Advice on 22 Month Old

Updated on December 06, 2011
S.L. asks from Groton, MA
43 answers

Hi, Im looking for advise on my 22 month old- he is NOT verbal at all- he will say "mama", "dada", "yeah" and "tickle tickle" (or at least thats what it sounds like--he also makes the tickle motion as he says it) Anyways alls he does is screech. No matter where we go he just does a piercing, high pitched scream for no reason. We had to leave my 5 year old sons field trip the other day because it just got too out of control. Every where I go in town he is now known, people even say "oh no here comes screech". I have tried calmly talking and soothing him, being firm and saying "No Thank You" nothing seems to work. I think he may be frustrated and trying to vocalize himself- I dont know--Im embarresed to go anywhere lately, because everyone just looks at me like my child is out of control, but I dont know how to fix it! Any suggestions?

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D.D.

answers from Burlington on

Have you thought about teaching him sign language. Has he been diagnoses with any diorder by a doctor?

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L.M.

answers from Boston on

I've been reading about signing with infants and toddlers and from what I read it gets rid of the frustration the child has when they can't say what they want or need. There are a lot of good books out there for sign with infants/toddlers that you could start with. The book I'm reading is "Baby sign language basics" by Monta Z. Briant. She talks about which signs to start with and how to intigrate the signs into every day playtime to make it fun. It might work.

Good luck.
L. M

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R.F.

answers from Boston on

Hi Stephanie
Have you thought about teaching him sign language? I have heard that it really helps keep the frustrations under control with kids who aren't verbal yet. I work at a health food store and it seems like almost all of the young mothers I come into contact with are using this method with great success.

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K.M.

answers from Lafayette on

Hi S.,
I have a 23 month old son and he doesnt talk either outside of mama, daddy, tree, doggie, ball. That's about it. However, he does know a little sign language, enough to tell me eat, drink, etc. I also have another son who is now 7yrs and he didnt talk until 2 and a half. We saw a speech pathologist for him and she just said that he wasnt ready and you know what- he just suddenly began talking and he never stopped talking..... Talk with your pediatricain 1st (my ped recommended that I read to him ALOT and I do- so I can se a slight improvement). He is still young, give it some time. Good luck with everything!

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M.W.

answers from Providence on

Hi S.,
I see a lot of people have already mentioned this, I just wanted to join in too! My son wasn't speaking at all by 18 months and we talked to his pediatrician and he recommended Early Intervention. They are a wonderful program that is only going to benefit your child. We have only been in the program for about 4 months and at his 6 month evaluation, he is probably going to test out of the program! He has come such a long way in a short time! Good luck and try not to let the other people bother you -
God Bless
~M.

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A.C.

answers from Boston on

Hi S. -

Have you talked to your pediatrician about this? Usually by 22 mo old your child should be saying several words. Maybe he has a hearing problem and is not hearing words or maybe he needs some early intervention help. It sounds like he is probably screeching because he doesn't know how else to express himself. I would definitely seek medical attention to be on the safe side.

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R.K.

answers from Boston on

Hi S.,

Your story sounds just like mine. My son is now 4 years old and he too was a screecher! My son is very smart however he can't articulate what he wants to say. I regret not having him evaluated by early intervention. When he turned 3 I had him evaluated by the local school and learned that he was not communicating at the level he should be. My son is now in pre-school and receives 30 minutes of speech therapy a week (we don't pay for pre-school because of the results of the testing). The interaction with peers along with the therapy has helped him tremendously. It wasn't until he went to pre-school and began receiving therapy that the screeching stopped.

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K.C.

answers from Boston on

My now 28 month old son has been involved with early intervention since he was about 20 months due to lack of vocalization. His doctor felt he should have a far larger vocabulary at that point. The same person comes once per week and plays with him for an hour working on different activities to encourage using words. After he turned 2 years old he was eligible to attend a play group of 6 children for 2 1/2 hours a week until he ages out at 3. This has been very good for him and he's speaking far more words at this point. This is a free service through the Department of Public Health. Contact your doctor or DPH to find the closest Early Intervention to you and have him evaluated, it certainly can't hurt.

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A.H.

answers from Boston on

Hi there,
I had my son evaluated by early intervention at 18 months when he was just saying those words and he qualified for speech therapy. He is now 2 1/2 and has completed speech therapy. I could just be a matter of time for speech to kick in, but it is best to start early as services are free until 3 years old. I had a similar problem, that my son was screaming and crying for a long time when he couldn't communicate. The speech therapy really helped. You can ask your pediatrician for a referral. Good luck!

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M.B.

answers from Boston on

Hi S.,

I had similar concerns with my son. Try looking in your area for a program called Early Intervention. They can evaluate your son and make recommendations, provide speech therapy, etc. All services are billed to insurance, not families. I know how frustrating it can be when your child can't communicate. It's even more frustrating for him. Good luck.

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W.D.

answers from Boston on

call your city's early intervention program and have him evaluated for speech issues. anyone can request an eval and it's all free. If you can't find the number, call your local school and they'll help you find it. My son was the same way and it turned out to be a speech delay which he's recieved services for and has had two yrs of preschool and is heading to Kindergarten in the fall under an IEP (special ed school plan). You can try to sign with him right now to help with the screaching.. pick specific words that you use (Hungry, thirsty, potty etc) and go to asl.com to see what the signs are.. they are pretty easy and the kids will pick them up. it does help with frustration because that's what it sounds like.. he's frustrated because he can't get his point across.. good luck..

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R.F.

answers from Boston on

Hi,

It sounds like your poor guy is frustrated. I don't have much new to add, but I can tell you that my nephew was put into EI for his speech delay and my SIL used sign language to help him communicate. It helped cut down on his frustration level, especially when dealing with people outside the family. She could tell people signs to look for instead of trying to help them interpret his various noises that only mothers seem to understand!

I use ASL with my son, now 2, and I can't tell you how amazing it has been. He is extremely verbal and doesn't sign as much anymore, but he whips them out at least a few times a day. Also, he loves to watch the videos and listen to the music. We have always used Signing Time www.signingtime.com and found them easy to learn and fun to watch.

Good luck!

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M.C.

answers from Hartford on

Hi S.,

I have two sons who had similar speech issues. In CT, where I live, there is a wonderful early intervention program called Birth to Three which helps children birth through 36 months with all kinds of developmental delays. In MA you have the EI (early intervention) program for children ages birth through three overseen by the Department of Health. You can visit their website here: http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eohhs2subtopic&L=6&L0...
I would highly recommend giving them a call and setting up a screening for your son.

A common norm for 24 month olds is being able to put two words together ("Dada go" when Dad goes to work, for example); if your son only has a vocabulary of four words or so, he's unlikely to catch up in the next two months. His screeching too is most likely done out of frustration. He sounds like a really bright kid with putting the tickle motion with the vocalization, so he probably just can't find the words to express his thoughts and needs and therefore screeches. My oldest son used to get so frustrated over his inability to communicate that he would get down his hands and knees and bang his head on the floor, wall, etc. This stopped as soon as he could talk (about 2 1/2, maybe a little later) because he could just tell me what he was feeling.

If you haven't already, you can try baby signs too. There is a good baby signs book called Baby Signs by Dr. Linda Acredolo and Dr. Susan Goodwyn (you can get it online here: http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Signs-Linda-Acredolo/dp/080923... ). We had tons of success with our youngest with just a few signs: milk, all done, more, please, thank you (which is also you're welcome), mom, and dad. He took to them really early, but you still have time to teach your son so he can communicate more effectively with you.

I think the most important advice I can give to you to encourage him to talk more and scream less is to never stop talking to him. "Bathe" him in language, even if people give you funny looks when you're out together; the more he hears, the more he will pick up (it's called his receptive language, how he "absorbs" and comprehends; his verbal/signing skills are his expressive language).

In the meantime, just try to remember that he will eventually talk when he's good and ready...after almost two years of early intervention services and endless hours of frustration, the first sentence my oldest son ever said was, "Can I have some more milk please Mommy?" accompanied by the appropriate signs. It was smooth sailing after that; now we can't get him to pipe down!

Good luck and keep smiling,

M.

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T.S.

answers from Boston on

I strongly recommend that your pediatrician refer you to the early intervention program in your city or town, if they not already done so. Lots of children need a some early intervention and if nothing else, an evaluation will alliviate your concerns. Early intervetnion will not hurt and can only help a child. Don't be embarrassed about your child's behavior - parents understand that different kids have differnt "melting" points and those that don't understand, who needs them! I've been around my share of "out of control" toddlers and young children and have rarely thought the worse of the parents (there is a huge difference between a non-verbal child's meltdown and a "spoiled" child in a store for instance) so chill on that b/c i bet the people who matter to you don't think you have any reason to be embarrassed

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A.M.

answers from Providence on

Keep trying. If the therapy thing works for you then great. Honestly though, he JUST TURNED TWO for heavens sake! It is annoying but maybe he just doesn't have the skills yet? Keep being paitent and when he screechs and you actually know what he wants, don't just give it to him to "shut him up". Put words to it as much as you can. Ex: he throws a book at you and screechs. "Oh you want mommy to read to you?" I would love too! We say "READ PLEASE" and hand mommy the book, we do not throw." (that was a personal experience one for me!) then repeat, repeat, repeat!

Good Luck!

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J.R.

answers from Providence on

Have you thought about contacting Early Intervention? My son also began talking a bit late. They were very good, came out and did evaluations. Although he didn't qualify, they were a big help with suggestions to get him talking and it really helped. Also, in terms of being embarresed, I completely empathize, but some people are always going to be rude and not care to understand what's going on. It's usually the people who DONT have kids! Keep your head up, things will get better!

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M.C.

answers from Boston on

S.,
I don't know if anyone else has suggested this, but I would have you son evaluated immediately by your local Early Intervention program. You can call and refer him yourself and the evaluation is free. At this age, you son should have more words than that and is probably screaming in frustration that he can't express himself. He could benefit from catching a problem early and getting some speech and developmental therapy! I work with lots of speech delayed kids this age and they definitely come around but sometimes need extra help.
M.

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B.B.

answers from Boston on

Hi,

The best thing for you to do is call Early Intervention and have your child evaluated. My twenty-two month has only three to five words and just began receiving speech therapy last week and he loves it! He scored at his age or more for all other milestones and this was a huge relief because my five year old is mild/moderate autistic with sensory issues. I didn't know about EI when Jack was a little guy but am fully utilizing it now with Aidan. The best part is all the services are free. : )
Barb

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M.S.

answers from Hartford on

Hi S.,
You must have your son's 2 year check up coming up. You need to request that your child's doctor send him for testing. Some doctors are not too worried that children are not speaking at 22 months and others are. We did have one of our six children who did not speak until 24 months but it was because he didn't need to because his siblings said everything for him. What worries me is the screeching. While I don't have a child with Autism, I have friends who do and having been around them, what you describe with your son (the speaking only a couple of words and constant screeching ) sounds like it could be autism. Thus I would ask your doctor. Somewhere inside there are some beautiful words trying to come out! Best of luck.
M.

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R.B.

answers from Boston on

Hi S.,
Like the other Moms are saying, call Early Intervention for an evaluation. They are the best service my family has ever received. If he qualifies someone will come out to your home to work with your son through his play. The program is only for kids up until their 3rd birthday, but if he still needs services at that point, they will help you get what he needs through the public school system.

Good luck!!

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L.S.

answers from Boston on

Hi! I just wanted to write back and suggest you see your Pediatrician to request a referral to your local Early Intervention office. I can sympathize with the piercing screech - it is so frustrating for both you & your son! Both of my daughters were preemies (30 weeker & 33 weeker) and had services thru EI which helped them tremendously. Also, my nephew didn't speak until he was 3 and finally got speech services and now you would have no idea he was a late talker. Some people look down upon EI, but we felt we would do anything to help our girls to catch up developmentally to their peers. Good Luck!

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K.G.

answers from Boston on

Hello S.,
My advice is not all that different from others you've recieved. I started my son in early intervention at 18 months, he didn't have any purposeful speech. A lot of people made fun of me and thought it was silly. He is now 2 1/2 still gets speech and has been identified with a motor planning issue which they are working on. He is speaking a lot more, but clarity is an issue. It is easier to get services from early intervention then the school system, so i would recommend having an evalution sooner rather then later, then they will transition him to the school system when he turns 3. It is also convenient, they come right to your house.
good luck
K.

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S.T.

answers from Boston on

I would start with a call to your peditrician, and I would also call early intervention for an evaluation. It won't cost you anything for the evaluation, (and then a flat fee for the year based on income if he needs services, ours is $60 for the year) and they are amazing. My 2 year old was diagnosed with a speech delay at 25 mos. and they have been working with him once or twice a week since, and we have seen some tremendous gains. He can now ask for things when he wants, and uses a lot more pointing a gestures. He often calls me dada and my husband Mama, but it is better than the grunt we used to get. They might be able to offer some different approaches for calming him down too.

Hope it helps
S.

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A.G.

answers from Boston on

You should get him into some speech therapy as soon as you can if he is not verbal. My soon to be 5 year old was a late talker and I didnt think anything of it because I always knew what he wanted. Now he is in preschool with delayed speech development and is getting help there. I have also been on a waiting list for 3 months to have my 17 month old evaluated because he doesnt talk either. I am trying to push it because he is also doing the high pitched scream and I think its because he has no other way of telling me what he wants.

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C.F.

answers from Pittsfield on

Hi S.,
I would definitely say have him evaluated by someone who does early intervention. Check with your local school district, who should be able to refer you to someone, or even ask your pediatrician. I think the screeching is probably just frustration at not being able to verbalize what he wants to say. A specialist in this area will be able to give you some tools to try to teach him to communicate. Often they use sign language, which seems to be easier for kids to pick up, and can help a great deal until his speech catches up. Also, if you have a sense of what he wants, or what he's trying to communicate, it may help if you try to verbalize it for him, to demonstrate to him how to do it. This may not have an immediate effect but it may help him develop verbal skills eventually. Good luck.

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A.H.

answers from Hartford on

My first bit of advice is stay calm and ignore the people who think you have an out of control child. Every child acts up in public at some point in time. You could get Birth to 3 to come in and evaluate your son if you are concerned about speech development, but boys do just tend to be late verbally. Some of my friends have used sign language for communicating. This can help to avoid screeching and allow him to be understood. Good luck and maintain your patience!

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M.L.

answers from Portland on

Have you considered baby sign language? Giving our daughter some control to communicate basic needs - really helped her frustration level, our relationship, and she ended up with advanced verbal communication skills.
Some parents use signs for everything, but we just covered the basics (more(food/drink), change(diaper),all gone, be careful...) She actually made up her own signs for things - which is greatly encouraged.
As a separate note of encouragement - my sister has the biggest little screecher I've ever encountered (20mo)and it has greatly improved just this month since her daughter has "found" more words. Hang in there and encourage those screeching moments by trying to communicate his needs with him. Rather then tell him not to yell, look him in the eyes and ask what he needs. Tell him you can't understand his yelling and offer suggestions (accompanied with the baby signs, in my opinion)until you guys come to a common ground. then get excited that you figured it out together.

Good luck and hang in there!!!

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K.D.

answers from Barnstable on

Start with your pediatrician. They can give you advice and the referral to early intervention. Also the book Baby Signs may be helpful to get him to communicate instead of screeching. Good luck.

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F.G.

answers from Boston on

My oldest was a late speaker and it was because there were foods that were making him so hyper he couldn't learn. We did Signing Time (www.signingtime.com) which some libraries have a few of the videos. Once he started learning some signs he actually started talking more and the tantrums decreased because he could communicate non-verbally. Of course, getting the foods out of his diet also did wonders.

So suggestions: have him checked for food sensitivities (probably have to use a naturopath most doctors don't believe in them unfortunately - we did US Biotek testing), try sign language, and have him checked for other disorders like autism.

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N.C.

answers from Boston on

Hi S., I'm on board with all the other moms recommending Early Intervention. My DS is 22 months also and he had delayed speech, so I called EI 2 months ago and his evaluation was last month and his first therapy visit is next week. I've had 3 friends with kids in the EI program (we're in the Minuteman ARC group) and everyone raves about what a successful program it is--and FREE to boot. Please do NOT delay. As a courtesy, let your pediatrician know in advance that you're going forward with an evaluation (they'll contact the Dr. anyway). And whatever else, DO NOT let anyone make you feel like there is some kind of stigma attached to having a young child in therapy. ALL help is GOOD help!! You may also want to try ASL (American Sign Language) for babies. I have a kit for sale on Craigslist (Sign with Your Baby) that I used with both my DSs and IT WORKED! Despite Jake's lack of speech, he can sign many common words and it greatly eased his (and our) frustration levels early on. Lots of patience in the meantime, which I know is hard to find when you've been screeched at all day, but it does help more than losing your own cool (which has happened to me). Best of luck!

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V.G.

answers from Boston on

Hi S.,
Have you considered early intervention? This is provided at no cost by the State and most children are evaluated around your son's age (about 24 months). Someone will come to your home and evaluate to let you know if speech therapy is something that should be considered. Also, all children develop at different times, so please try not to be overly concerned. Just a suggestion, as I know we always try to do what is best for our children's development! Best of luck!
V.

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S.K.

answers from Boston on

Hi Stephanie, It sounds as though your child is frustrated by his inability to communite his wants and need effectively. Have you looked into having your son evaluated by your local early intervention center. Call the special ed department of your local school system and they can give you the information. He may qualify for speech and language services and learn how to communicate more effectively. Once that happens I am sure this schreeching will be a distance memory.

I am a SAHM of a 5 year old and a 28 month old girl who is involved with early intervention in my area.

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J.Z.

answers from Boston on

Hi S.,
At about 15 months, my son's only words were mama, dada, nana, papa. He did a lot of whining! I was realizing that a lot of his acting out was because of his frustration since he couldn't communicate his needs. And, of course, it was very frustrating for me because I didn't know how to help him. I spoke with our pediatrician and together we decided that it would be beneficial to call early intervention services to get him assessed. He ended up qualifying for speech services. Everywhere else in his development was very age appropriate, but his speech was really behind. Every child is different and learn at different paces (especially boys having speech delays is very common from what I have heard) but he really took to the developmental specialist that came to our house weekly and he did weekly playgroups at their center. He doesn't stop talking now...he's 27 months now! I highly recommend speaking to your pediatrician about it and mentioning the possibility of early intervention. The assessment is free and it definitely couldn't hurt to do it. Anyway, that is what happened with my son. It is not a process that happened overnight, but I am so happy we did it. Hope this helps!

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L.C.

answers from Springfield on

S., I would recommend having his hearing tested right away. Often, children who have hearing deficits do not talk much and the screaming is a self-stim behavior because they can "hear" themselves in a way, -- the vibrations within their head is what they are feeling. I am not sure this is your son's problem, but I would definatly have him tested to rule it out. good luck! L. C. mom and special ed teacher

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A.P.

answers from Hartford on

Hi S.,

I understand your concern. I have a 19 months old who doesn't speak, all she says is dady, mama, and bye. I recently contacted the Birth to Three program and they came to our house to evaluate her to see if she was eligible for speech therapy. And she is. She is on target in every other areas of her development except communication. So a speech pathologist will come on a regular basis to work with her. It is free for the first 2 months and then there is a deductable depending on your household income. My son had physical therapy with that program and I really loved them. Check out their website www.birth23.org or call them at 800-505-7000. Good luck!

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L.Q.

answers from Boston on

I agree with early intervention! My 17 month old son says plenty of words for his age, however he is still not walking.
I am so sick of people telling me it is okay, he may walk between now and 18 months and that is normal. My mother's intuition told me to finally not listen to them anymore and call early intervention like his pedi mentioned at 16 months.
I have also noticed his hips "popping" once in a while. So he is going to see his pedi next week and I made an appt for early intervention as well (just in case).
But your son may just be frustrated as you said and may need a little help "using his words" instead off screeching. Good luck and God bless.

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K.K.

answers from New York on

Hi S.,i sympathize with what you have gone through,a little advice from my side to you is :Talk to him baby all the time, and I mean all the time. As you are changing them, tell them exactly what you are doing, step by step, and always speak in a soft, calming voice.
At the most basic level, here are some things you can do-- Blow bubbles. Make LOTS of animal noises (for some reason animal noises are easier than "real" words.) Teach him modified sign language (for example, pointing to his mouth for "eat"). It takes time, but kids with speech delays can use the motion as a prompt to say the word. SIng "pop Goes the Weasel" a lot and make a big deal out of jumping up on POP. "Pop" is one of the easiest words to say and the action of popping up will act as a prompt. (Be aware that at first he will just be able to do the action-- but that's a start.) Put chocolate or peanut butter on his lips, hold his arms back, and make him lick the sweet stuff off his lips. Encourage a lot of "environmental" words-- Vrrom, buzz, whee, yum, etc. Again, these are usually easier for toddlers than "real" words.
I buyed a really fantastic book from Babeez World it an online shopping centre whenver i want ti buy something for my Joana i click and i buy " What to Expect - The toddler years it helped me all sphere's.

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R.B.

answers from Boston on

You should talk to your pediatrican about receiving services from Early Intervention. Of course, it can be extremely frustrating if you cannot express yourself. EI will probably utilize American Sign Language to bridge the gap. ASL does not hinder speech. It allows communication and stops frustration. EI provides services for children until the age of 3 (in most states), and then the public school systems take over.

My friend's son was not talking at age 2. He was referred to EI. EI came to the house and he took part in a toddler playground one day a week. They were concerned because he was not talking at age 2. He is now three and is talking fine. He loved the play group and will start a preschool in the fall.

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K.D.

answers from Providence on

talk with your pediatrican. talk talk and label everything you see. i found that was very helpful with my kids and early speech try and give him the words and the screeching you can try to play a game like 20 questions and ask him not to screech and don;t worry about what other people are thinking because we have all been there and memories for some poeple are very short..... and most people actually maybe commiserating with you in their own mind. hang in there K. mother of 13 11 8 and 1yr old

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L.C.

answers from Barnstable on

Hi S.....

Don't have much advice on fixing the screeching, however, I just thought I'd add if you are concerned that your 22 mos. old is not yet verbal, I understand. My daughter did not really start speaking (with the exception of mama, dada) until she was 24 mos. old. Some people told me that their children did the same, that at 24 mos. it was almost like a light switch and everything just started coming out. I am sure your little one is highly frustrated that he can't get the words out. The brain is still developing and it took me a while (and a lot of patience) to final embrace this concept. Then one day she started saying this and that. Each day it was one more word. Hang in there. And to hell with what people think!

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R.S.

answers from Boston on

hi i no just wate you are going thew my dotter is 28 monts and just stared to talk and yes he is just mad because he can not tell you wat he wont i no you are very upseat a but it and not shure wat to do if you need some on to talk to you can reach me a [email protected]____.com or on my phone the number is ###-###-#### hope i can help my name is R. i am a stay at home mom of a 10 year old boy and a 28 mouth old dotter and with a great guy for almost 4 years

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K.A.

answers from Boston on

It seems so common to me that younger kids with siblings seem to be verbal much later than their older siblings. Both my sister and best friend had their children evaluated for lack of vocabulary words. In both instances the evaluator found nothing wring with both children. I was the youngest of 3 and did not really start to fully communicate until well into 2. My mom claimed it was b.c everyone would answer for me. I would just ask your pediatrician for some guidance. Unless you see physical as well as verbal issues and a distance in his eyes sometimes it is probably nothing.

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T.D.

answers from Boston on

I would suggest that you request a speech and hearing evaluation from your pediatrician. Early intervention services can evaluate your little guy since he is not yet 3. Once he turns 3 it becomes the responsibility of your local educational agency (LEA). You might also try purchasing a couple of the baby sign DVD's in the meantime and starting to teach your son some sign language. Since he is only using a few simple utterances, teaching him sign language may ease his frustration some and help to stop the screeching, or at least decrease it. It won't be an instant fix, but it should gradually help. If he does have a speech or hearing issue, the earlier you address it, the better. I can imagine you are frustrated, I would be too. Be consistent in your approach to the screeching, I would suggest being firm, using the same words all the time and removing him from the situation, at least when you are home. Use a time out corner or area where he has to go until he can stop screeching and you can interact in a more productive way. Hope this helps.

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