At What Age Should a Child Be Speaking

Updated on June 06, 2007
C.L. asks from Terre Haute, IN
15 answers

My son is 2 years and five months. he dose not speak very clearly and only uses minamal words. He lets yea know what he wants and will make animal sounds. But he just is not talking yet. Is there something i can do to help spead this up or is it just a waiting game on the lanuage department with childeren

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answers from Huntington on

My nephew was like that, he would talk to his sister who's 2 years older than him, but he wouldn't talk to anyone else. He would just makes a sound if he wanted something from my sister, but man once he did start talking it was all over with then. I think sometimes children at that age make a choice who they want to talk to..

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answers from Fort Wayne on

Don't let people scare you. The "norm" is just an "average" of the research that's been done over time on chilren's progress. Kids speak at different ages. I'm not saying that late talkers never have an underlying problem, but I AM saying that I think society puts too much worry into our heads if our children aren't doing exactly what other kids are doing.

My son was the EXACT same way. I went through all the endless worrying, all the tests, and in the end my little boy is a little genius. I had a couple of friends tell me not to worry about his lack of desire to talk, but it's hard when you have people saying that you need to have him tested and stuff. According to the "norm", a child is supposed to know 50 words, not 200 like someone else said, at age 2. I know this for a fact because I still have all of the paperwork from first steps and it plainly says 50 words at age 2. Well, if they know about that many words, they're fine. It doesn't mean they have to "use" all of those words on a regular basis either, it only means that they "know" and are willing to say them if enticed to. Try to do something where you have him say words if you're really worried. Like point and say "look! Tree!" and ask if he sees another one. You can do this with many objects. My son didn't start really talking until after he turned 3. He just wasn't interested in talking the baby talk. He waited until he could basically say complete sentences. If he wanted to say something, he would, like you said how you're little guy would say if he wanted something. Other than that though, he just didn't want to. He turned 3 in December and just since then is talking plain as day and using complete sentences. He is starting to read already and can write all his letters. Kids are all different. Some kids are verbal, some aren't. My son wasn't verbal. He would rather sit and play with letters and numbers than sit and talk to someone. Please, trust me, don't get too worried. I know it's hard, I was there a year ago. It's not anything to worry about though until I'd say he's 3 1/2 and still not talking. You can have his hearing checked and stuff if it makes you feel better, and even have him evaluated for first steps if it makes you feel better. My son was denied first steps because he knew enough words, even though he didn't use them regularly. Just remember that people are always going to compare your child to their own or what they've heard he should be doing at his age. That doesn't mean that there's a need to worry though. I have so much trouble keeping up with my little guy that I'm now teaching him states and capitals to give him something new to learn! He's way more advanced than my little girl, who started talking at about 1 and is now almost 5. Your son is just fine, you'll see!!

Also, first steps is not free. If my little boy would have met the requirements to receive therapy, we were going to have to pay around $20 a week if I remember right. It's based off your income. It's free if you make under a certain amount, but anything over that amount it's broken up into amounts due based on wages.

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answers from Indianapolis on

Please add my voice to the chorus -- have your son evaluated by First Steps as soon as possible. The average two-year-old should be talking a bit more than that. He might just be on the low end of the normal distribution, but there could also be an underlying problem. If so, the sooner it is addressed the better the outcome will be.

You don't need a doctor's referral to get into First Steps. Your profile says you are in Terre Haute -- the number to call there is ###-###-####. You can find numbers for other areas at Call them and say that you are concerned about your two-year-old son's speech development and would like an evaluation. Early intervention programs such as First Steps are free in most states, but Indiana has a cost-sharing program. However, the fees are low and depend on income. For a family of 3, I think the fees kick in if income is over $58,000 and start at $5 per therapy session with a monthly maximum out-of-pocket of $25.

Both my kids went through the program in California. My 8-year-old has Asberger's syndrome, and my 4-year-old was born with a cleft lip and palate. Speech therapy was a tremendous help to both. Like Dustie K and Annie B, I have a nephew with Asberger's who did not get early therapy services as my sister-in-law was in denial for a long time. The difference between the two cousins is very clear.

After your son turns 3 he is no longer eligible for First Steps but is eligible for Early Childhood services through your school district. The therapy available through First Steps is much more intensive than school services, so you want to get as much of the former as you can. If your son is in the First Steps program the system will transition him into the school program, which is a lot easier and faster than getting into the school program without First Steps.

Good luck!

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answers from Indianapolis on

You should contact First Steps or contact your doctor to see what programs you have in your area. First Steps is a free program that offers speach therapy for your son. Children at age 2 are suppose to be able to say 200 words that you can understand.



answers from Indianapolis on

Hi C.,
To directly answer your question, children usually say their first word at 12 months of age. Remember, there is a very wide range of normal, and most of the reported numbers are averages. Although I do not know the details of your child's language development, if you have any concerns whatsoever, I would contact Indiana's First Steps program for a speech language evaluation. Any services that are provided through this program are free until your child is 3 years of age, so it definitely won't hurt to take advantage of it while you still have the time. Even if it turns out there is nothing to worry about, it will help you to be equipped with that knowledge from a professional. Hope this helps. N.



answers from Indianapolis on

Since he is almost 3 you may want to skip First Steps and contact the Early Childhood Development program through your local public school. Our son was 2.5 when he was evaluated through First Steps but because of his summer birthday and the amount of time it takes to do the full evaluation and get approved and find a therapist and all that we were told to go directly to ECD. Once you submit your request for an evaluation, they have 90 school days to respond. So if you request it now, he'll probably be 3 by the time they respond due to summer break. Also, he can be evaluated before he turns 3. My son was evaluated in May when he was 2 and so he was able to start therapy right at the start of the school year - right after he turned 3 - instead of waiting another couple months. Contact your local elementary school for more info on it. The Early Childhood program is like First Steps for 3-5 year olds to bridge the gap between First Steps and elementary school.



answers from Jacksonville on

We had a similar problem with my daughter. Call First Steps. You can ask your pediatrician for info, usually the doctor will set everything up for you. There is very little out of pocket expense, and sometimes none. Good Luck!



answers from Grand Rapids on

Take a deep breath and don't freak out. I went through the SAME thing with my first son. He did not speak at 2 years and 5 months. Mainly just grunted and pointed at what he wanted. It was pulling teeth to get him to say a word or two. I had a group of well meaning mothers who raised my alarms. It hadn't occured to me that he should be talking more. I called my pediatrician and she helped me make an appointment for a speech evaluation. She also told me that boys statistically do not speak as early as girls do. Did he hit other speech milestones? Coo and babble as a baby? Does he appear to understand what you say to him? Something I learned from our speech pathologist is that the "normal" range is much bigger and you cannot compare him to others his age. Not every child develops speech smoothly. Sometimes it occurs in fits and spurts. That's what happened with my son. We had our evaluation and two months later he was talking up a storm. Sorry to say, but now I can't get him to stop! LOL.
IF he does indeed have some sort of delay, which a good evaluation will give you the information and help you and he will need, pat yourself on the back you smart mama. You are an awesome mama and advocate to your kiddo, to be open to having him evaluated. Early intervention is key. But please, take a deep breath, and call your pedi and this intervention center.
Good luck-J.



answers from Evansville on

You definately need to talk to your pediatrician about going to First Steps and also a hearing test. Kids with hearing problems don't speak well and this is usually the first sign. A 2 1/2 year old should have a fairly good vocabulary and you should be able to understand most of what he's saying. Although, some words are okay to not understand also. My son is 2 1/2 and we can have full coversations with him. Don't be alarmed just call your doctor for a referal to First Steps and go from there. Early intervention is best! Good Luck!



answers from Indianapolis on


YES PLEASE take advantage of that program/service!

I have an amazing 10 yr old 'special' lil angel girl! She wasn't talking at 2 yrs 5 months. She would make sounds...once in a while a one syllable word would come out. But that was it. Fortunately, I had a very good friend who sat me down and talked to me about having my lil one tested! Also, fortunately, I (then) lived in a town that had one of the BEST facilities in the country for 'special needs' children. The next two weeks consisted of testing that found that my baby girl had Asperger's Syndrome...a very mild, high functioning form of autism. Now, because I tested my daughter so early, she is doing absolutely amazing! She just finished 4th grade. She has been a cheerleader for 3 yrs now, she is on a bowling league, she plays the keyboard...she is happy and healthy! She is the joy of our lives!

ON THE OTHER HAND, I have a 10 yr old nephew who has also been diasgnosed with autism. He tho is not doing half as well as my daughter is...because...his mom (my sister) refused to see that there was a problem when he was young. She didn't get him tested and hasn't gotten him the help he needs. It saddens us to know that he could be doing so much better IF she had allowed the testing and treatment.

I truly believe that if we, as parents of our lil angels, don't do what's best for our one will!

Good luck and if you need help...let me know...




answers from Owensboro on

My daughter did the same thing. Turned out she had hearing loss. That would be my first avenue of exploration. You might want to consider the fact that he is the baby though with a big sis. My older daughter tended to do the talking for my youngest. She didn't feel the need to communicate. Is he getting frustrated with his efforts or is he content with his current level of communication? Does he turn around when you speak to him or does it take eye contact to get his attention? Monitor his responses to a variety of noises...big ones, whispers...and does he have the tv turned up louder than is necessary? That way, if you go to the doctor about it, you have some information to give him.



answers from Indianapolis on

Call first steps of indiana!
They will help you and you need to do it before he is three.
Just look them up, tell them your concerns and they will come evaluate him for you(in your home) it is a free service ...please take advantage of it!



answers from Fort Wayne on

I STRONGLY recommend First Steps! I have a premie who was born 16 weeks prematurely. She just turned one. She receives developmental and physical therapy through First Steps at no expense to us, and she will begin Speech Therapy in the next couple of months. The therapy has been AMAZING!! I know that Hope is doing so well in part to the services we receive from First Steps.

Your son is eligible to be evaluated by First Steps. They will come to your home and observe him. Then they can let you know what, if any, delays he may have.

Please keep in mind that there may be no type of delay at all. He could just not be ready to talk - especially since he has an older sibling around and they can tend to "talk" for the younger ones. But don't be afraid to have First Steps check him out. It's truely a wonderful service!!! Please let me know if you have any other questions about the program! I would be happy to talk to you about it!



answers from Terre Haute on

Every child develops at a different rate. As long as your son understands you and your daughter when you talk to him he's fine. You can test this by making sure he can do simple tasks like throwing something in the trash for you. Also, keep in mind that it could be that you don't make him talk. If he points and grunts and gets what he wants right away that could be the case. Try making him ask for things if you think he is ready and can do it. I hope this helps.



answers from Lafayette on

My son only spoke 17 words when he was two years old. I had him evaluated by first steps. He meet weekly with a therapist to help him with his speaking. He speaks many words now and I recommend first steps to everyone who has this problem. Hurry to contact them b/c he can only get services with 1st steps util he is three

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