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Any advice for my late talker

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi all,
My son seems to be a fair bit behind in his language expression currently. He's 22 months. He says a handful of words clearly and then mainly uses his own variations of same sounding consonant blends for any other words that he has, eg "nene" covers at least 5 items.

In the past week or two he has become very loud and will shout "mama" to get me to help him. I must say that I'm finding the constant shouting tough.

Until now, I was all for letting nature take its course. I'm a SAHM who formerly worked professionally with children. I have done my very best to narrate his world from infancy and read with him daily. I suppose I am now wondering if other mums of late talkers had any specific strategies for me that you may have learned from a Speech & Language Therapist/pathologist?

I would be so grateful for any suggestions to help encourage my sons speech production and expression.

Many thanks for reading.
post #2 of 8

Your boy doesn't sound too far behind, at least not by my boys' standards! :wink My girls all talked much earlier than the boys, and that is fairly typical. Have you tried teaching him sign language? Many kids are frustrated when their mouth and tongue limit their communication - hands seem easier to control. A lot of families find that signing really helps in this stage.



post #3 of 8

I highly, highly recommend two books.

1. "Play to Talk" by James MacDonald

2. "It takes Two to Talk" which is a Hanen publication


Both are available on Amazon, and both have been AMAZING at helping me come up with specific strategies to encourage our DS to talk.  If you can only buy one, Play To Talk is just great.  Though they are mostly aimed at kids on the autism spectrum, our DS is not Autistic, but the suggestions have worked wonders. 


You sound very much like me.  Most advice I got was to narrate what DS was see/doing and read a lot.  I did both of those, but for children who are talking late, that actually becomes counterproductive. 


The basic concept of both books is to slow down, speak less, and encourage him to talk more.  The argument being that, by narrative overmuch and not expecting any actual conversational back and forth, some kids have a difficult time understanding that there is an exchange expected in relation to talking.  Both books have specific games you can play.  They made a HUGE difference in our DS's attempts to talk to us (and he is talking to us a lot now!)


I know this is a huge wall of text, but here is something James MacDonald posted on his listserv which you can join if you're curious.


1. Accept your child’s actions as meaningful to him
2. Understand what is meaningful for your child
3. Physically join into your child’s activity
4. Respond to your child’s actions
5. Respond to your child’s sounds and other nonverbal communications
6. Respond to your child's play and wait
7. Act like your child, then wait for a response
8. Respond to your child 'as if' he were communicating
9. Respond more to positive than negative behavior
10. Give your child a word for his actions and experience
11. Respond more to positive than negative talking
12. Do not respond to inappropriate or undesired talk
13. Avoid criticizing your child's language; show him what to say instead
14. Respond to a word with a short sentence
15. Respond by staying on the topic
16. Show child how to extend a topic
17. Return child to the topic when he strays
18. Respond verbally to what your child is doing
19. Respond verbally to what your child is saying
20. Respond once then wait for your child to say more
21. Respond by showing your child a little more to say
22. Respond without demanding the impossible from your child
23. Talk to behaviors you want more of
24. Do not talk to behaviors you want less of
25. Regularly ask yourself: do I want this behavior to continue?
26. Look away when your child is doing something you want to decrease
27. Do not talk to your child when taking him to time-out
28. Remind yourself that your attention is like a fertilizer to your child


1. Act in ways your child can try to do; the more you act like your child the more he will cooperate
2. Talk in ways your child can try to do; the more you talk in ways your child can try, the more he will respond
3. Show your child a next developmental step
4. Expect behaviors your child can do
5. Imitate him playfully
6. Talk about what you child is immediately doing
7. Join into his activity and talk about what you are doing together
8. Act like a "living dictionary"; put a word on what your child sees and does
9. Talk about your child's interests, half the time
10. Show your child to talk about your interests some of the time
11. Avoid using more words than your child can say
12. "Match up" by giving your child one or two more words to say
13. Respond to the personal meaning of what your child says
14. Encourage your child to respond to what you say
15. Discourage your child from talking only about himself
16. Evaluate your child's environments for over stimulation
17. Understand and reduce environments that disrupt your child
18. Understand and increase environments where your child behaves well
19. Change your child's environments so he interacts more positively
20. Be sure to give your child tasks he can succeed with
21. Try doing only one thing at a time when playing with your child


1. Act reciprocally; respond meaningfully to what your child does
2. Make sure you and your child talk about the same topic
3. Do about as much as your child in play together
4. Do one thing then wait for your child to respond
5. Communicate once then wait silently, with anticipation, with a clear expectation on your face; allow silence so your child can respond
6. Take turns back and forth with actions
7. Take turns back and forth with sounds
8. Take turns back and forth with words
9. Be sure your 'turn' responds to what the child just said or did
10. Insist on taking your turn if your child dominates the time; do not allow child to dominate the interaction
11. When the child dominates the interaction, silently terminate it briefly; do not support excessive behavior that will limit him in society
12. Avoid dominating the interaction yourself
13. Keep the child for 'one more turn' when he stops participating
14. Keep your child on one topic for several turns
15. Keep turn taking exchanges going a little longer
16. Think of communicating as more a 'give and take' than just giving information or directions
17. Interact more like a ping-pong game than darts
18. Allow child to initiate talking; silent waiting helps
19. Try to initiate and respond about equally between the two of you
20. The '50/50' rule: when interacting, try hard to do no more than half of the talking
21. Prevent child from talking in monologues


1. Initiate as much as respond to child
2. Respond as much as initiate to child
3. Avoid being dominant or passive
4. Make the interaction more playful than task-oriented
5. Follow the child’s lead about half the time
6. Take the lead about half the time
7. Keep directions and command to less than 50% of your talking
8. Keep your questions to less than 50% of your talking
9. Avoid pressing your child for specific answers more than 20% of the time
10. Make more comments than questions and commands
11. Silently prevent child from interrupting
12. Discourage your child from dominating the talking


1. Genuinely enter into your child's activities of interest
2. Play with child when he is acting positive
3. Comfort child when he is genuinely fearful
4. Make sure to discipline quietly and quickly
5. Learn to read your child's emotions
6. Show him that you genuinely enjoy him
7. Learn to "read" when he is available
8. Build on his "available" times by joining him in them
9. Respond to the positive things your child does
10. Ignore the undesired things your child does
11. Avoid judging your child's behavior
12. Invite child into activities you enjoy
13. Reduce stress in your interactions
14. Be more concerned with the interaction continuing than "right" answers
15. Tolerate your child's play even when you do not understand it
16. Be animated and more interesting than your child's distractions
17. Show child clear boundaries to abusive behavior
18. Play with sounds back and forth
19. Do the unexpected
20. Do more of what your child finds funny
21. Be physically playful
22. Play with words in enjoyable ways
23. Show child a new way to talk playfully
24. Practice turn taking games with words
25. Make talking more like fun than a job
26. Avoid pressuring child for a certain word
27. Avoid making talking a test for your child
28. Be animated in your talk
29. Act out the words you use
30. Make conversations more playful than task oriented
31. Have conversations more for companionship than information
32. Respond to your child's emotions
33. Show affection and warmth
34. Laugh authentically
35. Accept child's ideas without criticism
36. Talk about your and the child's feelings
37. Make conversations out of your child's play and pretend

post #4 of 8

Oh wow, I just reread your post and see that your little one is 22 months.  That is VERY young, if he's got a handful of words, I really wouldn't bee all that concerned :)  Not that it would hurt to try to encourage more verbal production, but he's not even 2.  Many kids (especially boys) language just picks up a little later.  If he's still not talking much by 2.5, then I might get more worried.

That said, trust your gut.  If you feel like something is up, it can't hurt to take him to a speech therapist and see how that goes.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi Figzig,

Thank you so much. I sincerely mean that. Your book recommendations and detailed response are very helpful and I know I will revisit your post often. I've already ordered the play to talk book.

Thank you also for your latest reassuring post. I am hoping that time will be the biggest help for my DS. My gut instinct is that I should learn a bit more about how I can support him to make the next step. In the country where I live, speech and language services are very stretched at present and I know that my DS isn't a priority case by any means. My gut is telling me to upskill so I can help him in a relaxed and fun way. Dyslexia and specific language difficulties are present in both mine and my husband's family. I've read how important the preschool years are for developing children's language skills so I'm just juggling that information in my head while trying to keep a level head about it all. I feel that my son is ready to attempt more words too. And his constant shouting now was what motivated me to write the post. :-D

Thank you so much for your support.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi mamarhu, thank you for the reassurance. We've done a little sign. I think I will revisit it more.

What I have found a little unusual is that my sons expressive language seemed to be quite typical until 14months, but since then he seems to have spoken maybe just 1 new word a month.
post #7 of 8

My son was the same. It was a HUGE difference compared to his sister who was talking full sentences - full speed at 20 month with a huge vocabulary. He got there, though, it's difficult to shut him up now :)

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
:-D thanks Trinity

And Figzig, Play to Talk arrived and looks wonderful at my first glance. Thank you
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