Three years old and still not talking - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 09-06-2013, 08:16 PM - Thread Starter
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My son turned three in April. He can say many many words (hundreds), asks for things (I wan juice, I go to bed.....stuff like that) can answer yes and no, but thats about it. He does know his numbers, letters, colours. He speaks very unclearly.


He does have some autistic traits, like lack of imaginary play, lack of social skills with his peers, and repeating words and phrases, so I took him for a developmental assessment. It was done by two developmental pediatricians and a nurse, and it was very thorough. They did not feel he was on the autism spectrum, but wanted to see him again in 6 to 7 months. They said he speaks at a two year old level, his lack of imaginary play is a bit concerning, and so is his attention span


I have him starting a preschool program on Monday that specializes in kids with different delays so they wanted to see how he performed in the class for 6 months, hoping it will help his language and play skills.


I'm at a loss...we have done Speech Therapy, we are starting the nursery school, we have seen doctors. I am started to feel like he will never speak, his progress is sooooo slow. I felt like doing a huge dance this summer when he learned to say YES!!! :rotflmao


I am getting nervous about kindergarten next year....he is so different. I love different! But I don't want him to get lost in the shuffle of the school system


sorry to sound dramatic, Its hard to have a child who cannot communicate that his tummy hurts.....

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#2 of 10 Old 09-06-2013, 08:56 PM
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It sounds to me like you are giving him the best support possible - figuring out what is going on by getting help from teachers and therapists and doctors.


Here are a few ideas around helping him developmentally:


Can you help him play imaginary games?  Sometimes my little one that age really loves to make clothespin dolls and little clay or wax food that they like to eat.  It seems to really help him get into a imaginary world if he has made the toy himself.  He also loves it if I read him a book, and then we make something to play with or do an art project from the book.  The process sort of jump starts his imagination.


Do you read him poetry and sing songs with him?  My son loves it when I play the piano (very simply), and sing from a song book with pictures.  I hear him singing the songs or reciting bits of the poetry later on his own.....


Kindergarten does sound like it could be really difficult for your son if he's not doing the same types of things as the other students.  Can you put it off until he's ready?


You sound like such a conscientious and caring mama!  Not overly dramatic at all!  You're just trying to figure out what is best for your son.

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#3 of 10 Old 09-18-2013, 05:55 AM
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I would just take a step back, try and relax and see how preschool goes. That will be an excellent litmus test to see if you're going to need additional services or not. My son on the spectrum VERY obviously needed help once we enrolled him in preschool; we ended up changing schools two months in so he could go to another school that had better resources for children with spectrum disorders. He did very well at his last school-so well that we have established a scholarship there. I know it's tough but sometimes the "wait and see" approach makes the most sense.

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#4 of 10 Old 09-18-2013, 07:00 AM
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Sometimes progress is slow but my guess is that you will see alot of changes in a year. You don't have to make any decisions about kinder yet. In fact you can even enroll him and change your mind! My ds was slow on language and had significant articulation problems - he was in a phonology class 12 hours a week as a 4 year old. He graduated and went on to kinder just fine and is now a very successful 2nd grade student. Still doesn't talk much and lives alot of his life thinking/reading. Every child is different and you are doing alot of great things to support your son now. In summary - you are a great mama and I can tell your son is loved. Its all going to work out and sometimes the waiting is the hard part!

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#5 of 10 Old 09-18-2013, 07:16 AM
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It sounds like you are providing amazing support for your DS! 


I think the evaluation team you saw sounds very good because sometimes children are just too young to accurately evaluate.


Our DS has a fairly severe language delay and one thing I have learned is that pretend play and language are directly linked.  Our DS's pretend play was delayed and has developed directly along side his language ability.  So your DS lacking pretend play doesn't necessarily mean anything.  In my experience, you provide the best therapy, the best school/social time you can and then there is nothing more you can do but wait.  It SUCKS and it is hard.


Only other thing I would recommend is to read "Play to Talk" and "It Takes Two to Talk".  Both books have great suggestions for encouraging language at home.


Beyond that, the good news is that your son has all the right building blocks and clearly is learning to talk.  It might be slow, but he is progressing which means you will get there! :)

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#6 of 10 Old 09-18-2013, 07:58 PM
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My son turned three in May and has similar language delays (at his third birthday he was determined to be on about an 18 month old level). He does not have many indicators for autism, so that's not a current concern but I completely understand your situation, and I know how frustrating it is. Sometimes it can be very difficult for me to overhear full, coherent conversations between other parents and their children of the same age.

We have also tried an assortment of therapies and are in the process of seeing a new developmental pediatrician. We also just enrolled him in a wonderful play-based preschool and we're hoping that will be helpful. In my state, he won't start Kindergarten until he's five, so I have two years, and I also have the option of delaying that an extra year if necessary. Could that be a possibility for you? Otherwise, I just try to focus on his strengths.
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#7 of 10 Old 09-19-2013, 12:32 AM
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I have a just turned 3 year old...sounds like his language skills are similar to your son's.  He has problems pronouncing a lot of words, but I guess I'm not too worried about it.  He's my 2nd, and ds1 was very similar at this age.  If anything, ds2 is much more social, much more interested in playing with other kids than ds1 was at this age, and is into imaginative play.  Ds1 was also into imaginative play (I remember he always wanted to play that he was a mama penguin), but he only had boring old mama to play with and he didn't have any friends of similar age that he played with all the time...we'd see kids at the playground but they were always different kids.  Ds2 has a big brother and he's learned tons from him.  I think an important factor is that I was also a late talker according to my mom, and I had problems pronouncing the letter "L" ... so some of these things are hereditary.  Do you know if you or your husband were late talkers?  Fwiw, I see some 2 year olds that enunciate really well, and then older kids (3 and 4) that I can barely understand at all, but apparently their parents understand them.  I don't think they're all special needs...just different kids develop at different ages.  


Was your son's attention span too short or too long according to the eval?  Kindergarten starts at 4 where you live?  That is rather young, but you have a year to see how he progresses.  My oldest really was a very different speaker at 4 than at 3, but really his social skills took off closer to 5...although, he's still an introvert, like his mama...but at least he became interested in having friends (also can be circumstantial - as that's when we started having regular play dates with the same kids).  Also, I think your son is ahead of the curve if he knows all the letters, colors and numbers.  

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#8 of 10 Old 09-19-2013, 03:45 PM
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Does Kindergarten start where you live when they are four? Here in the States it doesn't typically start until the child is 5  years old, usually by the first day of school or sometimes the end of September. Either way, it's at least a year away, so I wouldn't worry too much. It sounds like he has a lot of help and that he is progressing.

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#9 of 10 Old 09-19-2013, 07:13 PM
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Your son sounds a lot like mine. He didn't talk to anyone other than me and DH until he was 3. Hes still hard to understand, but is talking a bit more now. In his case preschool DID help get him talking better. Like you, I worry a lot about what kindergarten is gonna look like...and whether it will work for him. But preschool HAS worked out pretty good so far, so maybe you'll have a similar experience.
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#10 of 10 Old 09-20-2013, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
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It's good to know we aren't alone.

Yes, junior kindergarten starts at age 4, but where I live (Canada) you are not required by law to send your child to school until age 6, so grade one.

I guess the advantage is you don't have to pay for daycare or preschool anymore and our public school system is good. The thing I like about starting him in kindergarten is whatever delays he has, if I have a note from the developmental paediatrician, the district school board MUST provide support for him, like a Speech Therapist.

It's important for me to keep on top of all of this so I can get him support.

I truly hope, like all of you, the preschool will help!!!!!
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