2012 12/11

When your child is a late talker

It’s hard for me to remember back to when Abbi and Zoe were babies or those early toddler years. I can’t tell you exactly when they said their first words or when they were speaking in sentences. But I do know they were early talkers. And once they started, they did not stop!

Then we had Talon. I knew enough not to compare his developmental milestones with the girls’ because all babies hit those milestones at their own pace, especially looking at boys vs. girls. Throughout his first year, Talon was hitting his milestones at about the same time as the girls did. All except one — talking.

My son was one year and he had only said one word — dada.

According to babycenter.com (and this is pretty consistent among most baby books & websites):

4 to 6 months: Baby starts to babble, making noises and might say mama or dada indiscriminately.

7 to 12 months: Baby’s babbling starts to sound like “real” words.

13 to 18 months: Baby is using one or more words purposefully.

19 to 24 months: Baby/toddler now uses 50 to 70 words but can understand many more! Baby is also beginning to form 2 word sentences.

Eighteen months came and went and Talon had only officially said two words — mama and dada.

But he’s a boy, maybe he’s just a little slower than the girls.

Boys: They often develop speech later than girls, though there’s usually only about a one- to two-month lag. At 16 months, boys use an average of 30 words, while girls tend to use around 50. (parenting.com)

I was starting to get concerned and Tim was getting frustrated. We were trying to communicate with a kid who would only point and grunt and then get frustrated when we had no idea what he wanted. But the pediatrician didn’t seem worried. His hearing was just fine. He said that Talon would catch on soon and then he probably wouldn’t stop.

But 19 and 20 months came and went and no more words. So we began focusing more on sign language. Of course we continued to work on getting his speaking going with pointing out objects, saying the word, trying it sound by sound. Thankfully Talon at least took the sign language. And he understood what we were saying or asking him. We at least had a way to communicate that did not mean grunting and pointing. But I was still worried about his speech.

Talon is now 21 months old. His vocabulary includes “maa”, “daa”, and occasionally {or rarely} “sisa” (sister) and “grrr” (lion/tiger). His signing vacbulary includes moreall donepleasethank you, and cheese.  And i think he would pick up more if I continued to teach them. I love that he signs and he understands anything you would say or ask him, but I’m still worried about his speech.

I know eventually he’ll get it. Or at least I hope he does. But, as the mom, I just can’t help but worry. We want our kids to hit those milestones. Because, in a way, it seems like those milestones are the report cards of motherhood. We are constantly using them to show how great we are doing at our “job”.

Oh, your Lilly started walking at 10 months? How cute. My Jenny started walking at 9 months and was running by 10 months!

So, while I’m 90% concerned with Talon’s speech development and the possibility of some underlying problem, I’m also 10% thinking that this is me failing. What am I not doing with him that I did with the girls? Did I forget something? All of these questions and more go through my head every day.

Blah, blah, blah. Just another case of mommy-guilt.

So, where does this leave us with Talon? We will continue to work with him on vocabulary and sounds. We’ll also work on a few more signs. At his 2 year appointment we will reevaluate with the pediatrician. Then, if we’re not seeing enough progress, I’ll begin to look into speech therapy and we will begin that road.

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  • I know what you’re going through. My (almost) 4 year old had only a handful of words at two. And most of those words were only words that I could understand because I was with him all the time. He didn’t really start talking until he was around 2.5 (without any intervention) and now, he’s completely caught up. Has a large, ever-growing vocabulary, usually uses proper grammar and even though he has only been talking for about a year and a half, those days of “when will he talk?!” are now a hazy memory. All children develop at their own pace and I’m sure Talon will find his voice when he’s ready.

  • I have two late talkers that didn’t have more than a handful of “kind of” understood words by two. 2.5 hit and they began talking more. DD at 3.5 is starting to drive me nuts though because I don’t have the patience or quiet house to pay really close attention. I’m hoping her sensory integration appt on Wednesday helps. Otherwise we may look in to specific speech therapy.

  • Thanks Jessica! It is good for me to hear that others went through this and it all turned out ok. Makes me feel like we’re still in the norm :)

  • Donielle, if we end up down the speech therapy route I will probably want to pick your brain and chat more with you about it all! :) Hope her appt goes well tomorrow!

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