or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Toddler › Life with a Toddler › 2.5 years old and limited talking
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

2.5 years old and limited talking

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Okay, this month DS will be 31 months and he still doesn't talk very much.  We call what he does say "Martian" because he seems to have developed his own language.  To give a little background...


He said his first word "Mama" at 7 months old and, a few days later, made his first sentence when he said, "Mama, bye-bye," as I stepped out the door when leaving him with my mom for a couple of hours.  He has since said many, many words, but he doesn't use them regularly.  He has never once used an English word out of context.  It's like he hears a new words, "sits" on it for a while, uses it correctly, waits for our positive reaction, and then won't use the word again for weeks.


He has made longer phrases.  His longest one, and we're still not entirely sure why he combined all the words the way he did, was "Shut up!  God loves you!"  (The last part was probably from watching VeggieTales.) 


Over the past month or so, since we moved into our own place (we had spent the last two years living with my parents), he has begun using more English words here and there and doing some other things that show him catching up to the rest of the kids his age, like interacting with a television show or, sometimes, following directions from his Dad or me.  I am thinking that being in a confined space with too many adults catering to his every need may have forced the delay rather than it being caused by any disability.  


Still, his lack of regular speech caused enough concern in a pediatrician we saw that he was referred to First Steps to help with his apparent language delay.  We've gone through the initial consultation, but I haven't heard anything yet about when the official evaluation will take place.


Also, it might be good to note that my little sister and my mom's mom did the same thing.  Neither one really used English until they were closer to 5, but they also had older sisters that would translate what they were saying for the adults.  DS is the first born, and I honestly hope I don't have to wait for this baby to be born and get old enough to talk before I can find out what DS has been trying to tell me.


Anyone have any suggestions on what I can do to get him to talk in English more?  (I am not at all bilingual, so getting him to speak another Earth language wouldn't necessarily work either. lol)  We talk to him.  We read (or try to read when he lets us see the books for long enough) to him.  We describe things to him, and try to point things out to him.  We try to do like the First Steps interviewer suggested and offer him choices between, say, juice and milk in hopes that he will actually tell us what he wants.  He, instead, either babbles or uses his own form of sign language (like, when he's thirsty, picking up a cup, grabbing my hand, and "forcing" me to take the cup from him.)  I've tried everything that is normally recommended, and nothing has really worked.


Since he is starting to use more words, maybe I should just wait and see what happens, but I feel like I'm doing him a disservice by not trying more things.  I know that potty training has come to a stand still because he won't tell me when he has to go even though I know he knows when he has to.  It's especially frustrating for all of us when he really wants something, is not getting it, and he just screams as he tries to get us to understand, but we have no clue as to what he wants.


As I have heard for years that introducing a new baby can lead to regression of one sort or another, I'm also worried about that since his sister is due in about 4.5 weeks.

post #2 of 15

When you are referring to this other language through out your post you mean his made up language, right? I don't think being around adults and being catered to is causing a delay. I think children who can speak do. Sometimes they become frustrated because they are not understood and then they do not speak as much, generally these children act out because they are frustrated that they are not understood. Are you having a developmental screening with the speech screening? It seems clear that he is trying to communicate with you...have you had his hearing checked?

post #3 of 15

Seems like a little guy who may really benefit from sign language. Have you tried teaching him any ASL? That was so greatly helpful with my oldest son. My youngest - not so much. And he's not really a talker either. He does random signs but is never consistent with it.

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I meant his made up language.  I have had his hearing checked, and his hearing is fine.  He has met all developmental stages within normal ranges, sometimes early.  He just doesn't seem to want to speak English.  Again, he's started using more words, and he has pet phrases, I guess you could say.  "Come on!"  "Bye-Bye" (while waving)  "Let go."  "Hey!"  He says these constantly.


Part of the screening for the language delay also includes screening for other issues since sometimes they can be related.


ASL would be an interesting thing to try.  I don't really know more than a couple of words myself, but I noticed he has picked up a couple of words here and there.  Sometimes I let him watch the Good Night Show on Sprout where Nina teaches the kids a new word in sign language.  Of all things, he picked up on "winter" and went for a couple of days doing it randomly.  Still, the physical imitation of that nature is a relatively new thing for him.  (He also actually did the "Sprout stretch" that night, too, and he had never followed along with Nina before.)  At least I think that part is normal, the advancing in large chunks like that. :)

post #5 of 15

Hi there!


I'm an SLP and new to the forum, so hope I'm not being pushy by jumping in! 


By two and half, little ones should be putting a fair amount two-word phrases together and a pretty fair percentage of them should be understandable to other people (but often not all of them.)


My first question is - does he understand most of what is said? Will he put his cup in the sink when you tell him to, go find the red shoes, or bring you the book with the dog? (As examples.) 


And second - does the "Martian" sound like English in terms of sound and melody, and does he use it a lot in place of English? By which I mean, when you'd expect talking (when he points to something, or when he wants something) does he talk just not words you understand?


If the answers to those two things are "yes," then while I think there's some delay going on, those are both good signs. Normal understanding is really important at this age, and communicative intent is also really important. If you have those two things, you have a good start and some good language facilitation will probably get him where he needs to be.


Umm...I actually write a blog about speech and language development, but am worried that linking to it in a comment is bad form! And I haven't figured out how to do a signature with the link in it yet. wink1.gif But I'll keep an eye this thread and try to answer your questions if I spot them!

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks!  He does seem to understand what is being said to him (beyond the typical "selective hearing," of course.)  Following directions is something we are still working on, but I believe that part is more because he is stubborn than because of lack of understanding.  (Example: Sometimes I'll ask him to bring me something, and he'll do it.  Other times I ask and he just looks at me like I'm crazy and goes on about his business.)  His "Martian" does sound like a real language, if that makes sense.  He can tell entire, rather lengthy stories.  We just can't understand a word of what he's saying.  When he does speak in English, though, it is very clear for the most part.  The only thing he says regularly that isn't always very clear is "Come on!" which sometimes comes out more as "Come-un."

post #7 of 15

Okay that helps. :)


First, I would encourage you to find an Early Intervention program close by if you can. It's possible that by the time you find it, get him screened and evaluated, that he may have grown out of this a fair amount - but it never hurts, and it may truly be what he needs.


When I'm trying to establish some improved patterns for expressive language (language that goes OUT) I often encourage parents to pick just one or two things that are attainable only if recognizable words are said. Not EVERYTHING. Totally reworking a child's world with new rules causes a huge amount of stress. But starting slowly is often successful.


These things should be new to the environment, if possible, because then you can establish a NEW rule for it. And they should be desirable but not such a big deal that you risk repeated melt-downs over him not getting it. A small toy, or a small treat. It should live where it can be seen but not reached, and if you get a word that you recognize (even in imitation, and an approximation is ok) then he gets the thing. When he's lost interest, put it back in its home. And repeat the process. Once you've set the pattern that there are things he only gets if he asks in a way you understand, slowly start increasing the number of things that require it. 


And always reward with praise and love and promptness when you get words that aren't "Martian." (Hee! I love that!) 


Hope that helps a bit!



post #8 of 15
Originally Posted by LoriAtYCT View Post


When I'm trying to establish some improved patterns for expressive language (language that goes OUT) I often encourage parents to pick just one or two things that are attainable only if recognizable words are said. Not EVERYTHING. Totally reworking a child's world with new rules causes a huge amount of stress. But starting slowly is often successful.



This is what we do, and while there is some delay, the light bulb has gone off for my child that when he speaks, it is communication!  He can choose to sign or say words for more, juice, a special toy (playdough!) etc, but the basics of daily living are provided whether or not he makes the effort.  For instance, if I know he is hungry or thirsty, I won't ask him to verbalize that before I give him something to eat or drink, but to get something special like a popsicle or juice, he needs to make some effort to communicate.  


We began our path to this place with just asking for him to sign 'more' when he wanted something, and we helped him to make that sign initially. Blueberries were our breakthrough- the first attempt he made at communication through sign, or through language.  I had a few and he spontaneously signed 'more' after eating one as we were in the waiting area for his appointment with his SLP. Much celebration took place that day as he was already two and didn't communicate at all. He's approaching three now and has mastery of about 100 words though he doesn't often combine them together.



post #9 of 15

Yay! I love hearing things like that.


Also? Love your handle.


I would like to convince my teens what "InsideVoice" means.


At least a little more consistently. wink1.gif

post #10 of 15

I have similar issues with my DS. He's younger at 22m and until about last month said practically nothing. He occasionally said Mama and Kitty. BUT we've been signing since birth, so he would sign when he wanted things. Since he didn't talk, sometimes I would turn around and he would be furiously signing because I didn't know he was there because he didn't make a noise. oops.


We also have lots of babble. I don't worry too much about it. I think he's just putting words together, and maybe they don't come out 'right' frequently I will ask if he can sign or bring it to  me and he will. So he thinks he's saying something, but it's just messy.


People keep telling me he will have a language explosion, and with his most recent increase I am hoping they are right!

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks, everyone!  We should be able to see someone soon (hopefully) about his language.  I was told that First Steps had to make arrangements with me and see my son within 45 days of his referral.  I think we are coming close to that deadline, so I am expecting a call any day now.  They will evaluate him in our home (so that he is in his natural environment) and then set him up with an SLP.  It's just a matter of getting that phone call! :)


I have heard about the "language explosion," too, but my son seems to realize we're getting excited over new words and stops using them.  Stubborn, stubborn!  I need to make a list of the words he can/has used.  When asked how many words he knows, I can only say "alot."  It's the consistency that gets me.  (Maybe my little sister will leave me alone about how "behind" he is if I have the list, too. lol)

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

Well, we finally had our evaluation yesterday.  Three women came to our house to observe DS in his natural environment.  (It almost sounds like we're talking about a Discovery Channel documentary!)  He was doing really well at first with stacking blocks and such, but he really wanted the pens they were using to write down their observations.  When he didn't get them, he had a complete meltdown.  He was screaming, crying, throwing anything that was offered to him, and knocking anything off of the few shelves he can reach.  We honestly thought that the evaluation wasn't going to work at all.


Well, there's no door between the living room and kitchen, just a baby gate.  DH took DS into the kitchen to see if maybe offering him a snack would help him to calm down. (Since he doesn't actually tell us if he's hungry, we were hazarding a guess.)  Once in there, though, he discovered all the alphabet magnets on the fridge.  He calmed down instantly, began playing with them, and started telling his daddy all about what he was doing and what each magnet was (mostly in "Martian.")  The three women (two from the health department and one from the local school) were amazed at what they were seeing/hearing and were able to use that for their paperwork/evaluation.


In the end, he did score low enough to qualify for the program.  First Steps ends at 36 months.  His age (31 months) puts him into the "transition" period between First Steps and the public school program.  Instead of barely getting him started into the first program before moving to the next, we're doing a somewhat alternate plan.  Until the school year ends in May, someone will be coming out to our house for about 30-45 minutes once a week to work with him.  After that, there is, I believe, a 6 week program in the summer.  He'll be 3 just in time for the new school year to start which means he can go to a "toddler class" for two hours twice a week.  It's 3-5 students in a room with 2 teachers.  Parents are invited to observe the classes (though not actually be in the classroom since children tend to act differently around their parents than they do around others, as I have seen with DS.)  Of course, when he's 4, there's the option of starting Headstart, but we have plenty of time to think abut that one.  (I'm leaning more toward a private school I really like.  I was wanting to homeschool, but DS's delay has started to scare me away from that.)


The evaluators told me that most of the scores were geared toward language because that's just how the tests were developed.  His gross motor skills are about a month behind what the test says they should be, but that is considered to be a negligible time frame.  After all, we haven't given him too many crayons due to him wanting to color on everything EXCEPT paper; we haven't put his tricycle together yet so that he can try riding it; and he started having his meltdown around the time they pulled out the wooden puzzle for him to put together.  As for everything else, he still grasps a crayon with his fist instead of the tripod-like hold (which, again, could be due to lack of exposure), and he just doesn't say anything meaningful to us that would elevate his scores.  (This, for instance, left his cognitive score at somewhere around a 56% delay.  They could tell he could figure things out, but, again, the test is geared more toward language which he wasn't using.)


If we can get him over this bump in the road, we were all convinced that he would advance quickly.  He loves figuring out how things work.  He loves doing things for himself.  When it comes to language, he is very good with what they referred to as "power words" (stop, let go, bye-bye, etc.)  They even gave us some suggestions on things to do around here.  For instance, I need to get  a baby doll (probably today) to start teaching him about the new baby that is due in a month and work more on how he eats.  (He still prefers eating mostly with his fingers.)  


The evaluation was definitely enlightening.  I was so worried about him not talking regularly that I didn't even realize how much else he was missing.  Part of me can't help wondering if I've been doing something wrong to cause the delays or if it's just one of those things that sometimes happens.  Either way, we're getting help now.  We're just waiting on spring break to end so that the woman from the school can get the full report typed up for us and make the arrangements with his new teacher.



post #13 of 15

I'm glad you had the evaluation and have a plan. Please don't blame yourself. Some kids are delayed and it can be for a very wide range of reasons. Some of them catch up on their own, others need a little help. It really is all with in the range of normal. You are doing great, he is still very young and it sounds like he will do great in the programs.

post #14 of 15

Oh goodness...please, no blame! 


Unless, you know, you tied him to a televising to watch Teletubbies all day. That might cause some problems... wink1.gif


Some kids just have delays - a small short circuit that keeps them from moving at the same pace as other kids. The important thing is finding them and giving the kids the boost they need to catch up to everyone else. Which is exactly what you're doing.


Also, send me a message if you need and I'll send you a few activities for home language stimulation.


SO glad the evaluation went well (from an assessment standpoint at least!) and he's going to get the services he needs!

post #15 of 15
Your situation sounds similar to ours. My son will be 31 months at the end of March and rarely says more than one word at a time. Unlike yours, mine doesn't have his own language, he's just silent most of the time. At his second birthday he had zero words and when they did his eval he was in the 1%tile, which was tough to hear.

Anyway, you're spot on about potty training being difficult! My son is fiercely independent and just heads to the toliet himself when he needs to but only to pee. We also can't get past the out-in-public hump and it looks like it will be awhile.

We did go through the public evaluation process and at this point we've had three different speech therapists. He has definitely made some progress, but it's hard to know how much he would have progressed on his own. I hope your experience goes well.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Life with a Toddler
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Toddler › Life with a Toddler › 2.5 years old and limited talking