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21 month old signing, but won't talk.

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hey mamas! Hoping someone can help....

 

I'm starting to get frustrated. My 21 month old daughter is a proficient signer- she has over 100 words, puts together phrases, etc. But she refuses to speak! She will use mama and dada, and I've heard "more" and "bird" come out of her mouth once. But that's it.

 

Because she's on track with everything else developmentally, follows directions well, and is an effective communicator through signing, I haven't really worried about it.

 

But now I'm getting a lot of pressure from family about why she's not talking. DD's stance seems to be, "If you can understand me when I sign, why should I talk?"

 

Does anyone have any experience with this? Should I be concerned? Is it time to see a speech pathologist?

 

 

post #2 of 14

If you haven't worried about it, I think you should listen to your heart and wait. 

 

My son was in a similar situation--lots of signs but no talking and parents who were confident that he was on-track--and we ended up taking him to a speech pathologist at the recommendation of a dr. when he was 18 months.  It was a fine experience for him, but it was expensive and caused us concern. We ended up quitting and then a couple of months later he had a language explosion at 23 months (words) and then again at like 27 months (sentences) and now at 2.75 years is a chatterbox, super communicative (tells jokes, tells stories, gets complicated if-then scenarios) and is on par plus with his age mates. You'll probably hear lots of stories like this. I think the key is listening to your gut. If something feels off, then intervention can be really helpful. But if not, why meddle. 

post #3 of 14

I wouldn't be concerned, but I would have her evaluated by Early Intervention in your county.  It is free and it is relatively "fun" for kids.  My DS really liked his speech therapist...she brought toys, bubbles, etc., and gave him an hour of one-on-one attention.  Everything was play based.  If it turns out that she didn't need it, great.  But if it turns out that it could have helped, you can't go back and change the months that you chose to pass up services.  I am not a real believer in mama instinct when it comes to these situations just because I think there is also a strong denial factor when it comes to worrying about anything being possibly concerning about our kids.  I don't mean that in a negative way, but I have seen many many mamas who are really resistant to therapy, etc, until it becomes so blaringly obvious that services are needed that there is no way to deny it.  I am NOT saying that is the case with you at all OP.  Your daughter would very likely qualify for speech therapy through EI, but the fact that she has an intent to communicate with you through sign is a fabulous sign (no pun intended.).  There is no harm though in playing with someone who is working on communication though. 

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 


Thanks for your input! I haven't *really* been worried, but I do keep pushing it off. Like when she was 15 months, I kept saying well, we'll reevaluate at 18. Now she's 21 months and still not there. At least if I do the eval thing it will get my MIL off my back...
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by funnygrace View Post

If you haven't worried about it, I think you should listen to your heart and wait. 

 

My son was in a similar situation--lots of signs but no talking and parents who were confident that he was on-track--and we ended up taking him to a speech pathologist at the recommendation of a dr. when he was 18 months.  It was a fine experience for him, but it was expensive and caused us concern. We ended up quitting and then a couple of months later he had a language explosion at 23 months (words) and then again at like 27 months (sentences) and now at 2.75 years is a chatterbox, super communicative (tells jokes, tells stories, gets complicated if-then scenarios) and is on par plus with his age mates. You'll probably hear lots of stories like this. I think the key is listening to your gut. If something feels off, then intervention can be really helpful. But if not, why meddle. 



 

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestion! I am going to call Early Intervention. At least then I know that I have done everything possible to ensure she is on track- like you said, I don't want to look back and think, "I wish I had done something sooner."

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post

I wouldn't be concerned, but I would have her evaluated by Early Intervention in your county.  It is free and it is relatively "fun" for kids.  My DS really liked his speech therapist...she brought toys, bubbles, etc., and gave him an hour of one-on-one attention.  Everything was play based.  If it turns out that she didn't need it, great.  But if it turns out that it could have helped, you can't go back and change the months that you chose to pass up services.  I am not a real believer in mama instinct when it comes to these situations just because I think there is also a strong denial factor when it comes to worrying about anything being possibly concerning about our kids.  I don't mean that in a negative way, but I have seen many many mamas who are really resistant to therapy, etc, until it becomes so blaringly obvious that services are needed that there is no way to deny it.  I am NOT saying that is the case with you at all OP.  Your daughter would very likely qualify for speech therapy through EI, but the fact that she has an intent to communicate with you through sign is a fabulous sign (no pun intended.).  There is no harm though in playing with someone who is working on communication though. 



 

post #6 of 14
Our friends daughter was just like this, I was so worried about her when she wasnt talking at 2 years. She was signing very proficiently. My guess is that all of her needs were met, she could communicate in her own way, and she really had no need to speak. now she's almost 4 and she is doing great very talkative.

I don't think you need to worry, but I would ask your dr or see a speech therapist just to be sure and give you peace of mind.
post #7 of 14

OP I also think that contacting EI is a good idea.  I'm right there with you in waiting for my toddler to start talking...it is so frustrating!  We had him tested at 18 or 19 months and he qualified for speech therapy (he is almost two now).  I hope his sessions are helping him, but there has been no progress thus far.  At least I know that I have done everything I could (including having his hearing evaluated...he was fine).  I guess some kids just don't feel a need for speech until later.

 

Don't get your hopes up too much about getting MIL off your back though lol.  If she is anything like my mom she will be forever suggesting other stuff you should do no matter what lengths you have already gone!

post #8 of 14
While the evaluation wouldn't hurt, 21 months seems early to me to be worried at all. My daughter, who also signs, didn't start talking till 23 months, my sister (12 years younger an me) didn't talk till 26 months, and my mother says I didn't talk till 2 and a half. This is normal in my family, in other words.
post #9 of 14

I was worried about my DS, and he had like no signs cause we didn't do baby signs. He didn't talk at all at 2 years. We are a bilingual househould. He understood both of us perfectly and followed directions well. He could shake his head or nod for yes. We did do the evaluation though our FP felt he was fine. He did qualify for some speech therapy which we decided to do as it was free. Anyways, even before the therapist started he all of a sudden started to talk. LIke an explosion. He started therapy sessions in November and I feel it had nothing to do with his speech development. It was fun for him... And maybe we got some suggestions from her (like putting the thing you are talking about right next to your mouth so they see you pronounce the word). The therapist too felt he was just a busy boy too busy playing to talk. OUt of the blue in January he started to talk in 4-5 word sentences and using verbs correctly (in both languages). Now he is a chatterbox. I of course don't always understand what he is saying but help him pronounce things correctly. But frankly I have difficulties with all children to understand them properly, especially in English which is not my native. Anyways, he sometimes mashes up languages but that's normal and will pass. ;) Like he says "Katze says miau" mixing it up - he says whatever word is easier to say in the other language ;)

post #10 of 14

My son is almost 19 months old and uses hundreds of signs to communicate very clearly.  With his spoken words, I've often felt that because he's able to communicate so well signing, he just doesn't try to say words unless he feels ready to get them relatively right.  I don't get the sense that he's behind on speech--he uses a number of spoken words that he's sure about and has recently added a few two-syllable words to his vocabulary--but I do get the feeling that he's certainly capable of more than he chooses to try.  I figure he'll just start talking one day, and things will get a lot louder around here.  I'm more worried that he's inherited my perfectionist tendencies.  :)

 

So I wouldn't be too worried, though getting an evaluation sounds like a good idea just in case!

post #11 of 14

I personally wouldn't worry.  While we never did baby signs, a couple of my younger kids were later talkers.  I think it was due in part to having older siblings who just knew what they wanted and would get things for them without the little ones having to speak.  My latest talker was about 3.  She didn't speak much at all and then began using full sentences all at once!

 

As your daughter gets older you may want to choose one or two things (to begin with) where you insist that she use words instead of signs.  For example, if she wants more snack (and you know she can say 'more'), then tell her she has to use the word 'more' and not the sign to get more snack.  This was effective with my LO when I knew she could say the word but just wouldn't.  You have to be choosy about which words you insist on, but it does seem to help open the doorway for using a lot more words (in my experience anyway).  It may also help your daughter understand that you expect her form of communication to change as she gets older.  But honestly, I wouldn't make it a huge deal at 21 months.

post #12 of 14

I agree with those who suggested contacting Early Intervention.  They will be able to tell you what's normal or not.  They aren't going to press you into speech therapy if they don't think it's necessary.  My DD did therapy through EI starting at 19 months.  We had her evaluated because she wasn't walking by 18 months.  Sure, tons of people will tell you stores about their cousins ro friends or selves who weren't walking or talking or doing whatever at X age, but that doesn't really tell you anything about YOUR child.  If we hadn't started PT for DD's low muscle tone/gross motor delay she'd've been slower to talk and slower to develop other skills.  She's 5 and still behind other kids her age, but doing ok.  She really enjoys going to therapy.

post #13 of 14

She sounds just like my DS.  He had 100's of signs by the time he was 2, but didn't say 'mama' until after his second b-day.  I didn't take him for any evaluations because he seemed so on track in every other way.  Language is still not his strong point and probably never will be.  Other than that, he's a perfectly normal kid.  He does well in school, learned to read on time, etc.  I'm not sure that having him evaluated would have done much, but who knows?

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks, everyone!

 

I actually called Early Intervention, but DD passed the screener, so we're going to hold off on the formal eval for now. She is only behind in speech (not fine/gross motor skills, etc), and even though she doesn't talk, she can point to things that are named (body parts, shapes, etc) and follows directions well. 

 

The speech pathologist there did suggest if we continue signing as we are now, she will likely put off talking. If we cut back on signing, she'll likely talk sooner. But as we think it's great she loves signing and want to encourage it as a second language (we have friends who will be working with her), we'll keep speaking with her and to her, and be patient with the path she takes. 

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