Almost 2 Year Old Not Talking - Dad Is Bipolar Schizophrenic

Updated on December 07, 2011
J.F. asks from Bloomington, IN
13 answers

A friend of mine has a boy who will be 2 in 2 weeks. He only says like 2-3 words and they aren't even full sounds (Da, Ma). He is overly attactive and does not behave well. He is into EVERYTHING and will repeat behavior he has been told no to. He has always made an obnoxious sound when he is ready to eat and puts his hands in the air waving them (since he was probably 7 or 8 months old).

He does have receptive vocabulary. She can tell him to go get a certain truck and he will. I'm not sure how many times she has to tell him, though. His hearing has not been tested, as of yet.

She is going to bring up all of this at the ped's office this month when they go. Her concern is that the father's mental illness may be at play in her little guy.

Everyone has told her to wait to see how he is at 2 before she should worry, now she is getting more concerned.

I know every kid is different and they all have different milestones. But, my gut is that there is something going on, too. She is a SAHM and does her best. Dad sleeps all day and is of NO help to her. She may not be doing everything perfectly, by the book, but she is doing the best she can in the circumstances she is dealing with (a virtual hell, if you ask me!).

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answers from Dallas on

If you have a children hospital call their rehab dept. They do scale for hearing, development,speech, mental health etc

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answers from Portland on

Hi J.,

I was a toddler room teacher for 2.5 years and can reassure you that there's a pretty wide spectrum for when kids begin to talk. The behavior and actions you are describing do not necessarily raise a red flag.

That said, given the other conditions regarding this little boy, I do think that talking to the pediatrician will give your friend more comfort than just our anecdotal evidence.

My guess that if Dad sleeps all day and isn't as helpful, Dad might not be modeling language and conversation as much as would be beneficial to the child. If Mom talks to him a lot, that's great, but it's not the same as listening to adult conversations. All that to say, yes, have her talk to the pediatrician and they can give mom some more information or outline a plan of "what we'll do if he turns X age and still isn't talking". Mental illness may be hard to diagnose at this age.

Just out of curiosity, what is she doing to correct the "obnoxious sound" when he's hungry? Is she expecting him to speak, or is she offering a sign (baby sign language) for his request? With kids who aren't talking, we have to find a non-verbal option if we want to change that behavior. Otherwise, she should keep talking to him, limit tv (studies have shown, repeatedly, that kids with more exposure to tv are more likely to manifest language delays than kids with little/no tv) and read to him a lot, sing nursery rhymes and songs. Good luck.

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answers from Boston on

Wow that sounds like a horrible situation for your friend. My prayers go out to her. I don't have much advice, but alerting the pediatrician is def the 1st step. Perhaps she can get a referral to a Developmental Pediatrician, and she should really look into Early Intervention. I believe the EI services are income based, if not free in some cases. My son had EI for a while and it made a big difference. Plus just having a professional there telling you what is going on, and ideas for what to do, is incredibly helpful.
Hugs to you for being there for your friend...she needs you. xo

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answers from Chicago on

My son only said about 3 words, didn't even babble. I called Early Intervention when he was around 20 mos. old without the Pediatrician's help. Therapists came to the house and evaluated him. I advise getting a Medical Diagnostic at a hospital as well. Early Intervention will set it up. Tell your friend not to wait because it's only to age 3. I am so happy I followed my gut feeling that something wasn't the way it should be and called. My son was diagnosed with mild developmental delays and speech delay. He was receiving services for a year (Speech, Occupational and Developmental Therapies), on a weekly basis. He's attending Pre-K and is doing well. Everyone told me boys are slow talkers and just to wait, I'm glad I didn't listen to them because my son got the help he needed to start talking and communicating. He continues to receive speech therapy in school once a week. Best wishes to your friend.


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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Denver on

Along with getting her son lots of resources she needs to be resourcing herself as well. Can she go to therapy, a woman's group, a group that supports family members of the mentally ill? She could really benefit from educating herself about her own situation and the many issues she is having to deal with.

She may be overcompensating with her son because of his lack of a fatherly influence and I would suspect that his father has very erratic and scary behavior. Her son is probably simply creating all the things he needs to survive in a chaotic environment. Children are usually very adept at doing whatever they need to do to cope.

It would be beneficial for mom to take a really good look at the child's environment and really look at how that would affect a small child. Unfortunately, chaos engenders denial and mom may struggle with accepting how bad things are and how harmful the environment is for her and her son.

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answers from Richmond on

My son will be 2 this month, but has the vocabulary of a 12 month old.

Hello speech therapy ;)

First off, she needs to talk to her son's pediatrician and see if they're concerned. Does she have other children? How quickly/slowly did they develop?

She needs to get his hearing checked, and ask the pediatrician about getting a full developmental evaluation (which will touch on dad's disorders).

How are his gross motor skills? Is he doing everything else age appropriate? There are a ton of other factors here. Once a child hits 18 months, that's when speech/hearing/delays start to get looked at more closely.

Also, has he been tested for Autism? PM me if you'd like more info, I'm going through this with my son RIGHT now ;)

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answers from Kansas City on

My advice is to have her call your state's infant/child services. Each state has a department that will help children under 3 years of age for free. To me, it sounds like he needs some early intervention and she needs to call soon. Personally, I wouldn't even wait to talk to the pediatrician. These services are free and it takes a few weeks usually between calling and evaluating for services to begin. Based on only what you've written, I think he'll qualify. Yes, techincally he is within the "normal" range of talking/not talking but honestly, he should have more words. As far as the behavior things, well that mostly sounds like a normal 2 y/o boy to me!

My son was in speech therapy just before he turned 2 and it worked wonders! I am so thankful I called! He has now graduated after only a couple of months and is talking up a storm, he didn't have more than about 10 words before that.

My theory is this...will he eventually start talking? Yes, of course...BUT why wouldn't you make it easier if you could? It'd be silly not to get help, especially when it's free and they come to your house.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Every state has a Child Find mandate, in IN a great resource to find all these things is the Parent Training and Information Center (PTI). In IN it's IN*SOURCE at They can guide you and your friend.

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answers from Hartford on

e could very well be on target for him. If she's comparing him to her older children, that can be something that tips you off that something is different but it's not always a sign that something is wrong or diagnosable.... just different. That wouldn't be known until/unless she has him evaluated. She can get that started through Headstart or Birth to Three. She can find out through the school system what they call the program and request in writing that they do a speech evaluation or a comprehensive triennial evaluation. She can then take that to a specialist that can make a diagnosis, if needed.

One thing to remember is that a lot of the time, older siblings will talk for the baby of the bunch. My eldest daughter did this for my youngest daughter, and I had to minimize it because my youngest would get pissed off! Both my youngest and eldest do it for my middle daughter, who is 9 years old and has speech regression and delays due to Autism Spectrum Disorder. If she knows her sisters are willing to speak for her then she makes less effort to speak on her own.

I don't believe the father having BiPolar and Schizophrenia has anything to do with the little boy's specific behaviors ie. I don't think the little boy is displaying behaviors from those disorders. His behaviors fall within a range of normal for many various reasons, not the least of which is he's not getting consistent care or discipline for the simple fact that his mother isn't getting any parental support.

The fact that the husband isn't involved is a big deal. However, if he's not being treated then that's paramount to have resolved ASAP. It puts the husband at higher risk for losing control of his life, losing his temper, severe depression, losing his grip on reality, and for self-harm. He already sounds very, very depressed to me if he's sleeping all the time and is very disengaged from his family. That's not good.

If he's (the husband) being treated for his disorders and he's still behaving this way then that's a huge, huge red flag to me that his treatment isn't working or he stopped taking his meds. Your friend needs to contact her husband's doctor and inform him/her of her husband's behaviors and attitudes even if the doctor can't give her any information. Ideally, the husband will give or has given the doctor consent to give information to your friend so that they can work together for his health.

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answers from Cleveland on

I'm not sure at what age they test for speech delay but I would start with that. My son at age 3 had a hearing test first to check for any hearing problems. Then he was accessed at a hearing and speech center. The problem with speech delay is that a child will act out to try to communicate. That does not mean he/she has mental illness. My son at 2 and half acted out to try to communicate. It was hard but I knew something wasn't right. He did have speech delay but has been in speech therapy since 3 and now I can't get him to stop talking. He is on the autism spectrum and his weakness is his social skills but he has friends at school. Good luck to your friend. My son is 13 now and excels in school and loves computer games. He has the sweetest disposition.

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answers from Kansas City on

You might check into a "parents as teacher's program" in their area, they come to the home and evaluate the child on a regular basis and offer help/resources when needed.

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answers from New York on

It is a hard age for a lot of kids--a lot of work for the parent. The behavior could be in the normal range or not. It is hard to tell without observing in person. If she has a gut feeling something is off then call Early Intervention for an evaluation. If there is a problem then they can help if not she will at least have some peace of mind.

It has been over 10 years since I lived in Bloomington but there is a huge campus. I know they have a speech/audiology department and a school of education. The counseling department has a clinic on campus (the center for Human Growth) that has low cost counseling by graduate students. If she can afford a babysitter or mother's helper she could probably put up a flyer in a specific department and find a student with a little background (like one training to be a special education teacher or in the counseling, psychology or social work programs). There is a counseling center in town but I don't know what services they offer. If there is something more to evaluate or treat she might want to call around and find what hospitals in Indianapolis have evaluations programs. A Children's hospital or a University hospital may have more specialists. I know the IU medical school in located in Indianapolis not Bloomington. It is probably worth going to the evaluation appointments an hour away and then getting the recommended services locally. The Early Intervention program may know what are good local resources.

The book Quirky Kids may help her with her own emotional process whether or not her child has special needs or not and through the process of figuring all that out. Also maybe there is a support group for relatives of people with mental illness. I'd check with the mental health center to see. If you are a good friend and want to help then one way you can help is making some informational calls and see what services are offered where, if they take insurance that kind of info. Ask her first if it is okay but if she is overwhelmed then it may be hard for her to get organized and make calls without her toddler distracting her (it was always hard for me with a toddler underfoot).

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