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Signs of Autism in Toddlers

Nothing evokes fear in a parent like thinking their baby may have autism.

Many people assume, incorrectly of course, that because a child isn’t talking by age 2 or 3, he or she must be autistic.

Let me reassure you, there are many reasons for late talking or speech-language delays in toddlers, and autism is just one of them.

Late talking, when there’s no other delay, usually does not mean autism.

However, it is important that children learn to communicate their wants and needs. And, truth be told, all toddlers should be talking by age 2.

The expected norm, in fact, is that a child should say a minimum of 50 words consistently on his/her own and frequently say short phrases such as “Bye bye Mama” or “more cookies” without prompting from a parent.

If your two-year old child is not able to do this, he very likely does have an expressive language delay.

Again, expressive language delay does not always mean autism.

If your child also has difficulty understanding language, that is following your directions, she could also have a receptive language delay 

Children with receptive language delays often act as if they’re deaf, or can’t hear what you’ve told them to do. They tend to “ignore” others since words don’t mean anything to them yet. This behavior can also be confused with an autism diagnosis.

Again, a receptive language delay does not always mean autism.

However, it does mean that a child needs special help to be able to learn to comprehend language and then use words.

Understanding language and talking are critical skills for toddlers to master. Practically every single thing a young child needs to be successful once he starts school depends on understanding what others say and being able to use words to interact with others.

Most of the time, children with language delays don’t simply “grow out of it.” Early treatment for toddlers with these difficulties is essential before these symptoms become severe.

Parents play a critical role in determining the ultimate outcome for any child, but especially for those with language delays.

Success comes when parents make a huge commitment to help their child learn to understand and use words. Even when a child is already enrolled in speech therapy, preschool, or daycare, his or her parents are still the very best “teachers” a young child could ever have.

But many parents aren’t sure how to go about fulfilling this important role. Some ask me,

“How can I teach my baby to?talk when I’ve already tried everything I know?”

I’m going to show you some new things to try, but first, let me stop to reassure you, this is NOT your fault!

Most loving parents do everything they know how to help their child, especially one who’s frustrated and struggling. Every good parent knows to talk to their child, read to their child, and play with their child.

But sometimes parents don’t know how to do these things and get results. Then they end up blaming themselves for what their child can’t do.

Let me tell you this again – the problem isn’t you. And for lots of late talking children, the problem may not even be autism.

The problem simply may be that you haven’t had simple, easy to understand tools you need to help your child learn to communicate.

Many children who are late talkers, and especially toddlers who are at risk for autism, need to be taught in different ways, so that they too can begin to learn to talk and do all of the things other toddlers can do.

But even as an educated parent, you may not know how to do this.

THERE’S FINALLY AN EASY, FUN, NO-TEARS METHOD TO HELP TEACH YOUR TODDLER TO UNDERSTAND WORDS AND FINALLY, BEGIN TO TALK.

You’ll learn how to do this in a series of 3 DVDs from teachmetotalk.com called:

Teach Me To Talk

Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1

Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2

This set of DVDs was developed by pediatric speech-language pathologist Laura Mize, author of this website teachmetotalk.com, and host of the popular podcast “Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate.”

These strategies are the same ones experts recommend to help teach parents how to work with toddlers and young preschoolers at home. Laura has taken best practices and current research and put it in “layman’s terms” so that all parents can now understand and use the same specialized techniques.

Based on praise from hundreds of parents from around the world, these strategies are proven to be simple to learn, easy to apply, and best of all successful, in helping your child begin to understand your words, and then finally, unlock that beautiful voice your child has locked away inside.

Join Laura as she uses the same down-to-earth, practical approach that she teaches parents in her practice as a pediatric speech-language pathologist, writes about on her website, and talks about during her weekly show.

In these DVDs, Laura shows you EXACTLY how to work with your toddler at home using toys you likely already have and during every day activities, like snack time. Watch as she explains and then demonstrates HOW to teach your child.

Unlike other speech therapy DVDs, this isn’t just a videotaped conference for professionals, and it’s not just a DVD for you to plop your child in front of to watch and hope for results.

In these DVDs YOU, as your child’s best teacher, learn how to help YOUR child.

You’ll watch her work with a full range of toddlers and young preschoolers or different ages and abilities. And you won’t see this demonstrated in a clinical setting or see her using techniques you’d need a PhD to understand.

You’ll see actual therapy sessions that seem more like everyday play, rather than “speech therapy.”

Best of all, she first explains exactly what to do using everyday, parent-friendly language, and then demonstrates how to do it with real children, just like yours.

You’ll be able to use these techniques with you very own child, the very first day you watch the DVD. Read one mom’s note –

Just wanted to let you know how thrilled I am with your video. I just received it five days ago and I’ve watched it every morning to gear up for working with my daughter each day and I have to tell you what a difference it has made! My daughter has been in therapy for a year and a half (she’s 31 months) and she would often run from me during our play sessions finally, after only five days, she is starting to think that her mommy is fun during playtime! Thank you for giving me a way to really connect with my daughter on a new level. This video is priceless. Helen

See a few clips for yourself –

Watch a child who’s not talking yet learn to ask for things he wants in Teach Me To Talk.

 

Many parents feel so worried and fruWords from another mother –

“Dear Laura,
I am so excited about your wonderful Teach Me To Talk DVD. It has brought me so much relief and help…. Thank you for your web site and all the helpful information you have been providing. Whenever I’m on the Internet researching delayed speech, your sight always calms my fear and makes me feel capable of helping my daughter.” Jennifer, Washington.

Watch how you can help a toddler learn to follow directions during play in Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1.

In Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2, Laura explains how to help a child understand more advanced words and then shows you how to use the same techniques in play.

As a parent, I want to emphasize to you, YOU CAN BE SUCCESSFUL IN TEACHING YOUR CHILD.

As a mom or dad, you know your child better than anyone else. Because of your unique connection with your own child,with the right tools, you can help him learn to interact with you, understand words, and then finally, begin to use words to talk.

Many times parents with children who have been diagnosed with autism are often at a loss with what to do next. This DVD helps parents by giving them specific strategies to use at home.

“I recently watched a DVD that has been advertised on this site called Teach Me to Talk, by Laura Mize, Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist. The DVD was 90 minutes long and taught six strategies to teach your child to talk. It is aimed at toddlers who are delayed in speech…..which is how I will use it. It has tons of video of the speech therapist actually working with children! This was so informative. Laura Mize explains what she is doing while showing actual video of her working with children with delays! These are things you can incorporate in every day interaction with your child. I finished watching the video feeling like I could really teach my child to talk!

From the time I first learned Sophie had autism, I have wanted to see what a speech therapist actually did while working with a child. I desperately want to homeschool Sophie, but until now I have been in the dark about what the experts do to get children to talk. Now I have video examples to work with.

I watch this video with my 3 children in the room, and my daughter Sophie, was actually playing along with the video! I highly recommend this video for anyone who has a child with delayed speech. It is worth every penny. Sarah, mother and author of the website www.wakingsophie.com

Don’t let another day go by without tweaking your approach so that you learn how YOU can help YOUR own child learn to use and understand language.

Order your set today! Click this link to go to our store.

 

Or order directly through?PayPal at this link:


All the?DVDs can be purchased separately if you’re not sure you need all 3.

Teach Me To Talk focuses on teaching 6 simple expressive language strategies so that you can help your child begin to use words.

Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 is for helping children understand basic words and learn to follow early commands. If your child is not interacting with you and doesn’t consistently follow directions, this DVD outlines how to cue him so that words become meaningful.

Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2 is designed to help teach children to understand more complex language. Common disciplinary challenges and how to handle those are also reviewed.

For more information about these DVDs and to read more parent and professional reviews, scroll up and click the child-drawn logos on the right column of this page.

Suspecting autism is very scary for any parent, but you don’t have to be helpless any longer in your attempts to work with your child at home.

For more information about autism, and more importantly, other useful articles to teach you how to help your child at home, be sure to check out the rest of the website now! Let me help you learn how to do this! You can do it, you really can!!

 

Click here to go to our store to purchase?DVDs and therapy manuals.

 

Or order directly through PayPal with this link:

 

Laura

15 Comments

  1. Kristin on May 14, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Hello,

    I happened to find your site while searching about late talkers. First my son is about 2.7 and has yet to talk. He babbles to beat the band but has yet to form real words. I have been so afraid that he may be autistic but he doesn;t really have any of the typical characteristics of autism. I have to admit it is still a fear even though I read it in black and white that he doesn’t really fit it. My husband and I did seem to make the mistake of allowing him to watch TV and his favorite is curious George. Is there a link between a language delay and TV? It almost seems to me that he has picked up curious George as his language as he says hi and bye but always like George. Have we delayed our son for life or will be able to help him through if we cut George and limit TV and work with him?

    Thank You

    Kristin

  2. Kristin on May 14, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Also I just want to add that he is very social and is able to tell us his wants. He seems to always know exactly what he wants by pointing and grunting. Like I said I am so afraid I have somehow missed autism but from what I have read and in my gut i think he might just be delayed.

  3. Laura on May 16, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Kristin – You have not ruined him for life! My word – he’s only 2 1/2!! However, I would definitely limit his TV time since many children become so engrossed in their shows that they miss opportunities to learn from real people and real play. I would go ahead and pursue a speech-language eval for him too. He should be talking by now, so he’ll most likely qualify for services. Try your state’s early intervention program first. You may also want to look into a private clinic as well. If he’s initiating communication with you, he probably isn’t on the autism spectrum, but there are lots of reasons kids can be late talkers and autism is just one of them. You’ll need to see an SLP to know for sure. In the meantime check out the articles here in the expressive language section of the website. Read back to the older entries for more specific ideas. You may also want to check out my DVDs so you can SEE how to work with him at home. Good luck! Laura

  4. Kim on October 28, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Hi Laura-
    I have a 4 year old son who exhibited some early signs of being on the ASD. He was very aggressive, obsessed with doors, a late talker. He is very very social, but sometimes gets too in kids faces. Anyways, fast forward a few year and he is doing wonderfully. We still have him in speech and OT. He still has a bit of a receptive speech delay and some sensory issues. But he is in a regular school with his peers and fits right in. He is definitely not on the spectrum like his pediatrician had me so worried about. I also have a 22 month old son who seemed completely opposite when he was born. He has been so easy, but unfortunately I think he is too easy. He too has followed the same path as my oldest in being speech delayed, only his case is much worse. He has yet to speak a single word. He doesn’t point except when we read books. He has no way of telling me what he wants except to grunt. He has poor eye contact and isn’t too interested in other kids. He sometimes plays with his older brother, but not near as much as you would expect. He doesn’t try to stay away from others, but just doesn’t seem that interested. He likes to cuddle with me alot. He plays with cars appropriately and even has a sound effect. And he puts his toy phone up to his ear. But beyond that he doesn’t have any pretend play yet. In a nutshell, he has alot of the red flags of being on the spectrum. Here is where my question comes in. He has been in ECI since he was 17 months old. I feel like that is not intensive enough therapy. Unfortunately my insurance is not that great and I am paying almost $500/month for my older son’s therapy. So I feel like my options are to either stop my older sons speech and OT and put my youngest in private therapy or put them both in therapy and go into major debt. I feel guilty because I don’t feel like I am doing everything I can for my youngest. Is ECI at that age enough? I keep reading about how early intervention is key and feel like I am wasting valuable time. Any thoughts? By the way, my youngest does have an appointment with a Pediatric Neurologist, but it is not for 6 months.

  5. Laura on October 29, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Kim – I am going to answer your question on this week’s podcast on Sunday at 6 pm eastern time. You can listen in at the blogtalkradio icon on the right. Or better yet, you can call in yourself! If you want details to make the call, email me at Laura@teachmetotalk.com. If not, I’ll read your comment you left here on the website and take a stab at answering then. Laura

  6. Beth on December 18, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    HI Laura,
    I have a 28 month old son who flaps his arms, sometimes clenching and unclenching, his fists when he becomes excited or is anticipating something fun coming up. It’s something he done for as long as I can remember. It’s pretty cute, but I have become very worried about it recently. He’s also constantly moving – running, skipping from one toy/task to another.
    He is very social, makes great eye contact, plays with a variety of toys etc. He speaks 3-5 word sentences and understands and says hundreds of words. (Just tonight when pizza was delivered – he said, Pizza’s here! Thank you and bye bye pizza man)
    He can be a bit territorial of toys with children saying, no – mine, but at other times he loves to share. He’s very expressive and affectionate. He insists on family hugs before bed every night.
    I am just basically concerned about the hand flapping – very concerned actually. I am expecting a baby girl in 7 weeks and just can’t shake this nagging feeling about the hand flapping. COuld this just be typical normal toddler behavior, or is it a sign of something more serious?
    Thank you very much for your time and help. The internet scared the hell out of me – seems the hand flapping = autism.
    Beth

  7. Laura on December 21, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Beth – I really thought I’d already responded to you, but I don’t see that response here, and we’ve had a problem with comments disappearing in the last week. I have seen children who flap who are not on the spectrum, and based on the other things you’ve said, I highly doubt that’s what’s going on. His language and social skills seem to be on par based on what you reported.

    This sounds more like a sensory processing difference to me. Based on what you’ve said, he seems to fit the profile of a sensory seeker – he likes to be in constant motion and even flap so that he can regulate how he feels or so that he can even feel his little body in space. Again – I like to use the term “difference” rather than “disorder” since all of us have sensory quirks. As long as these don’t interfere with our functioning in our daily lives, then it’s not an issue. When a child’s need to move becomes so strong that he can’t learn anything, say how to talk or interact or play, then it’s a problem. But since he’s meeting his milestones, his “sensory difference” isn’t having a negative impact on his development.

    BUT hand flapping and clenching does look odd, and I know you don’t want him to stand out or receive any negative attention, especially since it is so commonly associated with autism. What you can do is to redirect his flapping into a more typical response. When he’s excited, suggest he clap instead or shoot his little arms into the air to say, “Yay!” He’s still getting that extra sensory bump he’s seeking by clapping or reaching up, but it looks a little less worrisome.

    Try to redirect him in a more natural way so you don’t reinforce it or call more attention to it so that he moves on without giving it much thought. You might also model clapping, or holding two thumbs up, or doing the fist bump with him when you’re happy or excited too so that he sees you doing this and then wants to copy the gesture you use to express excitement. This works well when Moms and Dads or older siblings consistently model a new gesture to use.

    My own child did this when he was 2 as well. His father and I would nearly kill ourselves to jump over obstacles so that we could put those little hands down! I am happy to say that now at 21, he does not flap at all 🙂

    Really – it goes away pretty quickly once you start redirecting and then that gesture becomes the new habit.)

    Thanks for your question! Laura

    • Anonymous on December 28, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      I could have wrote this exact same question about my 25 month old. Thank you Beth and Laura for easing my nerves

  8. JENNIFER on June 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I also am worried about my son…He is 27 months and says only about 3 words and not clearly…He doesnt say them all the time only when he reaelly feels like it.. I am so worried that he might be autistic but he really doesnt have any other traits.

  9. Laura on June 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Jennifer – I think I might have emailed you back already today! If not, keep reading here on the site for ways to work with him at home. You’ll want to read articles in the expressive and receptive categories. He must understand words before he uses them to talk. Check out the DVDs too so you can see that play-based approach. If that’s not how your speech therapy looks, then you’ll want to make that change. Laura

  10. sunena on July 9, 2011 at 6:09 am

    Hi laura,
    I am a preschool teacher, there is a child in my batch who is 3.5 years old, he is undergoing speech therapy..i want to know how do i try and help him talk.

  11. Divya on July 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Hi,
    I am Divya ,I have a 3 yr old son and doest speak by now…it gets me n my husband worried,he is very active with other stuff ,he came name things n has a vocabulary of 40-45 words but is nt good with sentences.what should we take up as step to get him to speak.your advice will be helpful.

  12. Kelly on September 27, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Laura,

    I have a 25 month old son who I have some concerns about some of his actions. I have already had him to our ped. about possibly being on the Autism Spectrum but she did not seem concerned at all, pointing out all the things he was doing that were not on “the” list of things to watch for. Some of things he does that concern me are arm flapping, not alot, but enought for me to take note. Normally during meals. He delayed speech, around 30 ish words, he LOVES to spin things, and he is quite content to spend upto 45min to an hour by himself, checking in once and awhile but then runs back to his room, closes the door and continues playing with stuffed animals or “reading” books and he crosses two of his fingers often. These are the “flag” items. Here are the reasons my ped. was not concerned: he makes great eye contact, responds to his name, likes to cuddle and show affection, will interact appropriately with other children and adults, will point to show us something, we can take whatever spins away with out him having a fit for example if he has a toy car and has become infatuated with the tires I can say ” make you car drive” and he’ll roll it along the floor and make vroom vroom sounds, or I can just take it away and he’ll find something else to play with.

    The doctor told me not to worry, but some I can’t stop thinking about this.

  13. Merise on June 16, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Hi, my son is 4yrs old and not talking. Recently he started clenching his hands. His had a hearing test (abr) and brain MRI came back normal also had bit it speech therapy who said we must put him in a pre-school. In the process of doing that it is still concerning and not sure what else to do or where to get assistance in SA.

  14. Natalie on May 18, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Hi Laura,

    Thanks in advnace for taking the time to read this. My son demonstrates many red flags for autism but has not yet received a diagnosis. We just had our first therapy session and it was awful. My son had a huge meltdown at the end, unlike any I had ever witnessed before. Im so o9ut of my depth here. Is this reaction normal? Thank youl.

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