Why Can’t My Child Talk? Common Types of Speech and Language Disorders

Why Can’t My Child Talk… Common Types of Communication Delays

There are between three and six million children in the United States with speech or language disorders. As a pediatric speech-language pathologist specializing in early intervention, I work with children between birth and three years of age. When I evaluate a child, after confirming parents’ suspicions that there is a definitive problem, the next question is usually some version of, “Why?”

Sometimes we don’t know exactly why a child isn’t talking yet at two or three. Many professionals err on the side of caution and label all children they evaluate as “delayed,” when in fact they aren’t yet sure what the exact problem is. It is often difficult to pinpoint an exact diagnosis during the first visit or two (or 10!) with a toddler, but there are many common communication difficulties in this age group.

Let’s also clarify the difference between the terms “delay” and “disorder.” A delay means there’s just a problem with the rate of development. Skills are coming in as expected, but it’s just slower than when other children acquire the milestones. Most of the time (unless a professional is misusing terminology) a “delay” implies that there’s a reasonable expectation that a child can “catch up.” Intervention, whether it’s more informal at home with parents who are committed to implementing new strategies, or whether it’s more formal with enrolling a child in therapy services, certainly helps increase the likelihood of improvement.

When there’s a disorder, it means that development is somehow atypical. The rate may also be slow, but there abnormalities present that are not seen in children with typically developing skills. Disorders, by their nature, are more serious than delays and always warrant professional intervention. For example, autism is not a developmental delay, but a developmental disorder.

Below is a list of the most common types of speech disorders and diagnoses associated with pediatric speech-language problems with a basic explanation for each. Please remember that this is a listing of specific speech-language diagnoses and not necessarily a medical or educational label. For example, a child diagnosed with autism may exhibit characteristics of apraxia, a child with Down syndrome may have dysarthria, a child with dyslexia may also have an auditory processing disorder, etc…

The speech-language diagnosis may be just a part of a condition that affects a child’s overall developmental picture, or it could be the only issue a child faces. I have often evaluated children whose parents referred them for what they thought was a speech or language delay, when in fact their children were exhibiting delays in other developmental domains as well. This also happens with other disciplines too. My colleagues who are physical and occupational therapists often end up referring children for communication assessments when parents initially sought their help for what they assumed was just “late walking” or “difficulty with feeding,” not realizing that their child was behind in other areas too. Many children with developmental difficulties have issues that overlap the motor, social, cognitive, adaptive, and communication domains.

When in doubt, get an evaluation. Be sure to ask the professional if there are other developmental concerns as well. You’d rather know, and the sooner, the better. All of the current research tells us that early intervention gives a child the best chance of minimizing long-term difficulties. Waiting until your child is school-age to see if he will “outgrow” a problem puts him at a serious disadvantage, especially when it comes to communication difficulties.

Types of Communication Delays and Disorders in Toddlers


Apraxia is a neurological speech disorder that affects a child’s ability to plan, execute, and sequence the movements of the mouth necessary for intelligible speech. Apraxia can also be referred to as developmental verbal apraxia, childhood apraxia of speech, or verbal dyspraxia. Most SLPs use the terms interchangeably. Characteristics of apraxia include:

  • Limited babbling during infancy… these are quiet babies.
  • Few or no words when other babies are talking by age two.
  • Poor ability to imitate sounds and words.
  • Child substitutes and/or omits vowel and consonant sounds in words. Errors with vowel sounds are not common with other speech disorders.
  • His word attempts are “off-target” and may not be understood even by parents.
  • He may use a sound (such as “da”) for everything.
  • Often his errors are inconsistent, or he may be able to say a word once and then never again.
  • The child understands much more than he can say.
  • There is sometimes (but not always) a family history of communication difficulty. (i.e. “All the boys in our family talk late,” or “My husband’s grandfather still has trouble pronouncing some hard words.”)

There has been controversy in the field of speech-language pathology in giving this diagnosis to children under three. However, the kinds of therapy useful for children with apraxia are often not introduced if the clinician does not suspect this as the root cause for a child’s communication difficulty. If you suspect this is your child’s problem, initiate a conversation with your child’s pediatrician and begin speech therapy with an SLP with experience treating apraxia. If your therapist says that he/she does not believe that this can be considered before age three, look for a new therapist!

An excellent resource for parents and professionals working with children with apraxia is www.apraxia-kids.org. Another comprehensive resource for an explanation of apraxia can be found here.

Many children with apraxia also have difficulty with sensory integration, or how he processes information from all his senses including visual, auditory, tactile, and proprioceptive (or movement) skills.

Feeding issues are sometimes present because of the sensory issues that a child exhibits. For example, he may have poor awareness in his mouth so that he overstuffs to “feel” the food, or to the other extreme, he is so sensitive that he gags when new textures are introduced.

For more answers to a parent’s questions about apraxia on this site, look at posts in the Apraxia section.

Phonological Disorders

A phonological disorder is a difficulty with the “rules” or “patterns” for combining sounds intelligibly. For example, phonological process patterns include prevocalic consonant deletion (leaving off consonant sounds that precede a vowel such as “at” for hat), syllable reduction (producing only one syllable in a multisyllabic word such as “bay” for baby), or reduplication (simplifying a multisyllabic word to a duplicated pattern such as saying “bubu” for bubble or even “dog dog” for doggie.)

There are many patterns for analyzing a child’s speech according to a phonological processes model. All of these processes are common in typically developing children as well. It becomes a problem when a child is not maturing in their patterns of production when most other children are.  For example, final consonant deletion (leaving off ending consonant sounds in words) typically disappears between two and one-half to three years of age. If a child is not including final consonants by the time he reaches 3, it would be considered “disordered” or “atypical,” since most of his same-age peers are now using a more mature pattern.

A child with just a phonological disorder exhibits typically developing language, meaning that his vocabulary and utterance length are the same as his peers, but he continues to exhibit patterns that are consistent with a younger child’s speech errors. He sounds younger than he is. A child with a phonological disorder needs speech therapy to learn new patterns. The most popular approach for therapy for this disorder is the Hodson Cycles Approach. A pattern is targeted in therapy for a certain number of sessions, and then a new pattern is initiated. Once all of the patterns are addressed, the cycle starts over. Your child’s speech sounds begin to improve, even if it’s not “perfect” through the first few cycles. This approach has lots of research to support it. It’s generally used for highly unintelligible kids over three. For more information on this approach, ask your child’s SLP if it’s right for your child because even the veterans know and use this technique.

Articulation Disorders

An articulation disorder is a difficulty with the production or pronunciation of speech sounds. This difficulty may be present with an isolated sound such as substituting /w/ for /r/, difficulty with blends such as “st,”or with distortion of sounds such as a lisp. Sometimes clinicians speak of phonological disorders and articulation disorders interchangeably. I use the term “phonological disorder” when there seems to be a difficulty with attaining a “pattern” of sounds and the term “articulation disorder” when a child has difficulty with only a couple of sounds rather than an identifiable pattern. If a child is still exhibiting errors with even a few sounds after most of his peers can correctly use the sound, he needs therapy to help him. For a list of ages when children acquire certain sounds, try this chart.

Language Processing or Auditory Processing Disorder

A language processing or auditory processing disorder is difficulty listening to, receiving, analyzing, organizing, storing, and retrieving information. It can also be called “central auditory processing disorder” (CAPD). In young children, this often looks like the child cannot understand what’s been said to him, even when his hearing and language comprehension skills are within normal limits. A child may have difficulty paying attention to what someone is saying to him or have difficulty following directions in the presence of background noise, or when he’s more focused on something else. This might be the kid that won’t look away from his favorite TV program when a bomb goes off, much less when you’re calling his name.

This is commonly included as a receptive language disorder in children under three, with an official diagnosis of auditory processing disorder coming later in the preschool or early school-age years since there are no tests for this condition with younger children. Children with sensory integration differences also exhibit auditory processing disorders. It’s very common for children with autism and other learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, to exhibit these characteristics as well. I could not find a site for information for very young children with an auditory processing disorder, but this is receiving lots of attention in the field of early intervention right now, so maybe we should have a good resource soon.


Dysarthria is a neurological speech disorder that affects a child’s muscle tone. Weakness is noted in the muscles used for speech – lips, tongue, soft palate, and cheeks – so that his speech sounds slurred. Dysarthria is present in kids with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or any other condition that causes “low tone.” Dysarthria may also affect a child’s vocal and respiratory quality so that he sounds hoarse or breathy.

A child may also have feeding problems due to muscle tone issues:   difficulty sucking from a bottle because his tongue isn’t strong enough, keeping foods or liquids in his mouth because his lips aren’t strong, or chewing because of overall weakness in his jaws and cheeks. A child may also drool because she can’t close her mouth consistently.

A child with muscle tone issues may also have difficulty with gross and fine motor skills. Physical and occupational therapy may be necessary to help meet milestones. Low muscle tone never truly “goes away,” and there’s a difference between strength and tone. All of us have varying degrees of muscle tone ranging from high to low, and kids with even very low muscle tone can learn to walk and talk.

For a list of signs/symptoms, go to the link here.


Dysfluency is the more professional term for stuttering. It is the repetition of individual speech sounds, usually at the beginning of words or phrases. Many children with typically developing language “stutter” when they move from using single words and short phrases to longer sentences, and/or when they are under pressure to speak and can’t encode their words quickly enough. Typical dysfluency can occur anywhere from ages two to four. If it lasts for more than six months, seek a professional evaluation.

Many times there’s a family history of stuttering, and this is going to be a chronic challenge. Kids who repeat individual sounds at the beginnings of words with facial grimaces or tremors, tense their muscles, blink their eyes repeatedly, or tap their feet are at greater risk for true difficulty with fluency than those who repeat whole words and who don’t seem to be phased physically by this.

The best advice for parents when your child starts to stutter is to ignore it. Do not tell him to slow down, stop and think, or any other comment that you feel might be helpful. Relax his environment and do not put pressure on him to “perform” verbally.  This includes asking too many questions in a row, demanding that he answer silly questions such as, “Did you hit your sister?” when you know he did, or insisting that he sing his new song from preschool for Grandma, Grandpa, and all of your long-lost relatives at Thanksgiving. Don’t interrupt him when he’s talking, even when he’s struggling. This may be hard, but it is important!

Our oldest son had a terrible several- month bout with stuttering while I was in grad school taking the class on dysfluency. It was horrible for me!! My professor’s advice was simple -“Ignore it and it will (probably) go away.” Another piece of advice is to make sure his teachers at preschool, sitters, or even family members are on board with the “ignore it” method so that no one calls attention to this issue. The unnecessary pressure will make it worse, not better, so tell all of your well-meaning friends and family that you are doing this one your way.

Expressive Language Disorder

An expressive language disorder is present when a child is not meeting milestones in the area of language usually involving vocabulary, combining words into phrases, and beginning to use the early markings of grammar. A child with only an expressive language disorder doesn’t have difficulty pronouncing the words per se, but he has difficulty learning or retrieving new words and putting sentences together. A child may rely on non-specific words such as “that” and “there” rather than learning specific names for objects. She may have difficulty learning verb tenses (such as the “ing” for walking and “ed” for jumped) or have difficulty learning word classes such as prepositions or pronouns.

An expressive language disorder can, and often do, co-exist with a speech disorder such as apraxia. I have treated kids like this with only expressive language delays/disorders, but more often than not, late talkers exhibit a speech AND a language disorder. Sometimes, children exhibit receptive language disorders as well, so it’s not uncommon to have several speech-language diagnoses at the same time.

An expressive language delay would be a child who is acquiring vocabulary, combing words, and learning early grammar with the same sequence as his peers, but at a slower rate. If there are atypical characteristics present, such as your child having some skills at a higher age level but still missing many lower age-range skills, it’s called a disorder. Delays are typically easier to overcome, and most kids with delays eventually catch up. A disorder is generally something a child will struggle with for a while, perhaps his entire life.

Receptive Language Disorder

A receptive language disorder is a difficulty understanding language. This is also called an auditory comprehension disorder. Kids who have receptive language disorders don’t follow directions – not because they’re being disobedient, but because they don’t understand what’s being said. They seem to ignore language because words don’t mean anything to them yet. They often hate reading books unless mommy lets them flip through the pictures because it’s all about listening to words which may not make very much sense.

When a kid gets a little better and understands a little more, signs of a receptive language disorder may be that he repeats a question rather than answering it or gives an incorrect response. For example, if you ask a child with a receptive language disorder who has been learning his colors, “What are you drinking?” he’s likely to respond with “Red!” because that’s the color of his cup. If you ask a question such as, “Do you want milk?” she might answer “No,” but then she’ll still get upset when you don’t give her the cup. She doesn’t understand that answering “No” means she doesn’t want it.

I have seen many kids whose parents or daycare teachers label them as “difficult” or a “behavior problem,” when really there’s a major receptive language delay that no one recognizes. Parents often overestimate what their language delayed/disordered child truly understands. This is so sad to me. When everyone decides to work on teaching and helping him understand language BEFORE we expect him to talk and BEFORE we expect him to “obey,” then everyone benefits.  This is especially true for the kid who doesn’t understand why in the world he’s in trouble in the first place, even though his mother says “I told him not to do it!”

Make sure your child’s receptive language skills are addressed or the other speech-language problems are not going to significantly improve. A child who doesn’t understand much really shouldn’t be saying much either. To expect more is simply wrong, and well above what he’s able to realistically accomplish. Most SLPs think of working on receptive language as going hand-in-hand with working on expressive language, and this is absolutely the right way to go. When parents get on board with this approach, wonderful things happen.

I have written many posts about improving receptive language; check out the best one for parents here.


If you would like specific recommendations for teachmetotalk.com products based on your child’s diagnosis or suspected diagnosis, take a look at this post.




  1. Sarah on August 5, 2008 at 3:02 am

    My son is 26 months old. He has a limited word range. In total he will consistently use 10-15 words and sounds “hi, bye, ta, no, baa”. When should I start getting concerned about his lack of vocabulary or could he just be a late bloomer? Most websites say he should have over 50 words acquired and be starting to make two word combinations. What do you suggest?

  2. Laura on August 5, 2008 at 6:25 am

    Sarah – NOW is the time to be concerned about your son. The 50 word milestone is a MINIMUM baseline for children to have by 24 months. By 26 months children with typically developing language have well over 100 words and are talking in short two and three-word phrases consistently.

    I would have him evaluated by your state’s early intervention program since he very likely would qualify for speech therapy through them. The evaluation is free, and if he is eligible, therapy is free or low cost in most states compared to what you would pay privately. You could also check into insurance coverage, but I’d go through your state program first. You can find out information about your program by searching your state name + early intervention in a search engine like google.

    In the meantime, keep working with him at home using the suggestions on this website and check out my new DVD so you can see the strategies in action.

    I want to give you a big word of caution here – Please don’t count on him catching up on his own without help from you and/or professional assistance. If language delays are addressed early, they often are nothing but a memory. If not, it could be a potential long struggle for him. Please don’t dismiss your concern and “wait and see.” Even if he is just a “late bloomer” as you say, therapy is not going to hurt him and could give him the jump start he needs. If it did turn out to be a more complicated issue, you would have started getting him help early, and you’ll feel relieved knowing you did the right thing by not waiting. Many parents who wait often feel so guilty later that they didn’t trust their instincts. This can be prevented by going ahead and having him evaluated when you first begin to be concerned.

    Good luck! Laura

  3. Jennifer on August 21, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    I have been working with a speech therapist for my 28 month old son for about a month now. He has articulation issues. We are also trying to get him to use his speech more frequently without prompting. We are currently stumped on o a couple of issues. One he has the “N” sound at the begging of words (no, noise). But when it is the middle or end he either replaces it with a d or t sound or leaves it out completely. (Bunny turns into buddy) He can do a middle N rarely just like nana (banana) or oh no. Any thoughts? The other this is with some words he replaces the first sound completely such a susic for music and shish for fish. Why would he do that. He can use both an m and f in other words.

  4. Laura on August 21, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Jennifer – I can take a stab at these issues based on what info you provided, but again, you’re going to want to rely heavily on the SLP you’re seeing since she can actually SEE your son and consider other pieces of information that I couldn’t possibly know about without spending time with him.

    The errors you’re describing aren’t really uncommon for 2 year olds with speech issues. Substituting /d/ or /t/ for /n/ isn’t that unusual since ALL of those sounds are alveolar sounds – or made by elevating the tongue to the alveolar ridge (In English – touching the bumps behind your top teeth with your tongue). Actually as far as “severity” with sound substitutions, it’s not that bad since using these sounds are substitutions with a sound made in the same place in your mouth. The /n/ is probably easier for him to do at the beginning than in the middle or end of a word. Lots of children struggle with medial/middle and final/ending consonant sounds until they get closer to age 3. It’s not even a true “error” to omit a final consonant sound until after 36 months – although many typically developing children master consonant sounds in all positions in words well before this age.

    OR you could account or categorize his errors as a phonological process called “assimilation.” (For more info on this, search “phonological” on this site.) This means that he might produce a sound correctly in some words but not in others because of the other sounds in the words influencing how he pronounces the sound- not because he can’t produce the original sound. His errors with “susic” and “shish” are because in his little system, LATER consonants seem to influence his pronunciation of the first consonant. He is duplicating or repeating the later consonant sound.

    I don’t want to be more technical than this, but you can do some more reading by searching Phonological Disorders. Barbara Hodson is the SLP who did the bulk of the original writing about this. Caroline Bowen is the another SLP from Australia who writes about treating children with these kinds of issues too. You can search this info by their names and the term “phonological.”

    That being said – I would highly encourage you to prioritize SPONTANEOUS language over using correct sounds in words at this point. Many experts don’t recommend doing lots of work on specific articulation patterns/errors until after a child’s language is normal AND until he is close to/after age 3. Focus on vocabulary, phrase length, and USING his words appropriately in situations before you try lots of articulation therapy. You’ll be more successful with that when he gets closer to 3 AND once he’s a great talker, without over-relying on prompting and cues from you.

    Hope this info helps! Laura

  5. Wendy on October 14, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    My son was born five weeks early under normal circumstances (i.e., my water broke). He will be 2 1/2 on Oct. 25th, and is talking–he has a vocabulary of about 62 words, and 11 two word phrases–but he doesn’t really communicate when asked a question. For instance, every day when I pick him up from day care, I ask him if he had a good day. He will either say “yeah” or “no” but if I ask him what he did, he either doesn’t answer or he babbles. Also, he throws fits when he wants something and can’t get his point across. I know he understands everything we say (and more, sometimes!!), but he cannot really articulate what he wants to say.

    What is really strange, though, is there have been two separate occasions where I am certain he spoke in complete, perfectly enunciated sentences. Both times he was stating a desire. The first time (before he turned 2) he said “Mama I want to play” and the other time (just a month or so ago) he said “I want to go outside.” Just like that. He even emphasized the “t.” Both times I said “what did you just say, baby?” and he just looked at me. Also, there have been times when I have been talking to my husband and have been deliberately using words my son wouldn’t understand, and he will react to something I said. It is obvious he understood, but then he acts like he didn’t (he’ll turn away and pretend he is doing something else).

    I really do not know what to think. On the one hand, I think I should have him evaluated, and on the other, I feel like I should give him more time–that he is just being stubborn. What do you think?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  6. Maria on October 14, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    My child is 14 months old and he does not say a single word. As much as I try I cannot make him to say a single word. I am focusing on couple of words thinking that this will help him, but he cannot pronounce them. He is looking how my mouth is moving when i say the word and he tries but what comes out is a scream. He is screaming a lot – when happy or upset, and he is talking to us like Curious George – the monkey does. He like to read the books and he shows me objects on the book. If I say to him “bring that ball” he does, he is very good at sorting 3 kinds of shapes (circle, triangle and square) he is very good at imitating everything, if toys are made from different parts he tries to put them together (he cannot usually but he knows that they should be together), etc. he seems very smart and is very curious and energetic. But the biggest problem is that he cannot speak. My doctor suggested to try couple of things like read the same 2 o3 books all over again, repeat simple words and try to put him repeat after me and wait until 15 month check up. But I am so worried already, it seems to me that he is trying to say the word but he cannot. He will repeat tatatata, babababa, mamama or dadada. But that is it. What do you think? What do you suggest? I will appreciate your advise. Thank you, Maria

  7. Laura on October 14, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Wendy – Based on what you’ve said, it sounds like your son could possibly have a mild expressive language delay. By 2 1/2 children with typically developing language skills are frequently using 3 and 4 word phrases and sentences to communicate and can answer simple questions. However, let me say that I cannot “see” him, so know that I am speaking in very general terms here based on the information you provided.

    He can certainly understand “everything” (his receptive language skills) and still exhibit delays in how he is able to use words to communicate (his expressive langauge skills). Actually that’s very common.

    That being said, he may not exhibit “enough” of a delay to qualify for services thru your state’s early intervention program since children have to meet eligibility requirements.

    If you continue to be concerned, you could have him evaluated thru your local early intervention program OR have his speech-language skills evaluated by a speech-language pathologist at a clinic (like Easter Seals or someone in private practice) or a children’s hospital. Your pediatrician could probably point you in the right direction.

    Now about your closing comment….I personally don’t believe that most children don’t talk because they’re being stubborn. You may want to check out the article called “Can’t vs. Won’t” for more on that. You can search for it from the home page using the search option.

    I also want to recommend the articles on answering questions in the expressive and receptive language sections. You may find some ideas in there that you’re not currently doing. Giving choices is a great way to help him begin to answer questions – such as, “What did you do at school today – paint or play in the sand?” There are other hints in the article too that I hope you will find helpful.

    Let me know how it goes! Laura

  8. Laura on October 14, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Maria – It sounds like you are on the right track in teaching him to imitate you. Doing this during play making yourself as fun as possible is a way to entice him to want to imitate not only your actions, but your vocalizations as well.

    Have you tried sign language with him? This opens the door to communicating for so many children. Check out the articles in the sign language section for help in learning how to do this.

    Also check out the clips from the DVD since this may give you some additional ideas for how to prompt words and signs. If you find that your approach is much different than the clips, you may want to order the DVD to give you some additional suggestions.

    I applaud how proactive you’re being with him! 14 months is very young, and I understand your concern, but you are so far ahead of when many moms first begin to be worried. Pat yourself on the back!

    • Alex on April 27, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      Laura – we plan to contact our early invention office this week but I have a couple question. My (almost) 20 month old says about 12 words. He tries to imitate words but can’t get them right. I also noticed that he gets confused with words at times, For example, he will say maaama sometimes for more. Or sometimes he tries really hard to says something, for eve ample, he will sign milk and then say “mmmmmmiil” but can’t get the word out. He also refers to things he doesn’t know or can’t say as “da” He understand language and follows directions extremely well. He is great about letting me know his wants and needs he just doesn’t talk much. I’m upset to see that he should be saying 50 words by 2! I was told 20, and now I’m scared that he is way behind the curve. Does this sounds like a delay or a disorder?

  9. Carole on October 14, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    First, I’d like to thank you for this website — it is such a help to those of us who aren’t sure what to think!

    My daughter is almost 17 months old, and her only real words are “no” and “hi”. She doesn’t say mama; she does say “dadadadada,” but I’m not convinced she’s referring to daddy.

    She also says please, but it sounds like “ssss.” When she first started saying it (it was her first correctly-used word) she would just blow a raspberry. I have this on video; we thought it was cute/funny at first, but now it worries me.

    She sort of has three other words: for ice, she says “ssss”; for shoes, she says “ssss” or “shhh”; for bath, she says “da.” Today when I showed her a plant, she said “/t/.” This was her first attempt at a new word in at least two months.

    She can make many of the more difficult sounds (t, d, zh, /s/, sh), but rarely tries to imitate words or sounds. When she does, it almost always sounds like “da.” We can’t get her to make a /b/ sound. We’ve thought twice that she did, but she wouldn’t repeat it. Sometimes when we try to get her to say “buh-buh-buh” she will say “duh-duh-duh,” and she has that sweet proud look on her face as if she were saying it right.

    She does ‘talk’ a lot; she seems to think she’s really talking to us in long sentences with lots of inflection. Her receptive language is usually quite good, although it does sometimes seem like she doesn’t hear us. We’ve attributed this to not wanting to hear us, because we know she can hear and she does often follow directions. She also gestures quite a bit (pointing, waving hi, bye, and night-night, reaching, etc). I’ve just started using signs with her, but she hasn’t used any yet.

    Until reading articles here, I’ve tried to agree with family who said she was just stubborn (which she is) and wouldn’t talk until she wanted to, and resisted talking because we ‘bugged’ her about it.

    But my instinct has been to have her evaluated ASAP. Most people I talk to disagree, and our pediatrician suggested we wait until her 18-month checkup. Should I wait, or get it started now?

  10. Laura on October 14, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Carole – I so applaud you for being concerned about her now, even if it’s against the tide of public opinion in your circle! The pediatrician may be having you wait until 18 months since this is such a benchmark age, and it may be a little easier for her to qualify for services if she’s not added anything new by then. She does have some red flags for speech-language delay, so I’d definitely have her assessed at 18 months if she’s not using at least 15 consistent words by then.

    However, as her mom, I’d still do everything I could even BEFORE you get her evaluated to help her move along. Signing is a great way for many children to build their vocabularies AND for you to know what she’s trying to say since she’s using so many sound substitutions in word attempts and lots of jargon. Check out the articles in the signing section – especially the tips to get her started. Since she uses gestures already, this should be an easy next step. Watch the DVD clips (it’s the 2nd one I think) for a brief example of teaching signs to toddlers.

    I’m glad you’re finding the site helpful, and let me know if there’s anything else you need! Laura

    Please keep using the ideas on this site since they really do work!

  11. Maria on October 15, 2008 at 11:21 am


    thank you so much for your answer and for encouragement. I know it may be early to evaluate him, but I compare him with my first son who, at the same age, said many words. Thank you, Maria

  12. leah on November 1, 2008 at 12:35 am

    hi there,
    I am Leah from Malaysia, but currently live in Japan. My eldest son is now 34 months but still cannot make sentences and his vocabs are terrible, not fluent. I am so worried. At home we are talking in Malay language, sometimes I teach him some English vocabs. At his nursery , his teacher and the kids there all are speaking in Japanese. I wonder maybe he cannot talk because he confused with the 3 languages mixed up. Or maybe because he is watching TV too much. Can your DVD help me?
    I also not sure whether meeting the therapist here is a good idea because they are Japanese,, so maybe they will teach my kids in Japanese. I want my son to especially can talk in English and Malay. Please advice.
    Thanks in advance.

  13. Laura on November 1, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Leah – The DVD can help any parent learn to teach their child language, any language. The DVD shows you how to use 6 different strategies to teach your child new vocabulary, in whatever language you are using.

    Because he is having difficulty learning language, I would try to minimize the complexity and pick one primary language so that he can solidify his ability to assign meaning to words and then use those words functionally to communicate with you. However, he is going to need to learn how to communicate with his teachers and friends in school. If you are going to be in Japan long-term, he does need to speak and understand Japanese. If this is the case, then I’d definitely go ahead and see an SLP in Japan. They likely speak at least a little English too.

    One more thing about the DVD – the DVD should work in your Japanese DVD player since Japanese players use the same operating system as USA players. BUT, if your DVD player is from Malaysia, it probably won’t play using it. In that case, you’d have to view it using your computer, provided that your computer has a DVD drive.

    If you want to order the DVD, send me your e-mail address at laura@teachmetotalk.com so I can send you an invoice through Google checkout. Google checkout will not process international orders unless I send you the invoice first with the correct shipping amount precalculated.

    Hope this info helps you! Laura

  14. manisha on January 16, 2009 at 10:19 am

    i dont know whether there is a problem with my daughter or not.she has just completed 3 years old on jan 12,2009. she repeats what i say.if i ask whats ur name she says whats ur name,but after some time she answers it.i always ask him did u eat chicken in school but in our language(oriya),she answers i ate chicken(in oriya)but she says did u ate chicken in school.
    sometime she speaks clearly ,express herself very clearly.she can recognis the letters,sings rhymes very well,counts from 1 to 20 n her pick up pawer is very good.she likes to read.her memory is also sharp.

    can u help me in this.i want her to make her own sentence to answer,not repeating mine

  15. Laura on January 16, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Manisha – She sounds like she’s “stuck” in the developmental phase of being able to imitate questions, but not answer spontaneously on her own.
    This usually happens with children younger than your daughter, so based on what you’ve said, it does sound like she may possibly have a mild language delay. Do you have access to a speech-language pathologist in your area? I would have her evaluated if possible. In the meantime, look at the articles about answering questions in the expressive and receptive language categories. Hope these ideas help! Laura

  16. hannah king on January 19, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    my son is 27 months old i have been concerned about his speech for a long time
    he proberly has 3 words he uses regulary
    hello (says it correctly) hat (means pat)hes a big postman pat fan! and he says umma for mummy.
    we finally have speech therapy appointment after asking for nearly a year, my friends and family all tell me not to worry he will speak when hes ready however i do feel as his mum he does have a problem
    3 months ago he would say grandad well i knew he was saying it although it wasnt clear to others, he would call our cat by her name tigger, he would say daddy and dog dog, all of a sudden he says nothing but the above mentioned 3 words. ive been told hes just lazy!
    everything is a grunt he no longer says daddy calls him hmmm infact everything is hmmm. its frustrating for myself and partner as we can see hes frustrated trying to talk.
    ive heard baby signing is a good way to communicate although im not sure if its too late to start that with him now??

    i have speech therapy with him next week fingers crossed he will come on in leaps and bounds. im just concerned as a mother!
    any advice would be greatly recieved.

  17. Laura on January 19, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I NEVER think a kid doesn’t talk because he’s lazy. Read my article Can’t vs. Won’t and you’ll see why.

    To only have 3 words at 27 months indicates an expressive language delay, and losing words is a red flag as well.

    Signing is an AWESOME way to help with communication as well as jump start speech, and IT’S NEVER TOO LATE! Read the articles in the sign language section for ways to implement this at home. There’s also a video clip of me using sign language in speech therapy sessions on the Teach Me To Talk DVD post.

    He’ll qualify for speech, and I hope you get good specific advice for being able to work with him yourself at home in addition to his sessions with the therapist. Children who make the most progress are the ones with committed parents!

    Hope all goes well! Laura


  18. michele on February 10, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    I just wanted to make a comment to parents also that if your child is exhibiting speech problems particularly in pronunciation please also get them tested for their hearing. We were shocked to learn our son has mild to moderate hearing loss due to fluid in his ears (never had an ear ache in his life). Just wanted to alert other parents to this as I’ve noticed some speech issues for several months and had him evaluated but never thought to have his hearing tested and wish I had done it much much sooner.

  19. Joyce on February 19, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    My son is 23 months old and just started speech therapy. He tested normal in all other areas other than communication (cognition was a little low, but adaptive, motor and social were great). He has lost some words, but still slowly gains new words (he said about 15 words at 12 months, but about 6 words today).

    My main concern is that he doesn’t seem to understand speech (doesn’t respond to his name, and doesn’t follow direction). The two items above that possibly described my son were the Rec. Lang. Disorder and the Aud. Proc. Disorder. I was curious what the prognosis is for these two disorders? Can I expect that he will, with therapy, eventually speak and understand at a conversational level? Or is it likely that he will never follow even basic directions or be able to tell me what he wants?

  20. Laura on February 20, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Joyce – I’m not surprised that he tested lower in cognition since he’s having difficulty understanding language. Language and cognition go hand-in-hand for children under 3, and many of the milestones and questions on both the cognitive and receptive language sections on developmental tests are the same.

    As far as a prognosis goes, it really is individualistic. The more severe the initial problem, the harder it will be to overcome. Generally if you get started in therapy early, as you are, you’ll have a much better outcome than if you did nothing.

    As I always tell parents when I’m actually seeing their children or writing to parents here on the website, kids whose parents are very involved and faithfully work with their children, regardless of the “diagnosis,” always do better than kids with parents who leave everything to the therapists, or worse, those parents who wait until their children are school-aged to do anything.

    I’d imagine you’re not that kind of mom since you’re seeking additional information here and already have him evaluated before he’s 2, so pat yourself on the back.

    As for additional ideas, read all of the articles in the receptive language section. You may want to check out the DVDs Teach Me To Listen and Obey for other strategies and so you can SEE the techniques in action. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help you. Laura

  21. meena on February 23, 2009 at 6:28 am

    dear laura
    my daughter is 3 and 1/2 and is not yet talking. her hearing has been tested(normal) and she has been observed by SLT and has had SLT involved 4 the last yr and still no improvment. otherwise she is a well behaved very intelligent girl. she follows instuctions and is otherwise perfect. she tries at times to make sounds but finds it hard like she is using her tummy to talk. plez if u have any suggestions i need them
    thanx meena

  22. Laura on February 23, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Meena – What does your SLT think? I’d talk about this with her first. If that answer doesn’t make sense to you, or even if it does and you’re still concerned (as I would be), I’d take her to a speech-language expert for another opinion since she’s not made progress after a year of therapy. It’s time for some new ideas and treatment strategies or at least an explanation for why she’s still having difficulties. Usually there’s something else going on when speech and language skills aren’t moving along by this age, especially after a year of therapy. Hope you can find some answers soon for her and for you! Laura

  23. meena on February 26, 2009 at 5:00 am

    hey laura the slt thinks her interaction with people needs 2 be better! but i think the problem is she doesnt know how to talk or finds it hard to talk. a lot of people that see her and interact with her say she is just taking her time but i feel its time now and i can see she wants to express herself also i just need the intial key steps to get her to open up. i spent time with her the other day tring to get her to say mummy and she did but it took ages of repeating and encouragement to get her there!!! plez if u have any ideas let me know,as ive kind of given up on the slt we currently have.
    thanx meena

    • Toni on May 20, 2015 at 11:59 pm

      Hi meena I see your comment was in 2009 and I’m wondering how your daughter has improved since then…your post is identical to my issues with my three year old daughter right now. I hope you receive this thanks, toni

      • Laura on May 21, 2015 at 1:16 pm

        Toni – That mom may not be reading the site anymore since her daughter is 6 years old now. If she is, please respond!! : ) Laura

  24. Leslie on April 13, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Dear Laura,

    I’ve been slightly concerned that my 17 month old son is not speaking yet. He will say “up” but that’s about it. He does the pterodactyl scream when he wants something and babbles up a storm when mimicking conversation but no real words. He’ll say mama but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what it means. And yes, he will follow an instruction when he’s in the mood. Should I be concerned? We just changed pediatricians and his new doc doesn’t seem worried but his old one was starting to. Any advise would be wonderful. Thank you.

  25. Laura on April 13, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Leslie – As I’m sure you know, by 18 months toddlers should be using about 15 words consistently and spontaneously, so it would be a concern for me. But he certainly understands that he should talk since he’s babbling and screaming when he wants something, and it’s great that he’s following some instructions, but at his age and since there is a concern with language development, I’d want to see it a lot more often than “when he’s in the mood.” Is he looking at familiar people when named? Does he follow routines such as running to the bathroom when you announce it’s time for bath? Will he retrieve his favorite toy on request? Is he waving bye-bye? If these things aren’t consistent yet, then I would go ahead and pursue an evaluation with your state early intervention program, with or without a referral from your pediatrician.

    In the meantime, at home I would place a huge emphasis on facilitating words and even signs with him right now during play and during daily routines using the strategies you can read about in articles in the expressive language section. If he doesn’t come along with you reading and implementing the ideas, then you may want to check out ordering the DVDs to help give you new ideas for working with him at home. Good luck and I hope you see big improvements right away! Laura

  26. jennifer on June 8, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Hello! My daughter will be 2 at the end of this month. She has a large number of single-syllable words, and groups words telegraphically, e.g. she’ll say “Mama book read” or “shoe off” but won’t use any real sentence structure. My real question is about her articulation — she fits to a tee the criteria for a Phonological Disorder as you described above. All of her one syllable words drop the last consonant sound (ree instead of read), and about 90% of her two syllable words simply repeat the same first syllable twice (“pi-pi” for pillow, etc.). She also has a number of substitutions (p’s replace f’s, y’s replace l’s). You said in your information about phonological disorders that they’re not typically diagnosed until a child is 3 — is it possible to break this pattern with a child of my daughter’s age? Usually, I just repeat the word in my response so that it doesn’t seem as if I’m correcting her; however, when I have asked her to sound out the word along with me she can repeat each syllable but reverts to her original pronunciation (pi-pi) when I use the full word.

  27. Diane B. on July 2, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Hello, I have a 3 1/2 year old boy that does not say a single word at all. He can hear and understand things. He will come when you call him. He don’t understand when you ask him to get a sippy cup for example. Iam at a big lose on what to do. Can you help

    • paulina on May 10, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      Hey Diane,

      My son is just like your son.. Can you please give updates of your son. I think he is grown up now.


  28. Laura on July 4, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Diane – Thanks for your question. As I’m sure you’re aware, from what you’ve described at his age at 3 1/2 your son is exhibiting a pretty significant speech-language delay, not only in what he says (expressive language), but more importantly, in what he understands (receptive language). I would have him evaluated by a pediatric speech-language pathologist as quickly as possible. In the USA for children over 3, the least expensive way to have this done is to consult your local public school or Head Start program. If you have insurance coverage or can afford to pay privately, I would recommend having him evaluated at a private clinic like Easter Seals or a children’s hospital. Again, I’d urge you to do this right away since it’s unlikely time or maturity is going to help him catch up on his own.

    In the meantime, keep reading ideas here on the website. Check out the older articles where most of the real “information” is. You can do that by clicking on a category across the top menu, scroll down to the bottom of the page, then click older entries until you get back to the oldest post in each category. Begin here and then you can read forward.

    I’d also recommend that you check out the DVDs. Teach Me To Talk is to help get his expressive language going, but likely the most important information for you will be in Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1. This addresses receptive language development from the beginning and will help YOU learn how to teach him to understand words and follow directions.

    You’ve got your work cut out for you! It’s sometimes scary to have your child evaluated, but I’d so encourage you to do that for him so that you can have a professional help you learn how to help him. Laura

  29. Jennifer on July 6, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Hi Laura,

    Does speech problems run in families or can they be hereditary?

    My mom said she was a “late talker” could, but refused to talk until she was 3 yr old. I was in speech for a while when I was in grade school and my older son was in speach from 3ys old till I can’t even remember. I don’t know what his dx was ( I was a younge mother) but I know it was mild, but I guess his progress was slow since he was in speech for so long – I had never throught too much about his speach back then, he was in “real school” b/c of the speech delays and it just became apart of schooling for him. The ST did not tell me too much and I did not ask too much, it was just away of life.

    Fast forward to now and our pedi said that if my son (15mns)has not increased his vocab by the time of his 15 month well visit, he wants a hearing test. I know Max hears well, he follows commands, but he does have a hx of ear infections. Max was slow at adapting to new textures and eating, was about 12mns before he no longer gaged on food and even now at 15 month he is just now not spitting all his food out. But again hx of ear infections and frequent colds, so I don’t know if it was just all the illness that slowed him down or if there is/could be oral motor skill problem.

    If the pedi wants the hearing test, I want to ask about speech and oral motor skill eval (although in the past 2 wks his eating has improved greatly)

    just wondering if speach issues were known to be hereditary.

    also, is there any questions I should ask the pedi, or buzz words I should throw out to him when we have our well check up.

    Thank you for your time.

  30. Laura on July 7, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Jennifer – Thanks for your questions. Communication problems can definitely “run in families.” I think it’s great that your pediatrician wants to be so proactive with your baby and would want to refer him for a hearing eval and for a speech-language assessment. Tell him the same things you’ve told me – you have a family history of speech-language problems, and you’d like to have him evaluated early so that you can give him the best start possible. I applaud your commitment to find out more information for yourself so that you can be prepared for the visit. However, I don’t want you to waste time waiting on a professional assessment. Read through the website for ideas on how YOU can help him at home. Good luck!! Laura

  31. Aimee Thompson on September 3, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Hi Laura

    My son was 2 last week and he doesn’t understand anything I say. He says mum and dad and that is all. He doesn’t wave, clap or point and I have no communication with him whatsoever. He gets really frustrated and I fear there is something very wrong with his brain. I have seen numerous health visitors and speech people but all they do is monitor him, I am really concerned and its very upsetting as I’m not getting any answers!

    He doesn’t interact with other children and he gets upset when babies cry. He is quite a sensitive little sole. He won’t feed himself and sometimes just spits food out.

    Any suggestions?

  32. Laura on September 3, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Aimee – At the very least he has a severe receptive language delay as well as an expressive language delay and likely a social communication disorder. If you were in the States, he’d likely be getting speech therapy weekly. I’d still push for that now and have them teach you how to work with him at home.

    In the meantime, please read the articles on this website, especially those in the receptie language section. He has to understand language BEFORE he can talk.

    I’d also recommend my DVD series Teach Me To Listen and Obey so that you can SEE exactly how to play with him so that he interacts with you and then learns to understand words. You can watch the DVD clips here or on youtube or Facebook.

    Parents play a KEY role in helping children with special needs. In addition to working with him yourself,
    please continue to fight for the services your child needs. You’re his best advocate!! Good luck!!


  33. Leshia on October 14, 2009 at 8:43 am

    My son is 40 months old and is talking but not like I think he should be. He can put together 6+ word sentences and he is using he and she but sometimes he babbles. He can’t seem to answer any questions that I ask him. If I ask him “Why” he did or wants something, he simply replies because. He cann’t tell me what he did in a day or what he ate for lunch. He can tell me what he wants but does not tell me how he feels a lot.

    When he went home for summer vacation he spent a lot of time with his 4 yr. old cousin and his vocab doubled in like six weeks. Do you think his problems will be solved by being around other children?

    He also uses words at random and says huh after everything I say. He plays well with others but does not like to play by himself AT ALL! He is set up to get an evaluation in a few weeks. He was evaluated when he was two but they decided to monitor him instead of help.

    You are so right about feeling guilty. I feel like an absolute failure and I want to help him. I give him lessons daily and he enjoys them. He has no problem paying attention but gets discouraged quickly. He knows is ABC’s, colors, can count well, and can draw a line, his shapes and a few letters.

    Perfect Example: He just finished eating some chips and he comes up to me and wiggles his fingers and says “It tickles”
    Me: What tickles?
    Him: The chips
    Me: Chips don’t tickle.
    Him: See mommy, I can’t do it.

    What on earth is the problem? Any advice on literature or anything would be greatly appreciated.

  34. Laura on October 14, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Leshia – I’m so glad you’re having him evaluated. Since I can’t see him, of course I don’t know what’s going on for sure, but let me give you a couple of ideas based on what you’ve said.

    I hope your SLP takes a very close look at his ability to understand and process language since he’s having difficulty answering questions when he’s obviously a smart kid based on the pre-academic skills you report he can do.

    Receptive language problems/processing differences can certainly cause a child’s expressive language to lag as well and often presents as you’re describing your son. He can use sentences and even tell you what he wants, but he can’t answer simple questions. He’s also using words that don’t quite fit the situation indicating that he doesn’t understand what he’s saying.

    Again, since I can’t see him, I don’t know this for sure, but it is something to ask the SLP about during the assessment.

    Secondly, I never recommend that a child attend daycare in order to help him learn how to talk since I think ADULTS help kids learn to understand and use language, but it could be that a great part-time preschool program would be very beneficial to him. The time with his cousin may have been so valuable because everything was on his level and he had lots of 1:1 time doing things that made sense to him. Preschool would serve the same purpose. In the meantime I would take lots of time at home to play, play, play WITH him making sure that you’re helping fill in the gaps with things he doesn’t seem to understand or be able to express.

    Keep us updated with what the SLP says at his eval. When I know what the problem is, I’ll likely be able to give you more specific advice. You made a great decision by choosing to have him evaluated again. Good luck!! Laura

  35. isaiahsmom on October 14, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Hello I have a son who just turned 3 on Saturday. He knows the alphabet, can count to 20 to 10 in spanish and can count backwards. He will follow direction, somethimes he will just sit in his room and talk sometimes I can understand sometimes not. He will see someone and say hi over and over again. If he likes something he will reapeat it over and over. He plays with me and his dad. He is also a only child with not other cousins or friends to play with, except at school. He is always happy and well disciplined, not perfect, but he knows what time out is. He is very well behaved. I am going to have hime evaluated next week, but my husband thinks that in 6 months he will get better. He loves us to read to him and has a few book memorized. He says thank you and oops sorry.

    It is hard for me to tell if he is just immature for his age and he is 39 1/2 inches tall. I wonder if that also throws people off. Like I said he just turned 3 on the 10 of Oct. I have been so depressed about this and constantly beating myself up. Because I am a stay at home mom, I should have done better.

    Do you have any advice or can you recommend any dvd’s or books so I can work more with him at home.

    Thanks for your time

  36. Laura on October 15, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Isaiah’s Mom – Thanks for your question. Let me ask you a few before I give you any recommendations. Is he not talking directly to you during the day to tell you what he wants or ask and answer questions? How many other words does he say other than counting/letters or hi? Does he come up with words on his own, or is he just repeating books or what he’s heard?

    Even before you answer these questions I will say that I’m so glad you’re having him evaluated. Hopefully you’ll get some answers! More importantly the therapist should be able to teach you how to work with him at home.

    I also hope that you’ve continued to read the website for ideas. I started the site to help give parents specific recommendations for improving a child’s ability to understand and use language. If you need more direction, I’ve also have filmed a set of DVDs for parents which will SHOW you exactly how to help him learn to communicate. Be sure to check those out for new ideas too!

    Try not to be consumed with guilt over what’s happened with him. Being paralyzed by your emotions does NOTHING to help his situation, but taking action so that you do learn HOW to help now will make a huge difference. I hope the site and my DVDs will be able to help you do that! He needs you!!!! Laura

  37. Leshia on October 15, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Thank you so much for your response. I will provide an update once I finish the evaluation.

  38. angie on October 16, 2009 at 7:38 am

    I have a question:
    Should i be concerned that my two year old daughter says the same word twice in her speaking. For example: if she wants to jump in the bounce house she will say: jump, jump. If she wants milk she will say: milk, milk, etc.

  39. Laura on October 17, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Angie – Many young children repeat a word twice because many early first words follow this pattern – Mama, Bye bye, Dada, etc… SLPs call this reduplication. It should go away on its own as she matures.

    One piece of advice- make sure you’re not repeating her to reinforce this. You could also start saying Mommy and Daddy and just “bye” if you don’t do this already. Does she have other words when she doesn’t use this repetitive pattern? Keep encouraging those! Laura

  40. Cara on October 24, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    My son is a twin. He is 22 months old now but when he was 3 months old he was put on an NG tube because he refused to nurse or drink from a bottle. The doctors said it was reflux but at 6 months old (after being on the NG tube for 3.5 months) we had his tongue tie clipped and he immediately took the bottle again. By then he has a severe bottle aversion but we managed to get him to overcome it. He eats a variety of table food now but refuses any fruit or veggies unless they are pureed. He has been diagnosed with low tone in his mouth and trunk. However, he has met all gross motor milestones on or ahead of time. He understands most everything I say and can follow directions. At 22 months he only has about 5 words he uses spontaneously (dada, down, uh oh, up, car which sounds like gar) and animal sounds for lion, snake, sheep and elephant). It seems like its hard for him to immitate the words I say to him. He uses the letter D in most of his imitations. I have him in ST and OT 1x a week for two hours and EI 2x a month. We are working on bilabials right now. He was not a quiet child, always babbling but with limited consonants (d,k,g). The SLP does not think she can diagnose him with something like apraxia right now but I am wondering if the NG tube and lack of oral muscle use over those 3.5 months could have caused his weak oral motor strength and contribute to his picky eating and delayed speech? Or does he have to have a diagnosis such as apraxia? I feel like he has some of the apraxic symptoms but not all. I am scared that my little boy will have a lifetime of difficulties ahead of him and never be like his peers. Will he ever talk? Will he need to be in special schools?

  41. Laura on October 25, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Cara – Thanks so much for your great questions. First of all, it is waaaay too early for you to be worried about special schools and if he’ll have friends. He is only 22 months old, and from what I read, you are doing everything you can to help him get better. He’s in therapy and you are tackling the language and feeding issues head on. One thing I’d recommend is that you stop focusing on specific sounds, and just focus on adding more words to his vocabulary, regardless of what sound substitutions he uses. This takes the pressure (and in my opinion, incorrect focus) off speech and puts it on communication and language. To target specific sounds when a child is under 2 often defeats your purpose. When you become more playful and focus on WORDS, then you typically see faster results. The truth is, the more practice he gets with speech/talking, the faster those speech sound errors will clear up. If you need more help to know what specific strategies I recommend for toddlers, check out my DVDs Teach Me To Talk (for general language strategies) and Teach Me To Talk with Apraxia and Phonological Disorders (for more specific speech strategies if the language strategies aren’t as successful).

    The NG tube, feeding difficulties, and muscle tone issues could certainly all be related to the late talking, but again, it sounds like you’re doing all of the right things. Keep at it, and keep us posted on how he does. Good luck!! Laura

  42. Cara on October 25, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks Laura, I just purchased your teach me to talk for Apraxic children (even though we don’t have a diagnosis). I figured it can’t hurt to use these techniques, especially since I know he is having issues with oral motor skills. WE are using a powered toothbrush and NUK brush to strengthen the muscles in his mouth and I work with him on a ball and trampoline to help strengthen his trunk. His low tone is on the mild side from what the OT has told me. So I am seeing some early results in that area. I guess I just wish I knew if it was apraxia or just an expressive speech delay. For some reason the apraxia diagnosis scares me more and I can’ get in to see a developmental pediatrician for about 4-5 months from now. I hope the amount if speech and OT I am getting for him is enough right now. I know that some kids go 5 days a week. Do you think I should be advocating for more?

  43. Laura on October 25, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Cara – If you are committed to working with him at home, I don’t think you necessarily need to advocate for more speech or OT sessions right now. As you know he is very, very young – not even 2 yet. I VERY RARELY increase a child’s frequency to more than once a week when they are under 3, and even when I do, honestly, I’m not sure that they do drmatically better than the kids I continue to see weekly who have very committed moms and dads who work with them everyday on their own. Now that opinion may ruffle the feathers of other SLPs who strongly feel that “more is better”, but for most 2 year olds I’ve seen, this has been the case in my practice over the last 10 years or so. I do currently have a couple of 2 year olds that I’m seeing more than once a week and they are doing great, but I’m not so sure they wouldn’t have done equally as well with once weekly. When it clicks for toddlers, it clicks, and more often than not, kids look dramatically better when turning 3 than at their 2nd birthday. Maturation, coupled with the right kinds of therapy in sessions and MORE IMPORTANTLY at home, does marvelous things!! Let us know how he continues to do, and I’d love to hear how you do with the strategies on the Apraxia DVD. Laura

  44. samantha on October 27, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    hi my son is 6 and a half and he still can talk proper we have great difficulty in understanding him he has speech therpy every week but shows no signs of getting better with his speech

  45. kara on December 2, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Hi– My daughter is 18mo and doesn’t talk much. She says dada and various “forms” of words but not actual words. I’ve tried to work with her, by constantly talking to her….but it is very hard to get her to pay attention. She is very busy and always on the move. At dinner she will eat and look at you, but she’s not one to try and repeat what you say. Typically when I say “mama” she smiles and says “dada”. I try to read books, but she won’t sit still for the whole book. She tries to flip that pages and if I hold he book she just gets up and gets another book she can hold. I just don’t know what to do anymore!

  46. Laura on December 3, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Kara – I’m going to answer your question on the December 3 edition of my podcast Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate so we can give you lots of good ideas for ways to work with her at home. Listen in by clicking on the blogtalkradio icon on the right column of this page. Laura

  47. Sarah on December 7, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Hi Laura,
    I love your website. It has lots of great information. My question is about my 27 month old son. He tries to talk, and tries to say lots of different words, but they don’t resemble the word at all. He says them the same way each time, but I seem to be the only one who can understand him. For example, he will say “aba” for fast food places (whenever he sees one). He says “aga” for water. Some words are very clear, such as “no”, “more”, and “mom”. Do you think it is too early to start working on sounds with him? I’m not sure what my next steps should be.

  48. Laura on December 7, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Sarah – Usually we want a child’s language skills to be at or near an age-appropriate level before we focus on sounds in speech therapy sessions. For a child your son’s age, that would mean that he’s frequently speaking in 2-3 word phrases.

    Many SLPs target speech sounds as a real goal before ages 2 1/2 to 3, but I really don’t UNLESS a child is soooo unintelligible that he’s frustrated that no one can understand him.

    As a rule I “work on” sounds with children this young by modeling the correct word and giving a few cues such as, “Put your lips together” for /m/ and giving sounds “names.” You can read more about these techniques here on the site in the articles in the apraxia and intelligibility categories. I also discussed speech sound issues on my podcast Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate in September, so look in the archives on the right-hand column for this show. If you’d like to SEE examples of cueing sounds with toddlers, check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk with Apraxia and Phonological Disorders.

    Thanks for the great question! Laura

    • Jacky on August 20, 2016 at 12:43 am

      My son is 14 months old and wont eat regular food he refuses it or gags himself when i try to force him to try it but he will eat certain cookies or gram crackers? He only wants bottles to eat his food and most of the time he wont drink the bottle if its vegitiable based instead of fruit baby food based since he refuses new food i make baby milkshakes i put baby food and oatmeal cereal mixed with milk and thats how he eats im really concerned at this point and he is not talking at all the only thing he says is dada and will only say mama when he throws a serious tantrum he doesnt wave high or bye and he doesnt say Bye Bye Or Hello Or No he will not talk!!! Im so worried about my baby

  49. Tiffany on December 8, 2009 at 12:47 pm


    My son is 23 months and does not talk at all. He attemots to have conversations with me but everyhting that comes out of his mouth sounds like ah ah ah. He is in speech 2 times a week and he see’s a developmental ped in January. I am worried he has Apraxia and I need to know that some day he will talk. I upset myself thinking that he may never talk??

  50. Laura on December 12, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Tiffany – There are some children with severe apraxia who don’t learn to speak, but most children, even those with speech-language delays, do eventually learn to communicate. You’re doing what you can to help him by having hin enrolled in speech therapy at such an early age, and you sound like you’re doing your part at home to help him as well. Keep reading ideas here on the site, listening to the podcast, and if you’re not sure how to work with him at home, check out my DVDs. Good luck! Laura

  51. dk on December 14, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    just discovered your site…
    however, the home page comes up blank (when I click on home or the header)
    I also tried to subscribe and received the following message:
    The feed does not have subscriptions by email enabled

  52. Nancy on December 21, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    My daughter is 13 months old and does not talk at all. She has no words, or even word approximations. All she says is “ah, ah” or she’ll point and grunt if she wants something. She also doesn’t really babble and never even babbled as a baby. She very rarely will babble in the car when we are driving, she’ll say “babababa” but this is rare. I am having her hearing tested in two weeks, but I think she can hear because she seems to understand everything we say ie. “where’s the baby?” and she will go get her baby doll for me. She claps and waves bye bye.

    She seems fine socially and has met all other milestones. She walks well, feeds herself and is affectionate. Her receptive language is excellent also. I am having her seen here in Canada for her speech, but at this point all they are offering me is parent training because of her young age. I am trying some of your tips on your website, but it has been so discouraging because she doesn’t have any sounds apart from “ah, ah”.

    I guess I am wondering if it is possible that she is a only late talker despite the fact that she never babbled. Have you ever seen or worked with a child who was only speech delayed (as opposed to apraxic)and never babbled as an infant? I am so worried about her. What are your thoughts?

  53. Laura on December 22, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    DK – We’re experiencing website problems. The home page seems to go down about every 48 hours, and we’re working to find a permanent fix. Thanks for the notification!

  54. Laura on December 22, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Nancy – I have worked with children who seemed to skip babbling and go straight to words, but as you noted yourself, children with apraxia do this more often. Try looking at the article “Help! My Child Won’t Imitate Words” for other ideas of sounds she may be more likely to try to imitate. Some children try animal sounds more often than any other sound, and these are made up of the very same consonant and vowel sounds that words are, so try these. Also try these during fun and playful exchanges when you are just modeling the sounds yourself without lots of obvious cues for her to imitate you if she seems to “shut down” with pressure to perform. For more ideas, check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk with Apraxia and Phonological Disorder since you can SEE the techniques in action with real toddlers. Thanks for your question. Laura

  55. Chris on January 5, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    My grandson just turned 4 and barely speaks. Occasionally he will blurt out a word but not often. He had seizures starting at 2 months old and were finally under control at 13 months. He has been on medication and seizure free for 3 years. He is going to an early intervention pre-school where he gets speech, occupational and physical therapy once a week. He is doing remarkably well in most areas but is not talking. He knows some sign language and uses it. He understands if you tell him to get something or when I’m reading a book that he has heard repeatedly and he knows when his favorite part is coming up. He points to everyone when asked and watches wonder pets, etc. and laughs at the right places. I am concerned that he won’t talk. What is your advice.

  56. Laura on January 6, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Chris – This website is FULL of advice for ways you can play with him at home and facilitate those first words. I’d highly recommend that you take a look at articles in both the receptive language section to be sure he’s UNDERSTANDING language too since you have to understand words before you talk. You should also read the articles in the expressive language section as well to give you more ideas for eliciting those first words. I’d also recommend that you check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk for 6 strategies you can implement at home to get those early words going. It’s filled with examples of real children during therapy sessions and the kinds of things SLPs do to encourage young children to learn and use words and simple phrases. Sometimes it’s not what you’re doing, but how you’re doing it, and the DVD can help you SEE that first hand. Hope this helps!! Laura

  57. vita on January 12, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    My son is 3years and almost 4 months. He would say one or two words every now and then but he wont speak 3 more words. He’s not speaking in sentences. His father and older brother had ADHD. Had being that they grew out of the symptoms. They also had to see speech, behavior, and occupational therapists. My son is hyper and mostly inattention and doesn’t look me in the face when I’m talking to him. He looks me in the face when I’m singing. He learned his ABCs by the time he was 1 1/2 years old. His motor skills are fine. He’s just mumbles sometimes.

  58. Laura on January 14, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Vita – Based on what you’ve said, your son does likely have an expressive language delay. By 3 children should be talking in 4 and 5 word sentences consistently. Since he’s not doing this, I’d go ahead and encourage you to have him evaluated. You want him as ready as he can be for kindergarten in a couple of years. Check with your local public school district for an evaluation. Laura

  59. Jana Green on February 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Laura, it’s me again (heh!).

    As I go through the symptoms you list of apraxia, Jakob did/does ALL of them. And as far as I know my husband didn’t talk until he was almost three, and I required Speech therapy to work on my r’s until the 3rd grade.

    I have decided to get Jakob referred to a private SLP and have him re-evaluated, and I want to talk to the Therapist and see if she will treat him like he DOES have apraxia, even though he has not been diagnosed.

    Does that sound like something that I should do, or should I give the ‘traditional’ speech therapy techniques done by our ECI SLP a chance?

    I just don’t see them working. They don’t work for me, do you think they might work for her? I know (because I used to teach) that kids do different things for different people, especially when that different person is NOT his mom. Could this be the case with this SLP and Jakob?

    If so, how long do we keep doing the traditional methods before I press her to try something else, more focused?

    There’s a chance I might decide to do BOTH…private and state-funded ST. Could this be harmful to Jakob?

    Also I am working with him on my own at home, but I don’t want to stress him out, and I don’t want him to feel like he doesn’t do ANYTHING right. He is in fact very adept at many other aspects of development. So what would you say is the best way to go around our day-to-day routine and work on speech, but not OVER-DO it?

    Don’t worry, I’ll mellow out after I hear this answer…. 🙂

  60. Thomas on February 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Hi all,

    I am a 21 year old male. I have difficulty producing any words in a logical sentence and even writing logically. No words really come to my head. I was an only child and had everything done for me (spoilt in a sense) so now I walk around everyday staring at what is around me and not knowing where to go or what to do. I have resorted to finding at least one job so my girlfriend doesn’t think I am a complete bum. I don’t even know what to have for breakfeast, lunch or dinner. I am extremely absent minded and have a hard time observing what is around me. I have $8,000 in debt.

    If your child is experiencing any speech problems I would get onto it straight away or else you will risk having him end up like me. Please do it for the benefit of your children.

  61. Laura on February 7, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Jana – Since you’ve graciously decided to be on the podcast, we’ll talk about all of this at length on the show! Laura

  62. Laura on February 7, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Thomas – Thanks for your comment, and I hope things improve for you. There are many SLPs who work with adults, so I’d encourage you to continue with treatment, even as an adult. There are many, many techniques you can use to help you recall words and target improved written language. Ask your physician or search for community-based programs like Vocational Rehab who can refer you for continued treatment. If you need more specific ideas, email me back at Laura@teachmetotalk.com so I can help you find resources in your city. Good luck to you! Laura

  63. Jonathan on February 11, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    My Son is 3 1/2.. He has lots of problems pronoucing words. Most of the time we can figure out what he is saying and sometimes we cant. He even gets frustrated when we cant understand. He is extremly smart and understands anything you ask of him. We did take him to a speech therapist about 15 times but all he got out of it was to clearly say “mine” which discouraged my wife and I from continuing. Older brother and sister did most of the talking for him when he was younger which might be most of the problem. He started daycare at age 3 to be around kids his age and has had lots of improvement. Should we be concerned?? Thanks for any thoughts

  64. Laura on February 12, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Jonathan – Let me wholeheartedly recommend speech therapy for you again. If he has intelligibility problems, if he’s becoming even more frustrated, and if maturity is not making it better, then I’d give speech therapy another whirl.

    Now, at the risk of really offending you, I’m going to tackle something you’d probably not rather I bring up. I too have worked with parents who didn’t like it when a child learned to say words they didn’t want to encourage like “mine” or “no” or even something like “candy.” However, as I’m doing now, I try to gently point out that I’d much rather have a child use an appropriate word to express a very real-life emotion, rather than the alternative, which might be screaming or even physical aggression like hitting and biting. I would choose to teach a 2 year old to say “mine” every time (being careful to model it in way that’s not “bratty”) instead of leaving him to whack his sibling when he wants a toy, or even worse, stand there helplessly when another child tries to take something from him without an appropriate way to defend himself.

    However, YOU are his parents, not me, and I certainly respect your right to parent him as you wish. I just wanted to offer this little word of advice, which is likely much easier for you to read from me than it would be for your next SLP to tell you in person.

    If you’re really unsure of trying speech again, let me at least direct you to my DVD to teach you how to work with speech intelligibility problems – Teach Me To Talk with Apraxia and Phonological Disorders. On the DVD you’ll SEE how to implement speech therapy techniques at home that will help him speak more clearly and it’ll point you and your wife in the right direction with ideas for how to work with him yourselves. It may not help you fix everything, but it would likely be better than nothing.

    Thanks for your question, and again, I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings 🙂 Laura

  65. Justin on February 28, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    We have a 19 month old son (born 5 weeks early), he does not consistently say or repeat any words. From time to time he spits out a word once however you don’t hear it again (maybe max of 10 different words we have heard once or twice). We live in the States, I speak my native Australian English to him and my wife speaks her native Finnish to him. I see him in the evening and weekends, my wife is at home with him full time. He is not in any daycare and has limited interaction with other children or adults.

    He understand questions in both languages, if we ask him (in either language) if he wants milk he runs to the fridge waiting for milk, if we ask for the ball or favorite toy he will get the ball or toy. When he wants something like water her will just reach out and whine to get our attention, before giving it to him we try to encourage him to say water but he just get frustrated. Also when we try and get up close and personal to get him to repeat a word he gets very frustrated. On his own accord he mimics actions like hugging, kissing or being on the phone, however he does not respond to mimic actions under encouragement like waving hi or goodbye.

    He has no patience for learning and especially books, he can’t sit still for longer than 1-2 minutes, he just runs and runs all day long. He is not good with identifying putting shapes in the correct location in simple puzzles, he is unable to identify the difference between colors or shapes when asked which is blue or which is square.

    He has been developmentally slower across most things like walking and has reached most things with a little extra time. He seems to have very little patience and it doesn’t seem like he is catching up with the speech or identifying the commonalities in colors and shapes.

  66. Laura on February 28, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Justin – Thanks for your comment. I don’t think you should worry about him not knowing colors or shapes yet since it’s still too early for that, but he should be imitating familiar words easily and often and should have an expressive vocabulary of 10-15 words by now. I also wouldn’t worry about books or a short attention span just yet either since LOTS of children (especially boys) his age, both with and without language delays, are the same way.

    But that being said, his receptive language is moving along, and research tells us that children who live in bilingual homes do speak later than those growing up hearing only one language.

    Since you are in the USA you can have him evaluated by your state’s early intervention program. Google your state’s name plus the phrase “early intervention” for contact information. If he doesn’t begin to say some words on his own consitently and certainly if he doesn’t start to imitate in the next couple of months, I’d encourage you to go ahead and pursue this assessment.

    In the meantime, read the articles here on the website for ideas. You can also check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk with easy to implement strategies that you and your wife can use to work with him at home. Sometimes SEEING someone else implement the recommendations makes it easier for you to do those things with your own child. Hope these ideas help! Laura

  67. Dorothy on March 20, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Hi my 38 month old has maybe a 300 – 500 word knowledge. However she’s still largely babbling and talking baby talk. Often her words come out wrong. soo for shoe b,z,sh,th words come out totally wrong. Also if you talk low she won’t respond. If you talk loud you might get her attention. If you get down to her level and make her make eye contact the results are a lot better. My problem is that i can’t find a speech therapist or pediatric doctor who will listen to my concerns.
    They tried telling me that developmentally she’s 2. Now how many 2 year olds can clearly say backpack?!! Not many. She just started running and loves it! She look at me and say “I running!” and continue on. However she does trip often while running and walking. It’s gotten better but been slow.
    Recently she’s taken an interest in lacing. She does really well. Also if it’s dark she’ll look at me and go, “Horses, birdies, night-night?” asking if the birds and our neighbors horses are sleeping. I’ve been told she understands a lot like a 2 year old, but I’ve seen much much better than that. She does not like to perform for people.
    She does have a bad gag reflex and is still glued to the pacifier. We’ve been working on the latter issue, and it’s limited only to when she sleeps. She rarely makes eye contact with anyone on her own. Sometimes i worry she could have a touch of autism or md. However without a doctor listening to my worries there’s no way of knowing. What is your advice on this? One thing everyone agrees with is that something is wrong. That’s the only thing they agree with. At this point I’m very frustrated and not sure where to turn on any of it.

  68. Laura on March 25, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Dorothy – How frustrating for you to KNOW something isn’t right with your daughter and not be able to find any help! Have you had her formally evaluated by a private SLP or your local public school system? If she’s functioning on a 2 year old level, she should qualify for speech therapy and the public school preschool program. Try there if you haven’t already. Based on what you’ve said about her, her delays are REAL and you need some assistance to help you learn how to work with her at home. Keep knocking on doors until you find someone who will see her for therapy and teach you things you can do with her at home to move her skills along. Thanks for your questions! Laura

  69. Faith on March 29, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I have a 12 month old that has always been a “spirited” baby. I stay home with her and read to her, play with her, etc. I have watched your clips and they have taught me how to be a little more expressive, but for the most part I feel like I do those things, but she is still not said any words. She babbles all the time (with inflection) and says dada, apple, baby but is not actually referring to those people/objects. She also does not understand if I say “bring me the ball” and I’m not sure she knows I am mama. I have talked to the Early Intervention Program and they are coming out to do an Eval her this week, but told me that she is too young to have SLP. Should I be concerned?

  70. Laura on March 29, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Faith – She is very, very young. Keep doing the things you’re doing, and hopefully she will begin to understand you and then finally say words. Read the ideas here on the site and work to include those in your play. If she’s still not coming along in a few months, then you might consider ordering Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 and Teach Me To Talk for more specific help. I’m glad you’re getting an eval since you’re worried, but she may not qualify for services yet. Hopefully she’ll come along and you won’t need it at all. Laura

  71. Sean on April 18, 2010 at 7:49 am

    My son is 17 months old. He says things like mama, dada, O-Wow, UH-HO, baba, and thats pretty much it. But when we ask him to go find a cup, bottle, his brother, mommy, daddy, ect ect he will do these tasks. My wife and I read to him everyday. Should I be concerned ?

  72. Laura on April 18, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Sean – By 18 months old he should have a minimum of about 15 words he says on his own. It’s great that he’s understanding language since children have to understand language BEFORE they can talk. There are many things you can do with him at home to work on language. Keep reading here on the website for ideas in the expressive language section. You can also take a look at my DVD Teach Me To Talk to SEE how an SLP would work with him at home to get that expressive vocabulary going. Thanks for the question! Laura

  73. Erika on April 22, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    My daughter is 2y and she is not talking. Her vocabulary consists of 10 words; she does not follow comands either. EI evaluated her and did not qualify based on the overall score since socially, motor skills etc…she is well within the limits; however, her vocabulary is not improving, she does not point to obj. in a book, and is just starting to name some body parts. She watched a lot of tv when little and we are a bilingual family. I stopped speaking my native language and we are speaking english only now. Sometimes i think she does not want to talk, other times i think she does not understand language. The only words she uses daily and in context are mama, come,up, hi, baby and no but she knows also nose, wow, tickle, mouth, eyes, oh oh. I insisted in a re-evaluation and now it seems that she will get some help throught ESD. repetition seems to help but witholding or signing has not worked so far. I live in a little town with only speech therapist available. Any suggestions. I also wonder if i should just speak engligh to my 8m baby boy. Thanks a lot! and enjoy listening to your show!

  74. Laura on April 24, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Erika – When toddlers are having a difficult time understanding language, I do recommend that parents stick to one primary language. Kate and I are going to talk about this at length on our show next week, so tune in for that disucssion. I am very,very glad you had her re-evaluated since she does sound like she needs the help. Good luck with her! Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with. Laura

  75. Bryan Tucker on May 5, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Hi well my story would start with one of my twin boys who is aged is basically 3 years and 3 months old, We have been to many doctors and all is said he is a late bloomer but i will tend to disagree. He has one word for everything, and this is “MUM”, i can ask him to get me anything around the house and he will go and get it so its not a problem that he doesnt understand, he just wont or cant talk, at this age i am really getting worried because his speech is going to be so far behind even his twin brother well thats another story he just wont be quiet. Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated. I am kind of leaning towards Apraxia, thank you

  76. Laura on May 5, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Bryan – I responded to your question on Facebook, but I’ll answer here as well. Has he a speech-language eval? I’d strongly encourage you to begin there. It sounds like you might be outside the USA, and this might be more difficult for you.

    As I responded on Facebook I’d start with teaching him signs to reduce his frustation level. You can find info about starting that by reading articles in the sign language section.

    I’d also encourage you to take a look at the DVDs. I always recommend that parents start with Teach Me To Talk and then progress to the Apraxia DVD once you strongly suspect that diagnosis and have implemented the basic strategies in Teach Me To Talk.

    Let me know if you have any specific questions. Otherwise – keep reading! Most of my nuts & bolts, “how to” articles for each category listed above are the oldest ones, so scroll back to the oldest articles and then read forward.

    Thanks so much for your question and let me know how I can help you! Laura

  77. Sherry on May 10, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Laura,

    I am waiting patiently for your DVDs to arrive and am listening closely to your shows. Thank you so much. I am trying but I really want to watch your DVDs.

    My little guy has just turned 17 months.
    I am like rushing to meet the 18 month deadline.
    He is saying only ‘no no’ frequently and uses it correctly when he doesn’t want something.

    He says juice, fish and cheese of an on but not often and can go for days without saying any of the above even though we prompt constantly. Other words I think he may have said are like ma ma ma, ball, bye bye but I almost have heard him said that in a long while.

    The funny thing is that he can mimic animal sounds like dog, elephant, bird, duck. He will do it every time we say an animal sound without a problem.

    I am almost sure his receptive language is ok as I have said to him things with no visual cues and he understands and loves music and nursery rhymes and will do the twinkle twinkle or insy winsy spider or wheels on the bus.

    The main thing is that he just won’ t speak more often. Is there something to be worried. I see you mentioning that 15 to 21 months old is when toddlers start stringing 2 words and he is just working on getting one word out.

    Do you think I should be alarmed? What can I do to make him speak more often. I have tried doing the fish biscuit thing…with hold giving the fish biscuit and repeating fish multiple times prompting him to say it and it doesn’t really work.

    What do you suggest get more words out of him? Do sounds like animal sounds count as words?

    It is just sometimes discouraging working with him for a long time and not get any new word. Please tell me what I should do and if there is something I should be concern about?


  78. Laura on May 12, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Sherry – The DVDs will answer lots of these questions and show you exactly how to target language during play. In oru experience over the last 2 years, international orders have sometimes taken up to 4 weeks to arrive in Asia. Today Johnny sent you an email to talk with you about this further.

    I so appreciate your concern about your little boy, and I love to work with go-getter moms like you! But I have to wonder if in your anxiousness, if you’re putting too much pressure on him AND yourself. Watch the DVDs and focus on being really, really playful, connecting with him, and having fun.

    If it’s just an expressive langauge delay,and that’s all it sounds like to me at this point, the words will come.

    Keep doing the things you’re doing. Signing is the only other thing I’d suggest you do with him. Have you looked at this section of the website? There’s a section about how to teach signs on the DVD Teach Me To Talk, so you’ll get to see that too.

    I wish I could give you a hug to reassure you! He’s very, very young, and chances are good that this will all resolve. Watch the DVDs and then get back to me if you need more help! Laura

  79. Nikki Thiede on July 31, 2010 at 3:21 pm


    I have a 20 month old born at 36weeks…he says about 8 words but rarely spontaneously…I usually have to say can you say.. He has said about 30 words but most of the words I haven’t heard them said more than once. He understands everything we say..and brings things when we ask and can point to may animals and objects in a book. He says what’s dat all the time since he was 15 months old.I am getting concern but my ped says she isn’t worried yet. What is your thoughts? I tried your playfulness approach and he has added words in one day. 🙂 I don’t want to wait to long. I hope you can give some advice thanks in advance. Nikki

  80. Nikki Thiede on August 2, 2010 at 6:18 am

    Ps. Although he added a word from playfulness I can’t get him to say it again. That has been my problem he will say them once and rarley again. Maybe I am putting to much pressure on him.

    Thanks! Nikki

  81. Laura on August 5, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Nikki – I like your question so much that Kate and I are going to answer it today on my podcast “Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate” at 5 pm eastern time. You can listen live from here on the website, or better yet, call in and discuss it with us yourself. The call in # is 1-718-766-4332. If you can’t join us live, you can listen later for some ideas for you to try. Laura

  82. Nikki on September 12, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Thank you Laura for anwsering my question on air. I appreciate you clarifying that spontaneous words are what counts…that has helped a lot in being clear of what to say to the doc. He was saying approx. 6 words (instead of the 8 I mentioned) if mom and dad count. I was wondering while I wait for the referral and use your wonderful tips and techniques if I can ask….What qualifies as a word (that we count) per se…..some tell me if they say for example Bi for Bike its consider a word others say they have to say the full word intelligently? How often do they have to say the word to be considered using the word. The other question is My son has added several words from utilizing your techniques around 10-15words words used more often, 35 words that he has used more than once… my question he seems to have trouble with oo words….Mooo is mmmm and oops is Ops…etc… Is this something he will correct over time or should I work on getting him to say oo properly. Thanks again for having videos and a website that helps this first time mom make sense of the langauge development goals. (He is 21 months)

  83. jon on October 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    My child is 33 months old. He has yet to put two words together other than uh-oh. He will often babble ma ma ma ma ma or say da da. We currently meet with a speech therapist once a week, but he seems totally uninterested. He will not even try to immitate simple words but is very good at following directions. He knows the names of things and is able to identify them when ask. At times he can immitate animal sounds when ask. Doctors have tested his hearing more than once and say it is fine. When he wants something, he will find an adult and physically take them to it or point while saying “uh”. He has not been diagnosed with anything other than “oh he’s fine”. Any advice.

  84. Christie on December 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I have a son who is 7 years old, he has downsyndrome. I am really getting concerned because he still doesn’t talk at all. When he was around a year old he would say mama, and dada but when he turned 1 1/2 that all stopped. He has had speech therapy since he was born. He has had tubes put in his ears 4 times and the have done hearing test on him and say he can hear. If anyone has any advice for me on what I can do to try and get my son to even say mama or anything please help me. I just want to hear my son talk! 🙂

  85. Laura on December 30, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Christie – How is his language comprehension? Is he signing or using some other alternative communication system? Does he vocalize at all? Does he try to imitate words? What does his SLP say?

    Some children with Down Syndrome first begin to talk as late as 8, so it’s not too late. You can still use the strategies here on the website for him. Even older children who are still functioning at a younger developmental level will benefit from these strategies in both the receptive and expressive language categories. Take a look at those articles for ideas.

    Good luck, and don’t give up! Laura

  86. Melissa on January 14, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    I have a 15 month old boy who is playful, interactive, outgoing, and babbles almost constantly. I, however, am worried about the number of spontaneous words that he uses, and uses correctly. He says Mama, Dada, GiGi(grandma), no, and uhoh pretty regularly and seems to know what the mean (especially no). He says other words here and there and will sometimes say things for a couple days and then we never hear it again. He is responsive to his name and some commands such as stop, come here, let’s eat (runs to highchair) and let’s see if Daddy’s home (runs to door). He will say “toot toot” when playing with his train. He gestures by pointing and can clap and give a “high five” but does not wave. He has said bye bye once or twice but not consistently. He has been a late bloomer in some other aspects (crawling at 9 months, walking at 13 months) but has always fell into the normal category. He really “talks” to me a lot, with all kinds of sounds, but rarely makes words I understand, but he smiles and uses inflection like he knows just what he means. He plays purposefully throwing balls and rolling cars, it is just the speech I worry about. Should I look into speech therapy now, or wait until the 18 month mark?

  87. Laura on January 14, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Melissa – Thanks for your question. How are you working with him to learn new words? Are you consistently and purposefully modeling single words so that he can learn to consistently imitate you? Is he repeating any animal sounds or other “silly” words besides “Uh-oh?” Are you using high energy play with him so that he wants to stay with you to play and repeat what you say? Have you introduced any signs? Is he pointing to any body parts and identifying any objects – Go get your ball, Bring me the book, Where are your shoes? Have you tried any signs with him? Those are things I’d work on immediately. If you’re not sure how to do all of these things, please keep reading for ideas here on the website and check out my DVDs.

    If you implement these strategies, and he doesn’t add new words, then pursue the speech eval. I will tell you that the eligiblity requirements for most state early intervention programs are set so that only children with moderate to significant delays qualify, and since he already has a few words and isn’t showing concerns in other areas, he likely would not qualify for services right now anyway.

    However, if you’re still really worried, you can pursue services privately, meaning that you pay out of pocket or use your insurance to cover the coss of therapy. If I were you, I’d probably go the “mommy therapy” route and then see how he does between 18 to 21 months. By 18 months the minimum # of words he should say spontaneously is 15, so shoot for that. Based on what you’ve said about him and how committed you are, my guess is that with some focused effort using the right strategies, you’ll get there, if not by 18,then shortly after.

    Let me know how he does and if I can help you in any other way?


  88. Rachel on January 17, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Hi, I just found your site a few days ago and I’ve read it top to bottom! I have a few questions for you if you don’t mind.
    Kid #1 – My son is 15.5 months old. He was a preemie and is 13.5 months old corrected age. He babbles ALL the time but has few real words. He says something that means Daddy (like dadeedee)and sometimes “num num”. Tonight he added “Duh” (duck) and quack!! He said his first word at 9 months – kitty – but he doesn’t say it anymore. He says “woof” but 95% of the time he goes “mMM!” without even opening his mouth. At this point, could his lack of expressive language be due to him being a preemie? He’s caught up in every other way. He knows 6 signs and is attempting more. He’s doing well in receptive language and can correctly respond to “Where is your foot”, “take off your hat”, etc. I’m not sure if at this point I should be looking at his actual or corrected age for development. Any thoughts?
    Kid #2 – We are adopting a little boy who has down syndrome. He will be 4 in April. I know he babbles, but doesn’t speak (if the info is correct!). We will be spending several weeks visiting him in his orphanage so we’ll have some time for therapy! Is there any advice you have for me to help facilitate his speech development before we come home? We won’t be able to bribe him with food :).
    Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!

  89. Laura on January 18, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Rachel – Thanks so much for your questions!

    Kid #1 – We correct for prematurity until a child has his second birthday. It sounds like he’s making progress with language with signs and more importantly, since his receptive language is moving along. He’s also using lots of speech sounds, so that’s a great sign too. Keep reading ideas here on the website for ways to work with him at home. Many preemies are late talkers, and every thing else sounds like he’s putting the foundational pieces in place for language.

    Kid #2 – Introduce single words for whatever he’s paying attention to at the moment and work to help him build those receptive language skills in his new language through play. This will be a challenge, but I’m sure you already know that! I’d also get him in speech ASAP as well as a solid preschool program that emphasizes language. Take a look at my DVDs for more specific ways to play with him to target language.

    Good luck Rachel – you have your work cut out for you!!!

  90. nav on February 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm


    I have a question. My son has a considerable speech delay but i dont know whether its apraxia or any other disorder. Can you suggest me?

    I have a son who is 2.7 years old. AS of now he dont have speech. he jargons a lot which is not meaningful.He says papa, mama baba but not always.he tries to say one,two when hear counting song, repeat vowel sounds like a, o, e, i and ha, sh few other. He loves to be cuddled by me and my husband. We are working with speech therapist from last one month but not much improvement in speech. Therapist says he has few traits of autism like hyperactive, aggresive at times, tactile to socks and shoes, poor response. BUt he says cant say autism till 5 years. His eye contact has improved with therapy. But he tends to ignore most of people other than us. But i have seen him seeing other children from distance and seems scared to mix up with them or ignores them and play alone.
    He loves to see songs on tv, hear rhymes, see himself in mirror, loves to see books for good 30 mins, use crayons well.
    He is aware of his safety well and gets scared from some horrible cartoon or any violent scenes in songs.
    He undersatnds our gestures if we gets angry at him or we laugh or smile. HE smiles back.
    He tells his needs by taking me and pointing my hand to what he want.
    He sometimes do lining of objects, otherwise do puzzles of his age very well, play with his toys well.
    I am totally confused why his speech is not coming although he keeps talking meaningless most of times.Sometimes he repeats 3-4 words phrases behind us but on rare occasion. most of times he repeats phonics sounds behind me. I keep on telling him nose eyes by pointing or making funny sounds from nose. he pays attention grabs my nose but never try to say nose or when i ask whr is mama’s nose he wont tell.
    Can you help me what can i do to help my child?

  91. nav on February 4, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Hi Laura

    I am desperately waiting for your reply.
    I want to add few things.My son used to do head banging when he was 1 and half but then he left it by age of 2. He is an active child. He keeps on moving his body even when he is relaxing on bed but i guess how much of restlessness is normal in toddler.
    We are moving to Singapore soon. I will be looking for new school and therapist there.
    I tried showing him famils pics but even if he pays little attention to that he never tries to repeat if i m saying nani,nana or dada(grandparents in our native language) I saw him practicing words 2-3 times only in front of mirror or when he is alone.
    I have searched a lot about different disorders but i dont know exactly in which his problem falls. From symptoms of different disorders what i studied my son’s symptoms matches with few of every disorder and not completely with any one disorder.
    What should i do as parents to help him and i badly want my son to develop his communication, social interaction, speech like most of his kids do. Doesnt mean i expect him to say all genius things but atleast he can express himself, his needs,address his parents and common objects correctly.

  92. Laura on February 4, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Nav – I’m glad he’s in speech therapy now. What kinds of things does your SLP recommend that you work on at home with him? It sounds like he’s making some progress too in improving how much he attends to you and with better eye contact, but I’m sure it’s not as fast as you’d like. One month is not very long to be in therapy and measure progress.

    Focusing on helping him connect with you and learning to understand your words are the first steps in helping him learn to communicate. Have you checked out my DVDs and therapy manual Teach Me To Play WITH You? Those will give you more ideas as you work with him at home in addition to what your SLP recommends.

    It’s generally not true that a child isn’t formally diagnosed with autism until age 5, but perhaps that’s what happens in your area. Are you in the US? Much of the time it’s earlier, say around age 3, when kids are diagnosed especially if their language is delayed.

    Another recommendation would be working with an occupational therapist in addition to his SLP since he does seem to have some sensory processing differences as well.

    Hope these ideas help! Laura

  93. nav on February 4, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Hi Laura

    I am really grateful for your reply.
    Actually we are in India. We consulted one occupational therapist here who diagnosed him with ADHD with tactile. He said it could be diagnosed as mild autism but at this stage we cant say. My son used to get very cranky there.I tried in 7-8 sessions but I found out Occupational therapist was not much proficient enough with his techniques to treat.
    So i switched to SLP. He said its speech delay with hyperactivity and slow response.
    He said try to make him repeat vowel sounds, and combine 2 words like papa come by looking into his eyes and showing him family photos to make him recognize his grandparents who dont live with us.
    We are soon moving to singapore so will be consulting therapist there.
    Will he be able to recover with speech and sensory issues with proper occupational therapy.

    I really value your opinion.What is your take DO you feel its towards autism or ADHD. I am totally confused what exactly is his disorder.Why it happened? When will he recover?
    Will he be able to attend normal playschools and develop speech normally.
    His attention and eye contact improved considerably with 10-15 sessions of therapy. He completes his activities like making bead necklace, board puzzles. Loves to color with crayons, can open lids of any jar, stacking tower.

    One more thing are these disorders anyway related to MMR vaccination. As I can recollect my son’s behaviour showed all these problems after this vaccination that was after 1.5 year.

  94. Heather on February 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Hi Laura,

    My daughter just turned 3 years old at the end of January and for a while I have been wondering if she is behind in her speech. I have noticed friends of mine that have similar children her age seem to speak clearer than she can. I sometimes have thought well maybe it’s because she doesn’t have much contact with other children and is not in daycare/preschool like they are but I worry that it’s not just that. We did just enroll her in a dance program so she would have regular interaction with other children but I still am concerned it may be something else. She says a lot of things and puts words together but I still get the feeling that she’s not fully understanding me at times. I read about receptive language disorder and I felt like everything hit the nail on the head with my daughter. I was wondering if this would apply to a 3 year old? She does say some sentences and puts words together but then other times she jumbles a few of her words in her sentences but we can figure out what she means by picking out the other words. Sometimes it seems like talks too fast and can’t get her point across and gets frustrated. She can sometimes say complete sentences with words she’s familiar with but then other times she says things that we cannot understand and a few words that we can. I do plan to talk to her Dr. in March about this but I wanted to ask your opinion about this.

    Thank you!

  95. Doug Erwin on February 10, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    My son is four years old and has still not said a single word even Mama. Does anyone have any thoughts about this or know who I could call for help.

  96. Tammy on February 20, 2011 at 4:17 am

    My 27 month old boy does not talk as much as he should for his age. The few words that he say will not be complete words. For example our dog name is Dino. He calls him Dio. Instead of mommy he says magie. Daddy he says Daee. He goes to daycare and they have stated that he does some things when he wants to and not at the moment he’s told. On the other hand he takes my iPhone and can easily operate it as an adult. Sometimes better. I have him schedule for next month with a speech therapist. What can I do to help the meantime. This is very frustrating for me. Since I see other kids his age are so much advanced in speech than he is. Please help!!

  97. Laura on February 20, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Tammy – I’m glad you’re getting him assessed. Some errors you’re describing are pretty common in toddlers who are newer talkers, but Maggie for Mommy is not as common an error. The SLP can help you sort all of these things out. However, I would suggest that you work on helping him learn to understand more language which is likely the reason he’s not following directions as well as he should be. I’d also work to expand his vocabulary too, helping him learn to say more words, before you worry too much about fixing his speech sound errors. Keep reading for ideas here on the website, and you may want to check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk so that you can SEE how to work with him at home. Good luck with him, and let us know how the eval goes! Laura

  98. Lisa on February 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Hi Laura could u please help me .I have a 21 months old boy who doesn’t talk. All he does is talk baby talk and sometime say mama…,and dada..and no no that it. I went for his 18 months check up doctor refered him to go get his ear test but not until April . At the mean time wat can I do to help him talk? He is perfectly normal very active kid love to play with other kids .He makes car sound when he is playing with his toy cars and train sounds when playing with train . He understand some of the things u ask him to do like for example if u ask him to throw something in the garbage he will do it . But if u ask him to go get the remote for the tv he won’t understand wat u saying to him. He will pull u to get wat he wants and copy wat u do like if u are dancing he will dance if u clap ur hand he will clap his hands etc .., but he won’t talk much I know sometimes he wants to say something but he can’t could u please help me I’m really worry . Thank you very much .

  99. Laura on February 24, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Lisa – This whole website is dedicated to helping you know how to work with your child at home. Read the articles here in the expressive language section. You may also want to get my DVD Teach Me To Talk so that you can SEE how to work with him in play at home. Laura

  100. Mary on March 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    My grandson is 17 months old and doesn’t say anything. When he wants something, he just points and grunts. He seems to understand everything and points to his eyes, ears, etc. when I ask him to. Is there something developmentally wrong with him? Pleas help.

  101. Laura on March 15, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Hi Mary! By 18 months a child should be imitating LOTS of familiar words and have 15 or so words he says on his own AT A MINIMUM, so there does seem to be a language delay going on. Have you spoken to his parents about this? Sometimes parents don’t realize a child should be talking by now, and many parents are more laid back thinking, “He’s a boy,” etc….

    All states have an early intervention program where his communication skills language can be evaluated for free, but parents must make the referral. To find out more information, you can Google your state’s name plus the phrase “Early Intervention.”

    If you’re wondering how you can help him yourself, you may want to order my DVD Teach Me To Talk. Many grandmothers have emailed me to say that watching this helped them teach their grandchildren to use more words, particularly if they see the child often. You can also read through the articles here on the website for specific ideas to use with him. Try reading articles in the expressive language category first. You can find the categories on the top of the page in the yellow menu bar. Click back to the oldest entries since those are the articles with the most “How To” information.

    Thanks for your question. I hope everything works out for all of you! He’s lucky to have a grandmother who cares about his development! Laura

  102. Leigh on March 20, 2011 at 6:11 pm


    My niece’s child is 29 months old and I have never heard him say a word. He will grunt and point. Sometimes it sounds like he says “da”. He understands what you tell him. If I tell him “no”, he minds. If I tell him “put that back or come here or bring that to me”, he does. My niece has had his earing checked and all is well. There are no speech delayed issues in the family. This just does not seem like “normal” development but my niece does not seem to be concerned. Shouldn’t he be saying at least “momma” and “daddy”?


  103. Laura on March 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Leigh – You are right. He should have hundreds of words by 2 1/2, and he should be speaking in short phrases consistently. His mom should be very concerned about him, BUT I know from first hand experience how difficult it is to talk with someone in your family about language delays and other developmental issues. Maybe the child’s grandmother can have a discussion with his mother and persuade her to have him evaluated if that’s something you’re uncomfortable doing. She can get information about her state’s early intervention program by searching with the phrase “early intervention” and your state’s name. The assessment is free, and therapy is low cost or free if it’s not covered by insurance. Good luck to you all! Laura

  104. Sarah Morris on March 26, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    My son chase just turned 2 in Nov, so hes bout 28months.. We have been with Early On for almost a year now. Our doctor said for us to enroll since chase was not talking. We have even been to the hospitals developmental clinic. I get no answers for why my son dont talk or even possable reasons he may not. He makes baby noise’s. Just random sounds really. And he does say Mama, Bye bye, hi, and thanks you. But those are recent and even sound off..Kinda like he is not anunceating like caveman speak. again we see speech theripist and special education on a weekly babsis. But i really find them NO help at all. They seem to just come and play with him, then help. And chase just dont seem into it. He dont seem to care at all. Ive tried everything. Chase does let you know what he want by pointing and making noise. And he does alot on his own. Infact his motor skill are VERY high.. I can barely keep his attention and the tantrums get worse with age..I just dont know what to do???

  105. Laura on March 29, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Sarah – It doesn’t sound like you’re getting very much information from your current team. You should tell them that you’ve very worried about Chase and want them to explain to you exactly what they think is going on. It could be that they are reluctant to formally diagnose him yet. It could be that they think they are providing you with helpful information, so you’re going to have to tell them that you don’t understand what the problem is or how you can help him at home.

    ALL therapy with 2 year olds should look like play, but there’s a lot more going on than that! But they need to explain it to you so that you’re move aware of what their goals are. If they are working to establish a social connection with him, and it sounds to me like that might be the primary goal right now, it will look a lot like play. The fact that “he’s not into it” makes me more concerned about Chase since two year olds should be pretty easy to engage. If he’s primarily “doing his own thing,” then I would be very concerned about his ability to UNDERSTAND language and interact with others, which has to come BEFORE he’s ready to talk. Those behaviors, along with his decreased attention and tantrums that are getting worse make me very concerned that there’s a lot more going on than late talking. You need to have a very direct conversation with your SLP and special ed therapists to ask them exactly what they think since they can see him and I can’t.

    One other thing I’d recommend is for you to take a look at my DVDs to SEE how to work with Chase at home. If you’re not learning too much from your therapists who see him, perhaps watching the DVDs where the strategies are explained to parents and then demonstrated will help you more.

    Thanks for your questions, and I hope this information helps you! Laura

  106. Gean Johnson on May 1, 2011 at 5:10 pm


    I have just found this page and hope you can help. I have a five year old grandson who can say only five words. At the age of eight months, he had met all of his milestones, he crawled, stood, rolled over and walked by age eight months. He had acid reflux for about seven months before he was put on medication. He never babbled or made any sounds other than crying. He has been tested for hearing and it’s fine. He’s had genetic testing and was found to have something wrong with one of his chrosomes. He went to speech therapy for a year with no results. He had home training for about four months, with the result of being able to say up, stop, hep(help), and no. I have thought I heard him say things before when I wasn’t looking at him, but I can’t be sure. He has been in pre-school for two years and his teacher is a speech therapist. He gets along well with kids, loves puzzles, painting, riding all types of vehicles, such as razor scooter, bicycle, battery operated cars. He can bat and kick balls, anything a normal boy his age can do and better than a lot. He understands commands, can put on his clothes and shoes. He brings books to me to be read, but he keeps turning the pages and doesn’t listen. Sometimes, he just stares into space for several seconds and I think he may be having a seizure. He also is not potty trained but will urinate in the toilet if you take him there. If I try to get him to say words, he will stop looking at me and refuse to look up. I guess he has heard the same thing for so many years. The school system has not helped very much. They have him scheduled for pre-school again. Please, if anyone can help me. Is it possible that he may talk one day? He has a three year old brother who talked very early and has a great vocabulary. He has a seven year old brother who talked maybe a year later than normal, but is fine now but having trouble with reading. Their mother has a mild case of Tourette’s and I don’t know what effect this might have on them. Thank you for any help.

  107. Laura on May 3, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Gean – He’s already getting services, so talk to his SLP aobut the kinds of things you all can do at home to help him. She should be able to make some recommendations since she knows him.

    Since he does have a specific diagnosis, do all you can to learn about what’s been proven to help those children with his diagnosis learn to communicate. Google it. Ask his doctor. Again, ask his therapist. You didn’t tell me what it was so I could help you locate resources, so I have no idea if talking is a realistic goal for him or not. I always encourage parents and grandparents not to give up. 5 is not too late.

    I think the reason he’s not talking is due to the genetic issue, not his mother’s Tourettes.

    My DVD Teach Me To Talk may give you more specific help about how you can work with him at home since you can SEE the kinds of play that works to help a child learn to talk. Use the code INTRO when you’re ordering it to save $10.

    Thanks for your question, and good luck with him. He’s lucky to have a grandmother who cares so much about him. Laura

  108. samantha on May 12, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    My daughter is 24 months old. I have seen her doctor about her language issues and he told me to give her 6 months then go back. She can say some words, Mom, Dad, bowl, back pack. In all I would say that she around 15 words that she uses regularly. She uses them in the right context and I know she hears me because she answers two part commands. There just aren’t as many words as other children her own age and I can’t say a word to her and have her repeat it. If I say a word and ask her to say it she just ignores me.

  109. Jennifer on May 26, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    My son is 18 months old and he has no words yet. he seems to understand what we are saying to him but he does not talk at all. He was a very quiet baby and is still rather quiet. He will make a few sounds but doesn’t seem to try to form words.

    We saw a Speech Language Pathologist 2 days ago and left feeling very uneasy. She said she has some concerns about his developmental communication skills but did not elaborate any further. She said it was concerning to her that he can occupy his own time and entertain himself. His sister is only a few weeks old so he was an only child til then. At daycare he doesn’t really play with teh other kids but will kind of do his own thing.

    I’m just not sure what to do from here. My husband and I know he probably isn’t where he should be with his speech but we kept getting told he will talk when he is ready…what should we do from here?

  110. manu on May 28, 2011 at 5:31 am

    My nephew is 38 months old ,I am not sure what could be the problem
    1. Still he is not able to answer basic question like “what is your name” looks like he doesn’t bother at all
    2. Though he understands his name when I try to call him with his name he responds
    3. he remembers songs played on TV even can remember ,even can sing after many days
    but when I ask him to sing particular song he never responds ,it seems as if he has not understood my question or he doesn’t bother at all
    4. If he needs something he can communicate for e.g.”I need milk,I wan’t to go out etc ”
    5. Sometimes when I ask him some questions like “do you want to go out?, do you want milk? etc”
    He responds with yes or no .but there are very few questions that he can understand for other questions he doesn’t bother
    as if he has not understood anything.
    Pls advice

  111. Laura on June 1, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Jennifer – Although I haven’t seen him and don’t know any of this for sure, based on what you’ve said, it sounds like the SLP has other developmental concerns besides late talking, and it sounds like this is a surprise for you. Many times parents think that a child’s behaviors are part of his temperament or personality, but a professional might see a red flag, as in this case, it’s with his social skills. It sounds like she doesn’t think he’s interacting well with others and feels this is the root of the language delay. Social engagement is CRITICAL for language development. If this is her concern for him, it is very important that you work on this now so that you consistently engage him. Without appropriate social connectedness, even if children develop language, it’s still atypical if the words aren’t communicative. Did he follow directions for her in the assessment? If not, then you may be overestimating his receptive language skills, or he may be relying on visual cues or your routines to get himself through the day rather than understanding words. Again, this is purely speculative on my part since I haven’t seen him. If you feel the SLP was off the mark, see someone else for a 2nd opinion, but it is important that you follow up. Developmental issues hardly resolve on their own. If there’s a mild delay, it is possible for a child to catch up without therapy, but waiting for a significant language delay and/or social communication disorder to resolve on its own is often what makes a parent feel more guilty than anything they DID do. Of course that’s not what’s going on with you since you took your 18 month old for an eval, but don’t get so spooked by her initial impressions that you don’t pursue help for him. If this IS more than an expressive language delay, you’re doing such a great job by getting a jump on this so early. If not, then you’re still doing a great job by getting a jump on this so early! Pin the SLP down to find out exactly what she meant by asking lots of questions. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help you! Laura

  112. Laura on June 1, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Manu – Based on what you’ve said, it does sound like he’s having some problems understanding or processing language, but of course I don’t know this for sure since I can’t see him! The thing to do would be to have him evaluated by a speech-language pathologist who works with very young children. Of course his parents will have to do this for him unless you have custody. Do you live in the USA? If so, then begin with your local public school program. The evaluation will be free, and if he qualifies, he can go to speech therapy and/or preschool to address his delays so that he’s completely ready for kindergarten. Let me know if you have other questions. Laura

  113. henna on June 8, 2011 at 4:25 am

    Hi Laura, my 26 month old daughters some speech delay,she says around 30 words.most of her words are missing end consonants . She is joining a very few two word combinations. I see that she is learning words but with great difficulty. She is at home with me until 2 years, she just started her daycare, since then she started singing bits and pieces of rhymes but not clear though. She is very active at home,but in daycare she is shy.she does sit besides other kids but she does only parallel play. She is fine with adults but little scared of other kids in the park. She wants her dad to follow her while she plays. She sometimes says hi to strangers too.

  114. Laura on June 16, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Henna – Her language is behind what we’d want to see for a 26 month old. I wouldn’t worry about HOW she’s saying the words for now. Many children don’t include ending consonant sounds until they are closer to their 3rd birthdays. However, I would continue to help her learn to understand and use more words, both at home and at daycare. When her vocabulary increases, then you’ll hear more 2 word phrases. For some ideas for how to work with her at home to increase her vocabulary, check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk and continue to read the articles here on the website. Laura

  115. Henna on June 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks a lot for the response laura. One more question, do you think her shyness and the park behaviour are of a concern?

  116. Laura on June 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Henna – Based on what you’ve said, I think the shyness is just part of her personality rather than a developmental problem. Many toddlers want their parents near them in new or overwhelming situations and actually, that’s a good sign of her attachment to you and of cognitive awareness that she’s in a new and potentially dangerous place. Saying “hi” to strangers is fine since it’s perfectly okay to greet others in the presence of your parents. She probably won’t understand “stranger danger” until she’s a little older, and again, that’s age-appropriate. Thanks for your questions! Laura

  117. catherine gavin on June 20, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    my grandson is 33months old. he was born with ASD &VSD heart problems. he received open heart surgery at 3months old and this was successful. however i am very concerned as he does not speak except to answer yes or na (no). he has a very good understanding of comprehension. he is due to see a language therapist soon. he communicates via sign language and if you can’t understand what he wants he takes your hand and takes you there. he is average height and is just bordering on the bottom of the scale as underweight. his appetite is not the best and we are forever encouraging him to eat. he does enjoy eating vegetables and berries and other soft foods such as corned beef.
    i am very very worried could his earlier heart problems have anything to do with his language. i am

  118. Laura on June 20, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Catherine – I’m glad he’s going to be seen by a therapist since he is exhibiting a pretty significant language delay. Many children with serious health issues have developmental delays too, so it’s important that you follow up and treat this just as you would a medical issue. Who’s to say if the cardiac issues are the “cause” for his language delay, but the priority is getting him help when it can make the most difference. Children with typically developing language at almost 3 are speaking in 4-5 word sentences all of the time not only to state their needs, but to ask and answer questions and participate in general conversation. I’m hoping the SLP can uncover what’s going on with him and help him move along quickly. Communication skills are critical to academic success. Reading and writing are built on LANGUAGE, so it’s important to address any issues so that a child is as ready for kindergarten as he can possibly be. The website is full of ideas to help you faciltiate language development at home. Check out my DVDs to get you started. I always suggested that parents and interested grandparents begin with Teach Me To Talk which outlines the basic play-based approach. Good luck to you all! Laura

  119. Charmaine on June 21, 2011 at 2:05 am

    Hi, my son is 2years 4 months and he has been going to speech therapy for the past six months. Up till the age of two my son was only able to say one word, we have seen a lot of improvement and his vocabulary has now increased to over 75 words. However he is constantly not including the final consonant (eg: lollipop he says lollipo – cat he says ca – kiss he says ki and so on). Given that he so young what I really would like to know if this is something that he can grow out of or is something that will persist. The therapist is now working on clarity and the positive thing is that my son can repeat almost all consonants therefore I cannot understand why he is deleting the consonant at the end. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  120. Laura on June 21, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Charmaine – I hope that your SLP has told you that many toddlers don’t include final consonants until closer to their 3rd birthdays. It’s a typical pattern of development or phonological process called Final Consonant Deletion and he’s really too young to work on that in therapy yet. Even if maturation doesn’t “fix” this problem, therapy to address that issue in another 9 months to a year will likely be much more successful for this than it will be now when he may not be developmentally ready for that pattern yet.

    If I were you (and her!), my focus in therapy would be having him consistently combine his words into short 2-3 word phrases which is an age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate goal. Hope this helps! Laura

  121. Charmaine on June 22, 2011 at 5:10 am

    First of all thank you so much for your valuable time, very much appreciated! I love this website I have found the information very interesting and have learned from it too. I am definitely going to bring this up with the therapist, at the moment we are also working on clarity because my son does join words together to form a short sentence and in the right context however a lot of his words are not understandable because he always delets some part of the word mainly the consonant at the end. I am hoping that with therapy and working with him at home he will get there by time.

  122. Laura on June 22, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Charmaine – I’m glad to hear that he’s using phrases. Those final consonants will be easier to facilitate as he gets closer to 3. The earliest consonants to target at the ends of words are: /p, m, n, t/ and perhaps /k/ if he can already say that sound (but sometimes /k, g/ emerge closer to 3 as well.) Early target words I use are: pop, hop, boom, mom, moon, hot, and hat… since these are words a 2 year old would likely use anyway in context and these should be easier to produce overall since even the initial consonant sounds are early to emerge. Hope these ideas help! Laura

  123. Anonymous on June 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you very much for your response I am so glad I came across this website

  124. Lisa on June 22, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    i have a question about my nephew. more just so i can understand what he is going through. we’ve been told he has myelin deficiency. he thinks well and tests above average in thinking, but cannot speak much at all. he says a few words, but not very well enunciated. he has had therapy and continues to and i think he is slowly improving but my question is how long does he have until he plateaus and can he ever learn to speak normally. basically if he hasn’t learned by what age do we need to accept that this may be about all he’ll learn to speak? He now uses an ipad to speak through to suplement his speech. He’s 5 years old.

  125. Laura on June 30, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Lisa – I don’t think we should ever give up on speech in a kid who’s just 5! All of your questions would be best answered by the SLP who works with him and knows him best. Anything I would say would be purely speculative. I’m so glad he has an alternative way to communicate. He’s so lucky to have caring extended family in an aunt like you! Take care! Laura

  126. Laureen on July 1, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    My son is 20 months old and is not yet talking. He makes some sounds (buh buh, dadada, ahdoooo, and my fav is durkah) but no real words. What he does the most and pretty much all day is “nnnnnaaahhhhh”- its his sound for everything and uses it when he points to things asking me to name them. He has this closed mouth thing going on. I’ve even noticed him trying to make the “cuh” sound for car but his tounge was behind his top teeth preventing the sound from coming out. He’s been evaluated by early steps (last month) and while they said there was definitely a delay he didn’t qualify for therapy. He’s very bright and scored very high in all other areas. They just said to continue working with him at home. We also use baby signs (about 10-12 of them which help immensely) which we started around age one when I didn’t even anticipate we would have any delay at all. But I want my boy to talk! I am at my wits end and honestly contemplating paying astronomical amounts for therapy out of pocket b/c our health insurance won’t cover it. HELP!

  127. Laura on July 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Laureen – He likely will qualify for services after he turns 2 if he’s not made some steady progress with language by then.

    I would never tell any parent not to pursue speech therapy through whatever means possible when it’s been documented that there’s a developmental delay. No words at 20 months is a bona fide problem, but not significant enough to be eligible for a program that requires a severe delay in order to provide services. Many states are in dire economic straits that they have had to modify requirements for early intervention services since they can’t afford to pay for therapy for every single child who might benefit. I would definitely have him reassessed after he turns 2 since the baseline scores will be different since he’ll be older.

    In the meantime, you’ve certainly come to the right place for advice for things you can do at home to help him! The website is FULL of ideas for you. Read through articles in the apraxia and expressive language categories. I LOVE that you’re signing with him and I’d keep that up to give him a way to communicate while you’re waiting on those words. I’d also recommend my DVDs if you haven’t done that already. You’ll be able to watch and SEE how to work with him at home so that you’re doing everything you can to jump start his language. I always recommend Teach Me To Talk first as an introduction to play-based therapy. You might also take a look at Teach Me To Talk with Apraxia and Phonological Disorders since this may be more than a language delay and that DVD talks about specifc reasons with more advanced strategies to use with toddlers with speech intelligiblity issues.

    Thanks so much for your email and good luck to you! Laura

  128. Lily on July 6, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    My son is 3 years old. He was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 and a half. He began speech and ot when he was 18 months old. He does not speak. He does say mommy or whats sounds like that when he wants something. He does not respond to his name or to being spoken to. He will repeat no sometimes after I say it to him. He will say apple when he sees one. Those 3 words are the only words he says consistently. Sometimes he will stare at my mouth when I am speaking to him and he will form his mouth to repeat a word but without sound. About a year ago he would learn a word or two and say them for a few days but then the words would disappear and we would not hear them again….he has not done that for several months. He is a picky eater. He does not interact with other kids unless they are older and he wants something he will grab a hand and lead them/us to what he wants. His eye contact is poor. He does not point. He does not like to be read to but he does love to look at picture books. He plays with toys appropriately. He loves to jump and climb consistently. He is very affectionate towards his immediate family. He has been in therapy for almost 2 years and recently began pre-school but still no improvement in receptive or expressive language.

  129. Mom of 2 on July 7, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Is an expressive language delay the same thing as a late talker? And is speech therapy always needed in order to correct the issue? My daughter is 34 months old and has been to 2 SLPs, both said she is fine, a little behind, but that she understands language and if anything, just needs a little help with pronunciation. I see it differently. I had to actaully teach her to say ”yes” to things at 2 since she would only repeat what the last word of my question was for a yes answer. I have had to work soooo hard to get her to where she is now, but she is still not talking as well as the other kids her age. I had to really work to get her to ask questions and learn to use pronouns. I just don’t see her catching up on her own. Are the SLPs just not seeing what I am seeing?

  130. Heather on July 9, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    My son is 27 months he has hit all the milestones besides talking he understands everything I ask him like get your ball. But doesn’t want to say anything he is the only child and we always talked for him his doctor isn’t worried about him and says he will grow out of it. His hearing is fine. When I ask him a yes or no question he shakes his head yes and no but when he wants something say to eat or drink he takes me or my husband by the hand and takes us to want he wants instead of saying juice or milk or whatever. My husband didn’t talk until he was almost three and my dad and brother did the same thing. His doctor said there is no need for speech therapy. I’m really not to worried because he is trying to say things. Could you give me some advice on what I should do to help him? Thanks

  131. Elizabeth on July 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I am a single mum and moved to Italy six months ago. My son is 25 months old and has a vocabulary of only 3 words. As much as I talk, read to him he never repeats anything I say. Before we moved here from the Seychelles he started to speak. In Seychelles we speak 3 languages. this, plus the new Italian language being spoken to him here is what my friends are saying is causing the delay. But I am very concerned and in addition, I have no idea how to get him into speech therapy here. He used to get very bad ear infections almost every month and when taking him to the doctors and asking whether that is causing a delay in his speech development they would simply brush the problem aside and prescribe paracetamol for the pain. I am so worried about my son and any advice would be really really appreciated. Thanks!

  132. Minne on July 11, 2011 at 11:28 am

    My 21/2 son was not learning to speak. He wouldn’t listen when called. He wouldn’t make much eye contact. He was having a lot of tantrums. We took him to the Dr. He contacted a speech therapist. She brought us a DVD called My First Signs. It’s a Disney baby einstein . .This has made a big impact on this child’s learning process. He saw the video and has learned sign language. He signed ball and went and found the ball to show us. Now he takes our hands and shows us that he wants us to sigh by placing our hands where he wants them. There is more eye contact. And there is less communication frustration. We went from no words, no response, no interaction, and no answers to now having speech therapy and early child education. Find a good Dr. and get help. It’s free and it’s so so helpful.

  133. alexandria on August 2, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    my son is 33 months old and probably has a 25 word vocabulary and even those words are not clear. he can do nonverbal tasks and participate in activities we do at home with no problem. all he needs to do is talk. we work on a word and he tries but fails pronounce. He is suppose to be starting an early on program in the fall and spend time with a speech therapist. but my concerns are why will he not talk and how will therapy help him. he was diagnosed with expressive developmental delay.

  134. NICOLA on August 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    MY daughter is 18months old and does not say anything,all she does is scream or grunt for comunication,she has very poor musle tone and gt refered for thearpy when she was 9months old as she did not sit alone till 12months old and stand at 16months and git some speacial boots and now takes a few steps..she only eats food with no lumps in and gags on anything that is new too taste, i am very concern.

  135. Shar on August 11, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    NICOLA: Look up Fragile X and see if you think she may have it……are there any other people in your family with learning disabilities? FXS is a genetic condition, I have 4 children and 2 are affected by FXS…..I took both off of wheat and dairy and it made a huge impact on tantrums and headaches/ stomach aches….
    Actually alot of parents on here may want to look into it because speech delay is a major issue with FXS and it is very under diagnosed……alot of general practitioners don’t know a lot about it

  136. Lesa on August 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    My son is 3 years and 4 months old and I would like for him to go to preschool but I’m concerned that he’s not ready because he’s hardly saying full sentences and when he does say stuff like “there it is” and “where is it” it’s very unclear sounding. If a stranger heard him speak, I do not believe they would understand him. I try to sit there and say words and phrases to try to get him to repeat it and when he tries is to distorted it sounds like he’s underwater. We had the early intervention service come when he was almost 2 and they worked with him and I saw some improvement by him saying more words but still nothing is really clear and it is impossible to hold any kind of conversation with him. he mumbles a lot and I know he’s trying to say something but he just can’t get it out. I probably should get him into one on one therapy before he heads to school. My worst fear is for him to be behind in school. He doesn’t say “yes” everything is no no no. He’s a picky eater. When I ask him a question, like “where is your toy car” he’ll just repeat “car car car” and he’ll go find it. So I know he understands sort of what I’m asking but he can’t respond with something like “it’s in my room” or wherever it may be. He hums a lot too. he’s defiantly not where he’s supposed to be!

  137. Laura on August 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Lesa – Your assumption is correct. He definitely needs speech therapy, and based on what you’ve said, his issues are more than just intelligiblity. He’s not understanding and processing language as well as he should be for his age, and these skills are absolutely necessary for success in school. We know he likely IS having some difficulty with processing/comprehension because he’s not fully answering your question as he should be for his age since children should understand the difference in yes/no (by 2 1/2), so again, he needs speech therapy sooner rather than later. Preschool may also help him with some of these issues too, so I wouldn’t hold off on sending him just because of these problems. It’s actually the reason he should go! Thanks for your question. Laura

  138. Tyler on August 25, 2011 at 1:31 am

    My 17 month old won’t talk. He only babbles all day long, and he babbles a lot. Its like he’s telling you a story, he even does hand gestures.
    I checked his hearing 2 days ago and it was fine. He said bye bye a few month ago and stopped saying it after a couple of times. He doesn’t follow directions, he will only wave bye bye, hi5, and give you his hand when you say nice to meet you, and he understands No. Then he will totally ignore you if he’s doing something else. He’s a very active baby, and also very stubborn. He knows how to self-feed and will do it only with some specific foods, bread, french fries and some candy. He refuses the rest.
    He doesn’t point but will use his hands to tell you what he wants by trying to reach it
    I’m starting to worry a lot about the fact that he doesn’t follow directions. I’ve been a late talker myself, at 18 months

  139. Laura on August 25, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Tyler – I’d be concerned about him too – and mostly because he’s not tuned in socially and can’t follow directions yet. I highly recommend an assessment for him based on those concerns. “Losing” words is not a part of typical development, so that’s a red flag as well. Late talking does tend to have a genetic component, but based on what you’ve said about him, his issues seem to be more than just an expressive delay, which does make it even more important that you get therapy for him now.

    He also seems to have sensory issues – especially with how you described his feeding – and with tuning out language, so he likely could benefit from an occupational therapy assessment as well. The best way to begin this process is to Google information about your state’s early intervention program. The assessment is free and therapy is low cost as compared to what you’d pay privately or may be covered by insurance. Either way, I’d recommend that you go ahead and begin the process so that you get him the help he needs to catch up and move forward. In the meantime, keep reading info here on the website, and you may want to check out my DVDs so that you can see how to work with him at home. I always recommend that parents begin with Teach Me To Talk which outlines the basic play-based approach, and for helping you target language comprehension, the strategies in Teach Me to Listen and Obey 1 and 2 are highly effective for toddlers. Good luck to you all!! Laura

  140. Misty on August 31, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    My son will turn two in Sept. He has 3 words, Mama, Daddy, No. I had his hearing checked today and was given all clear. He makes all kinds of animated motions and gestures to get what he needs/wants. He never calls me Mama, just repeats it if I ask him to “say Mama, Daddy.” He does say No when we ask a question. He is the youngest of 8 and we live in a very active loud house! He doesn’t seems to have any problems with food “mouth feel”. Everyone tells me he’ll grow out of it, just to wait awhile. But I feel there may be more to it. Any advice would be very appreciated. I do have one son with some speech issues and one that did not talk until he was almost 2.5.
    Thank you

  141. Laura on September 3, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Misty – I’d go ahead and have him evaluated as soon as possible. The MINIMAL EXPECTATION is that a child should spontaenously say 50 different words by his second birthday, so he’s quite behind that mark. Some children who are late talkers with only expressive delays do catch up without help, but many, many do not, and then the problems persist even into school-age when not talking on time turns into not reading or writing on time which sets up a whole pattern of failure for a young child. If you’re a mom of 8 and feel that something isn’t right here, I’d trust that instinct and puruse assessment for him. If he doesn’t need it, he won’t qualify. If he does, then you’ll be glad you didn’t wait. The family history is communication difficulty makes it more likely that he will need some intervention as well.

    In the meantime please read for ideas here on the website. You can even elicit help from all of those siblings! You may also want to check out my DVD so you can SEE how to work with him at home. Good luck to you all!! Laura

  142. Lydia on September 11, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    My cousin turned 3 in April. He spends a lot of time at my house, because my grandma (who lives with us) is his primary baby sitter. I see him usually about 5 days a week and I’ve only heard him say about 15 different words. He was never like other kids who would repeat every word you said to him. And as far as speaking in short 2 or 3 word phrases, that’s almost non existent. Also, I dont know if this has anything to do with a speech problem, but his voice is very deep for a 3 year old. My question is how do I break this news to his mother? I dont feel like she wants to believe its a serious problem. Which is understandable, but he still needs help.

  143. Carolina on October 19, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    My son just turned 2 yesterday and I am very worried about his communication skills – he probably knows about 20 words but uses them sporadically – he says ball, mami, papi, grampy, daisy (our dogs name), oh oh, wawa (combination of water and agua) – He is getting 2 languages Spanish and English. He doesn’t pretend play except for picking up a phone and putting it on his ear…..he plays side by side with other kids but otherwise doesn’t interact much with them unless he is chasing them (and doesn’t do it consistently), he doesn’t wave and sometimes points – mostly while we are reading. when he is concentrating on something like a movie (baby einstein) or playing with a toy that makes nosie it is really hard to get his attention….
    He is going for his 2 year appointment with his pediatrician and I have also contacted early intervention….

  144. Abhijit on October 28, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Hi, My son is 2.10 yrs but not able to speak sentences, He speaks A-Z, 1-10 etc in very small voice, does he requires special attention or it will be normal as days progress. Your advice is valuable to us

  145. Trish on November 9, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Hi Laura, My grandson is 31 months old and has been seeing a speech pathologist for 4 or 5 months. She recently told my daughter-on-law that she is stumped as to why he is not responding well to the therapy. He says about 10 words (that I know of) and doesn’t seem the least bit interested in talking to us. He also babbles a lot, even sounding as though he thinks he’s communicating something. I don’t want to be an interfering grandmother but his parents also don’t know where to turn (they’re both 21 years old). His speech pathologist didn’t offer any further suggestions for other strategies or options. An audiologist reported that his hearing was fine so we’re baffled.

    Thanks for any guidance you’d be willing to provide for us.

  146. Tina on November 28, 2011 at 12:53 am

    My daughter is 2yrs and 8mo and has been seeing a speech pathologist for about 7mos and can clearly say about 2 words and about 5 that aren’t very clear but we recognize what she’s meaning. She attempts to repeat others but when they come out it sounds nothing like what she was told. And she won’t speak on her own someone has to initiate the conversation and then she’ll only say one or two words and they are only one of the 5 words that she uses that she heard being used in the conversation. But she won’t use more than one word at a time. Like if you try to get her to say “snack please” she’ll pick one of the words but not both. There are also a lot of times when she disappears into her own world and its so hard to get her out of it. She can be looking directly at you and you can see in her face that she’s just gone. I’ve taken her to see about 5 different doctors and no one can tell me what’s going on. I started taking her when I first noticed she wasn’t reaching some of her milestones and they didn’t have any explainations for me and to this day they don’t. It really bothers me cause it feels like I should be doing more for her and I don’t know what I need to be doing. Please help if you can. Any and all advice is welcome 🙂 thank you

  147. Maria on November 29, 2011 at 12:13 am

    HI Laura,
    I’m so pleased that I found your website. It offers a lot of very helpful information I have not seen elsewhere. My question is about my godson, who I watch a couple of days a week. I’ve been providing daycare for him for over a year now and have seen very little progress with his speech. he is now 30 months and probably has only 15 words that I’ve heard him use spontaneously. He mimics most words very well, but I don’t believe that he understands those words, but is only parroting them back. If I ask him any simple yes/no question he is at a loss to respond. If I give him a choice of two items, he’ll just repeat back the last thing I say. (I.e. – If I ask,” Would you like milk or juice?” He’ll say “juice”, but if I switch it and say “Would you like juice or milk.” He’ll say “milk.”). He says virtually nothing if I don’t engage him in “conversation”, but honestly he’s hardly talking at all. It’s very troubling to me, since my own two sons were extremely verbal at a young age (they’re 3 1/2 and 6 now) so I’m not sure how to get him past this hump. I believe his parents are in denial that there is a language delay, though I have tried to subtly hint at it. They seem to think it’s completely normal for him to speak so little…and I also feel Ike they are mistakenly considering babble and pointing regular communication for a 2 1/2 year old.

    Do you have any advice as to how to approach the subject of speech delay with parents who aren’t convinced that there is a problem? I’m really struggling with how to bring this up without making them feel like I’m judging them, or being overly critical of the child. They are close friends so I’m concerned with how to approach it, and also am hoping to get them help, knowing that it will be harder the longer they wait.

    Thanks so much!

  148. Laura on November 29, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Hi Maria – that’s such a tough situation for you to be in, and I’ve been there as well! What you’ll need to do is keep gently reminding them that most 2 1/2 year olds are quite conversational and consistently speak in short phrases. He should also certainly be understanding much more language – and that may be the angle you should take. You could say something like, “I’m starting to be concerned with how he processes language since he’s not yet answering simple questions.” Then you could give your examples and say that those kinds of things indicate that he’s not truly understanding as he should be. Again – it’s a touchy subject, but you’re doing the right thing by being concerned. When he’s under your care, be sure you’re doing everything you can to help him make more connections with language, especially with simple directions and familiar routines. If he can’t follow a 2 step command, this is also an example where you can be specific about what he can/can’t do with his parents without sounding judgmental. It’s a balancing act, but I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to do it, since you do have his best interest at heart. The truth is probably that his parents don’t realize that he’s behind, or they’d be more concerned, so keep pointing out specific things he’s not doing, and they’ll likely come around. Thanks for the great question! Laura

  149. Laura on November 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Hi Tina. First of all, keep building her single word voabulary before you expect her to do phrases. Most toddlers use about 50 words on their own consistently BEFORE they use phrases, so keep helping her understand more words and use them to label, request, and respond, then the phrases will come. Based on what you’ve said about her, I would be concerned too! I’m glad she’s in speech therapy, so keep it up and keep working with her at home to help maximize her progress. Have you taken a look at my DVD Teach Me To Talk? It outlines the basic play-based approach that’s most effective to help toddlers engage and learn to link meanings to words BEFORE they begin to talk. Hang in there! Laura

  150. Kathryn on December 3, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Hi Laura,
    My daughter is 3 and a half and I have concerns about her ability to answer questions. She normally responds to questions with yes/no answer only or with “I don’t like…” or “I like…” In addition, she can clearly state her wants/needs throughout the course of the day, she knows the alphabet, colors, numbers 1-12, can do puzzles easily, knows her name, etc. She sings/babbles to herself frequently and knows the lyrics to many songs. My main concern is that she does not use spontaneous speech enough when playing or answering questions. It’s almost as if she understands what others are saying and she understands a question, but she just can’t get the words to come out right. Other times she just ignores the questions altogether. Oftentimes during play, her sentences come out jumbled and she repeats numerous phrases that she has heard before. Sometimes she interjects random phrases into our conversation that are out of context. She asks questions such as “Who is this?” or “What is that?” She also points out objects regularly. However, she cannot answer “Why?” questions at all nor does she ask these types of questions. I often find her repeating to herself in a whisper the phrase or question someone just said. It’s almost as if she is repeating it to confirm what she’s heard. Any advice as to what her issues may be? Receptive, Expressive delays/disorders or maybe a little of both? Thanks for your advice! Definitely need some!!

  151. Laura on December 3, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Hi Kathryn. Although I don’t know for sure what she’s doing or why she’s doing it since I haven’t see her, what you’re describing sounds like echolalia. Have you researched that term? I have a couple of articles here on the website about echolalia that may be helpful for you.

    Many times parents don’t recognize that a child is using echolalia until they begin to carefully analyze the kinds of language the child is using, and it sounds like you’re doing that now. Don’t confuse the ability to repeat what she’s heard back to you verbatim as understanding language.

    You’ll have to look for other ways to confirm that she really knows what you’re talking about. How does she follow multiple step or novel directions? For example, “Go to your room and get the book “_________,” and then go sit on my bed so we can read together.” Or “First put your puzzle on the kitchen table, and then go brush your teeth.” If she can’t follow new directions that aren’t related to your daily routines, then you know she’s struggling with processing language and it’s more of a receptive issue than an expressive one.

    Anytime a child is “lifting” pieces of previous conversations or repeating information they’ve heard in another context that doesn’t quite “fit,” you must question their ability to accurately process incoming language.

    The “rehearsing” means that she’s either trying to make sense of what she’s heard, or her only real strategy for learning language is to repeat what she’s heard. This works for her when you’re teaching her information you expect her to repeat (learning song lyrics or other rote tasks like the alphabet and counting), but it doesn’t work when she has to generate her own novel response to a question.

    For the positives, I love that she is clearly stating her wants and needs throughout the day. This tells you that she has “unlocked the code” for making requests. Some children learn to do this because moms consistently model requests for their children, “Tell me, I want more milk please” before giving a child what she wants and this technique has worked to teach the child how to request. It’s also great that she labels objects and can answer very concrete question forms like yes/no. It sounds like she’s struggling with higher level language skills.

    I would go ahead and have her evaluated in the next few months by a speech-language pathologist who specializes in treating auditory processing. Typically a child isn’t formally diagnosed with these issues until she is school age, but from what you’re describing, this is her area of concern.

    When you read about echolalia, much of the information points to an autism diagnosis. If she is social and is routinely engaged with others, this diagnosis won’t apply. BUT if there are concerns in this area or if she’s displaying other “quirks” as parents often describe repetitive movements or fascinations with objects that may be just odd enough to make you think twice about it, then you’ll certainly want to explore this as a possibility for her. Again, I’m speaking in generalizations. I haven’t seen your daughter and am only using the information you’re providing to make suggestions which may or may not apply to your situation. You won’t know for sure what’s going on until you have her assessed by a pediatric SLP.

    Thanks for a great question. Good luck to you! Laura

  152. Melissa B on December 10, 2011 at 8:11 am

    My child was born 6 weeks early. During my pregnancy, I found out that I have a RH factor problem, that is why she was born 6 weeks early.

    My child is now 32 months, and has very little speech. She will say some short one words such as drink, eat, food, etc. She will talk around me and my husband, but not around other people.

    What do you think?

  153. Laura on December 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Melissa – You didn’t say if she’s in speech therapy, and she certainly should be. Your state early intervention program will end at 36 months, so you may only be able to take advantage of these services for a few months, but some is better than none!! You also may want to see someone in private practice as well, but please don’t wait on services. Delays due to prematurity should be “corrected” by 24 months, and she’s 8 months beyond this point, so you’re likely looking at another speech-language issue besides prematurity. Have you taken a look at my DVD Teach Me To Talk? I highly recommend this to teach you how to work with her at home, but she needs to be in therapy too. Good luck with her! Laura

  154. nancy gonzalez on December 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I have a 5 year old neice. She cant speak, well all she could say is like eat,hungry,stop,little words. But I know that she gets irritated that we cant understand her. Now we belive that maybe she might be traumatize because her parents would figh around her when she was little verbal & physical. She goes to one of the special schools an shes learning colors but it takes her along time to learn words. She also started to walk around 2 or 3 years old and the same with the diaper.Is there any way that you can give me information about how we can help her or if she has a problem what would it be called? I really hope you can help me out so we can help her out..

  155. meet on December 19, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    hello, my 27 month old brother is extremely smart (e.g. when ever i ask my mum where something is he gives to me before mum answers) but instead of skipping the last letter he only says the last syllable which does not fit into any of the disorders (e.g. instead of open blinds he says blinds) however if we ignore him he says it correctly, he also has a tendency of saying stuff we never say (e.g. when i drink water he says “now its my turn” in Gujarati [our language])since my grandma and grandpa live with us we never sent him to childcare since they could take care of him but we are now considering putting him there so he can interact with other babies more often. since i have to go to school (i am only 12) i cant observe him for long periods of time so i am not completely sure but whenever we sing him nursery rhymes from our language he does sing it with us and when we say the line except for the last word he completes the line for us. when he occasionally does talk in sentences he has perfect tone, body language and stuff but he is very mischievous so he only listens to us when he just woke up but then he goes hyper (not quite literally and but close). when ever he sees someone new he goes really quiet and doesn’t say a word and sits still. i am quite confused because you said that laziness is not the reason for not talking but in his case it is because he only talks maturely when you ignore him and he is forced to say it properly . thanks i know its long i wrote it in a rush so dont mind any mistakes

  156. meet on December 21, 2011 at 12:53 am

    sorry but he also refuses to say 2 words together (e.g. when i tell him to say “open door” he says either door or open but not together and after we ask him a lot of times he defiantly says “no”

  157. B's mommy on December 22, 2011 at 12:54 am

    My newly 3 year old was a bit of a late talker, meeting all her language milestones on the later end of normal. At 3 she talks in full sentences but the word order is often incorrect and it seems like she is struggling with finding her words. For example: ”daddy, we went to the mall and I see Santa because because I see him and me and Jake played with the kids because they in the boat.” So altough its a lengthy sentence, the structure is poor and only I knew what she was talking about. She does this often. Is this age appropriate?

  158. Lenny on December 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    My son is 19 months old and doesn’t say any words. He doesn’t point or grunt or wave. When I ask him to bring me a certain toy or show me something, he either doesn’t pay attention or just looks at me. Does this mean he could be autistic?

  159. Jessi on December 28, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    My brother is 11 years old and he speaks incorrectly. He has trouble expressing himself and can’t understand if you speak to him fluently. He has help with speech but it seems to make no difference. He is currently enrolled in special ed but what is really what he has? Nobody knows and doctors give their opinion. Why a 11 year old speak like a 2 year old?

  160. linda on December 30, 2011 at 1:39 am

    my son is 22 months and does not speak. he would try to say bye, thank you, i love you, and five, but wouldnt say them well and now he rarely even says them at all. he doesnt respond to my questions. if i tell him to “put the toys away” he doesnt seem to understand what i am tellng him. i am very concerned. will this mean he will have a hard time speaking or learning when he’s older? how can this be solved?

  161. Disha on September 17, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Hi Laura,
    My son is turning 2 next month. His first word ‘mumma’ was at 8 months. At 1 he was saying papa, dada but he would say ‘da’ quite often. If I called out someone’s name, he would say ‘daa’. Then things changed. If we taught him a word & repeated often, he would just stare may be smile at times but never repeat. He said car, bye, close, only when he wanted to & never repeat. He also didn’t respond to name initially and not acknowledge other’s presence. His social skills have improved slightly now. He looks when I call out his name. He likes playing peek a boo and has minutely started acknowledgingother kids. Problem Is his speech developed is nil. We are having his hearing tested coz he has had multiple ear infections. But he is sensitive & attentive to sounds. He would know an aeroplane or a tv ad jingle or evening opening of refrigerator door. He is also the most active kid I have ever seen. He is always running, climbing, jumping. He is crazy for cars & water. Examining actual cars is far more interesting for him than playground. What do you suggest? And oh he definitely understands when my tone is harsh & laughs a lot at Tom & Jerry and Kung fu panda. So I think it’s not that he doesn’t unders. Please guide.

  162. Relinda on April 29, 2016 at 1:54 am

    Yes..my son is almost 4 and a half..he has been doing speech therapy for about 2 yrs and still has very limited vocabulary. He says maybe 15 words total. I have been pushing his doctor but not many answers still. His hearing and vision have been checked and both are great. He has major behavioral problems that just started a few months ago. I’m just so frustrated because noone has given me any answers. He is supposed to start school this year and I’m so worried about him and how other kids will treat him. Do u have any advice for me?

  163. David Craggs on May 23, 2016 at 9:32 am

    My Grandson is 40 months old, understands virtually everything you say to him but uses limited vocabulary on a one to one. The health visitor for speech theraphy has finally got involved. She has visited his nursery and done a home assessment. She says he has delayed speech but he is up to speed with everything else. Not to worry he will be talking by the time he gets to school? They will keep involved till its resolved but I have major concerns on this. What if he isn,t talking by the time he starts school, I do not want him to be isolated etc. Can you offer any reasurrance what we are being told is correct.

  164. Aron on May 29, 2016 at 12:19 am

    My niece is 3.5 years old. She is a very active kid. She has very good hand eye coordination. Very creative. She is all over the house pulling things down. Very very curious and creative to get what she need. She loves her cousins and granny. However, when it comes to speaking she is way behind other kids of her age. For a simple question with a Yes/No answer, she would repeat the question instead of answering. For basic questions she is able to shake her head to express yes/No. She speaks out quickly (not so fluently) when she is emotional (when her baby brother cry for example). Even now she does not relate Yes and No to what she wants. Not sure what to do. Please advice.
    Thanks and Regards,

  165. Howard White on June 5, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    My granddaughter is 30 months and not talking only grunting. Also, walking only with a child walker other wise only about 3 steps. Quick history….born with Hirschsprung…where ganglia in intestines not fully developed…appendix burst at day two, was in hospital for first 45 days of her life…wore a coloscopy bag first year of her life ….has had 4 operations….now based on your disorder types appears to be Aspasia…recently advised by one of three therapist that come to my daughter’s home each week….development t, occupational, and speech…not getting g any better and may need special school…also can’t hold objects real well… and always putting g things in her mouth and .when told no put it down throws object and gets flustered yours thoughts based on what I have shared. Thanks

  166. Tony River on July 20, 2016 at 10:20 am

    my son is 3.5 years(42 months) old and had 4-5 ear infections between the age of 30-36 months. he can label and identify most things by saying “it is (name of thing/condition) . for example “it’s a chair, it’s a green car, it’s fell down, it’s wet, it’s raining, it’s fell down, it is a tree, it’s a puzzle, It’s Pee, It’s potty etc. He is potty trained, can wear his underwear and pants. by watching TV he learned saying “No, I don’t” “Yes, I do”, “No, I can’t”, yes, I can”. Most of the time he uses these No/Yes words correctly as per situation. problem is when I ask him “what do you want” he will repeat my words “what do you want”. and now if he need something to eat then he will take me to kitchen and says “what you want, tell me”. then if I ask him “you want cookie?” he will answer “yes, I do” if he wants cookie.
    he has no problem if you ask him to repeat your words like “good morning, have a nice weekend, see you tomorrow, see you later and so on”. he can say “it’s fast, it’s slow”.
    I have a daughter who is 8 years old, she started speaking at the age of 3, in her case she didn’t speak a single word and just after completing 3 years within few months she started speaking in sentences, can have a full conversation, tell a small story, ask questions when i tell her bed time story and within next few months she learned another language also. and by the age of 4 she learned total 3 languages. she is amazing in speaking, expressing her ideas, in study, in games and in everything.
    we don’t have any medical history in our family. except ear infection he is also not having any medical history and his growth is normal in any other manner expect “speech” delay.
    my son likes to play with my daughter’s friends ( all are 8 years old) but he don’t play with his own age group kids or babies. he avoids them, he goes to daycare for 8 hours daily and he just observes other kids, does few things that his care giver asks, participate in activities but maintain a distance with other kids. he get along very well playing with adults and mixes well with them.
    he just learned paddling the tricycle at age of 3, he can’t blow bubbles and can’t plant a kiss on cheek, these two things makes me think what is wrong.
    last week he learned saying “no, i don’t like it” for everything but if he likes something like apple then he would say “yes, i like it” but he is using “i don’t like it” a lot and i mean a lot. he don’t share his toys with his age group kids.
    i have tried to list out my concerns in his learning :
    1. most of the time he is not ready to take help. he can do most 4×4 puzzles but get frustrated if puzzle is complicated and throw the puzzle.
    2. hard to accept change in routines,
    3. can not answer me when i ask “do you like school” or how was your day, are you having fun etc
    4. totally avoids strangers who try to say hello/Hi to him, he mostly avoid people unless they try to start a conversation. if you just say hi/hello he won’t answer you.
    5. his list of sentences are very limited to “it is …” “I like/don’t like” “yes/No, I do/n’t ” “yes/no i can/’t”
    6. i cannot reason with him, he just either don’t understand or ignore me.
    7. he can sing, dance, run, jump, feed himself but don’t know how to brush his teeth.
    8 he don’t use swings, slides in playground. he won’t use swing unless I also sit with him. slides are big No in any case.
    9 he eat only few selected fruits, few selected chocolates, few selected gummy bears. but he eats staples that we eat daily. its almost impossible for us to introduce a new food item to him, he simply won’t try it.

    I have waited so long because my daughter had that speech explosion only after the age of 3 but now I think something is wrong with my son. today we are going for his hearing test as his pediatrician advised first a hearing test then seeing SLP. I read on internet and he is certainly have “delayed ecolia”, can you suggesst where we are failing him or what do we need ? is he can be on spectrum ?

  167. Ashley S on July 29, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    I have a daughter who will be 2 years old in november. She is in speech therapy as well as learning sign language. The only thing she gets out of her mouth is uhhh, the doctors checked her hearing but will not do any other testing. I am concerned but cant figure out if its normal. My other two girls spoke just fine. she trys to make animal noises but for a cow its ooooh and for a cat it ahhh(high pitched) Help

  168. Wendy on August 16, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I’m concerning about mygrand children. He is two years old. He just to be ok for a baby make ing sounds and few words dada mom thank you bye. When he was one he have his baby sister then he never make a sound then he seid words inside his mout and you can undertan what he said he repite words that you tell him but he don’t want to open his mout to talk or said a word and when he make a noise sound like the people who can’t hear or talk. I love him soo muh

  169. m.mejia on August 22, 2016 at 8:09 am

    hello i have a 4 year old son who has a real bad vocabulary. i can barly understand him. he makes up his own words. when he dose get a word out its not the full word. The way it sounds when he tries to say a word its like when someone is holding there nose shut and speaking at the same time. even though he has that problen he is grate at remembering alot. im his mother im around him the most so i understand him better then anyone. he knows all his abc’s he knows the primary colors, he knows to count to 10. He loves to learn. i have been taking him to doctors to evaluate him so we can find out exactully whats wrong. we got as far as getting his hearing checked which he passed and we where in the process to get his speech checked when i recieved a call from his doctor stating his insurance would not cover him anymore. she said i would have to take him to the local mental clinic. he was enrolled in an early intervention program and at first he had no problem going but after the first month or so he would cry everytime we went for his backpack so we moved and now im waiting for the school district to call me and set up an appiontment for them to determin what kind of class they will put him in. This is only some of his problem he also has some certain eaying habit s and what i think are phobias.just wonder what anyones thoughts are about my son and what could be wrong.

  170. Gwen on August 31, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Hi, Laura
    My son is turning 1 in October, and doesn’t say a word he just babbles, his first word was da da and that was at the age of 9 months then he started to pick up names, he would call his father by name as we would call him and he also began to call my sister by her name, 3 words in total at the age of 9-10 months after he began walking he just went mute not saying a single word, but makes Noises. He also is sensitive to food he’ll only eat soft food and spit out anything he’s not familiar to, he also has a problem following instructions, I almost thought he couldn’t hear but if he was outside and he hears his favorite TV show is on or his favorite song he would enter the room, and sometimes throw a fit when its over, he understands some things we say to him and recognize certain objects but he would not follow directions he’ll understand come, and let’s go, and no, and gimmie kiss but only if he see’s u pucker up your lips,but most of the time he ignores you like there’s no one talking to him, but other than that he’s very smart and is great with electronics for a 1 year old, he also crazy about cars he knows wat sound the cars make and he also kno how to work something’s in the actual car. And were I am located there isn’t much help or resources to help me with the development of my child, please help?

  171. Shubha Rao on September 4, 2016 at 3:10 am

    Hi Laura,

    My daughter is 2 years old and is very fond of nursery rhymes. She can sing most rhymes, recognise colours, shapes, animals and say water when she is thirsty, ask for food and utter a few words such as hi, bye, see you, thank you.

    But she hasn’t yet begun addressing us as Mummy, Daddy, forming sentences and she doesn’t seem to recognize her name when we call her and chooses to listen to us when she wants something. This may be because we didn’t address her with her name until couple of months ago and used to call her with various pet names.

    My friend’s son is two months younger and is a lot faster to grasp names, new words. So I was wondering if my daughter’s behaviour is normal or should I be worried?

    Could there be delay or disorder in her learning to speak and form sentences?

    Please advise.

  172. Khowla on September 9, 2016 at 6:32 am

    Hi laura
    My daughter is going to b 3 years old in Dec bt she doesn’t say a word only sounds as if she trying bt cant say..
    When she was 1, 1 1/2 years old she use to say dog,cat and how they make sound. Bt now she doesn’t say a single word only sounds.. and she doesn’t listen to me as if she can’t understand me… when I play her cartoons, she come runing to me when i sing her poems she understand and play and act but doesn’t come when i cal her m really worried
    Need help

  173. nick on September 23, 2016 at 9:48 am

    my daughter has just gone 3 and can do almost any request you ask that doesnt involve words, ie go in the kitchen and fetch a towel or go look in your toybox and get out a certain toy and if you ask her to point out anything around even in shops she can do it like where are the eggs, but she does not yet speak , if we ask her to say mama or ta then she can say them but if you show her a series of pictures and ask her what they are she will answer but everything sounds the same, when she is playing on her own she babbles away in her own language but no words that make any sense, we know she understands everything that is going on but are getting a little worried with the vocabulary issue, should we be concerned ? any help would be very grateful

  174. Becky on October 28, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    My son is 2 and only says a few words. Mainly dad, turtle, eww, yuck and help. I mean he says help alot. If he sees a monkey he’ll make a monkey sound and if he see a truck he’ll go vroom. But he gets very angry when trying to talk. If he wants something he’ll say that. But I’m worried bc he has a bad temper. If he gets mad he’ll head butt almost everything. Knocks objects off tables if he’s mad. He’s very smart and does listen. If i tell him to go get a book or go throw something away he’ll do it. I’m just so worried he has something wrong with him bc his delayed speech and temper. He thinks ite hilarious he says dad when I say no don’t say dad say mom he’ll scream dad. We laugh about it I’ll go mom he’ll say dad I’ll say mom again so he says dad again over and over. He’s so smart but just won’t say.more than a couple things.

  175. mel on November 14, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Hi, I have a 3 1/2 year old step son who I believe to be behind with his language development. He mumbles a lot, he says momma, babe, cup.. words that he hears and uses frequently but rarely in sentences or when he is trying to say a sentence such as, “I want cup” it sounds like a mumble mumble cup. He still can not say daddy either. Ive suggested first words to get him assessed as I think its best to act now as he will be starting school next September. He’s developing okay otherwise, although sometimes I find he avoids eye contact not only with myself but with his father also, and for instance if I go near him or if others do he will say something like NO! He has also played strange with other family members to.

    Any insight would be appreciated thank you.

  176. Rebecca on March 19, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Hello, my son has been in speech therapy for almost three years. His most recent evaluation put him at a 3 year old level in which he is 6 years old right now. I recently found out he is ADHD and has dyslexia. I feel he is never going to talk correctly because of how far behind he is. Should I just except that he will not talk normal? I just don’t understand how he can be in speech therapy for three years and not talk close to his age.

  177. anita mudu on June 23, 2019 at 5:26 am

    hello my son is almost 4years now and still isn’t saying any meaningful tin …ocationaly he …says a few words and stop….but does not say dem anymore….my husband and I are getting worried and would really lyk ur help please

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What an inspiration!

Thank you for helping me be a better Developmental Therapist. I often listen to your podcasts which help me help families.

Your enthusiasm, professionalism and
the sheer volume of information is so great.

You are part of my team.

I just wanted you to know I appreciate you."


"Dear Laura,

Thank you for your generosity in sharing so much knowledge in such a clear and enthusiastic way.

As a retired audiologist with a fabulous and language delayed grandson, I used your podcasts and outstanding publication, The Autism Workbook, to inspire and guide me over the past year.

It works!! He went from barely verbal, no gestures, didn't respond to his name etc etc to a verbal, social, curious, ready to imitate anything, fill in the blanks on familiar "set" speech, generate his own totally appropriate and mostly understandable sentences...not just short phrases anymore... full little paragraphs...about imaginary things, what he did during the day, what he wants. True communication!

You make a powerful difference in this world! ❤"

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"Laura Mize, you are a Godsend. I don’t know how one human can have so many helpful things to say in a beautifully organized way, so often. Always amazes me when another super helpful email comes from you, and for free. With free YouTube videos and cheap CEUs. THANK YOU!!!"

Sheila, Canada

"I purchased the book on autism and have watched the #400s series podcasts. Laura Mize has been more effective in teaching autistic tendencies, than many professors, shadowing professions, and the 100s of books, articles and classes or videos, or live workshop speakers, have been at teaching effective practices for a child with ASD. Some of the many lessons she has taught, which I will now use, to be a more effective Interventionist, include but are not limited to: red flags, typical behaviors, self-stimulating behaviors, not taking away toys, rather showing child to play with toy appropriately. She gives examples of child's actions, "inappropriate," explains the reason for: why the child is engaging in these behaviors and how they can be replaced with more appropriate, effective fuctional and age-appropriate skills."

"I’m sure Laura gets these messages all the time, but I thought I’d share. I stumbled across Laura‘s "Autism or Speech Delay?" YouTube video when I really needed it. This video finally listed and explained some of the red flags my son was showing for autism. I share the link anytime a parent is questioning in my FB autism group. This mother I don’t even know said Laura's video changed her life. I know exactly how she feels because It changed families too. Thank you to everyone at Teach Me To Talk."


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I received your book (The Autism Workbook) yesterday and it is absolutely amazing! As I evaluate young children (0-3) for developmental delays and write plans for them with their parents, there are a ton of ideas that are ready to use. Others that reinforce what I have been doing, and saying, all along. Thank you so, so much for writing this incredible book and pulling everything together in one place!"


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I’m a parent who bought the autism workbook and it’s the only clear resource I found to make a change in my son. I’m really thankful to Ms. Laura for helping out people like us all over the world."

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Girl…my son is 3 years old, and he NEVER asks for something using words. We were playing “Get Your Belly” (from Teach Me to Play WITH You), and after several times, he laughed and screamed "BEWIEEE!!!"  It was a hoot. And I can't believe he said it! I have played with him like this before, but this time I took your advice and acted CRAZY!! I will act like a total lunatic if it will get him to talk to me!  Now I can give him "the look" from across the room, and he will say it. That manual is so amazingly practical, and it is a GODSEND right now! Thank you SO MUCH!”

"I wanted to send you a quick email to say thank you. I started watching your videos/podcasts about 4 months ago. My son has gone from losing words he previously used, only having about 7 words at his 2 year check up in August (assessed at a blended 10 month language level) -- to now having so many words, increased social engagement, following commands, spontaneously requesting things, and naming letters & numbers (not in order) as well as colors. We had our monthly meeting with our SLP through the state infants & toddlers program and it felt like we were just bragging the whole time, but I knew in the back of my head it was because I have been using strategies you taught me.

We still have so much work to do with our sweet boy, but I know in my heart he would not have succeeded without the education you provided. I will continue to read your emails & watch videos as we go along this journey and face challenges, but credit is due to you, Laura.

Thank you so much, endlessly."


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