, sitting alone, running, crawling, etc. There are so many toxins in our environment, even the best moms are not aware of how toxic their home may be. And of course there is the vaccinations that do still have thermasol in them, that is a mercury preservative. The Flu shot has the most! If your son is like ours he has a hard time eliminating metals so now we are busy getting all those toxic metals back out. And yes it can be done, naturally or medically. But your Ped will not tell you any of this, some don't really know until it happens to them. Alternative Health (Nutritional) doctors will tell you straight up. Just contact this therapist and do a search on the Internet. There are so many great sites out there if you need any I will be glad to send you some sites, just let me know. It's probably just a speech delay, but it is time to get it checked out. If it is something worse, the earlier you start him on a serious diet and testing the better your results! Ours is 17 mos now and has started back talking! Praise the Lord!

[email protected]____.com
She's great!

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A.P.

answers from Atlanta on

How is his "passive" listening? When you tell him to do something or get something - does he understand you? My pediatrician said the passive understanding is a better indicator of a problem than when a child talks. If he understands you when you tell him things, don't even worry about this. My daughter is now 22 months old and she was the same way - the only thing she said at 18 months was Mama. She is finally talking more now - but still not very clearly. My son who is 3 1/2 talked really early, so I was concerned about the difference with my daughter at first. I also have two sisters who had their 2 year old boys evaluated by therapists b/c neither didn't talk - and both boys are fine. Kids learn at their own pace - your son will catch up when he is ready. I wouldn't even bother with a therapist at all at 18 months, especially if he understands you talking to him. Wait 6 months at least.

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B.L.

answers from Denver on

Hi A.,
We also never did the baby talk thing and boy do we have two different results from it! Our first son was very verbal early on. He has an amazing vocab for a 4 year old. He was saying two syllable words before he was two. Our youngest is 19 months and has a handful of single syllable words. He babbles more than anything. My point in telling you this is to say that I'm sure it's not something you are or arent doing. :)

Is your little guy babbling at all or not at all? I would encourage you to have his hearing tested. One of my friends discovered that her daughter was deaf but not until she was 2 years old. She wasn't saying much of anything at all but is now doing really well with cochlear implants. Another friend of mine had a little boy that was like your son and then all of the sudden started talking on his own time frame.

So he may be just fine but I think that a hearing check would be the first way I'd go and then go with speech therapy if his ears are fine.

Good luck! I know things like this can be kind of scary.

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K.T.

answers from Atlanta on

This may be just anecdotal info, but I've heard that very gifted children often speak later, and start with more complete sentences. Perhaps all the reading you're doing is giving him a larger vocabulary to work with in his head, and he's deciding where to start first. :) I wouldn't worry too much. Listen to your Dr., but between you and me, I wouldn't be concerned until 2 yrs. It sounds like you're doing a great job, and I'll bet his speech will come in like a flood. Just wanted to throw in some encouragement. Good luck to you!

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A.M.

answers from Spartanburg on

Please do not feel like this is something you should have done differently. My first child is gifted and by 18 months was talking almost like a 3 year old. My second child did some babbling early on and then stopped. I won't bore with all the details and its a long, long story but the bottom line with her was two-fold: she had an articulation disorder and she needed tubes for her ears. Any chance your son has chronic ear infections? If so - on top of seeing the audiologist and speech therapist I would go to an ENT and see if they recommend tubes. If you want more information about this please let me know, but where I live the doctors referred me to a program called BabyNet - they were a comprehensive service that evaluated all her needs and made sure she saw the audiologist and speech therapist. Just be aware - my daughter did not have a hearing problem except when she had an ear infection or fluid in her ears which was a great deal of the time. Don't stress and don't add guilt to your plate - just take it one day at a time, one evaluation at a time.

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L.C.

answers from Atlanta on

I wouldn't worry about it yet, some kids just start late. My daughter didn't start talking until 2. She's almost 7 now and is very bright. My husband apparently didn't talk for a really long time as a child. His parents were really getting worried, and then he just started talking in sentences!

One thing I think would be helpful is using sign language. We did this with both our kids and it is a wonderful way for them to communicate! (see www.sign2me.com) It was so nice with my daughter especially, since she did start talking later. And it's nice because you can tell what they really do understand even if they can't speak. I wasn't at all worried with my late talker because she could tell me so much through sign language.

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B.

answers from Augusta on

I think you've done great. I think he's right on par for where he should be both my kids were that way couldnt under stand a word they said till they turned 2. it was all another language until then. Now they won't shut up. Sometimes I have to tell my 6 yr old daughter to be quiet for just 5 mins so mommy can think lol. bad I know but the little girl would talk to a sign post.

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R.C.

answers from Spartanburg on

When my son was 18 months old, he was barely uttering Mama or dada. Now, at 23 months, he says those words as well as many more, but his vocabulary is still very small for his age. A friend of mine has a son and he never spoke a word until he was older than 2. Now, at 4, he won't shut-up! He may just be taking his time and waiting until he's sure of himself before he talks. With you reading to him multiple times daily, he's hearing so many words and I know he can't wait to use them. You can have him evaluted and hopefully they'll tell you he's just being patient. I know it can be frustrating, especially when you're so eager to hear him call you Mama, but it will come with time! Good luck and it hope it all works out for the best.

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C.T.

answers from Savannah on

Hey A.,
You have probably heard this before but have they tested your sons hearing? My cousin did not say a single word until he was 6 years old. Then his Mom fixed breakfast and burnt his oatmeal and he comment on that. It was funny with what he said because no one in the family cursed and that was part of the comment. I talked some baby talk to my youngest who is now 13 and she is a straight A student and loves to read and has an extreme vocab. All I can say is have some patience. I know that is hard to do but just keep trying and don't give up. I know whaat it is like to raise children alone. Believe me it will all work out. And if you believe in God just pray to him about your problems and He will help you. Good Luck and may God Bless you and your son.

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D.P.

answers from Atlanta on

Boys do talk later than girls usually. It could very well be that he's a late talker. (By the way, there a lot of mathematic and scientific BRAINS who were late talkers. -- so there's that!) I think you are doing all the right stuff. Having him evaluated by a speech therapist is smart. But don't stress too much. He may be just fine -- for example, does he understand you when you speak to him? That's a biggie. My nephew is very much the same. I'm urging his mother to talk to a speech therapist. I suspect Speech Apraxia. I'd suggest you do some of your own investigating before you see the ST.

Good luck! I'll be hoping that it's nothing!

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V.B.

answers from Columbia on

i have no degree or anything, but my first thought was to have his hearing checked?

I hope everything works out & don't just take the 1st answer, get a second opinion if in anyway you "agree" with initial diagnosis.

Blessings to you,
V.

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L.A.

answers from Spartanburg on

As a mother of a child with special needs, there is a problem when a child is not talking at all by 18 mos. Not only should you not talk baby talk, don't give in to his pointing or grunting for what he wants. Also if he has sibilings, don't allow them to talk for him. If he wants something and he grunts, tell him to use his words. If he wants a cookie. Say soandso, use your words and say I want a cookie, or cookie please. Sometimes kids are just plain lazy. If you do something for them then why do it themselves?
I personaly would ask the pediatrician and have him refer you to a speech evaluation. They can teach him sign language in the mean time to help communicate and lesson tantrums due to frustration. Start now, I can't stress that enough.

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M.A.

answers from Atlanta on

I have a 4 year old girl, who is similiar to your son. They call this speech delay, and it's nothing you did or didn't do. My daughter is gradually learning more and more, and I believe she will eventually be fully verbal, but right now, there is a marked difference between her and her peers, and it's embarrassing to me when other adults address her and she can't respond. We have a 21 month old son, and he is progressing normally, and it's refreshing to me, but also confirms that my daughters problems are not attributed to my bad parenting.

I would seek the help that's offered. We had lived in Oregon last year and my daughter qualified for a special ed preschool. They knew how to help. We've moved away from there, so we continue to work with her in a different setting. If you are a working mom and single, you don't have the option to do home therapy. Start now, and see what can be done. The state is free, but it takes a long time to make it threw the red tape. But, their goal is to get children like this up to speed by the time the reach kindergarten.

You have to grieve the fact that your son is not like other 18 month olds, and once you've accepted that, you must seek help. It is nothing you've done wrong, some children just have a harder time grasping language.

One other thing you can check out is a program called "the Listening Ear"- google it. We're trying it, and yet it's too early to be able to give a conclusive review.

I pray you find the answers you need, and that God will bless your little guy with a tongue that can bless you with the word, "Mama". My daughter was delayed, but she did eventually say it, and it was precious!

M.

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D.H.

answers from Atlanta on

Hi A.,
My 2nd daughter was a late talker too! All children are different. The pediatrician recommended the evaluation too, and I was more than happy. It is better to be safe than sorry. It could be nothing at all but professional direction from a speech therapist can only do good. If there is a problem, you will have caught it early.

Don't beat yourself up. sounds like you are a wonderful mom. My daughter began speaking, she didn't speak as clearly as others. She is now in 3rd grade. Although she is very intelligent and a honor roll student, she mispronouced words (the = "da" and r="w") until 2nd grade. She did have speech therapy as a toddler but she is doing great!

D.

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K.J.

answers from Atlanta on

Hey

I know kind of what you are going through.. I have a friend who son was not talking at that age too- she took him to a speech therapists and he is doing a lot better- but remember it will take time and work on your side and the therapist side( you are doing the right thing by contacting a speech therapsit). One of the things she did was read and talk in a normal voice. In addition, let him watch shows like Barney, Baby Einstein,etc because he may be a visual learner(every child is different). I hope this helps.. Do not worry he will be talking soon ( do not stress mom - everything will be alright) ...

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S.M.

answers from Spartanburg on

You will be doing the best thing if you do the evaluation ASAP! 18 months is a long time for your little one not to have uttered a word. Does he respond to loud noises and TV/misic sounds in terms of turning his head, making facial expressions? I will pray for both of you. Best of luck and don't wait a minute longer! A SC reader

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C.H.

answers from Augusta on

First, you shouldn't blame yourself for him not talking.And it is a concern for him not to be atleast babbling yet. My 18 month old can say things like no,mama,dadda,bubba,ashton,night night,bye bye.And if your son doesn't say anything he is a bit behind.I hope that he is just behind and not a sign of something being wrong and please let us know what happens.

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K.S.

answers from Savannah on

First and most importantly, if your son does have some sort of speech development problem it is not a reflection of your parenting. You can't contol some things including a childs developmental delays that are predestined from birth. Don't beat yourself up about it. The important thing to do is exactly what you are doing. Continue to love and nuture him and bring him to the therapist. No matter what he'll be fine because he obviously has a mommy who loves him to death.

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S.E.

answers from Atlanta on

A.,

I, too, am a single, working mom. I know it's tough. First, I think you've done a great job talking to your son. I'm an educator and you're right, it's a great service to do for your children. Second, you're right to listen to the doctors. Take him asap and get the evaluations. There are many possibilities, none of which would be your "fault."

My second child has some health issues and I know that it's just the way it is. I did nothing wrong as a parent.

So, I'll keep you in my thoughts and just remember that you can trust your "mommy gut" no matter what happens. Good luck!

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L.F.

answers from Charleston on

Has he been seen by ent doctor, to check his hearing?

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