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16 month old has not said any words

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Our 16 month old has never said a word. She makes noises and says bah, but never any other word-type sound. The doctor ordered a hearing test. The person who did the test said that she did not respond to low frequency sounds. They also looked in her ear and saw that she had some fluid in her ears, but they said she did not have an ear infection. And she has never had an ear infection. This person who did the test mentioned ear tubes, which sounds scary, and then referred her to an ear/nose/throat specialist for further testing. We aren't able to see this specialist for 3 weeks, so I'm just worried about everything now. Has anyone else gone through something like this? I don't like the idea of surgery at all for my little one. If she hasn't had any ear infections, why does she have fluid on the ears? Is there some way to help drain that fluid without surgery? Is waiting 3 weeks going to delay her speech even more? When I look up ear tubes it seems like a very common surgery that many kids get, but I just don't want her to go through surgery, how can that be necessary? They also said that her not speaking might be related to not hearing because of the fluid, or it might not be related at all. So, maybe she hears fine even with fluid on her ears, but maybe she is just a little slower to speak. So, how can I make a decision for surgery on such things that could or could not be happening? I guess I'm freaking out because I have to wait 3 weeks and I don't know what is happening to my baby :(


By the way, she communicates well in other ways. She does sign language, she looks at us and understands when we say: go get your bear... and she goes and gets it, she knows where her socks are, and she hears/sees airplanes and birds and points at them, so it doesn't seem to me like she can't hear well. 

post #2 of 11

Can you get a second opinion? *hugs* 

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

We'll be going to an ear/nose/throat doctor, so I guess that will be the 2nd opinion. But, we have to wait 3 weeks. 

post #4 of 11
My DD didn't say anything but "gai" until she was 16 months, not even momma. I freaked out, my pediatrician said not to, that any form of communication (signing, looking, pointing, grunting, random noises) all count. She was like your little one, with good receptive language, and would point things out. She's 18.5 months old now, and seems to pick up a new word every day.
post #5 of 11

I was speaking by one year old, did not walk until 18 months. My brother did not say much until he was 2, but started walking at 8 months. I was freaking out about DD that she may have muscle problems because by 18 months she was still not walking (she did at 19 months). My point is each child has his own timetable. It's wise to get her checked. Still, if your gut feeling is that she hears and responds to many sounds/conversations, I'd put my money on that. I've also read somewhere that children that can do sign language tend to speak later.


I hope it all turns well with her ears and she's just on her own schedule...

post #6 of 11

I'm sorry you are going through this.  My DS didn't say his first word until 17 months.  He had 100 words before 21 months, and is now (just over 2) speaking in sentences.  So not having words at 16 months doesn't seem like a red flag for me.


But she *did* have the hearing test and there *was* fluid in the ears and maybe a something going on with hearing the low frequencies.  So I think it's worth it to see what the specialist says. 


But I wanted to post and let you know - I think no words at 16 months is well within the range of normal.

post #7 of 11

My son didn't speak very many words until he was about 20 months old, and didn't walk until then either. We had his development evaluated, and he passed everything. Now he learns new words at least daily and walks everywhere. I think there's a lot of societal expectation that kids be fully walking and talking by the time they're a year old, and I just don't know where that comes from. That doesn't seem to be reality for most kids - I think as long as they're developing well otherwise and show that they can communicate with you, they'll speak and all that in their own time. But I also think it important to get checked out as well, because if there is an issue you want to be able to address it as soon as possible. 


My sister went through the fluid/ear tube thing with her eldest daughter, and while it was nerve-wracking for them at the time, it was all very routine. In most cases they can drain the fluid without a major invasive procedure. My niece is now okay - starting first grade this fall, and she hears, speaks and communicates normally. 


It's awful to have the uncertainty - I understand the fear of not knowing! But don't freak out about anything until you even know if you have something to freak out about. Try to cross that bridge IF and when you get to it. 

post #8 of 11

I've been through this with my oldest son, who is now almost 4. He started talking then went silent. We discover constant fluid in his ears and he never had an ear infection until we weaned at 18 months when I was pregnant with my 2nd son. It cleared up in the summer, but then when the sick season came back over the fall and winter he would get fluid that would not drain and ear infections. I tried EVERYTHING. Chiropractic care, garlic ear oil... massage. But the fluid remained and his speech was slow and hard to hear. It was so frustrating for him and us! I was told what he heard was like being underwater. No wonder he couldn't pronounce words well! April of 2012  (he was 2 years 8 months at the time) we went ahead with the tubes. I was so scared, but it was an easy and quick surgery. He was speaking normal within days. It really helped him communicate. Now a little over a year later he has caught up with his peers.


Unfortunately, it looks like we are headed that way with my 2nd son. He's 21 months and has good days and bad. Some days he says words, but then a day or too later he's jabbing his fingers in his ears and won't talk. We have an ENT visit late July and I suspect we'll go for the tubes. It can be so frustrating for them not to be able to communicate!!


I wish you luck! I sounds scary, but in the end I know we made the right choice.

post #9 of 11
I am wondering about this too, none of my kids said much at all until 2nd birthday (did sign and understand a ton), speech therapy was suggested but we decided to wait amd they then progressed quickly and spoke well on their own. Now my 1 yr old is in the exact same situation so im thinking we will hold off on the therapy again? So in my experience not much til 2 was normal......

I know several people with kids under 2 in speech therapy so i wonder if its becoming more common? Weve never had hearing tests recommended, though.
Edited by myra1 - 6/26/13 at 5:45pm
post #10 of 11

One thing I forgot to mention - the therapists that evaluated our son all said that if his non-verbal communication and other development was on par, then we didn't need to "freak out" if he didn't walk or talk too much before two. We could chalk it up to him developing those skills on his own timeline. And that's pretty much what happened in our case. 

post #11 of 11

BTDT, I will second much of what has been said.  Don't freak out!  Surgery isn't a forgone conclusion, an ENT can tell you if there is actually a problem or not :)  In the mean time, there is simply no way you can know what's up until the ENT gets a look.  I know how much uncertainty sucks! 


"Glue ear" is totally possible even in kids who have never had an ear infection and it can be hard to detect because the kids can often hear a lot of sound, but words still seem unclear.  So they will respond to sounds, but can't understand words well.  To see glue ear, the ENT will have to do a totally painless (though it was slightly tickly which my DS hated) test that shoots air against the ear drum.  That's the only way to really see if there is fluid, which it is very possible there isn't!


It sounds to me like your Dr is doing the right things - make sure the late talking is not something medical.  If it is fluid, it is best to catch it early so she doesn't miss out on these early months of language acquisition.  That said, 16 months is VERY young and that she seems to hear and has good receptive language is a great sign.  That she has no other delays, is pointing, signing, etc is also totally great.  Some kids just talk later and it sounds like you are on top of it.  If she doesn't have any medical issues and still isn't really talking in a few months I would follow up with an eval to make sure nothing else is going on.  But in the mean time I would totally, totally not worry  :)

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