Could My Toddler Be Autistic? Possible Signs of Autism in Toddlers

“Could My Child Be Autistic?”

With the epidemic of autism, one of the most common questions I’m asked during an initial speech-language evaluation with a child is, “Could my child be autistic?”

It’s a question that brings worried parents from all over the world to this website every day.

Today this question may be “Does my child have autism?” The word “autistic” has become offensive to some and is not used by professionals, but parents do continue to use this term during their initial search for answers.

Many people assume, incorrectly of course, that because a child isn’t talking by age two or three, he or she must be on the autism spectrum.

There are many reasons for speech-language delays in toddlers, and autism is only one of them. Late talking in and of itself usually does not mean autism.

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex disorder that lasts throughout a person’s life. Autism is called a developmental disorder because issues start before age three, during the critical period of development, and it causes problems in the way a child develops, learns, and grows. Areas affected by autism include delayed or disordered skills in:

1. Social Interaction – the way a child relates to and connects with others, particularly those outside his immediate family.

2. Language – the way a child understands and uses words, gestures, and symbols.

3. Cognitive – the way a child thinks and learns.

4. Motor – the way a child moves his body.

5. Sensory – the way a child takes in and processes information through his senses of sight, touch, hearing, smell, taste, and movement.

Autism is a “spectrum disorder,” which means that all children with autism do not share exactly the same difficulties. Degrees can range from mild to severe.

Possible Signs of Autism in Toddlers

Below is list of the other concerns noted during daily routines in young children with autism spectrum disorder. This is not an official diagnostic list, but rather a list of concerns that parents might note. This list below was gathered from several sources.

  • Does not consistently respond to his/her name.
  • Cannot tell you what he/she wants with words or gestures.
  • Doesn’t follow directions.
  • Seems to be deaf at times.
  • Seems to hear sometimes, but not others.
  • Doesn’t point or wave bye-bye (past 15 months) or use other gestures such as shaking his head “yes” or “no” appropriately and back and forth in conversation.
  • Used to say a few words or babble, but now he/she doesn’t.
  • Throws intense or violent tantrums.
  • Has odd movement patterns, such as flapping arms or shaking body, especially when excited.
  • Shows other odd visual behaviors, such as staring repeatedly at spinning wheels on a toy or shifting his eyes to the side as he runs.
  • Seems hyperactive much of the time; is always “on the go.”
  • Is often uncooperative or oppositional during daily routines.
  • Doesn’t know how to play with toys. Might spin or line them up excessively.
  • Doesn’t smile when smiled at.
  • Doesn’t make eye contact. He/she seems to look right through/past you.
  • Gets “stuck” on things over and over and can’t move on to other things.
  • Seems to prefer to play alone.
  • Gets things for him/herself only, without asking for help.
  • Is very independent for his/her age.
  • Seems to be in his/her “own world.”
  • Seems to tune people out.
  • Shows very little interest in other children.
  • May interact inappropriately with other children.
  • Walks on his/her toes.
  • Shows unusual attachments to toys, objects, or schedules (e.g., always holding a string or having to put socks on before pants).
  • Spends a lot of time lining things up or putting things in a certain order, and gets upset if this is disrupted.
  • Has delayed speech-language skills when compared to other children of the same age.
  • Memorizes and quotes long scripts of favorite TV shows, sing entire songs, or label lots of objects, but he/she uses very few “real” or meaningful words to ask for things or participate in conversation.
  • Repeats what he/she hears rather than using words on his own.
  • Learns to read at age two or three (or has a very strong interest in visual symbols such as letters and numbers), but has difficulty communicating with others in a meaningful way.
  • Is a very picky eater. May eat only three or four different foods.

Let me reiterate that the presence of a few, or even several, of these concerns does not mean that a child will receive a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Please discuss these signs/symptoms with your pediatrician, and then decide whether a comprehensive developmental assessment is needed for your child.

Research tells us that early identification and treatment for children with these difficulties is essential before these symptoms become severe and chronic patterns are established. Waiting until a child is in preschool or kindergarten before seeking professional and educational assistance NEVER leads to the best outcome for a child with any developmental delay. The earlier a child is diagnosed, the better chance he has of correcting his problems.

Research also tells us that children with autism, regardless of the severity, can make progress with specialized intervention that focuses on facilitating developmentally appropriate skills. The recommended “best practices guideline” for a child with autism is that he or she be involved in AT LEAST 25 HOURS PER WEEK of engaged time with caring, nurturing adults. This can be a combination of time in therapy, structured and developmentally appropriate preschool (NOT “Mother’s Day Out”), and quality, focused 1:1 play at home with mom and dad or other trained assistants.

Parents of children with autism play a crucial role in determining the ultimate outcome for their child. Success comes when parents make a huge commitment to learning their child’s unique strengths and weakness, become their child’s biggest advocates, and wholeheartedly embrace a comprehensive approach to improving their child’s developmental skills. This means getting a child professionally evaluated as soon as your gut tells you there’s a problem, selecting and following through with appropriate treatments, and pursuing additional education about your child’s needs until you become the best “expert” you can be. It’s not easy, but it will be worth it.


If you’re looking for additional resources to help you work with your child at home to improve his ability to use and understand words, I can help!!

Help My Child Learn to Talk

Help My Child Learn to Understand Words and Follow Directions


Other helpful information:

Product Recommendations for Parents and Professionals


If your child can’t imitate any words, here’s a step-by-step approach to helping him learn!


Building Verbal Imitation in Toddlers


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  1. Kristie on April 13, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    I have been concerned for quite some time about my 2 1/2 y.o. son. He ahs reached all of his physical milestones on time if not early. He does play with other kids when they are around, but it is not really imaginative play or play that requires cooperation with the others. He started babbling early on but there have been times where he would say a word a couple of times and we have never heard that word again. He has maybe 10-15 words he says right now. However much of it doesn’t make sense, he seems to get stuck on phrases and say them over and over again. One of his favorites is “bye-bye daddy car”. He says it at all different times whether he sees my husband or not or sees the car. He says greetings and waves. He can’t link appropriate animal sounds with the animal yet. He will not let me read to him, he rips the book out of my hands every time! If he wants something he gets it himself, if he cant he has a tantrum. If he’s trying to do something and can’t he has a tantrum instead of getting my help. It sems like he ignores me at times, like when he’s got a hold of the cat and is hurting her I’ll tell him to sop and he won’t let her go, sometimes she bites at him to get him to stop and he still goes back and tries to grab her again. My husband says I worry too much adn nothing is wrong with him. I don’t know though something seems off. when he gets excitd he does that arm flapping that they say autistic kids do. The part tht really worries me though is the speech thing. He shouldn’t have e er lost those words he said before. His vocabularly has gotten smaller over time it seems and he just repeats the same phrases, also he does not mimic sounds. If we want him to repeat something we’re saying he won’t do it. I would love a little more info and support, also i woul dlik to hear other stories about delayed children. Thank you – Kristie

    • Anonymous on May 14, 2015 at 1:45 am

      My son is also 21/2 and has less words in his vocabulary that he did a year ago. It’s frustrating to read things that constantly contradict themselves on this subject. My son
      walks on his tip toes and is obsessed with certain letters and numbers. He seems to like to play alone, line up his toys for hours and is mostly non verbal and throws himself around when he is upset. He also doesn’t call me mommy. They say they cant test kids until a “certain age” but also that the earlier diagnosis the better. Talk about contradiction. I would like him to have the best opportunities as possible so I am constantly trying to read about similar situations to see if im just crazy or that my concerns are real. Thanks

      • Laura on May 14, 2015 at 12:50 pm

        Your concerns ARE very, very real. He does need to be seen and sooner is always better. Be persistent in getting the assessment. Call your state’s early intervention program if you’re in the US. You can usually Google your state name plus the phrase “early intervention” to get contact information. In the meantime, my products will help you work with him at home! Check out Teach Me To Talk the DVD and Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2 as well as Teach Me To Play WITH You. Those products can be purchased individually or bundled in a Helping Toddlers with Autism Set. Check those out because they’re written specifically for parents in your situation who know they need some help learning to work with their child at home. If you haven’t subscribed to my free eBook, do that too! There’s so much practical information included as well as a coupon code which will save you $$ on the products if you decide to get those. Good luck to you!! Laura

  2. Laura on April 14, 2008 at 7:28 am

    Kristie – Based on what you’ve said about your son, I would definately have him evaluated through your state’s early intervention program and/or a pediatric speech-language pathologist. Talk to your pediatrician as well, but please pursue an evaluation for him since your gut is telling you that things aren’t right.

    According to what you’ve said, his language skills are not age-appropriate, and this is a big deal by age 2 1/2. By this age, children are saying hundreds of words, use original 3-4 word phrases and sentences all day long to talk about everything they see and ask for things they need. They don’t “get stuck” on the same phrases, and they have mastered verbal imitation for words and phrases. Losing words is a big red flag. This does not usually happen in typical language development.

    Although I can’t see your son and wouldn’t dream of “diagnosing” him or evaluating him sight unseen, what you’ve said certainly causes me to suspect that he is having developmental issues. Please pursue an assessment earlier rather than later and have a qualified professional evaluate him to either put your mind at ease or give him the special help he needs to make progress with language. This is often a hard step for parents, especially for dads, because it seems like you’re admitting that something is wrong. Try to lovingly persuade your husband that YOU need help for him, and help is not a bad thing.

    Research also tells us that children who receive early intervention (that is speech or other developmental therapy before 3), fare much, much better long term than children whose parents wait until kindergarten. By then the delays are so great, that it takes a long, long, long time to catch up, if ever.

    If you need help finding your state’s early intervention program, click the post on the home page of our site for assistance.

    Please keep us posted and let me know if there’s any other information you need. Laura

    EDIT TO ADD – The initial evaluation for state early intervention programs is FREE. If he needs services, many states offer this at no to low cost. The states that charge parents for this service do so at tremendously reduced rates compared to what you would pay an agency or therapist if you contacted them yourself.

  3. Anonymous on June 17, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    the first question that comes on my mind while reading about autism is weather this is really sickness and disorder or it’s a made up illness that pediatrics are using to get paid some extra money and get new jobs for speech specialists. As a parent naturally i do not like to attach “freak” attribute since the second year of his age like some parents, do but at the same time i would like to do best for my child and if there is a problem help him.
    My son is also 2 1/2 years and does not say a word. he is babbling constantly especially after we pick him up from the daycare and sometimes he goes on with hand gestures like he is giving a speech or trying to prove a point. it is all non understandable to us. as 1 year old he was saying few words and then stopped, when my mother started babysitting him and talking to him only in macedonian. so far we were not worried about this, but now this is becoming a problem for us because we started taking him to a daycare a week ago and he has problem communicating with the teachers there. it is difficult for the potty training also. he will tell us when his pants are wet by taking our hand and putting it to the wet area.
    i was reading the signs above for autism and honestly lot’s of behavior described above (almost all of it) i can see in him but then talking to other parents i see that he is not the only one doing this. he is flapping his hands everytime he gets excited about something but i think that this is due to the fact that he can’t communicate or say anything to express his feelings. he loves to line up and stack all kinds of objects in the house, but the patterns are changing all the time. sometime the objects are lined up sometimes they are grouped and stacked sometimes lined and stalked. sometimes he makes such amazing compositions that i just have to take a picture of it. he loves puzzles and movements and loves computer learning games. he used to not let me read to him but recently that is changed he likes when i point to the pictures. and yes, he loves pictures and looking at the albums. he is “prancing” a lot also when he gets excited, jumping on his tiptoes and not pay attention to us when we call him.
    he is very active and very affectionate boy. loves to cuddle and i think that socially he is very picky. he does love some people from the first sight and does not like others right away. some people he needs more time to get used to.
    i really think that this whole deal with autism is just overdone. same exact symptoms can be found in every child and starting treatments like something is wrong with them since beginning i believe might do more damage then good.

  4. Laura on June 17, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Dear “Anonymous” – First of all, let me say that I am glad you are concerned enough about your son to seek information. Some parents are so in denial that they can’t bear to even begin to read and explore what might be an explanation for why their child is not talking at 2 1/2.

    Let me also say that it is entirely ATYPICAL for any child not be speaking by this age. This in and of itself, not including all of the other red flag behaviors you described, would be reason enough to have him evaluated by a speech-language pathologist, an early intervention program, or a children’s hospital. If a child is not talking by 2 1/2, there IS a developmental problem. By this age most children, even the late talkers, are using many, many words and short phrases that are understood by their parents and other familiar caregivers.

    Autism is only one of a number of reasons why children have difficulty learning to talk. I urge you to pursue additional testing for him and information for yourself. Your idea that autism has been “invented” by doctors and SLPs to get additional money is unfortunate. I do hope that you’ll continue to educate yourself so that your son can get the help he deserves. Laura

  5. Holly on June 18, 2008 at 7:16 am

    I would be curious as to what his pediatrician says about it all? If you feel comfortable with his doctor and don’t think that he/she’s just out for the money, I would definately start there. My son doesn’t have autism but he does have apraxia and like most mom’s I’m sure, at first I just wanted to deny it all and think of ever excuse I could come up with. I will say however in your defense, I do agree with you to some extent in certain cases. I know with my son and the school district, after all kinds of testing medically and through the district the district wanted to deem him ADHD. I was sooooooo mad and talked to his ped about it and was reassured that he ws a very normal 3 yr old little boy. They also enlightened to the fact that the more ‘special needs’ children they get into their program, the more money the program received!!!! That was very upsetting to hear and so I decided at that point he would not enter their program and had the backing of my son’s doctor and slp he didn’t need it. I know it’s scarey to think somethings ‘wrong’ with your son trust me I was there for a long time and still am somedays now but you know to make sure through testing and research that there is nothing going on. The last thing you want for your son is to wait, every precious minute wasted is detrimental to their progress. Hang in there and stay strong 🙂

  6. Sarah on June 23, 2008 at 11:15 am

    I hope someone can reassure me about my son. When he was 12 months or so, he began to exhibit signs of aggression to other children.Apart from his tantrums, he would just lash out at other children and look at them with very unsure and angry eyes. I have 3 other children and I put this down to terrible twos onset. I did go to the doctor at one stage as it was worrying me, and we were referred to have an assessment but I didn’t keep the appointment, convinvced that it was nothing. As the months went on, his vocabulary is quite advanced, he began walking and talking around 12 months, is very agile and able and the only odd thing I noticed was that some things had to be ‘just so’ but then my 9 year old son never liked getting his hands dirty, so again I just attributed it to ‘toddlerism’. He did once or twice line up the baby kinnex (connecting magentic parts), putting colour to colour, and making long lines. But he doesn’t really do this any longer. The only thing that is distressing me now, is that now at 2 and three quarters, he is no longer hurting other children, and at home is sociable with all of us, however, outside, he seems scared of other adults. He won’t join in whatsoever with a fun activity event i take him to once a week. He won’t even let me shake some bells or do the actions to a song as he seems scared of ‘being noticed’. If anyone talks directly to him, he looks a mixture of scared and angry and burys his face into me or hides behind my legs. I am really trying to keep a routine for him, but it’s getting really hard with him continuously opting out of the fun. I feel like I am achieving nothing by taking him. He will approach older children (very cautiously) to play and interact with him and seems to interact fine with them and also a regular friend of similar age who he’s known since birth. He has the most horrendous (scary) tantrums at home, does not accept ‘no more stories’ at bedtime, won’t eat much at all, doesn’t like new food or anything added to basic food. Will smell it before even trying and then probably won’t try it. During a tantrum we’ve even had to restrain him as he throws chairs and remote controls at us, and has hurt each of us in the family. He lashes out at our faces and is so enraged (over something very small) that he is no longer in control over what he is thinking. My others, of course had tantrums, but never like this. I just want him to trust the outside world and trust the adults he’s beginning to see each week but each week is the same, he just doesn’t want to be noticed by them. His eye contact with us is great, smiles, nods, points, but loses all of this when out with other adults around. He wouldn’t even go on the slide today as a mum was at the top helping her child. Please advice if there may be something wrong, as I feel quite confused now as to what to do and am starting to feel that it is my fault.

  7. Laura on June 23, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Sarah – First of all, NONE OF THIS IS YOUR FAULT! This is not your parenting ability, or all of your children would exhibit these issues, so please stop feeling guilty.

    Secondly, the behaviors you’re desribing seem more extreme than typical. I would not continue to try to handle this on your own. Many of his behaviors will just become more firmly entrenched the longer they go unaddressed, and it sounds like you’ve tried all you know how to do.

    It sounds like your son’s major issues are that he has no frustration tolerance, is very fearful in social situations with adults and peers, and is exhibiting some other sensory issues, particularly with feeding.

    I would definately have him evaluated, and you could go one of two ways, and just so you know, I’d probably do both. You could try to get an appointment with an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory and feeding issues. Some of his social issues could also be due to sensory processing differences. However, I’d also see a pediatric psychologist not only to “diagnose” the behavioral challenges, but more importantly, to help you find solutions for dealing with these at home. (And I don’t mean medications for a 2 1/2 year old!)

    His issues sound too complex for you to continue to deal with on your own. Although you may find helpful advice from a book or website such as this, you’ll probably not find anything that can produce long lasting change for your son and for your family without sound, professional, specific, one-on-one advice. Get a referral from your pediatrician, or start making calls yourself, but please pursue action for your son soon. He can’t do it on his own. He needs you to help him. Laura

  8. Sarah on June 23, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Thank you, Laura, for your informative and reassuring reply. It was such a comfort to read your words. However, I wondered if anyone else could offer another opinion? Of course we are more fully armed with information with as many people that offer it! Are you based in the UK Laura? Do you mind if I ask if you specialise in such conditions, as you certainly sound as if you do…..I do value your opinion (and asked for it!) greatly although as you can imagine, as much as I want to help my son, I don’t want to walk him into being labelled something he may not be, just because some of his behaviours ‘match’ some of those of children suffering ASD. How mildly can autism affect a child? Or is this too difficult to define…?I’m so sorry, I am shooting in the dark, but cautious too. When you mention an appointment with an occupational therapist, would this be privately? Or could my doctor refer me? I know that my doctor would refer me to the pediatric department but usually it would be for all of the above I described – I can’t see them referring me to different consultants for various symptoms. It’s all about cost effective here, and that’s why I am cautious….however, as you say, he can’t help himself and I must do something to ensure his happiness and that for the whole family. Your reply would be much appreciated, many thanks for your help thus far, regards, Sarah xx

  9. Janet on June 23, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    I have a 33 month old and he doesn’t speak that much but he may a couple words like “no” and “what”. But from that list my baby has allot of familiar characteristics. I mean he doesn’t play other children that well and if he does he wants to fight them. Like today in the hospital he tackled one little boy to the ground for no reason. He also makes allot of noises when he plays, he jumps up and down when he gets excited. But one thing he does is smile at me when I smile at him and he comes to me and he may sit on my lap for a little while but then he gets back up and runs back around. I’m just really worried about him and honestly the program that I just got him involved in isn’t really doing to much to get him evaluated by the right people they just want him to go to preschool and that’s suppose to magically change the way he is. But, I don’t think so I know my child and I know he likes allot of attention and if I do decide to let him go he is going to end up having and nothings going to be able calm him down until he leaves. I just want the best help for my son. What do you think I should do so I can get him properly diagnosed?

  10. Laura on June 23, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Sarah – I live in the USA, and our health care system is very different. I am a pediatric speech-language pathologist, so my specialty is speech and language development. I do treat lots of children with autism. Autism, as you know, is a spectrum disorder meaning that the range of severity is from mild to severe. I cannot tell you if your son displays any characteristics of autism because I haven’t seen him. I so understand your dilemna with not wanting him “labeled” or “diagnosed” with ANY disorder or difficulty at a young age. However, if you are worried enough about him to be searching for information, you really should follow up with your doctor and determine what the best professional to help your son would be based on his/her observations from talking with you and actually seeing your child. From your description, it does sound like your son needs to be evaluated by a developmental professional, and your doctor can help you decide who/what profession that should be. Best of luck to you as you search for answers! Laura

  11. Laura on June 23, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Janet- Please continue to talk to the teachers in your son’s current program. You didn’t mention if this is a public or private program. Is he there because he’s been identified as having developmental delays, or is it a private preschool program you’ve enrolled him in?

    Regardless you should ask his teachers for referrals to other specialists who might be able to give you more information not only about his diagnosis, but also with ways to help him at home.

    You also didn’t mention if he’s getting speech therapy. I certainly hope he is because by nearly 3 most children know and say hundreds of words and communicate all day long use short sentences. If he is not in speech therapy, please ask your pediatrician for a referral or contact your local public school system. If you are in the USA, children with developmental delays (such as a language delay) receive early intervention services until they turn 3 in home based programs. At their 3rd birthdays they are then eligible for free preschool and/or therapy services through the public school system. Let me stress again how critical it is for language delays to be identified and treated, and the earlier the better.

    Your goal should be to do everything you can to have him caught up to other children his age by kindergarten. Given that he’s not talking very much now at almost 3, that’s probably not going to happen for him without some specialized assistance. I would definately have him evaluated by a speech-language pathologist if you haven’t already. Let me know if you need more specific help. Laura

  12. Sarah on June 24, 2008 at 3:30 am

    Thanks Laura, I will do and will let you know what the doctor says. I have had chance to look around the site now and see what you are doing. Good luck with it all, and thank you for sharing your expertise with us!

  13. Holly on June 24, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Idon’t know if Sarah will be back but this is for Janet as well. Remember that if your child can’t communicate with people, they do tend to act out from frusteration as well a lot of the times. I’m not a specialist just a mom of a now 4 yr old with speech apraxia and A LOT of experience 🙂 My son used to have a lot of tantrums when he was around the age of 2 and looking back now I know most of it was from his lack of language skills. Oh course I thought it was just the terrible two’s as well since I didn’t know at that time he was behind in his speech. He would yell and scream, knock his head on things to the point he almost passed out. Once we got him into early intervention and he was able to ‘talk’ with us better about his needs and wants, his tantrums almost all but disappeared. I know having your child ‘labeled’ is a scarey thing, I didn’t want my son labled either however on the positive side, you can always have that ‘labeled’ removed from your child’s records as well so remember that. I wish you both the best of luck and just remember to keep fighting for your child, follow your instincts as their mom. They wanted to put my son in the preschool as well and I declinded based on my own feeling about my son and now I also have the backing for that decision from his slp’s and his doctor. Good luck.

  14. Worried on June 24, 2008 at 11:13 am

    My son will be 3 next month. Since he was 1 yr, he seemed very advanced walked early, recites the alphabet and 1-30, knows animals and their sounds, colors, musical instruments, shapes, does puzzles. Understands phonics, has several words memorized for each letter, and even spells about 30 words both verbally and through typing. I just figured conversation was coming slowly at the expense of these other talents. Taking a step back and being realistic I realize that there might be something else wrong. He typically cannot sting more than 2 words together. He can memorize long lists of objects or dialogs from television, but he cannot explain what he wants or tell me about his day. He also doesn’t listen to a word anyone says unless it pertains to “ice cream” or “park” or “pool” or any other keyword that excites him. He makes his body go limp if you try to move him against his will or put him on the potty. Also fights getting dressed and undressed and going in the bath, and only eats about 10 different things. And when I try to look him in the eye and speak to him, he looks away and talks about completely unrelated things and tries to break gaze and go back to what he was doing. Despite all of his academic aptitudes, do these traits sound like he could have autism?

  15. Laura on June 24, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Worried Mom – I cannot say if your son “has autism” since I have not seen him.

    However, I would be very concerned about him since he is not meeting his language use milestones. (Referrred to as pragmatic skills by SLPs). Children who are turning 3 are typically USING words combined into short sentences all day long to communicate their wants and needs to their parents, take turns talking back and forth in conversation including asking and anwwering questions, and can follow LOTS of directions and instructions (whether they necessarily want to or not!).

    Even though your child is saying lots of words and is verbal, it sounds like he is struggling to truly communicate with you. He is not expressing basic wants and needs by asking for things, and he is not responding to you consistently. I would definately pursue a speech-language assessment for him because although he is talking, it doesn’t sound like he’s communicating very much. He should be using longer phrases and short sentences (4-5 words is typical for this age) to ask for what he wants All DAY, and he should be processing language, even when it’s not his favorite thing.

    It also sounds like he has some sensory processing issues regarding bathing, dressing,and feeding, so I’d pursue an occupational therapy assessment as well too.

    As a parent it’s so hard to think that something may not quite be right, especially when he is exhibiting some verbal and cognitive strengths. But I’d be concerned if I were you. Trust your instincts and pursue an assessment for him. You can start with talking about these very specific concerns that you’ve outlined with your pediatrician, calling your local school district to have a developmental assessment, and/or pursuing private ST and OT assessments. Let me know if you need any other more specific advice. Laura

    • SIMONE on June 2, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      Hello I have a 24 month old son he doesnt talk he always flaps his arms while jumping at the same time he helps himself to what he wants from the kitchen he always looks towards a picture on my wall even when he’s watching TV he only eats certain foods he always passes his toys to me and puts my hand on them for me to do he now covers his eyes alot he crys when I take him in a shop he takes people by the hand and sits them in a row and if they move then he keeps putting them back he will only watch certain cartoons and he constantly crys when something happens on it for example if a character falls over or crys then he will get so upset sometimes it can take me hours to calm him he doesn’t call me mommy he will put toys in peoples hands when they are asleep its like he doesn’t know what they don’t take it, I am very worried about him but I am also scared to take him for tests what do you think?

  16. Worried on June 24, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    I’m actually his dad, and I appreciate your reply. I am waiting for the school district to get back to me regarding the assessment. Summer break makes it tough to get a response. Is there anything I could be doing in the mean time to help him? I know how to teach him nouns and songs and adjectives, but have yet to hear him ask or answer a question, other that “what color is the ___?” or “how many ____ are there?”. I would really like him to tell me about his day, or tell me about things he likes or ask a question. Not just listen to him recite songs when he doesn’t seem to understand what the words mean, or tell me what color and animal his toy is, or how to spell different words. He knows how to engage me, is there any way to engage him? I try to speak in full sentences about things he is interested, but he never goes beyond his 2-3 word fragments.

  17. Laura on June 24, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Worried Dad – I have lots of specific things you can do at home to target his expressive and receptive language skills. Please click on those categories and read the articles, especially the ones regarding asking questions and Teaching Toddlers the Words They Know To Change Their Worlds. Good luck in your pursuit of how to help your son! Laura

  18. Jo on June 30, 2008 at 2:59 am

    Sarah, you might want to read up on Sensory Processing Disorder, food allergies and food intolerances. I don’t know if these would help, but you just might find something that ‘clicks’ there.

  19. Cameran on July 8, 2008 at 11:06 am

    My son is 22 months old and for some time now I have been worried about his speach and language abilities. At first I chalked it up to being the second child, as I have a 34 month old daugther. His vocabulary consists of about 15-20 words (way below what his sisters was at that age), he has said a couple sentences like – I go get Daddy. But it is very limited. He is a very active child and the best way to describe him is intense! For a couple months we had problems with him having tantrums to the point where he would hold his breathe and pass out! He has done better but still has serious tantrums when told what not to do or if something is taken from him; which I have said is the norm for the terrible twos. But he will not repeat words back to us, and sometimes just acts like he is ignoring us completely. I can sit with a book and point to the object and say the name and then ask him to either point to it or say it but he just doesn’t respond at all. And I also try hard to repeat words (Like – Can you say shoe?) and ask him to say it but to no avail – he just refuses to say it and seems to ignore it all. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! He has his regular checkup in September but I am wondering if I should take him to his pediatricain earlier to get a referral. Both my husband and I are worried. Thanks in advance!

  20. Laura on July 8, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Cameran – I would definately be proactive and see your pediatrician to discuss your concerns now. The language issues are not “severe” in that he already has 15-20 words (the minimum is 50 by 24 months and using two-word phrases frequently), but he does have some red flag behaviors such as consistent “ignoring,” limited imitation skills, and then there are those tantrums….

    An intense, frustrated almost two-year old is very difficult to live with, and I so applaud your and your husband’s attention to this situation. If you are worried, there is likely a good reason to be, so I would go ahead and pursue the referral for a speech-language assessment so you can have it done at least by his birthday. If you’re using your state’s early intervention program, it’ll take a while (45 days) to get services started, so you could initiate it now to have it done by the time he’s turning 2. I will add that I love to get kids at this age rather than waiting until
    2 1/2 or later.

    Here you’ll find lots of ideas for things to do at home while you’re waiting for the assessment. Let me know if you need anything else. Laura

  21. angie on July 10, 2008 at 7:00 am

    my son is 2 1/2 ,he cant say more than six words at all hes under a speech therapist has been since january ,his behaviour is different ,we have got to have his order where ever he puts his pencils and books its got to stay like that otherwise he will start screaming and hitting himself or booting the furniture ,he refers himself as me .likes to be on his own ,seems to be in his own little world .he points and seems to have his own little sign language.when hes eating if he spills some of his food he wont eat the rest of his meal ,he wont involve us in any of his activities unless he wants us to .but on the flip side of that hes a happy little bunny .

  22. angie on July 10, 2008 at 7:09 am

    my son as well wont look you in the eye he will look away and if any one talks to him he looks down to the floor and burys his head,hes also very stubburn.

  23. Laura on July 10, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Angie – I know that your health care and educational systems in the UK are very different from ours in the USA, but the behaviors that you are describing are red flags, and do warrant attention from a professional. I am glad he’s seeing a speech-language pathologist, and I hope he continues to make improvements in all areas. Please implement the strategies your speech therapists gives you to use at home. Children with parents who are very committed to their progress to much better than those who aren’t as involved. I wish you all the best as you continue to help him! Laura

  24. angie on July 10, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    to ,laura thank you very much ,i just needed to tell someone ,i made a appointment with my sons doctor for tomorrow ,i will keep you posted how we get on ,thank you again . angie

  25. michelle on July 12, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    my son is 3 next month, we are currently waiting to see a paediatrician regarding his development. He is obsessed with numbers and letters and any toy with wheels. Until recently he would only spin wheels on trains and cars but now he pushes them along the floor. He has virtually no imaginative play and will not have anything to do with other children. He will play with other adults eventually but only if it involves something he needs, such as helping him onto a slide. He is very affectionate with myself and my partner and his grandparents, but hasn’t got time for anyone else, even if he sees them regularly. I took him to toddler group during term time and it took him 16 months to be able to get in and out of a little childs car without help and even then he still couldn’t get his feet moving to drive it. His speech is delayed also, he has never asked for anything other than by taking my hand to reach for it, he would repeat whole sentences that he hears and sings whole nursery rhymes but never anything original when he gets excited he flaps his hands and he would also shake his head quite fast with his eyes looking to one side, this usually happens more when he is tired. The first time he ever pointed in his life was 4 weeks ago. Could my son have an ASD or is it possible that I haven’t taught him enough to be at the right stages for his age?

  26. Laura on July 14, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Michelle – Although I can’t say definitively if your son has autism because I haven’t seen him, he does have some red flags that indicate that he needs to be evaluated by a developmental pediatrician AND a speech-language pathologist. According to what you’ve said, his language skills are delayed. By the time children are turning 3, they are using LOTS of unique, sentence-length structures to verbally ask for things they need, respond to their parents questions, and talk about things they see and do all day long. These things he’s not doing with language are more alarming to me than the other classic signs of autism in any child. Even if a child is autistic, he should be learning to communicate. I hope that this site can give you some ideas for how to help him learn to do that AND that you continue to seek professional advice for him. Good luck! Laura

  27. michelle on July 14, 2008 at 7:07 am

    Thanks for replying Laura. It’s really frustrating just waiting for appointments, i’ve been told I could be waiting 6 months before he see’s a paediatrician. This site is brilliant, i’ve picked up a few tips that i will difinately be trying with my son. Thanks again. Michelle.

  28. Lisa on July 17, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    I am also a working pediatric speech-language pathologist and mother of young children. The above list of red flags for autistic spectrum disorder is excellent. It is important to remember that most children will not demonstrate everyone of these behaviors, yet concerns still are warranted. Also, there are many typically developing children that may demonstrate some of them, such as picky eater or flapping type movements when excited. It is important to keep frequncy and intensity in mind. Many parents I work with say something like, “Oh, all kids do that sometimes” or “So he’s a little different”. A good motto to keep in mind is “It’s not a problem unless it’s a problem”. If a child prefers to play alone sometimes, maybe it is not a problem. If a child cannot play near others, can’t make needs known, or tantrums excessively, it is a problem. I know this sounds simplistic, but it does help gain perspective.
    Autistic spectrum disorders is just that. Most parents want/need black and white answers because there is such uncertainty raising a child who does not present as a ‘textbook child’. Diagnosing ASD can be challenging. Yes, I am sure many ‘typical’ people demonstrate some of the characteristics. (I do believe I hand-flapped as a child.)That is why a complete evaluation by an expert is necessary. I am certain that there are many adults today on the mild end who were never diagnosed and are functioning and happy. With todays advances and early intervention, I am also certain that many more children who fall on the spectrum can grow into happy, successful individuals.

  29. Laura on July 17, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Thanks Lisa! I totally agree! I am in the process of posting a couple of other links for parents who are looking for a “tool” to help them with questions about their children who may (or may not) be on the spectrum. These may be useful to you and your clients’ families as well. Thanks again for commenting! I love hearing from other SLPs!!! Laura

  30. Melissa on July 26, 2008 at 12:20 am

    My son’s pediatrician said she is 90% positive he has autism, but he doesn’t have the hand-flapping, social avoidance or many other key symptoms of autism. He has therapists for the speech and physical delays. Who can diagnose autism or diagnose him as not having autism, and if it is not autism, who can diagnose a speech disability, like apraxia, if one exists? A department of the local university supposedly does evaluations snd diagnoses, but I have waited several days since I first called and no response. The pediatrician, who has rarely seen my son, says he does little imaginative play. How much imaginative play is a two-and-a-half year old boy supposed to do, especially if he is speech and physically delayed, and what kind of imaginative play is it supposed to be and look like? He seems fairly social and does not do any hand flapping or repetitive movements, but he is very speech delayed and slightly physically delayed. If autism is not the cause, then what is? His cousin has apraxia, but is not physically or speech delayed. She just has a speech impediment and fine motor shaking. Does my son have something worse if he is speech AND physically delayed? Can his therapists help in diagnosis, his pediatrician, or someone else?

  31. Andrea on September 5, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Hi Laura, a few days ago I asked you a question on the ‘foreign language and late talkers’ article. It really gave me peace of mind to know that my doughter’s echolalia is normal for her age (20 months old), however, I’m still worried about a couple of things.

    One thing is that she started to point at things one week before she turned 18 months old, she she points when we are reading books to show me something in the book and when I ask her to point at something, she also points at things she’s interested in.
    Something that really disturbs me is that at the park she’s always picking up sticks or leafs off the floor and needs to have them on her hands, if we try to take them she gets really upset and screams, sometimes she doesn’t care, but the screaming is the rule. Because she’s always grabing something we are always helping her so she can go down the slide or climb, etc
    Another thing is that since the begining I always gave her her food pureed because I’m scared she would choke. From her firts birthday I added more texture and now I shred her beef or chicken, she likes to eat peas and cheerios, so it’s evident she knows how to chew. Sometimes she gags and ends up vomiting, but it’s because she has a lot of food in her mouth. She only eats fruit if it is pureed, I would give her a banana and she won’t eat it unless it’s pureed. She’s trying to use fork and spoon so that’s a good thing.
    The way she plays is functional, she does lots of pretend play, but recently she turns her little people farm upside down and puts the animals or other toys inside, maybe that’s just her way to play???….

    I would appreciate you can comment on this, thanks again!!

  32. Andrea on September 5, 2008 at 11:57 am

    ohh, and we insisted and finally got an appointment with a paediatrician in one month

  33. Laura on September 5, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Andrea – It sounds like you continue to be concerned about her, so I am glad you are seeing the doctor. Here are my thoughts about the things you mentioned –

    Mouth overstuffing is pretty common at this age until 24 months or so, so that’s not a huge concern, but the throwing up is. She should also really be eating a full diet of table foods by now and eat a variety of foods. By variety, the experts say at least 10-15 different foods is common for toddlers.

    Wanting to constantly hold on to leaves or sticks outside or (or little toys when inside) is also a pretty common occurence for toddlers. Watch for this when you’re out. So many kids are carrying something!

    Screaming when you take something away…. that’s totally common for toddlers.

    Now, each of the things you mentioned does seem to fall within the realm of “typical,” but again, because you keep feeling uneasy about her, I’m glad you’re following through. Sometimes mothers just know when something isn’t right, even if they are the only ones who feel that way. Keep pursuing answers until you feel satisfied.

    One possibility to explain these quirks could be a “sensory processing” difference. You could google “sensory processing issues,” and get some information about this. Another great resource is Lucy Jane Miller’s book, Sensational Kids. The Out of Sync Child is another older book about sensory processing issues that I really like. This area plays such a factor in a child’s overall development. Our oldest son had, make that HAS, sensory issues that really affected nearly every area of his life, so I’ve “lived” this from a mom’s perspective, in addition to my professional interest. I haven’t written too much about this on the site, but I have been planning to for a while. I will also tell you that I’m having an occupational therapist on the show in a few weeks to talk about what sensory issues are and how they can affect a child’s ability to understand and use language, so look for the show announcement about this in the next few weeks!

    I have written you a novella about this, so let me end by saying that I would mention sensory issues to the doctor, but don’t be surprised if he or she looks at you like you have 2 heads. Some pediatricians are not trained in this area. After your research, if you decide this could be the issue, you’ll want to find a great occupational therapist who specializes in sensory processing disorders. Good luck and let me know how it goes! Laura

  34. Andrea on September 5, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Thank you so much Laura for your response!! you’ve made my day!! I’m finally getting answers and now I feel that I can really enjoy my time with my daughter and stop thinking that there’s something wrong in everything she does.

    Still, I will continue to keep an eye on those things that I mentioned and I will do everything I can to make sure she lives a wonderful, happy life , but without overworrying…that’s for sure…Thanks again and God bless you 🙂

  35. Andrea on September 5, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    …and off course I’ll let you know how everything goes with the ped!

  36. Angie on September 17, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    My son in almost 13 months old. He used to have a vocabulary of about 15 words and now he rarely says mommy or daddy. He still isn’t walking and has a very short temper. He sometimes also tends to hold his hands over his ears when he gets angry. His doctor says that he is just a normal 13 month old but he seems to be a little off at times to me.

  37. Laura on September 18, 2008 at 5:21 am

    Angie – Sometimes moms pick up on when things just aren’t going right long before others will. I hear this over and over as I work with children with developmental delays. I might get a referral on a child at 24 months, and when I ask the mom when she first started to worry, she often says, “For a long time.”

    You can do 2 things – either wait it out to see if it’s a temporary little bump in his development OR go ahead and be proactive and call your state’s early intervention program for an assessment. To find out the number, you can google your state’s name + the words “early intervention.”

    It is NOT typical development to lose all of the words you’ve used previously. Sometimes a child may say a word or two and then “lose” it in lieu of practicing other things, or not talk as much while he’s so super focused on learning a new skill like walking. Since he’s lost all of his words and isn’t walking yet, I’d be concerned. Again – it’s not so out of the realm of normal not to be walking or talking at 13 months or to have frequent melt-downs, but I’d listen to that nagging voice inside your head and pursue an evaluation thru your state program, especially if things don’t move along by 15 months. If he doesn’t qualify for services at this point, they should still be able to give you some tips to help him at home.

    In the meantime, keep reading the articles here to give you ideas to use with him to build his language skills – both with the words he’s saying and what he can understand.

    Good luck! Laura

  38. Holly on September 18, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Hi Angie,
    From a mom’s view I say, get him evaluated now….the sooner the better for him if something is wrong and if there’s nothing wrong, the better for you to rest your worries 🙂 Good luck and keep us posted.

  39. nicole on September 20, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    hi my name is nicole, my son had some similar symptoms to autism. i had him evaluated and they said he didnt have autism and they just suggested a head start program because his speech was delayed. i on the other hand think he has autism.. he gives me eye contact all the time. but what gets me is that he is very mean to other children he hits them and takes things away, and now its to the point where his own uncle doesnt want him at his house because he hits his son. hes always very hyper..he doesnt flap his hands or anything.. but he lines his hot wheels up not all the time though.. so i dont know its very confusing to me. they say he doesnt have it.. what should i do. Do i take him for a second evaluation or a second opinion.. or should i get him evaluated for something else like adhd?11

  40. Laura on September 20, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Nicole – Anytime a parent thinks they might need a second opinion, they usually do. You didn’t say how old he is, or what else they said about him during the assessment other than language delay.

    Children aren’t usually diagnosed with ADHD until they are school-aged and have hyperactivity/behaviors that are interfering with academic skills or following the rules and routines in the classroom.

    You also didn’t say where or by whom he was assessed. You might try a team that includes a pediatric psychologist since you mentioned his aggression with other children.

    Did whoever evaluated him mention sensory processing issues as a possibility for him as well? There’s a great book that explains sensory issues called Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane Miller. Another good resource for sensory information is The Out of Sync Child. You might want to explore this as a possibility for him too based on his high activity level. Occupational therapists are the professionals that evaluate and treat this kind of issue.

    I hope these suggestions will help you as you continue to pursue help for your son. Please check out the other articles for ideas at home for working with his language. Aggression with other children is sometimes caused by frustration since he may not be able to communicate with them, and he resorts to hitting and hoarding toys.

    Please let me know if you have other questions! Laura

  41. nicole on September 21, 2008 at 11:55 am

    well my son is 3 years old.. his father travels alot from arizona to california all the time. when he was evaluated it was in california. I also think maybe hes experiencing a little jealousy since i recently had a baby boy.i think thats where the hitting and the taking away of toys came from. but he was evaluated 1 on 1 by a speech pathologist. she came to my home and got out toys and basically watched him play and she asked my neice and nephew to come out and play with him i guess to see how he played with other children and she said he was fine. and she suggested a head start program and for us as parents to encourage more imaginative play.

  42. Andrea on September 21, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Hi Laura, a couple of weeks ago I asked you a few question about my daughter. Shae’s now 20 months and 2 weeks old. I’m very happy because she’s talking a lot and she’s even using 2 word sentences and tends to favor the english language. One thing that I forgot to mention is that at 18 months and 3 weeks she would tell me when she had or was about to have a bowel movement, she did for a week or two, but then she stopped doing it…could’ve been that I failed at not buying the potty at that time (and still haven’t)???…is this something to worry about?? Thanks once again 🙂

  43. Janese on September 22, 2008 at 6:49 am

    My daughter is 20 months old. When she was just 12 months she had a pretty extensive vocabularly for her age. She also seemed to understand and follow simple instructions. She had an unusually long attention span when it came to television. She was the only toddler I knew of at that age that could watch television and seem to interact with what was going on. Since she liked to watch certain programs, I let her. Lately I have noticed that her vocabularly has decreased, she does not speak as much as she used to, she responds to her name sometimes, but mostly only when it is accompanied by something else such as eat eat or bye bye. She points at things sometimes, but for the most part she grabs my hand or clothing and pulls me towards what she wants. Developmentally her speech has reached the milestones, but I have noticed that she has not really learned any new words from when she was much younger. She does flap her hands when she gets exicited, and she sometimes “gathers” her toys and various objects and arranges them on the outside of her so she can sit in the middle. I am concerned about her language and her lack of following directions.

  44. Laura on September 22, 2008 at 6:52 am

    Nicole – Then I would get him enrolled in a program as she suggested. If you are still concerned after a few more months, then you could reconsider the second opinion. Good luck with whatever you decide! Laura

  45. Laura on September 22, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Andrea – I’m so glad your daughter is doing well and making progress with her language! Keep up the good work!

    Oh the dreaded potty training question – this is not my area of expertise, but I’ll tell you what I know. Many children experience an initial period of interest just before they turn 2, and then seem to lose interest. All 3 of my own children did this, and only one of them successfully trained during this time.

    If you can train them during that period, great, but if you can’t, then it may not happen until she’s between 2 1/2 to 3.

    Children with any developmental delay, including language, may be a little slower to train. But it’s also very common not be trained until that time, with or without a language issue.

    Good luck with her, and again keep up the good work with her language! Laura

  46. Laura on September 22, 2008 at 7:03 am

    Janese – I know you must be very worried about her. You could go ahead and have her assessed now by your state’s early intervention program, or you can continue to watch her for a couple of months and see what happens.

    Anytime a child “loses” words, it’s a red flag. You may want to go ahead and schedule a visit with your pediatrician in the next couple of weeks to discuss these issues as well.

    In the meantime, don’t just watch her at home. Get very involved in her world and encourage her to interact with you, let you join her play, and use the words she knows. If you act early and aggressively enough, this could be just a little bump in the road for her. Read the articles on the site for ideas with how to help her at home. Let me know how she does and if there’s any other question I can answer for you! Laura

  47. Elizabeth on September 29, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    I am really worried about my son, Chase. He is 26 months old and is displaying a whole range of worrisome behaviors. He has been ahead of others his age until recently. Physically, he is at the 90% percentile for his weight and height. He is extremely active, constantly moving, wanting to play, and is very coordinated. He loves to play outside, loves animals, is completely obsessed with cars, likes Bob the Builder… ultimately he enjoys the typical boy kid stuff & activities! But… there are several things that keep distressing me.

    He has an outrageous temper. He has at least one blowout tantrum daily. If I even say the word ‘gentle’ he will just go crazy. He hits and kicks me constantly. He has recently added head-butting and attempted biting to that list. He will take whatever toys he is holding and hit them against household objects or himself – especially his head. He will grunt and scream and cry and sometimes shake if it’s bad enough. When we put him in timeout he will take whatever he can reach and throw it and if there is nothing to throw he just lays on the ground and spins around kicking and violently crying. He understands the word ‘no’ so when we say ‘no hitting Mommy’ etc he will pretend to hit me – just barely touching me. When we tell him not to do something or to do something he doesn’t want he has an emotional meltdown. Even if we say it as gently and calmly as humanly possible it doesn’t change his reaction. When I try to take him out to a store and put him in a cart he will just throw everything out of the cart if something isn’t going his way. I have bruises all over my body and have no idea how to discipline him. He looks at me with the most sad and angry eyes that it just breaks my heart. The timeout isn’t working, taking things away doesn’t work, gently spanking hasn’t worked, trying to get on his level and just talking to him doesn’t work – I don’t know what to do and I feel like I’m on the verge of an emotional breakdown. I don’t understand why he is having such aggressive reactions.

    His speech is also another concern. He has said TONS of words – at least 100. But he doesn’t use those words often. He says bear, bottle, juice, mommy, daddy, etc – about 50+ for the appropriate things and times… he has only combined words after hearing us say them. For example, “I’ll be back” or “shoes on” things like that. I’ve yet to hear him come up with anything on his own. Majority of the day he uses his own language which I somewhat understand because of the physical motions and pointing. A lot of his speech is just noises for excitement or anger – a lot of high pitched whining. He responds to his name majority of the time, but other times it seems as though he doesn’t even hear me. I scheduled an appointment for a tympanogram with our local ENT next week – in hopes that they could rule any ear issues out.

    His eating habits are also extremely difficult. His meals consist of any kind of fruit really, bologna, peanut butter, chips, ground sirloin, and ravioli. He wont touch anything new or veggies. He recently weened him off his bottle and he refuses to drink milk out a cup. We tried the milk juice boxes and he wont do it. He doesn’t like cups typically and will only drink juice out of a juice box. We have been having to give him a bottle with water because we worried about his hydration. We can’t get him to sit down and eat – he just runs away with his food or wants to eat it in front of the tv (which I hate)! I started giving him a vitamin because I’m worried that he isn’t getting proper nutrients. Does this sound like normal picky behavior or something to be worried about?

    He doesn’t like to sit down and work on projects unless it is playing with his cars or watching a movie. He is very loud and rarely uses an ‘inside voice.’ He likes things to be very neat and organized… the other day he wouldn’t go to sleep until his cars were put away. We couldn’t figure out why he was going crazy so we let him get out of his bed (he was pointing all around his room) and he put away his cars and then went to bed. Some of these things sound like your typical toddler boy – but I just don’t feel like it’s normal.

    He is extremely affectionate to some people and wont even look at others. He doesn’t like to cuddle (unless he is sick) but will give you a hug if you ask for one. He does walk on his tip toes daily but not for extended periods of time – just for like 5 second intervals. I talked to his pediatrician regularly about these things and he always says lets see where he is at in 3 months.

    I’m a stay-at-home Mommy. I have been since he was born. My husband works 12 hours a day, 5-6 days a week… I truly feel for these other parents experiencing even more extreme behaviors. I pretty much cry daily because I’m so overwhelmed with him. I try to engage with him inside, outside, with his cars, with books – you name it… and everything seems to end with a tantrum or timeout. I love my son dearly but want to enjoy my time with him and I don’t know how to get through to him when he expresses these kinds of emotions and demands. I hear about ADHD and Autism mostly – but are there other things I can research with these kinds of behaviors?

    My mother-in-law always says he is amazing for her and they just have the greatest times together – so I feel like I’m doing something wrong. My husband and I have talked about montessori school 2 days a week or something just so I’m not constantly disciplining him… I know that probably sounds awful but I am starting to feel like my son hates me. Although he gets very shy around other children and new adults to the extent that I’ll have to carry him. We’ve tried play groups and whatnot and nothing has ended well. I am all ears for any advice or support groups!!!

  48. Laura on September 30, 2008 at 6:32 am

    Elizabeth – Although Chase does have lots of good skills to build on, he is exhibiting some red flag behaviors that I too would be concerned about.

    Per your report, he is displaying some sensory processing issues (need for constant movement, food aversions, low frustration tolerance, lack of social interaction at times, restricted play interests) and speech-language delays (lack of phrases despite an adequate single word vocabulary and not using his words to communicate in an understandable way when he needs to ask for something).

    Any of these issues alone are not a huge concern, but put them all together, and it does seem to suggest the possibility of what could potentially turn into a very real developmental issue. The good news is, with early intervention, so many of these things can be addressed so that it’s a little bump on the road in his development, instead of a problem that continues to escalate throughout his preschool years.

    You are so smart to want to address these things now instead of waiting to see if he’ll outgrow it on his own. Just so you know, moms are usually the first person to be worried about a kid, often long before dad and especially grandmothers, are! Love for our children can sometimes blind us to what needs to be done in order to help him.

    If he were my child, I would seek out early intervention services in your state or a multidisciplinary evaluation. Usually these kinds of programs are affiliated with children’s hopsitals or universities. He should be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist and occupational therapist and perhaps even a pediatric psychologist who can help you figure out better ways to deal with his challenging behaviors. You are his mother, and you know him best, so you need someone to help you address what is happening.

    While mother-in-laws who help you take care of your children are wonderful, they sometimes too are oblivious to what is really going on. As I said before, you are his mother, and you know him best. Don’t let other people make you feel guilty for seeking out help for Chase. When he grows up, he will thank you for it!

    In the meantime, keep reading the articles on this site for very practical ways to work on his communication skills at home. The DVD could also show you several techniques you could use to help him learn to USE his words on his own, expand to phrases, and improve your ability to teach him to learn to interact consistently through play. It’ll also give you new ideas for things to entice him to want to play with you.

    You can do this Elizabeth! You sound like such a thoughtful, engaged Mom. Chase is lucky to have you! Let me know if you need any other help. Laura

  49. Andrea on October 1, 2008 at 2:41 am

    Thank you Laura for sharing your personal experience potty training your children.

    My daughter is talking a lot! three days ago she started to answer ok or yes when I ask her if she wants something…has never said no, though. She loves to label things she sees on a book, on tv, at the playground. Sometimes she points to the sky and says ‘moon’ or ‘baloon’, even if there’s nothing there. Today she wanted to show me a toy and said ‘look, cat!’, also, she crushed a banana and I asked her what happened, she just said ‘poor banana’, that certainly made me laugh.

    She says her name and a few days ago asked an older kid ‘what’s your name?’, he didn’t pay attention to her, maybe he didn’t understand, but I did. She loves older kids and is starting to get interested in her peers, she grabs other kids toys and plays next to them, as far as I know this is normal for her age (almost 21 m/o)

    She loves reading books and constantly asks me or my husband to read them with her, when I’m busy I just tell her to read it by herserlf and that’s exactly what she does.

    I know in my heart she’s doing fine, but one thing that still worries me is that she sometimes labels things she sees on tv or books just because, but, doesn’t point at them and doesn’t expect a reaction from us…I don’t know if that’s something to worry about…is she supposed to point and look at us whenever she labels something??

    We have the appointment with the pediatrician on friday, though. I’ll let you know how everything goes. Thanks.


  50. Laura on October 1, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Andrea – I’m glad she’s doing so well! I rarely tell moms “don’t worry” because that’s what good moms do, but it sounds like she’s moving right along. Hopefully the pediatrician will confirm that for you.

    Most kids at her age do label things just for the sake of labeling them. It becomes a problem when they NEVER or RARELY seek you out to help them get things they want and won’t respond to your attempts to interact with her. By your report, she is doing well asking you for things (wanting to read books), directing your attention (when she said, “Look! Cat.”), responding to your directions, and is even beginning to like to be with other kids. Again, from your report since I can’t see her, it sounds like she’s doing things expected for a toddler her age. But I’m glad you’re going to the pediatrician, and I hope that it relieves your anxieties about her. Let us know – Laura

  51. M on October 5, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    My son is 27 months old. There are only a few behaviors that have me concerned but they are really worrying me. He knows many words but isn’t putting them together to form sentences. He likes to call all numbers and letters “A”. I will count 1 2 3! And he will reply A 2 A! He also refuses to call me mom, he calls both me and his father daddy. Sometimes he doesn’t respond to his name but he usually does. He knows how to communicate very well using gestures, facial expressions and tone. He follows directions very well. He is very affectionate and social. He loves imaginative play and to pretend. He has his stuffed animals have babbling conversations to each other. He can be very independent when playing but always prefers to have someone to play with. He’s very bold about approaching kids at the playground to play with him. He’s not picky at all when it comes to food and he mastered feeding himself a long time ago. So, it’s really just the language issues that concern me. When we read his first word books he will go through and point out only the words he knows, not wanting to pay attention to the other pictures. He goes straight to “cookie” or “key” and will say them a few times. But if I name the items he will accurately point them all out to me. He just won’t say them. Are these language issues enough for me to be worried about autism?

    PS – He has three older siblings, 14, 12 & 10. I’ve heard that this can affect speech development. Could this really be the cause?


  52. Laura on October 5, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Dear M – From what you’ve said, this sounds more like an expressive language delay than anything else I’d be concerned about at this point. I’d go ahead and have an early intervention evaluation or speech-language evaluation since he should be doing a little more than he is according to the information you provided. The good news is he’s got some great strengths to build on – his social skills and his ability to follow directions. He may just need a jump start from working with an SLP who can not only work with him, but more importantly, give you new strategies to try with him at home. 27 months is a great age for speech therapy to improve his expressive language skills!

    AND being the youngest in and of itself doesn’t account for a language delay. The only time this is the case is when there are absolutely no demands placed on him to talk, but it sounds like you are encouraging him to use words. Read the articles in the expressive language section for more ideas to use at home so that you can be sure you’re setting up situations that would entice him to talk.

    You may also want to check out the DVD for ideas for all of you (even those older siblings!) to use at home to help him use his words and expand to phrases.

    Either way – good luck with him! Laura

  53. Jessica on October 13, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Hi, I have a son Harley who is 21 months, i am worried and need some advice, he has started to head bang a lot, when we are at the park when he cant do something, when he cant have somthing etc… unsual attachments to his dummy and his blanket, like older children and doesnt know how to act around other children younger or his same age, or just ignores them. his speech is delayed but he can say no, doesnt say yes but knows how to nod and shake head at both words. he is a very fussy eater, i am worried, he also likes the wheels on his cars and buggy although he pushes them too.. am i just worrying too much i dont know..

    he is profoundly deaf in one ear and they did say that this should not interfere with his speech.

    he does point to things and loves the washing machine.

    just dont know what to do x

  54. Laura on October 14, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Jessica – Thanks so much for your comments. I hope that you are finding the ideas on this site helpful so that you can be proactive at home in helping Harley learn to use language. By this age, he should be well on his way to using single words often, and by helping him learn words, you’ll be doing lots to alleviate the frustration he’s feeling which may be causing some of the head banging.

    If he continues to do these things which are of concern to you, and especially if his language doesn’t improve, please talk to your health care provider. If you are still worried as he’s approaching 2, insist on a referral to a pediatric specialist and SLP. I know it’s more difficult to receive a referral and treatment in the UK than in the USA, so I would be very persistent.

    In the meantime, use the ideas on this site. Check out the DVD too since you could watch this using your computer rather than a DVD player. It’s filled with lots of ideas, and so many parents have written me to tell me how it’s helped them work with their children at home. Laura

  55. D's Mom on October 24, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    I have a 20 month old that I believe is exhibiting signs of autism. I know this is young, but going through the list of red flags, he has more than 75 percent. He was speaking coherent and intelligent words by the age of one and has completely regressed. He will not answer to his name and totally tunes you out. He will not reciprocate signs of affection and in fact doesn’t want to be touched at all (rarely). At times he seems as if he is deaf – I can make loud banging noises to try and get his attention, but when he is focused on something else the house could collapse and he would not acknowledge. He lives in his own little world and wants to play alone at all times. When he wants something he throws and explosive tantrum, falling to the floor and screaming and weeping until he is exhausted. He has begun talking gibberish rather than using words. He used to wave bye but no longer does this. He absolutely will not make eye contact. He does not follow even the most basic directions. The things he likes to do he does repeatedly. He doesn’t play with other children, acknowledge them, etc. He constantly walks on his tip toes. He is covered in bruises from his clumsiness. He can watch a cartoon and totally fixates on it and absolutely nothing can get his attention. He has a high tolerance for pain, i.e. he can stumble and fall and hit his head and get up and go about his business. When he gets his shots he never even whimpers. Is it too early to insist that he be checked or is this typical 20 month behavior? I am worried sick.

  56. Laura on October 25, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    D’s mom – None of this is “typical” 20 month old behavior. The key here is that he has “lost” skills, and this is what you should emphasize to any professional that sees your child including his pediatrician.

    I would also recommend that you call your state’s early intervention program very soon and request he be evaluated. 20 months old is not too young.

    I will tell you that of the 28 children I am currently treating right now, 9 are children of physicians, therapists, or nurses, and every one of them started therapy before age 2.

    With early intervention services, many children who exhibit “red flag” behaviors, can and do overcome them. Research tells us that early therapy can helps change the way their little brains are wired. Even children who don’t completely achieve skills within the normal range are still much better off than other kids with problems who did not receive services as toddlers. Waiting until 3 or 4 or (HEAVEN FORBID) later to get services is most often a huge, huge mistake that parents don’t need to make in our country with good resources in 2008.

    In the meantime, please check out the other articles on this site and begin to implement your own “therapy” at home until you can get help. Good luck and let us know how he does! Laura

  57. Jennifer on October 27, 2008 at 12:48 am

    My son is 2.5 years old. He doesn’t talk at all. The only thing he says are the first 2 letters/sounds of some of the words. For example instead of “mommy” he will say “ma”, instead of “daddy” he will say “da”. That’s pretty much all he says. He has bad tantrums. If he doesn’t get something, he may hit himself on the head or face with his hands or fist. Or he will bang his head on back of the chair or the floor. He is very aggressive toward other kids. He hits, pinches and bites other kids for no reason at all. Not all the time, but very frequently. He may play alongside other kids, but then out of nowhere hit or pinch someone very hard. He always wants to take away a toy that another child is playing with. The other kids don’t want to play with him because of that. He doesn’t seem to follow any directions, not interested in reading or doing any projects. He likes several cartoons that he can watch over and over again. Is this autism? thank you.

  58. Camille on October 27, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I have a son with autism, diagnosed at 2 1/2. I’m starting to worry about my daughter, who is now 20 months. Although she has many words and says a variety of phrases like “go outside” and “want toy,” she uses few gestures. She also sometimes says “what do you want” instead of “i want,” which her autistic brother sometimes says. She doesn’t point with the finger, it’s more like a gesture with her entire hand. She doesn’t nod her head yes or shake her head no. She’s very attached to her blanket and stuffed dog and often picks up objects and carries them around with her and gets upset if we take them away. She isn’t cooperative in dressing and getting her diaper changed. She does engage in some social games, like throwing the ball back and forth and kicking a ball. Over about the last 2 weeks, she’s been a very picky eater, when she used to eat pretty much everything we gave her. I noticed at a birthday party this weekend that she was climbing up and down a play structure and going down a slide, repeatedly, until I directed her to something else. She transitioned fine, but I was curious as to the repetition of what she was doing. I had her looked at by a developmental psychologist at 12 months, and they didn’t see any red flags. But I’m concerned because I don’t know how much she’s getting from her brother or how much of it is abnormal behavior. Does anything I described sound like autism? Should I be worried? Everyone I talk to about this says I’m overreacting, but I have this nagging feeling.

  59. Laura on October 27, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Camille – She could be imitating some of the things your son is doing rather than truly exhibiting the traits or autism herself. I have one little guy on my caseload whose sister has apraxia, and he began to imitate her off-target word attempts and words with speech sound substitutions (like “wo” for no). I really thought he also had apraxia, but we started therapy with him, and his mother really stepped up her play with him at home, and wah-lah, he is doing GREAT now with no characteristics of apraxia. This could also be happening with her, but….. researchers believe that autism may have a genetic component meaning that siblings of children diagnosed with autism are at higher risk to be on the spectrum themselves. These things she’s doing could also be an indication that things aren’t moving along in a typical fashion as you would hope.

    I would continue to watch her closely and implement some “mommy therapy” at home to be sure she continues to make developmental gains. Keep helping her transition when she’s having trouble or seems to get “stuck.” If she’s still making you wonder in the next couple of months after you’ve continued to implement strategies with her to deal with the things you mentioned, have her reassessed. I would go thru your state’s early intervention program since you would also get help with treatment, not just an evaluation, as you would with the developmental psychologist. She made need some OT to help get her (and you!) over a little developmental sensory lag.

    Just for the record, I don’t think you’re overreacting! I think you sound like a concerned Mom! Laura

  60. Laura on October 27, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Jennifer – I can’t tell if it’s autism since I can’t actually see your son, and it would be very unprofessional and unethical for me to tell you something like this about your son without having laid eyes on him!

    But, based on what you’ve said, he is exhibiting red flags developmentally and behaviorally that certainly do warrant you having him evaluated by your state’s early intervention program or another program that specializes in developmental issues with children. You can find out how to contact your state program by googling “early intervention” plus your state’s name.

    You should also discuss these things with your pediatrician, knowing that sometimes unfortunately doctors are the last person in a child’s life to recognize a developmental issue, but it is worth mentioning, and then still following thru with the referral yourself to have him assessed. Waiting to treat these issues until kindergarten is not a good idea since you would have wasted so much precious time. Research tells us that the earlier a developmental issue is treated, the better the outcome for the child, so don’t delay! Moms usually do know best! Thanks for the good question -Laura

  61. Barbara on November 10, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    I just read this article and now I am very worried about one of my twins. The boys were born 10 weeks premature, and are now 17 months chronological, 15 months adjusted age. They have been getting physical therapy through our local Early Intervention program for almost a year. Now that they are walking and are doing well with their motor skills, they will stop getting weekly PT.

    Both boys are speech delayed, but babble with inflection quite a lot. I thought they had said word at various times over the past six months, but they don’t ever say anything consistently, not even mama and dada. We do have a speech evaluation scheduled for next month, and it could just be a normal speech delay, common in twin boys.

    However, while one boy “T” has been clapping his hands for some time and will wave bye bye (sort of) when prompted, the other boy “S” shows no interest in doing these. In fact, neither one of them do much in the way of imitative behavior, and really never have.

    I’m not as worried about T, because he is very social and seems to be interested in learning new things. In contrast, S seems to want to do the same things over and over. For example, he will pick up a toy and walk back and forth from the table to the couch and set the object up high. He does this over and over, and seems to enjoy it a lot. He doesn’t respond consistently to his name, and doesn’t gesture or point at all, except for raising his arms to be picked up. His eye contact is okay, but not great.

    On the other hand, he smiles and giggles and laughs and plays with his brother. He snuggles for brief periods, until he goes off on another adventure. He likes peek-a-boo. He is interested in our pets and likes to chase them and pet them. Maybe it is just his personality?

  62. Laura on November 10, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Barbara – I’m glad you’re getting the speech eval soon, and that SLP will be able to tell you what’s going on with your sons since she’ll be able to observe them and play with them in addition to hearing your concerns. Congratulations for going ahead and pursuing the assessment now rather than waiting. In the meantime, you can start implementing some of the suggestions from articles here on the site. You don’t need a speech assessment to do that!

    Now about your questions – have you listened to last week’s podcast Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate here on the website? In that show I discuss the criteria for diagnosing autism, and there’s also a link to document I used for reference in the comments section. You can listen to the show by clicking the top link under the blogtalkradio icon. I forgot to number last week’s show, but it’s the introduction to this month’s series on autism, and that information may help you decide in your own mind if autism is a possibility for your son that you’re concerned about.

    That being said, autism is just one of the reasons a child may show a delay in communication skills. Prematurity and late gross motor skills are also contributing factors. Late walking and late talking are very common in children who were premature and multiple births, as you’ve pointed out. I hope their communication skills move along as well as their motor skills have! Keep us posted on how they do! Laura

  63. ashley on November 11, 2008 at 12:27 am

    i looked at your list and our son who is 28 months displays 18 of the listed characteristics. We first noticed a problem with his speech, he has maybe 20 words that he uses, but only 10 that are used on a regular basis, and then only is the word is said to him like we are asking him if he wants that item/thing.he can only make some sentences like we go, mommy get, things like that. we had his evaluated by a speech therapist and was told that he wasnt behind at all. im in doubt about her diagnosis. he does alot of grunting and groaning when he wants something. he also seems very independant, and gets extremly frustrated when he cant do something or if we try to help. hes obssesed with lining up his toy cars, and will only play with the cars and none of his other toys. he gets hysterical when asked to stop doing something or if we try to have him do something such as eat, he will lay on the ground grunting and screaming for up to an hour. we have tried to get him to interact with other kids but he seems content to be by himself and gets violent when others try to play with him. his eating habits are another concern, eating time has become a chore for us. he simply refuses to eat unless its frys or something sweet. we cant get him to sit down and look at a book or do something other then what he wants to do. im at my wits end and dont know what to do with him, the therapist says hes fine, but obviously something is wrong, i started doing research on autism and he seems to be showing alot of the signs. where can i have him evaluated for autism at?

  64. Laura on November 11, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Ashley – University programs and children’s hospitals often have teams to evaluate children. You could also ask your pediatrician for a referral to a pediatric psychologist. Even if he’s not on the spectrum, the psychologist can help you with managing the frustrating behaviors.

    One other thing I would do is to get him evaluated by an occupational therapist since many of the behaviors you’re describing could be linked to sensory processing disorder, with or without him being autistic. Call your early intervention program back and ask for OT, or find an OT privately. Even if you have to file insurance or end up paying for it yourself, I think you’ll be on track for getting the help you need for him.

    I don’t know if you listened or not, but on my podcast last week we started a series on autism. In the first show we discussed the official diagnostic criteria for autism, so this info might also be helpful to you before you visit another professional. Going in armed with very specific diagnostic information can be helpful so that you can say to the person I’m concernred about autism because he exhibits these qualities, and then spell them out. You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the top link under the blue blogtalkradio column on the right. Hope this helps! Laura

  65. Lucy on December 3, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    Why are we so quick to label such young children. We all learn at different rates. Born in the 70’s I did not learn to read until I was maybe 7. I am now in a very senior role within the working mom force.Can we not let them be children without the stress for just a few years?

  66. Laura on December 4, 2008 at 12:08 am

    Lucy – I am all for stress relief for parents and children, but I think you and I have very different views of what stress is!

    “Stress” is actually NOT knowing what’s going on with your child’s development or in wanting to know how to help your child, but not knowing exactly how to accomplish that.

    The mission of the site is to help parents find good, reliable information to improve their own child’s ability to understand and use language during this early developmental period. Parents who are reading this site feel that understanding their child’s developmental challenges is actually helpful, not stressful.

    When a child learns to communicate, it actually relieves “stress” for the child, and the parent!

    So if any of the information you’ve read here is somehow offensive to you, it’s certainly not meant to offend you, or anyone else for that matter! Laura

  67. mike on December 6, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    My son is 27 months old and has alot of these habits. He says a couple of words and gets very mad if we try to teach him new words or sounds. He only eats about 4 different things. He has really bad fits flinging his arms and legs to the point i think hes going to hurt him self or someone else. He doesnt listen, if we say no he keeps on or just screams. I really dont no i am kind of worried.

  68. Laura on December 7, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Mike – I would definitely have him evaluated by your state’s early intervention program. You can google your state name + early intervention to get the info for your state.

    According to what you’ve said, he likely exhibits a language delay since he’s 27 months and isn’t using short phrases frequently.

    Keep reading for ideas for how to help him at home too! Good luck! Laura

  69. ruthzell on January 2, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    hi! i have a 28months old son.and im really worried about him. until now the only word that he can utter is “ma” for mommy, “da” for daddy “ya” for aya his older sister and “Ja” for his 4 yr old brother.He seems to be a normal toddler, he is very loving son, loves to be cuddled and be kissed.his very bubbly and his comprehension skills are perfectly normal but couldnt say anything at all except those ive mention above. when i tried to talked to him he would just answered back by saying huh.when he needs something he would point it or will pat me with his hand or grab my hand led me to what he wants and point it to me. and he had this tantrums that his dad sometimes we couldnt take. he would just burst into crying, pull the hair or throw things to us with no reasons at all. outside when other people take notice of him or say hi to him he would suddenly burst into tantrums pull my hair or his dad’s hair (whoever is carrying him). it seems that he doesnt want to be noticed. at first i thought he was just being shy to other people and its just the typical terrible two’s attitude.before what im afraid of is that he’s mute or something like that..speech impaired. but then, my sister in law, a nurse told us that those are the signs of autism (they had a 15 yr old autistic nephew). Now, im so worried about my son.I couldnt sleep well. ive research and reseached asd. is he autistic? please help me. by the way, im from the Philippines, and i dont where to bring my child? should i bring him to child psychiatrist? please help me.

  70. ruthzell on January 2, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    I almost forgot, my son loves to watch certain dvd movies at home over and over each day. when in tantrums, letting him watch his favorite movies could stop his outburst. He usually plays with his 7 yr old sister and 4 yr old brother and try to imitate whatever they’re doing or will take away their toy which usually will end up having fights with his 4 yr old brother. He was also a premature baby (only 8 months old when i delivered him)and after birth he was confined to a neonatal intensive care unit for almost a month due to some respiratory problems and i had a difficult pregnancy with him. still waiting for your advice..pls bear with me… thanks

  71. Laura on January 2, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Ruth – First of all, welcome to the site. I hope that you can find information here to be able to help your son at home while you are waiting to see a professional. If you were in the USA, I’d know exactly where to send you for help. Since you’re in the Phillipines, I’m not sure, BUT I do think that I have a speech-language pathologist contact there in the Phillipines that can recommend which kind of professional you should start with to have your son evaluated. I will e-mail her and ask her to respond to your comment here on the site, so look for that response over the next few days. Based on what you’ve described, I would be very concerned about him, and I’d definitely have him evaluated as soon as possible.

    Regardless of anything else that’s going on, based on what you’ve said, his expressive speech-language skills are delayed. There are lots of things you can do with him at home to work on these skills too, so read the ideas in the articles here on the website. Start with the oldest ones from last January and work your way forward. Hope this helps! Laura

  72. Kristin on January 4, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    hello there. I have been searching the web, reading about autism while my daughter sleeps and I visit my sister. The internet is not usually a resource for me because I don’t have a computer, but I am beginning to think that it is a great place for dialogue. Today my daughter threw such a fit when she was getting her diaper changed that she banged her face on the side of the changing table resulting in a fat, bloody lip and bloody nose. She has some SERIOUS fits, and they are very hard to deal with. Up until just recently, she did not like to hold hands; she would just flail her hands and say “nah” over and over again. I explained to her why holding hands was important and she seems to accept in more than she did. She is 20 months old and probably has a vocabulary of ten words. She knows what everything is though. She can point out anything in a room or book. Sometimes when we are driving, she will be sitting in her car seat with her hands over her ears, and humming, seemingly for no reason. She also hits herself in the face. My main concern is these fits she throws. Her body goes rigid, and the screaming is earpiercing. She also seems to fairly frequently hurt herself. I feel concerned…should I be? Up until this point I’ve been scared to research autism because I don’t want all the signs to point to ‘yes.’ She does love other kids, and can be quite affectionate to kids and adults, love animals and bugs and the outdoors and stuff, and she doesn’t watch any tv, but i’m just a little worried about her…any suggestions or comments? thank you.

  73. Laura on January 5, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Kristin – I missed your comment earlier, so sorry I haven’t already responded. Since I can’t see your daughter I can’t tell you what is or isn’t going on with her. Her vocabulary is just shy of the normal developmental range, and it’s good she’s following directions. However, the way you describe her behavior would be a concern to me, as you’ve expressed in your comment. I would call your state’s early intervention program now and have her evaluated, especially by an occupational therapist, since some of the concerns you describe could possibly be related to sensory processing issues. If there are other concerns too, the professional that evaluates her will let you know. You could also wait until she turns 2 since the period between 21 and 24 months is notoriously a difficult one for toddler behavior, but what you’re describing as “SERIOUS” fits, sounds a little excessive, even for this developmental period. That being said, DON’T FREAK OUT! Contact your local resources and get their opinions. Parents are rarely sorry they pursued getting their children evaluated, and OFTEN are sorry they didn’t do it sooner, when they first began to suspect an issue. Research tells us that no matter what the “problem” turns out to be, early intervention is the key to making it better sooner. Hope this info helps! Laura

  74. Worried dad on January 6, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Hi, I am the father of 19 month old twin girls and I am worried about 1 of them. The characteristics I worry about are: 1) does not always respond to her name but only when she is busy doing something else, 2) doesn’t eat very well. She loves her milk, chicken nuggets, fries and other junk foods like donuts, potato chips and cookies but nothing healthy, 3) she does flap her arms when excited, 4) does not look me in the eye, she will always look to the side or down, 5) says many words but not two words together. Usually she repeats words said on baby einstein or identifies things (“flower” or “tiger” when I point to things). 6) very shy around other people. Will only go to me, her mother and nanny. It takes time for her to warm up to people and for some, she will just cry when they look at her (like my brother), 7) does not like to cuddle and lastly repeats words 3 or 4 times. When she sees me she will say “da da, da da, da da”. Should I be worried? Her vocabulary consists of about 20 words.

  75. Worried dad on January 6, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Sorry, I do want to highlight that she does smile all the time, knows how to play with her toys and only throws very mild tantrums when she does not get her way or does not get what she wants.

  76. Laura on January 6, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Dad – Thanks for your questions. I am concerned about a child anytime they seem “disconnected” socially. It sounds like she is connected to you, mom, and the nannny, so this may be more separation anxiety/shyness than anything with other people, but you do want to analyze her “connectedness” even to the 3 of you. My last podcast, #20, is about the pragmatic language skills, or how a child USES communication including words and gestures and other non-verbal means like eye contact. Listen to this show, and if you become more concerned because she’s not truly engaging with you and using pointing and joint attention, then definitely have her evaluated. You can start with your state’s early intervention program, or another program or professional recommended by your pediatrician.

    I also have to wonder – is the thing that makes you worry is that her sister is thriving and she is not? Are there marked differences between the 2? If so, DEFINITELY go ahead and pursue the assessment now rather than waiting. Parents rarely regret going ahead with an assessment and nearly always regret waiting.

    I will also tell you that sometimes I am called in to see one of a set of multiples because a family is concerned about one of them, and then when I see them, even the “advanced” child is delayed too. Of course I’m not commenting specifically about your children since I can’t see them, but this seems to be happening more and more with the families of multiples I’m seeing.

    Keep reading the articles on the site for ideas for how to work with her at home. Joint attention and social responses are a very important part of communicating.

  77. rachel on January 20, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    my son just turned three. i have had some concerns since just before his second birthday but both my husband and my parents made me feel like i was over-reacting.

    my son is very smart. scary smart. has known the alphabet since he could talk, can count up beyond 40, knows shapes including the differences between hexagons, octagons, and pentagons…as well as trapaziods. recently i started showing him some phonics, mostly because he has been showing an intrest in the sounds of letters and now is reading and writing words like “dad” “cat” and “pop” he can write almost every letter and number and draw most shapes. he loves blues clues and has finally broadened his horizons to include a few other shows that he mimics when he is playing. he will “scadoo” like steve and blue and repeat parts of the shows and carry around a notebook and crayon and find clues. when my best friend brings her daughter over he is always excited to see her and they “play” together…but its more like them each doing there own thing in the same room…he doesn’t engage very well. sometimes when he throws a tatrum he simply repeats in anger phrases we have said like “NO PUSHING NO!!!” and then melts down. he is communicating well enough with us and smiles and laughs and engages my husband and i for tickles and rough housing. he smiles when we smile at him…but recently i have tried to go over emotions with him and its like he couldn’t care less. he’ll mimic a happy face and say “happy” but sad or surprised or angry he just walks away uninterested.

    he has had a strange love of foam letters and numbers for a looooong time. i thought it was a phase that would end but it hasn’t. he lines them up and carries them everywhere…the house is drowning in them.

    he gravitates more to numbers than letters but he will get on alphabet kicks and line up all the letters of the alphabet in order.

    we had another child when he was still two, she is now 7 months and he mostly calls her baby sister, i can hardly get him to call her by her name. since the day we brought her home he has shown very little interest in her. mostly she just is like another object in the house.

    he doesn’t seem to display any empathy at all. if i act sad or am sad for real he either ignores it or laughs at me like its some kind of game or joke.

    we joke that he has two settings…on and asleep. he wears us out. when he was 1 and a half until 2 and a half…we couldn’t let him down in public without him just running…as fast as he could…in any direction. i’m exhausted just remembering those days. he still has those moments and i still get exhausted chasing him down as he seems to totally ignore me or else laugh as i get angry…he doesn’t do this at home at all so i’ve never understood it.

    he still goes on babbling rampages where we don’t really know if he is talking or making noise…sometimes we can grasp something he says…and sometimes it just sounds like garble. it feels like he can’t communicate whats on his mind.

    he does talk though. he asks me where certain people are, like daddy or gammy…

    he loves to interact with adults or older kids, but younger kids he hardly looks at and sometimes he will just push them if they are looking at him.

    ever since his first birthday and everyone sang to him he has had major issues with people singing in groups. its almost like a fear. he wails like he’s being punished.

    i see his doctor for his 3 year appointment tomorrow and i do want to discuss my concerns, but every since he started seeming to read short words i have felt a tad nervous…and i hadn’t ever seen early reading on a list until i read it here…it struck a cord.

    i love my son. he is bright and funny and full of life. he has loads of things that are all too normal…but i also have had this nagging worry and i just don’t want to feel like i’m over-reacting. i don’t want my son to have autism…but if i found out he did…it would explain a lot for me.

    any help is SO SO appreciated. i feel like i’m alone in this

  78. Laura on January 20, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Rachel – Let me start this comment by saying that I can’t see your little boy, so I really can’t address the whole is he/isn’t he question.

    But anytime a mom has a nagging feeling for over a year…… “it’s usually not for nothin’!” to quote my very intuitive friend.

    You told me about lots of his “quirks,” but you didn’t comment about his functional language skills. Let me review the “big” ones.

    By 3 expressively he should be asking for things ALL THE TIME using mostly phrases and sentences (3- 5 word utterances most of the time). He should be able to ask and answer simple questions accurately (yes/no questions, what and where questions, and even beginning to understand who and how questions).

    He should be carrying on longer conversations (4-9 conversational turns by 30 months is “normal,” so this should be a minimum for him).

    He should be able to follow multiple-step directions like, “Take your backpack to your room, get your shoes, and then go sit on the couch and wait for me.”

    Even with speech sound errors, he should be understood around 90% of the time by both parents.

    If he’s NOT doing all of these things, then I’d be concerned and push for an evaluation, with or without anyone else’s blessing. Dads and grandparents universally disuade concerned moms from pursuing action when they know in their hearts they should.

    If he IS doing these things, then I’d relax and embrace his love of visual things. You can use the visual stuff to work on things he’s not so good at, like having him learn to “read” his baby sister’s real name.

    The other thing I’d mention at the doctor’s visit are his sensory system needs – a drive for movement, an over-the-top reaction to singing, the on/off thing -more than anything these suggest to me sensory processing differences. Have you heard of this before? I did a whole podcast series about this in October, so check out the shows about this which may help to explain even more things about your son. Occupational therapy may be what he really needs.

    Hope this advice helps to give you additional ideas to pursue! Thanks for your question – Laura

  79. rachel on January 24, 2009 at 1:05 pm


    thank you so much. i took him in to see his doctor for his yearly checkup and before i could express concern (his expressive language is in fact no where near what you described it should be at) his doctor brought it up first.

    she actually had made a note back when he was 15 months old that she had a concern about his language skills. the reason she didn’t bring it up was 1. we didn’t show any other concern and 2. my husband was freshly home from iraq and suffering PTSD in a BAD way….

    we are waiting for a call from his doctor to begin the screening processes. i feel a weight lift off of me that i wasn’t alone in my concern. my husband was mortified to learn i felt i couldn’t discuss my concerns with him. he has been battling the PTSD for a long time and thanks to good therapy and good medication he is back to his old self and doesn’t remember me talking to him about this before.

    despite feeling the weight lift off of me that my concerns are being heard…

    there is this whole new weight of fear. i want to do what’s best for him and i feel like i’ve been plunged into a world i know little about. i know step one is to focus on the screenings. i’m trying not to overwhelm myself.

    i don’t know what i’m more scared of. him getting diagnosed or him not getting diagnosed. if he is…i have an understanding…i have a name i can put on it..but i have a journey to go on with him that is scary to me. and if he isn’t diagnosed…then what?

    thanks so much. i’m just a worried scared parent who wants to do best for her son and her family.

  80. Laura on January 25, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Rachel – I am so moved by your story. You have a very, very, very full plate right now with a 3 year old that you’re scared to death about and a husband whose been to hell and back for our country. Thank you to you and your family for the sacrifices you’ve made for us!!!

    I am so glad that you’re getting help for the BOTH of them, and I hope I can encourage you to pursue support for yourself too. You sound like the glue holding your family together right now, so don’t ignore your own emotional, mental and physical needs! You have to take care of yourself so you can continue to take care of everyone else!

    Keep us posted on your little boy!

    Thanks again! Laura

  81. Laura on January 25, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Rachel – I just re-read my comment and realized that a whole paragraph was deleted, so I’ll add this. With or without a diagnosis of autism, you’re still going to need to address his language and sensory processing issues. If his language skills aren’t close to where they should be, he likely will qualify for services, regardless of the diagnosis. If he doesn’t then there are other options, but don’t get ahead of yourself. See what the initial results are and what the recommendations are before you start planning all of the what ifs.

    In the meantime, keep reading the articles here for ideas for home. Regardless of the professional help you get, you’ll still be doing the bulk of the hard work at home. That’s what we parents are for (good or bad!).

    Please keep us posted on your little guy! Laura

  82. jjcole on February 4, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    My 22 month old son has a huge vocabulary and can answer questions and can name body parts and pictures in books. He used to point out body parts everytime I asked but now he only does it sometimes and other times he ignores me and moves on to other things.Is this a concern or is it a typical stubborn toddler trait. I do ask him to name things or point out things all the time and I kind of wonder if he is just fed up with the constant quizing I give him or if its really a sign of a problem.

  83. Laura on February 4, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    JJ – If he’s still talking and moving on to newer things, my guess is that he’s about had it with the body parts and wants you to move on too! The only time we worry about a child “losing” skills is when he’s losing and not gaining anything new. If this is not the case, relax, and move on to talking about and expanding what he IS interested in. That’s hard for us obsessive moms, huh??? Laura

  84. jjcole on February 4, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    thanks for the reply. It makes me relax a little. I had my Mom ask him to point out things for her( she doesnt really ask him to do things like that normally) and he pointed out everything correctly without hesitation. I guess its just his way of saying “shut up already, will ya?” I will just try to stop with the bothering him about it all the time and go on with normal play and talking and such.

  85. Laura on February 4, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    JJ – See??? Continue to read his signals and relax! It sounds like you’re doing a great job! I’d move on to newer more fun ideas since it sounds like he’s had it with the body parts!

    Try working on location words/prepositions and how he understands new verbs/action words. I think ideas for this are in articles in the receptive language section, and check out the video clips for Teach Me To Listen and Obey since you may get some new ideas there. For recommendations about helping him expand how he uses the words he knows, read ideas in the expressive section in the article Teaching Toddlers Words They Know to Change Their Worlds.

    Again – sounds like you’re doing a great job! Pat yourself on the back (but don’t ask him where his is!!!) Laura

  86. Anonimous on February 8, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    my brother`s son will be 2 next month and we`re a bit worried about his behaviour. I first noticed a definate change at around 7 or 8 months, before that he used to be a quiet but cuddly baby, he never cried, he liked to be held by all of us and was very calm but playful. At around 7/months he started to change, he`s become very agressive especially during a tantrum, he used to headbutt anybody who tried to stop him, he`d bang his head off doors or the ground repeatedly at that stage i already thought there was something wrong and told my brother but he kept saying that this was normal that he`d grow out of it. During tantrums he throws things like phones or his cars at his parents, he also kicks and punches, my brother tells me he`s like this with other children too. Most of the time he screams for no reason even when he`s playing and cries all the time. He still doesn`t talk he only says very few words and babbles, do you think maybe this is the reason why he`s so agressive? Do you think that he could just be frustrated because he cannot express himself because he can`t talk and maybe it`s just a phase? Sometimes he just screams so much that you have to leave the room. He`s very clingy to his dad, he`s told me that if he goes to the shop without him he throw a big tantrum until he comes back. His mother finds it very difficult when my brother is at work and is exhausted at the end of the day. When he`s in good humour he smiles and dances and sometimes plays very well with my daughter who is older than him, he`s recently learned a song but only makes noises because he doesn`t know how to say the words. I think he has difficulty sleeping too. My brother is getting quite worried, a few days ago he told me he cried non stop for about 2 hours when he woke up in the middle of the night and another day it took him an hour to calm him down. I think he`s afraid to have him asessed, he thinks he might have ADHD as he is very hyperactive. I hope you can give me some advice about this.
    Thank you.

  87. Laura on February 8, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Anonymous – Of course I can’t tell you definitively what’s going on since I can’t see him, but I do think there is cause for concern, and I hope your brother will follow your advice and have him evaluated.

    Some parents are so scared to have a child “labeled” at such a young age. Most states’ early intervention programs provide services without providing a real diagnosis – they just treat it as a delay. Knowing a child won’t be “diagnosed” but can receive services often relieves the stigma and anxiety for some parents. I try to encourage parents to think about it as a way to provide a child help NOW, BEFORE it becomes a major problem. And for most parents, calling late talking at age 2 a “delay” is not that big of a deal since it’s obvious there’s at least a little language delay since they child has not begun to talk by his second birthday.

    Frustration due to lack of a way to communicate is very common and understandable and may explain at least some of his behavior. I’d be frustrated too if I couldn’t tell anyone what I wanted!!!

    One other thing (besides the evaluation with your state’s early intervention program) is introducing some sign language. Check out the articles and links in the sign language category.

    Thanks for your question and for being concerned about your nephew! Laura

  88. Anonimous on February 9, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Thank you Laura for answering my question i hope he does have him evaluated, i don`t want to keep stressing him about it but i just want to help. I haven`t told him that i suspect he might be Austistic because he`s already very worried that he might have adhd that i don`t give him even more to worry about, but i`m afraid he`s just going to ignore things because he`s trying to convince himself that evreything`s alright and that my nephew is just being bold.
    I will try to talk to my brother again about this, maybe if i get my mother to talk to him too it might be better, i just don`t want to upset him. Thanks again!

  89. Concerned Mother on February 24, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I have a 3 year old son. He is smart as a whip he talks alot, but I have somethings that bother me.
    He will not ask for things like his cup or something to eat. I just have to guess. He repeatedly says yes sir and yes mam when you are talking to you instead of listening to what you say. I mean I am glad he has such good manners but how can he hear what I am saying if he continously says that. Also he was potty trained going to the bathroom in his potty and not pooping in his pants, but now all of a sudden he goes pee but now poops in his pants and has started smearing it and eating it. That is not normal behavior for him. My husband and I recently lost a child that I was carrying ( it was very close to the due date ) and our toddler knew so too and people have told me they think he is lashing out because of that me as a mother I do not think so. Please tell me what you think

  90. Laura on February 24, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Oh…….Concerned Mother. I am so sorry that you lost a child. This must be gut-wrenching for you and your entire family. Then on top of that huge loss, you’re also worried sick about your 3 year old little boy. That’s a full plate, and I hope you have a huge and loving support system in place to help you deal with all of this. If not, I urge you to seek professional counseling. Parenting a child you’re concerned about is hard enough, and almost unimaginable when you are also grieving the loss of another.

    Of course I can’t really say why your son is doing certain things and not doing others since I can’t see him, so my advice would be to have your son evaluated by a very experienced child psychologist. Eating poop at 3 is not in realm of typical behavior, with or without a major family trauma. I am not a child psychologist, but I do know enough to tell you that if you are somehow thinking that this is your fault, it’s not. Please don’t believe the people that are trying to say he’s lashing out at you. He could very well be feeling confused or know that Mommy is very upset, but again, to purposefully do this to somehow get back at you is likely NOT what’s going on here.

    I would probably also have his communication skills evaluated by a speech-language pathologist since he’s having difficulty processing questions and doesn’t initiate requests. These are both skills he should have mastered by 3, especially if he has enough vocabulary to be able to say lots of things, as you’ve reported. Kids can still be “smart” but have difficulty fully processing language.

    I have also seen kids get stuck in the yes ma’am/yes sir loop, and it usually is a sign that behavior has been a huge focus. It sounds like he’s certainly gotten his response down-pat without really understanding what you want him to do or that you want him to answer with something other than yes ma’am/yes sir. If he were my child, I’d drop the push to be polite for now and focus on improving his comprehenion skills. You can always pick up manners again later when he’s little older and when he’s learned to truly understand and process what you’re saying to him well enough to respond correctly.

    Again, I’m so, so sorry for your loss, and I hope that you’re getting the support you need. Please feel free to write back with any other questions. Good luck to you all and God bless! Laura

  91. Alecia on February 25, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Please help….
    My 19 month old son is not talking. He has never babbled either. He does not point but does grab for things he wants. He is VERY affectionate- loves to be held, cuddled, kissed. He makes great eye contact as well. He has a huge problem with cruchy food. When I try to feed him (he will not feed himself) anything crunchy like a cracker or a piece of cereal, he will choke, gag and spit the food out. He also has some strange physical things going on…sometimes he will violently shake his head from side to side and his eyes simultaneously roll up and to the left. He does not really interact with other children but has an obvious interest in them. He does not seem to know how to play with his toys…he will spin the wheels of his toy cars for extended periods of time and be perfectly content to just watch the spinning and he is OBSESSED with Wheel of Fortune. Sometimes he does appear to be deaf and he only responds to his name ~ 30% of the time. He has a strong reaction when I try to trim his nails or hair. He had a rash all over his body from the time that he was 3 months old till he was a year (the doc said not be concerned, he would grow out of it). He has chronically red cheeks that have little bumps sometimes. He is constantly thirsty, has cold hands and feet a lot, whines a lot, usually has very red ear lobes and pulls his ears. He is constipated frequently and touches his genitals every chance he gets…
    I know this is alot of info, but any advice you could give would be great. He is going in to have his hearing checked this Friday and has an appointment with a Ped/Allergist next Fri to have his food allergies checked. He is also being evaluated by a speech therapist and will likely start therapy within the next week

  92. Alecia on February 25, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    also to add…
    He does grunt, is starting to say Ma and loves to hit his hands on the couch for me to imitate him. He loves to be read to and will look up and me and smile while I read to him. The first time he actually put his finger on an picture in a book was 2 days ago. He does have a great appetite and is not picky at all, but refuses to feed himself. I have tried to show him how to at least finger-feed himself with my own hands and it does not work.. He will really only eat by taking the food from a spoon or fork.
    Sometimes when he is woken from a deep sleep his body shakes like his is severely shivering…this lasts for about 30 seconds. He does not follow directions and I really do not think he understands what I say to him, although he loves the sounds of my/my husbands voice. He is VERY afraid of certain close family members. He SCREAMS when he sees my grandmother and it takes him about 20 minutes to warm up to her, my dad, my mother…but at the same time when we celebrated the holidays at my grandmothers home he immediately went and climbed up on a complete stranger (cousins new boyfriend) and gave him a hug and a kiss…

  93. Laura on February 25, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Alecia – I’m so glad you’re having him evaluated both medically and developmentally. He is exhibiting some behaviors and symtpoms I’d be very concerned about. You’re doing the right thing by seeking professional advice for him at a really young age. He likely needs to also be evaluated by an occupational therapist based on his extreme reactions to touch, his reluctance to self-feed, decreased processing ability, and his unpredictable social skills. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to listen to any of my podcasts – Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate. In October of last year we did a whole series on sensory procesing disorder.

    I’d also recommend the earlier articles in the expressive and receptive language categories for targeting language at home. Your SLP will be able to give you very specific ideas and activities for him too, but this will get you started until you can begin therapy. You may also want to take a look at the DVD – especially Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 – since it starts with basics for teaching kids how to interact and understand language.

    I applaud your efforts to get some help now this early! Let us know how he does! Laura

  94. Alecia on February 26, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Hi Laura,
    Thank you for the advice, and yes, there is also an occupational therapist coming to meet him this coming Tuesday along with the speech therapist. What is your experience in relating behavioral/developmental issues with food allergies. I have been doing some research and this was a topic of interest. My son does have MANY of the symptoms of a child experiencing dairy/gluten allergies and as I stated prior, he is being tested next Friday. Having your professional opinion regarding this subject would be great! I have browsed the DVD collection and think that he could really benefit from the Teach Me to Listen and Obey!

  95. Tracey Johnson on March 26, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Hiya just need some advice really, I am a childminder to a toddler who is 2 yrs. He has never said many words, and even now says only a few and that is when you ask him to repeat, you never catch him saying anything otherwise. His tantrums are getting quite disturbing,and sometimes thet are for no reason at all, he will kick furniture, punch, kick and try to bite and also bang his head off the wall quite violently,I have spoken to the parents and been on websites to try and understand why this child is like it, i dont know what to do next, Can you help by giving me some advice on what to do next

  96. Victoria on March 28, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    My child has just turned 2 and still really is not talking, she’ll say hi, she waves bye, she says momma when she is upset and baba for her father but that really is the basis of her vocabulary. She does babble a lot but nothing understandable yet, is there any cause for concern, my doctor tells me know but I just need to get another opinion.

  97. Laura on March 28, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Victoria – You should pursue having her evaluated. The minimum number of words a child should have by their second birthday is 50, and they should already be combing words into short two-word phrases often such as “Bye bye Dada” or “more cookie.”

    If you live in the United States you can take advantage of your state’s early intervention program for children birth to 3. The evaluation is free, and if she qualifies for therapy, it’s either free or low cost.

    I always encourage parents of children over 2 who aren’t meeting basic language milestones to seek services now rather than waiting to see what will happen. If it does turn out to be more than late talking, you’ll regret that you waited to get help. If it is just a minor delay, then a short course of speech therapy will give her a little jump start and she’ll be fine. Either way, you won’t regret that you didn’t take action.

    In the meantime, hope you’ll find the information here on the website helpful. You may also want to check out the DVDs available here to give you additional ways to work with her at home. Good luck!!! Laura

  98. kimberly on March 29, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    hi i am a mother that is very concerned about my son he will be 3 on april 4th. he does things that i dont remember my oldest son doing..i know no 2 kids are the same but as i read autism symptoms i see similarties like he rarely eats if he eats something well i try to offer it often when tryin to tell me somethin if i dont answer right away he will repeat it over and over sometimes it causes him to become very angry if i do somethin as simple as give him the wrong cup he will fall out in the floor the tantrum could last up to 30 mins or so…he loves to line things up or pile stuff animals or pillows on top of himself..he also over the last 2 wks has become really viloent toward other kids all it takes is one thing to not go his way…bed time is the worst if you even mention bed time the tantrum begins..dont get me wrong he is super smart knows all abcs and counts to 20 since the age of 2 he says very grown up things at times hates being read…if he gives eye contact its only for a split 2nd then off to something else you could say something as simple as get your shoes and they are right beside him he will look all around the room kinda looks lost never sees the shoes call his name and its like talkin to a wall at times i just dont want to over react just need more info as far as speech it pretty good although lately at times you cant make out anything he is tryin to say

  99. kimberly on March 29, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    oh and he is also obessed with flippin light switches on and off or pluggin and unpluggin things”which really scares me” he isnt scared of anything if i was to let em jump off the house he would give it a try fear is something he knows nothin of….i use to tell everyone he is the only child i know that would rather play alone than with others never realized it could be somethin of concern

  100. Laura on March 29, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Kimberly – While I can’t see him and can’t tell you for sure what’s going on, the behaviors you’re describing are red flags. I’d certainly mention all of these concerns to your pediatrician AND pursue a developmental evaluation.

    It also sounds like he has some strengths, and sometimes with these kinds of kids, parents ignore the nagging feeling that something else could be going on and then wait to pursue professional help losing valuable treatment time. Usually the earlier any kind of developmental or behavior issue is treated, the better the outcome for the child and ultimately, your entire family. I encourage you to pursue that help. Since he’s turning 3, you could call your local public school district and ask about an assessment, or you can take him to a local children’s hospital or another private clinic which offers developmental evaluations. Whatever you decide, I wish you luck! Laura

  101. R on March 31, 2009 at 11:20 am

    I’ve got an 18 month old boy, my first child. It hadn’t occurred to me that he could have autism until I read the 18 month questionnaire sent out from Kaiser. There were some autism questions that made me start to consider that maybe he is.

    Going through the list you posted, he doesn’t use words much, but he will gesture toward what he want and grunt (the graham crackers on the counter, the bubble tumbler). He will follow some directions (pick up your hands!) but mostly doesn’t. He’ll respond to his name when he wants to, but it’s certainly not consistant. He doesn’t wave or point. He’s said maybe 3-4 words but he doesn’t use them consistantly for anything. It’s like he tried the words out and decided that was good enough.

    He has never thrown what I would consider a tantrum. Sure he’ll get mad if we tell him no, but it’s short lived and he can be distracted. He will make eye contact pretty regularly, not all the time, but consistantly. He’ll smile and laugh when I smile coyly at him, or do something else entertaining. He does seem to “get stuck” on a few things… he loves opening and closing doors. He can spend 10 minutes on it. He’ll sit down and “read books” for a very long time, and he loves being read to.

    He’ll bring us things to do/open for him. Blow bubbles, open tuperware that he can’t get, read books. But in general he’s always been pretty indepentant. He can play with his toys for quite a while. On the other hand, as soon as someone goes into the kitchen to start cooking he makes a beeline to them and wants to be right in the middle of the action.

    He enjoys watching other kids play and shows no aggression toward them. Watching kids or dogs play will often make him laugh.

    He doesn’t demonstrate any imaginative play that i’ve seen. No picking up a phone to talk. But he loves peek-a-boo, and will bring us towels/blankets to get us to play. He’s not showing much attachment toward anything, nor is he really stuck in a rut regarding schedule.

    Anyway, he’s only 18 months, and I know it’s not THAT strange to not be talking yet. But reading the autism questions from Kaiser got me worried. So I thought I’d see what you thought. Is the behavior I’ve described worrisome? We’ve got our 18 month checkup in a couple weeks and we’ll definitely mention this at the appointment.

  102. Laura on March 31, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    R – First of all, let me say, good observations on your part! Sometimes parents aren’t as descriptive or objective even when I see them for a face-to-face evaluation. You’ll want to mention these specific things to your pediatrician at the 18 month check up. There are reasons other than autism that can cause a child to demonstrate delays in developing communication skills.

    Of course I can’t say if he’s on the autism spectrum or not because I can’t see him, but his use of a few early gestures is a very positive indicator that he’s using communicative intent, a key factor most children who go on to be diagnosed with autism lack. However, he’s not using gestures ALL of the time, and some of the major communicative milestones we want to see in children his age aren’t as consistent as I know you’d like for them to be. Responding to his name and following verbal directions are both prerequisite skills he’s going to need before he begins to talk.

    That being said, 18 months is very young, so no need to panic, but I’d certainly want to get him responding to verbal directions more consistently and participating in a variety of back and forth communication exchanges with you soon. He’s got a good foundation for this since he likes peek-a-boo and does initiate this with you. Look for other opportunities and fun routines to start with him as a way to build on social interaction and language skills. If you need some help coming up with these, look for the article Social Games for Infants and Toddlers in the expressive language section. I’d also recommend the articles in the receptive language category so that you are doing all you can to help him consistently understand and respond to language.

    If he doesn’t come along in the next few weeks, you may want to check out the DVDs for more specific ideas and to SEE the strategies in action. I wish you all the best as you continue to try to help him! Good luck! Laura

  103. Heather on April 1, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Hi Laura, I’m in Australia and just received your dvd and watched it and just wanted to say that it was great. I’ve read a lot about different things to try at home but to actually see you putting those methods to use make a world’s difference.

    I have a 24 month old daughter who started speech therapy at the end of Feb. She has very few words but does babble a lot and uses all different sounds. Sometimes she’ll get right in my face and babble something to me where I know she is trying to tell me something but it’s just babble. One of her first words was no, which always sounded like nah nah, but in the past month or so she’s actually started saying mah mah instead, is there a reason why she would have started saying it differently? She also used to always say yes when she wanted something but stopped about 6 weeks ago and now just gives a really big shake of her head and grunts. I haven’t taught her any signs yet, but in the past few days she’s started pointing to her mouth when she wants food, almost like she’s teaching herself signs? Her speech therapist just thinks she’s a late talker because her receptive language is right where it should be for her age and developmentally she’s fine in all other areas. He doesn’t think she needs to be seen weekly and only books us in every 2 weeks for a 30 minute session. I wonder if she benefit from being seen by someone more often?

  104. R on April 1, 2009 at 11:42 am

    I appreciate you taking the time to respond personally to us.

    “No need to panic” is easier said than done. First time parents who feel a bit blind-sided by the whole thing. It’s definitely a rollercoaster right now.
    We read your list of Social Games and we’re going to begin trying to integrate them. We’ve already put away the “mindless” type toys that he would often choose to play with, and we’re trying to play with him more directly.
    If we don’t see marked improvement in the next week or so we will definitely order the DVDs for more help.

    We have been speaking Spanish in the house about half the time since he was born. We’ve heard that this may delay speech, so we’re planning to stick to just English for now. Any thoughts around that?

  105. Laura on April 2, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Heather – I’m so glad you liked the DVD!

    I probably would teach your daughter some signs since she’s using gestures, especially if she’s not picking up the words she needs to communicate. These will reduce her frustration (AND YOURS!) when she’s not understood.

    I’m not going to second-guess your current SLP about frequency for your daughter. I prefer to see children weekly for 45 minutes to an hour, but I do see them less often if they have other issues and need other therapies, mostly because of limits of the early intervention program in our state, difficulties with family scheduling, or if a family is paying privately, what they can afford.

    I do hope he’s working on LANGUAGE with her during the limited time he sees her and giving you lots of ideas for home. In the meantime, hope you’re learning things you can do for her here on the site as well as from the DVD!


  106. Laura on April 2, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    R – I do think that parents with children with difficulties with receptive language, or understanding, should definitely pick one primary language. I wrote an article about this last year. You can search for it using the key words Foreign Language and it should come up. Good job on changing the way you play with him. This usually makes a big difference! Hope things continue to improve with him! Laura

  107. Mary on April 4, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Hi Laura,
    I’m a DI from NJ. I listen to your broadcast every week and own all of your DVDs. I truly enjoy your website and can’t tell you how helpful it has been to me in working with EI familiies. I was a teacher of children with special needs for 30 years and can’t believe how much I continually learn about young children. I recently was able to purchase a Little Linguist (saw it on your DVD) after bidding for months! It came without a manual and I don’t understand how a child would progress from one level to the next. I’m sure I will only be using the basic levels, however, I was curious. I am totally play based in my work with families and usually use more creative or open ended toys with children. I can, however, imagine this toy providing lots of motivation to several of my more challenging children. Thanks for any help you can give me. Say hi to Kate too! It’s so nice to hear her comments on your show from a development interventionist view. It’s great that you as a speech pathologist appreciate the contributions a special educator can make to speech and language development.

  108. Laura on April 4, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Mary – Thanks so much for your kind words, and I will pass them along to Kate! I constantly tell her how much she brings to the show, but sometimes she doesn’t believe me………

    I do love the Little Linguist toy (probably better than Kate does), but honestly, I don’t use the levels. I really only use it to work on language comprehension for kids with receptive language delays OR with kids who are at the single word level expressively and need to add more nouns/names of objects to their vocabularies. It’s also a toy I use most often at the beginning of treatment with a child. Kids do “graduate” to more complex and creative toys, but I do like it for those first few weeks of therapy, especially for kids who are at the 12-18 month developmental level, well maybe a little higher, but not too much past 24 months developmentally. I do use it longer for those kids who love to push buttons, and lately I’ve pulled it back out for those kinds of kids on days when I’m having harder time engaging them since it does allow me to “sneak” language in there as we play and as they get their button-pushing “fix.”

    Thanks again Mary! Loved hearing from you!!! Laura

  109. Mary on April 4, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing how you use this toy. I do plan to use the toy with children who are have significant receptive language delays. All of your suggestions for toys are terrific. My next search is for the swimming pool toy and the cool jack in the box seen in your DVD! Again, thank you for your wonderful website!

  110. Laura on April 5, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Mary – The jack-in-the box is Peeks the Clown, a retired Discovery toys version. I love this toy too, and this is the second one I’ve owned. Your best bet for this one is on ebay or in second-hand toy stores.

    You can find a swimming pool like that in any girl toy – Polly Pockets or Barbie. I think mine is the High School Musical version, but I’ve used lots of these as well. Good luck finding them! Laura

  111. Tania on April 12, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    My son who is two is so scared of the doc and men. He gets hysterical and starts crying and panics so mch. He also panics when he hears door bells or mobile phone ringing. This has been happening for the past week. Is this something to worry abot or is this jst a phase?

  112. Laura on April 13, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Tania – If it’s something that’s just started, it’s likely a phase. Lots of two year olds suddenly become afraid of things that they don’t fully understand – like where an odd noise is coming from. If it lasts for a while, he may be auditorily sensitive – meaning that he processes sounds differently that other people. If that’s the case, then you’ll want to see an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory processing disorders. Until then I’d just happily explain what’s happening such as, “Oh – that’s the phone” or “There’s the doorbell.” You might also let him ring the doorbell over and over to help normalize his response. Hope this info helps! Laura

  113. Concerned on April 21, 2009 at 1:15 am

    I am concerned about the son of a family memeber. I have wanted to say something to his mother but don’t know how to approach the situation. Her son is 14 months old and I have never heard him say a word. He drools excessively and he doesn’t react to other children playing with him or around him. He just recently started taking steps but will not do more than 5 or 6 steps and will not do it on a regular basis. He will not take a sippy cup, but will only feed from a bottle often times held by his mother. When he cries, he bangs his head or becomes limp. She mentioned that he is on task but I beg to differ. I think she is in denial. What do you think?

  114. Laura on April 21, 2009 at 4:17 am

    Concerned Family Member – What a difficult situation for you, and let me add, that I too have been there! You have reason to be concerned about that baby, and so should his mother. Keep asking questions about him and showing your concern without being perceived as judgmental since so many moms become offended when someone, even someone well-meaning, “insults” their child by suggesting something might not be perfect.

    While it is true that all children develop a little differently, there is a general path for achieving milestones, and he is on the latter end of that not only with motor skills, but with communication skills too. By 14 months a child should be saying several words on his own, and more importantly, repeating names of familiar objects AND interacting with other people on a regular basis. By this age babies are usually noticing other children, but I’d be more concerned with how he interacts with his parents. Is he connected to them? Does he light up when they talk to him? I’d also want to about how he’s understanding language. Is he beginning to understand simple words and follow familiar commands like, “Wave bye bye,” “Give me a kiss,” and “Where’s Daddy?” Does he look when his mother directs his attention to something? Babies first have to learn to understand words long before they can say them. This is where you might also help educate his mom by asking her how he does these things, or better yet, play with him and try a few things like this yourself.

    Drooling is still within the normal range at this point, but because of his feeding issues and having difficulty transitioning to the cup plus later walking, he may possible have low muscle tone. The pediatrician should have already mentioned this to mom if this were the case, and he/she may have, but this mom may not want to share such personal information. Some pediatricians are wonderful about spotting developmental lags and then referring children on for treatment; others aren’t so great.

    The thing is, you likely can’t do anything about this other than support his mom who obviously loves her baby. Confronting her will likely only alienate her, and that is probably not what you want, or you’d have already done it without being so cautious and sensitive to her feelings. Keep asking about him in a loving way and be available for her should she choose to ask for your opinion. Say that you are concerned and want to do anything you can to help her help him. And again, interacting with this little boy yourself on a regular basis will be a wonderful support for mom and for him. Mom can see how you would help “teach” him things and learn from your example. If you’re not sure how to do this, keep reading for ideas here on the website. I hope the mom comes to appreciate how much you care about this little boy and her. They are lucky to have you in their lives! Laura

  115. Tiffany on April 22, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Like the woman above I am concerned about a little boy I have been watching in my home for about 3 yrs. When he first came to me he was 21 months and still on the bottle and not talking at all. The entire 8 hrs he was at my house he sat on the couch and rocked back and forth. I thought at first it was a nervous thing but 3 yrs later he still does it even if there is nothing to rock against. He sometimes rocks whilke watching tv but he will turn his head and watch out of the corner of his eyes with his tongue stuck out and hands up at his chest. sometimes he will roll his eyes up in his head. He also freaks out about unsual things. we went to the park and played in the sand then ate lunch and went back to the sand and he was terrified of it. He also did this once with fried chicken. He is very attached to his toys and still drinks from a sippy cup. He is also attracted to violent movies and games. I have asked his mother about some of it and she laughs it off but i am really concerned for him and dont know what to do I feel somthing isnt right but I know she wont accept that. Any suggestions?

  116. Laura on April 22, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Tiffany – He will likely be starting school next year, so based on what you’ve described, his teachers will certainly discuss these characteristics with his mom. You didn’t say if he talks or how he understands language. Is he following directions? Is he telling you what he needs? Does he answer questions? Information about language skills may help me make more specific suggestions for how you can work with him during the day. If his mom was receptive to suggestions, I’d recommend that he get an occupational therapy assessment particularly for sensory processing issues. But if she won’t, the only thing you can do is work with him yourself during the 8 hours a day when he’s in your home. For more ideas, keep reading articles on the site, or write me back with more specific questions and information about his language skills. Laura

  117. Tiffany on April 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Well when he first came of course he didnt speak a all and he didnt point at things he wanted he would just bring you his cup or lunchbag he talks more now but he is at the same level as his little brother who is 2 1/2 when he started coming to my house thats one of the first things I did was get him to communicate more he learned to count to 20 fairly quickly at 2 but now at 4 he cant count to 15 correctly he doesnt know his abc’s but he can memorize words to movies and songs very quickly he doesnt follow directions well i have to make sure he is paying attention by saying his name a couple of times until he looks at me then explain what i want him to do and still at times sfter the instructions ( which i keep simple ) he just walks to the couch climbs up and starts bouncing again. He used to get on the floor and play with myself or my husband sometimes they would wrestle around but he has withdrawn himself even more and if you even go to give him a hug he cringes and if you hold him to long he screams and cries he does go to a 3yr old program at a private school 2x a week for 3 hrs but i dont think he acts like that i think he just acts shy and then she doesnt plan on sending him to pre-k this next year. She is not receptive I have told her in a nice non threating way about his behaviour and she just thinks hes being silly and she encourages him to bounce or rock he has actually at home gotten into things in the kitchen including knives and tried to cut cardboard and wound up cutting himself and she doesnt see anything wrong and i think when he does go to school she is just going to take offense if they mention something so I’m not sure how to handle it I love this little boy he is with me about 50- 60 hrs a weeks sometimes for the past 3 yrs and I just wish there was more I could do.

  118. Laura on April 26, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Tiffany – Keep working with him yourself, and focus on helping him learn to understand what you’re saying. The cues – Tell him, show him, and help him are easy to remember. First tell him what you want him to do, then show him by pointing or gesturing, and lastly, if he still hasn’t done it, then help him do it. These ideas are from Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 and 2. You can look at the clips here on the website to see more ideas in action.

    It’s nice that he can count and knows abc’s but that’s not REAL language. He needs to understand and use words that will make a difference in everyday life. You can listen to my podcast from the last several weeks to get more ideas with how to help him (and hear more about WHY knowing numbers and letters aren’t nearly as important as other words).

    When he goes to school these issues will be identified. Until then, if his mom is not receptive to your advice, keep working with him yourself since it sounds like he may be with you more than at home. Laura

  119. ruthzell on April 30, 2009 at 3:14 am

    hi! my son will turn 3 this coming august. but we still have problems making talk. He’s a smart boy but his vocabulary are so limited for a 3 yr old. still waiting for the referral you could give me on where to bring my son. Im sorry, but im desperate. thanks

  120. Laura on April 30, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Ruth – I’d begin by calling your state’s early intervention program. You can find out information by googling your state name + “early intervention.” The assessment will be free and speech therapy is free or cheaper thru this program than seeing someone privately. However, if have the resources (insurance that would cover it or funds to pay), you could take him to be evaluated at a children’s clinic or hospital that offers outpatient pediatric therapy, or a speech-language pathologist in private practice. Call your pediatrician’s office and ask who they refer kids too since they will likely have the numbers for you. I make these calls soon since August is quickly approaching and early intervention programs end on a child’s 3rd birthday. Once children are 3, you can contact your local public school system to have him evaluated. He may also be eligible for free preschool in addition to speech therapy, but the programs are different in every state. Hope you can find someone soon!! In the meantime, use the ideas here on the site to help you work with him at home! Thanks – Laura

  121. jess on May 5, 2009 at 2:37 am

    Hi Laura

    My granddaughter is 21 mths old and does not speak at all. In all other ways she is very happy and placid and sleeps extremely well.She goes to a toddler group but doesnt seem to mix in with the other children. She has recently had a new baby sister and has not shown ANY interest at all…its as if the baby does not exist.Please advise is I have cause to be worried

  122. Laura on May 5, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Jess – You don’t say how she understands language. Does she understand and follow directions? Does she anticipate daily routines – like going to the kitchen if her mom asks her if she’s hungry? I know you said she’s not interacting with children, but does she seek out the attention of adults and enjoy their interaction during social games like peek-a-boo or Ride A Little Horsie? These are actually more of an indication of a delay that might be affecting her overall developmentally and actually is more serious than late talking alone. So many parents miss these key indicators. You also didn’t say how her parents feel like she’s doing. I’d start by having a very low-key discussion about your concerns with her mom and dad. With the pregnancy and new baby, they may not have noticed the things you’re concerned about.

    If her parents are concerned, and certainly if she’s having difficulty understanding language and interacting socially, her parents should call their state’s early intervention program for an assessment. This program is offered in every state for children birth to age 3. The evaluation is free, and if she does need some therapy to jump start her communication skills, it’s free or low cost compared to what you would pay otherwise.

    In the meantime, take matters into your own hands and begin to work with her yourself. I’ve had lots of grandmas email me in the past year who have done their own forms of “grandma” speech therapy at home. Hopefully you’ll get some good ideas here on the website, and check out the DVDs. On those I show you exactly how to work with late talking toddlers to facilitate those first words and help them learn to understand language. Concerned grandmothers who are willing to help can make a huge difference!! Good luck! Laura

  123. smibbo on May 6, 2009 at 10:43 am

    To all you doubters: one of my sons is Autistic and another son has Aspergers. If you say “AUtism is overblown” then you are only displaying sad ignorance and denial. The sad part of that is, the longer you deny and do nothing, the less progress your child will make. My sons did not display symptoms until well into the toddler years and when I tried to mention my fears all my friends and relatives dismissed me. That was wrong. There is nothing “overblown” about my sons’ inability to grasp basic social interactive rules. They have to be taught appropriate behavior and how to “read” other people’s emotions. It is hard work. If we had started when they were younger, we would have less difficulty.

    People who dismiss Autism really bother me. Autism is a reality. Those of us who deal with it know there is nothing “overblown” about our kids. Our kids work HARD, harder than “normal” kids to try to learn and fit in. We, their parents work HARD with them. So don’t sit on your high horse and act like it’s no big deal. It isn’t a big deal until it happens to you.

  124. jess on May 6, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    thanks sarah…she does understand pretty much everything and enjoys playing games with us. her parents are concerned about her speech but because she is home all day with her Mummy she probably is more used to playing with her than other toddlers at her group. I want to get the dvd’s but we are in uk . are they compatable with our players??

    many thanks once again

  125. Laura on May 6, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Jess – I’ve sold lots of DVD to the UK and never had anyone tell me specifically that it didn’t work for them and they worked during our “tests” with readers from the UK, but to be on the safe site, I’d suggest that you plan to watch them in your computer if you have a DVD drive or an international player. Thanks for asking! Laura

  126. Laura on May 6, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Smibbo – Thanks so much for your insightful comment. The reality of living with a child with autism is very different than “talking” about potentially having a child go on to be diagnosed with autism. Sometimes the “denial” phase is so prevalent for parents that they waste energy dismissing an entire diagnosis, and then after weeks or sometimes months, then begin to be able to consider autism as a possibility to explain their child’s issues. I know that parents who are searching for answers about autism will benefit from reading your post, even if it’s hard news to hear. Thanks again for your comment. Laura

  127. jess on May 7, 2009 at 1:41 am

    I feel so much better after speaking to you, your swift responses and helpful advice are great. I will definitely keep you up to date with our progress. Thanks so much !!!

  128. Chrissy on May 9, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Hello. I would first like to say that I have a brother who is severly autistic and I always worry if my children are going to be , especially with it on the rise so much now.

    My daughter just turned 2 almost 2 months ago and doesnt seem to be progressing in language as much as another girl her age we know. She plays wonderfully with other children, is always waving hi and bye (while saying bye bye), has great eye contact and is always smiling and laughing and being a complete goof ball! She knows how to outwit us all the time as well. LOL

    Whenever she wants something she does point and say mmm mmmmmm! dat yummm! she will pull one of us to the fridge and point at the freezer and say yes or no until we find what shes looking for. Although at times she will take it upon herself to get the kitchen chair and try and get it herself .

    I would say she has at least 10 words in her daily vocab but it really isnt growing much. My pedatrician said as long as shes putting 2 words together hes not worried, but if shes 2 1/2 and she doesnt have her “explosion” he would start looking into it and not to compare my daughter to other kids.

    She always asks us whos that and whats that many times a day. and everything is yea or no..mainly no. She thinks shes funny and says NO No No NOOOO! points her finger at you and laughs. She follows instruction fairly well , blows kisses and when u ask her for a kiss shell giv u one and say MWAH!

    I have noticed she plays with the wheels on her baby doll stroller every once in a while but not repeatidly and I have noticed shell put a few dolls next to each other (i dont know if id call it lined up) on her pillow and tuck them into bed as she tells them “nighty!”

    Im not sure if I should be concerned yet or not. Also keep in mind my daughter is always on the go and I can seldom get her to sit quietly if we go anywhere unless shes strapped in her stroller. Everyone says that is typical 2 year old behavior to be curious and adventurous(which she most definatley is)

    Should I be worried or listen to my pediatrician? I know its always best to go with your gut, but i can honestly say ive been freaked out about autism ever since she was a baby. Please help. Thanks!

  129. Laura on May 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Chrissy – I understand your concern about your daughter, and I would be concerned about her too if I were you. The pediatrician has missed a huge indicator for problems with expressive language development for her. While we do want children to use two-word phrases by 24 months, they ALSO need at minimum 50 different words that they use on their own. By your report, she’s using only 10 different words a day. Children over 24 months should be using many, many different words on a daily basis. Having a core vocabulary that a toddler depends on and doesn’t deviate from is closer to a child at the 15-18 month developmental language level.

    However, the number of words in a child’s vocabulay isn’t the only indicator of whether or not language is on track. You remark that she’s following directions well which is a good thing. At her age she should be able to follow 2 part directions – “Get your cup and put it in the sink” or “Pick up your shoes and take them to Daddy” so try some of those to make sure she’s understanding at an age-appropriate level too. Other skills she should be doing are pointing to familiar pictures in books on request (Where is the dog?, Show me who is sleeping, Find the baby, etc…) and selecting objects on request from a group. When she’s playing with her baby dolls and accessories, ask her to find the brush, or the sock, or the bottle from a set of objects.

    She sounds like she’s making social connections with peers and adults which indicates that she’s likely not autistic, so again, that’s a strength for her. However, autism is not the ONLY reason for language delays.

    If you’re in the United States, you can typically make a referral to your state’s early intervention program yourself to have her speech-language skills evaluated. To find the program in your state, Google your state’s name + the phrase “early intervention.” This is a federally mandated program designed to help babies and toddlers ages 0-3 who are struggling developmentally. It’s a wonderful resource, and if she does need some therapy to catch up, it’s free or low cost (compared to paying privately) in most states.

    If you’re not ready for an official referral, let me encourage you to keep reading ideas here on the website to help you work with her at home. I also have a set of DVDs for sale so you can SEE exactly how to work with her at home to increase her language skills. Go to the DVD section or click the logos on the right to read for more information about these. You can even see a few clips from the DVDs.

    Thanks for submitting your great question! You’re a good mom for wanting to find out more, even when your pediatrician isn’t recommending that yet. I think 2 1/2 is too long to wait, but then again, I’m biased since I often see children at this age who should have been referred between 18 months and 24 months. By the time they are 2 1/2, they have missed out on a whole year of stalled language development, and then parents have to work double-time to help them catch up. My mantra to pediatricians really is to refer as soon as parents are worried. It doesn’t hurt, and believe me, if a child doesn’t need therapy, they will not qualify for services in a state program.

    Good luck and let me know how she does!!! Laura

  130. Chrissy on May 12, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Thanks LAura! That takes a weight off of my shoulders! I will try the thing witht e books. My mother in law tells me when they look at books she does point to the birdie etc..whatever she is asking! When I read her books she has a very short attention span. I also forgot to mention that if we sing the ABC’s She says EFG very clearly and sounds like she tries to say LMNOP but just cant pronounce them right. But she tries.

    My mothe in law is always telling me how smart she is (which she is) she just doesnt say much. She tries to but all we mainly hear is babbling. We have the “meet the colors” DVD and she tries to pronounce the colors. She says BLUE clearly and gets excited when i clap my hands and praise her so she says it again. You can tell she really wants to talk and is trying..I agree and think shes just having a hard time spitting it out.

    I will def ggogle early intervention and look into your dvds. Thanks so much for your quick response!

  131. Chrissy on May 12, 2009 at 6:17 am

    Oh and I left out she does follow my instruction to go to her room or go show daddy etc. She also figured out how to open my “child proof” cabinets. hahaha

  132. Chrissy on May 12, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    I ordered your dvds today!! Im soo excited to recievee them . Ill keep you posted!!!

  133. Laura on May 13, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Chrissy – Hope the DVDs are helpful to you! Let me know how it goes! Laura

  134. Ms hinckleys on May 14, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I am an autistic mother, my children are both autistic. This is not a made up thing, its very real.

  135. Cindy on May 20, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    just wanted to give you another idea besides Autism. My son at age 2 1/2 was diagnosed with Apaxia. He is now 3 1/2. It has a lot of the same symptoms as Autism as far as speech is concerned. I just had my IEP meeting today and now they’ve got me freeking out because they think he may also have a mild case of Autism because of his behavior and the fact that he walks on his tippy toes. I will have him checked out but look for places like Babies can’t wait (that’s where we started speech until he turned 3) and look into your school system. My son will be starting pre-school where he’ll also get speech within the school system plus I have him enrolled with a private pre-school for next year. You should be able to go to the elementary school and aske the person in the front or ask to see the speech therapist and ask her for the number to have you child evaluated. One of the two should know. Your school (even middle and high school) should have a speech therapist.
    Good luck,

  136. Eloise on June 8, 2009 at 3:18 am

    I have one child, an 18 month old daughter and I am so worried about her development and possible autism. She says maybe 5 or 6 words but not in a meaningful way. She will ask for water or say ‘Mickey’ if she wants to watch TV (she loves Mickey mouse). She rarely says mama or dada to us. Her motor skills are great, she walks, runs, climbs etc. She loves to play and initiate peekaboo (but won’t say the words peekaboo), is very happy and smiley. But she doesn’t communicate that well, no meaningful pointing or gesturing. She does come to us with toys to show us and loves to imitate us when we make funny faces or noises. But she won’t repeat back words that we say to her or sing to her. the only time she seems to respond verbally is if we hum the ‘Hot Dog’ song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and she starts saying ‘Og Dog’ along to our humming.

    She was with my mother from 9 months until 2 weeks ago and my mother doesn’t speak much english so she had a different language to understand during the day. I also suspect that she spent a lot of time in her playpen with very little interaction and/or the TV on. Would this account for a huge delay in speech/communication?

    We are seeing a paediatrician on Saturday but i’m so scared, I can’t eat or sleep with worry about my daughter. Is there anything I could/should be doing?

    Thank you for reading this.

  137. Laura on June 11, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Eloise – I so understand your concern about her, but the good news is, you’re concerned! Having a parent who is actively seeking ways to help a child who is experiencing a lag in developing language is a very important first step, as long as you let your concern propel you to work with her to help her catch up.

    First of all, I’m glad you’re seeing your pediatrician to talk about this. However, sometimes pediatricians aren’t concerned about language development until 2 unless there are other huge red flags. I’m not sure I’d be worried about autism since you said she does bring you things and “loves it” when you make funny faces are noises. This back and forth interaction, more commonly referred to as joint attention or reciprocal interaction, is usually NOT seen in children who go on to be diagnosed with autism.

    Children can exhibit language delays for a host of reasons besides autism. You’ve probably identified exactly what’s made her a later talker too by pointing out that she’s not heard as much English since she was with your mother during the day without lots of opportunities to learn to talk. Too much TV isn’t good for ANY of us, especially babies who learn best from 1 on 1 interaction. It sounds like she’s not staying with your mom anymore, so this part of the problem is solved. She does need to hear English (or whatever language you’re speaking) all day long in order to learn to understand and talk.

    As far as what you can do, this whole site is FULL of articles to give you ideas! Keep reading!! You may also want to check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk since it will SHOW you exactly how to work with her at home.

    Your daughter is lucky to have such a concerned and caring Mom!! Good luck to the both of you!! Laura

  138. FBL on June 11, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Laura, my son is 22 months old and I am concerned about his apparent speech delay as well as if could be on the autism spectrum.

    As an infant, he hit all of his milestones at the appropriate age. By 14 months he was pointing, waving bye bye, had about 5-10 words that he used. He has always been a very happy, playful child, who enjoys interaction with others.

    At around 16 months I noticed a change in that he did not use his words as much anymore and seemed to be getting very hyperactive after mastering running and climbing- always running back & forth in his play.

    It was around this time that we were referred to an ENT because of his chronic ear infections (8 infections within 16 mos). The doc recommended tubes for the persistent fluid that was in his ear. I don’t know exactly how long the fluid was in his ear, I’m estimating sometime between his 15th & 18th months. We finally got tubes at 18mos. Immediately following the procedure, he had an infection, so his tubes were deemed “clear” until around 19 1/2 mos. At the same time, I had him evaluated by our state’s EI program and then followed up by our local children’s hospital. They both administered the REEL test. The state said he did not qualify (must have 25% deficit) but that in expressive and receptive language he was probably functioning around 2-3 months behind his age. They recommended to give him time to learn after his tubes and to come back for another evaluation. He scored similarly in the children’s hospital evaluation that was taken 6 weeks later but the age deficit gap had widened to 6 months. They recommended I enroll him in speech therapy.

    So now he is currently been in ST for the past 6 weeks. He is babbling and using jargon more and starting to say some of the words he used to say more frequently, but it’s not consistent yet. He didn’t totally loose them, it just would seem to talk an act of God to get him to say something. His joint attention has improved (it seemed to decrease during the ear infections). His receptive language definitely is increasing and he is much better at following directions. He is very interested in books and flashcards and continues to points at things in the books. He continues to be very affectionate, smiles when smiled at and is very interested in other kids- even if he doesn’t know how to play with them yet. Although these things are positive, there are other things that worry me. A lot of these things I used to attribute to his lack of hearing, but now I don’t know.

    1. You can call his name over and over and he does not consistently respond unless you’re talking about something he’s interested in.
    2. He is always on the go.
    3. He likes to close his eyes when he walks sometimes. I think he likes the sensation, like feeling dizzy after spinning.
    4.His play is kind of interesting. He runs back and forth, moving to different items of interest. He never stops and plays with one thing too long. Sometimes seems very unfocused. When he does stop and play, he plays with the items appropriately.
    5. He has very little imaginative play. He loves cars and makes the noises, but anything else has been limited.
    6. He is very independent
    7. He sometimes, but I wouldn’t call it all the time is in his own world and will look right past people.
    8. He is still a very picky eater, but is seeming to open up more lately. He eats some meats, breads, grains, dairy, but not much fruit or vegetables.

    Should I continue with the ST and wait until our 24mo. checkup to seek further evaluation or should I ask my doctor to look into my concerns right now? I am also contemplating going to Early Intervention again to see if he qualifies for any free help.

    Thanks in advance for any comments you could provide.

  139. amie on June 12, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Hi i am just wondering if you can help my 20 month old son isnt walking yet or talking neither.He doesnt say any words such as mama or dada he just humms all day.Sometimes i can call out his name several times and he will not respond at all but sometimes he does me and my partner just thought he only listens when he wants to but after reading the symptoms of autism he seems to have a few such as flapping he as done this since a early age and does this all day long when he is walking on his knees. He as also just started playing with one of his toys one of the old fashion wooden base toys with metal spiral shapes with beads on he as several of these but only plays with one he will bring it to me or are partner and put it on our knee and humm really loudly while he is pushing the beads round he will only play with this toy when it is on somebodys knee.Another thing he does is he doesnt indicate that he needs anything he will not bring me his cup if he wants more juice or point at the fridge or indicate that he needs anything he will play with his toys and he is able to get them as they are in reach of him but other wise he never indicateds he wants anything.Im really concerned now about him i had the health visitor at my house yesterday becouse i was concerned about him not walking on his own yet but she seemed to be more concerned about his speech and told me to take him to the gp.I was looking today if there was any websites that could help me teach him to say a few words and it lead me to autism please could you email me back and see what you think with what i have just told you about him i do have autism in my family my brother was diagnosed with asperges sydrome a few years ago thanks you

  140. Laura on June 13, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    FBL – I’d go ahead and see EI again if they will see you (some states make you wait a certain period of time between evals). This time in addition to speech, ask for an OT eval for the increased activity/sensory-seeking behavior (spinning). Some of this really could be related to the chronic ear fluid. However, you don’t want to miss something else. I think it’s great enrolled him in private therapy when he didn’t qualify for your state program – kudos to you!! In the meantime, keep working with him at home too! The site is FULL of ideas for you to help him yourself. Good luck!!! Laura

  141. Laura on June 13, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Aimee – I’m glad your health visitor is sending you to the GP. I’d be concerned about walking and talking, and it does seem that he is exhibiting signs of a global developmental delay. This website is FULL of advice for you to use at home with him. Also check out the DVD information as it will SHOW you ways you can work with him at home. Thanks so much for asking! Laura

  142. vidbal on June 14, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Please help : very long : is he autistic?

    Pending diagnosis by neurologist. Have evaluation in 10 days by state

    Twin boy 21 months old :bilingual :Twin sister dominant and needs lot of attention

    Twin daughter is cute and more social then the boy. So, all visitors pick her up all the time than him.
    He is a shy guy.

    Things of concern for autism for my twin boy
    Doesn’t respond to his name
    has eye contact when he wants
    does’t point (Today, we blew some bubbles and he was pointing to the bubbles to pop them)
    He is fasinated by alphabet and numbers and tries to identify/recite them most ofthe time

    he walked by 1 and crawled by 5 moths

    He is fasinated by alphabet and numbers and tries to identify/recite them most ofthe time in the house/malls , etc
    Could the following be the reasons
    1.Twin competition
    My twin daughter tries to be more dominat. Both my kids kow they all capital letters and numbers, some colors ad shapes
    Neighbour’s family visited us oneday. They were writing the letters for my daughter to identify.
    As and when she was answering them, they were thrilled ad were appreciating her a lot.
    he tried to join thm but was pushed by her in front of all of us. I know he was sad.
    Did it affect him and his confidenc?
    Is that why he is repeating the numbr and color for appreciation?

    2. Env
    whole of first year, we did not take them out a lot( winter ad too young)
    This is the first summer I amd taking them out on a regular basis. To engage them during winter, I played DVDS a lot (brainy baby ovr and over).

    Also, I startd takig them down the stairs (we live on third floor in out bld). To make it easy for me with both of them,
    I would encourage tem to count the stairs.
    Also, the first I them in the swing (park), I swung them and said numbrs (1..2…3) to practise their number.

    So, now whenever we walk the stair on the swing he keeps saying his numbers.
    Even during out walks on the road, I would say rhymes or numbers to engage.

    normally has milk in his sippy cut.
    Today we gave him chocolate pediasure, he looked at it like what is the color diff and drank it.

    normally likes to put the straps of the high chair by himself on both sides. he likes it mor like a game
    somedays he tries it by standing on the floor.
    This particular day, he straped 1 side ad was having a tough time on th othr side,
    so he climbed up and sat on the high chair all by himself and put the other side

    We take him out for a walk and stuff.
    Enjoys the whole time and the moment he says the gate of our house he doesn’t want to go in

    When I get dressed to go out , he wants me to pick him

    When I say come to mamma, he comes to me runnig witha huge smile on his face

    Today, we blew some bubbles and he was pointing to the bubbles to break themnnn


    Identifies and says

    hi waves bye-bye hello barney
    pac in native lang is milk(pal)

    said these words once in the last 2-3 days.Not sure if they are meaning ful words
    swing slide go
    baby pac
    red clock sky duck truck

    identifies 95% of capital letters
    knows and identifies 1-10 ( 7 as seventeen) and can say till 20
    identifies few shapes ( tri, rec, oval, heart, circle) sometimes crescent
    identife red, purple and orange colors
    recites rhymes 1. twinkle
    2. itsy bitsy oder
    3. Five litle monkeys
    4. Johnny Jonny
    5. can finish some natice lanhaage songs [ 1- 10 in telugu ]
    Knows 95% of ABCD song

    Knows days and months

    sibling comptitiion:
    when sitting on LAP
    when playing

    likes books === turns pages of the book

    When I say ” I love you”, says barney

    1. change dvd, switch off tv,
    2. engrossed in watching his fav dvds
    3. smiles when kids in tv smiles, laughs when he finds it funny,
    4. nudges with the remote to start the dvd,

    listening to music in car. giggles when kids in the the lullaby dvd giggle

    Loves ABCD song

    eats wih hand, fork and spoon
    likes spegatti
    does not sit in high chair now

    Chase game runs, kicks ball, slides realy well, climbs monkey bar, tries to establish eye contact with other kids in the park

    When we tickle his tummy and suff, laughs a lot and has great eye contact,
    Enjoys swing
    Plays and fights well his twin sister
    can repeat basketball & tennis plays & uses phone
    climbs stairs on his own using rails
    Moves from one toy to another.
    He plays well with thetoys . Some turns the wheels. for less than 10secs and moves on.

    Very happy seeing his dad home
    looing at photo – he looks at people in the picture (did this once)

    Tries to bath himself with the mug

    sometimes seen grindling teeth [ Mom’s bro & sis were grinding teeth ]

    want to nibble on blanket, paper(tissue), towel
    Enjoyed rides in the beach
    Was a little hesisant to walk in the sand ( first time thhis year)

    Could he be autistic? very scared

  143. Laura on June 14, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Vidbal – Thanks for your question. I know how concerned you must be. I’m so glad that you’ve seen a neurologist and are scheduled to be evaluated by early intervention. Since I can’t see him, I certainly can’t tell you what’s going on, but based on what you’ve said, he does have some red flag behaviors that I’d be concerned about. However, and I think you already know this, some of what’s happening could be because those are the kinds of activities you’ve emphasized. Don’t beat yourself up about it though, because you’ve done the same things with your daughter, and there are no concerns with her development. This is likely something that would have happened anyway.

    There are some things I’d do differently now. I’d significantly decrease the DVD/TV time for him. Children need lots of 1:1 interaction with an adult – which it sounds like your daughter demands. When the TV is on, your son may not be as likely to want to play or interact.

    I’d also recommend that you concentrate on using and teaching more real & useful words and stop focusing on the ABCs, colors, counting, and any other “rote” memory stuff like nursery rhymes. While there is nothing “wrong” with this kind of information, it’s not very communicative, and for kids with language delays, it can be detrimental because that’s all they want to say.

    He needs to be learning words he can use everyday to ask for things he wants – milk, shoes, ball, bubbles, drink, cookie, etc…

    It sounds like he has some strengths too. He is learning to understand language and is following some directions. He has a good connection with Dad. Even his visual fascinations with ABCs and #’s let you know he’s going to be interested in academics, which ultimately is a good thing.

    I know this is easier said than done, but try to wait to see what his evaluation results are before you worry yourself sick. If there is a developmental problem and they do recommend therapy, participate fully so that you can carry over recommendations at home and maximize his progress with his communication skills. You are such a good mom to be concerned about him now when he’s this young and to follow thru with evaluations for him. He’s lucky to have you!! Take care and keep us posted on how he’s doing. Laura

  144. Lynn on June 18, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Hi Laura,

    I’m looking for your insite on my son. He is currently 32 months old. He is a surviving twin born at just 23 1/2 weeks. We are so blessed to have him in our lives and I marvel at his accomplishments every single day.

    He’s always been a little behind, mostly in language and fine motor skills – but has always been somewhere between actual and adjusted age. Occupation therapist who has seen him periodically (gave him a final evaluation thru the NICU at 2) said his development was all within normal limits and even more amazing because she would have expected greater delays because of his prematurity.

    So his delays really didn’t bother me until recently. My ideal was that so what if he gets it a little later than most kids, the point is that he gets it eventually – which for the most part he has. My one area of concern is his area of language in regards to when he gets mad or upset. At that point, all words leave him and he just falls out and screams/crys and won’t tell me what he wants. Also when we go outside to play (he’s got a 1 year old brother), he will eventually just “go”…across the lawn, down the road, into the neighbors yard,etc and just keep going (for brief periods of picking up rocks or a ball etc). Telling him “no” or “stop” or “wait” has not effect. He just giggles and keeps on running. When I finally to catch him and take him by the arm, he’ll fall out onto the ground, let him arm gets twisted, and sometimes just lay on the road and even bang his head a couple times on it. I really do believe it’s related to him not being able to express himself with words at those times. We have several meltdowns daily, but then the next moment, he’s over it and back to doing something else or maybe even the exact same thing that got him in trouble in the first place.

    One more example – he’s obsessed with throwing stuff in our pool or in our small pond with fish. I’ve even gave him warnings, that the next time it happens he’s going in the house…doesn’t matter, there he goes throwing stuff in, and there we go in the house. No matter how many times I explain why he shouldn’t do it, it doesn’t matter. Some times he cries/screams at me when I bring him in the house other times he’s like “I don’t care” and moves on to some other activity in the house.

    It’s very frustrating for me because I don’t feel like I can every really enjoy my time outside with the kids if I’m by myself…trying to keep one step ahead of one, while carrying the other or hoping he stays put for a couple seconds while I grab the other.

    Is this something he will out-grow or do you feel I should persue professional help. He was involved with Birth-3 in the beginning, but they discharged him from the program after 1 year because they said he was fine.


  145. Laura on June 18, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Lynn – All that you’ve described sounds like typical toddlerhood and being a 2 year old little boy – which is amazing considering his rough start! Even though you’re worn ragged now keeping up with the both of them, it will get easier as they get older. I’m speaking from experience here since I too had back-to-back high energy little boys who are now 17 and 19 and still keeping me on my toes! Hang in there! He sounds very, very, very normal to me! Congratulations! Laura

  146. Tina on June 23, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Hi Laura. I am so glad to find this website and that you reply to everyone’s posts…that is a rare find. My autism search started today when I was trying to figure out why my 18-month old won’t walk on her own. She is physically able, but has been using our index fingers to help her for 4-5 months now. She is a picky eater. She says 5-6 words and does point, shake her head no. All of this is just so confusing. Could it be that she is just using our fingers as a security blanket and that’s all???

  147. April on June 23, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Pretty good post. I just found your site and wanted to say
    that I’ve really liked browsing your posts. In any case
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  148. Lynn on June 24, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks for the response Laura!

    With everyone else’s input – telling me things aren’t right – not everyone has high-enery kids, I guess 🙂

    It’s hard not to dismiss the comments. The thing I hold on to most days is that so far, even though he may be slightly behind others his age, he eventually gets it. For Sawyer, learning/mastering new skills don’t have expiration dates…and that’s just fine with me.

    Thanks again! Lynn

  149. Laura on June 24, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Tina – Since I can’t SEE her, I don’t know what’s going on with her. I’d talk with your pediatrician about a referral for physical therapy and potentially for speech therapy as well. It NEVER hurts to have a child evaluated. If you are in the United States, every state has a program for children ages birth to 3 who are having difficulty meeting their developmental milestones. 18 months is late not to be walking independently. It could turn out that she’s fine, but you won’t know until she’s evaluated. Good luck – Laura

  150. Heather on June 24, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    Hi Laura,
    I began to research autism, because my daughter who is 19 months seems to have atypical signs. She is very sweet and loving, but in the same minute she will start to bite. She has 14 of the symtoms that you listed above the biggest being that she only says 2 words. I want to get her evalutated, but I am affraid that I can’t afford it. My insurance is not very good, I have to pay a lot of money out of pocket before my benefits kick in. Is there a cheap or free way to get her evaluated? I would hate to not do it because I do not have the funds available.


  151. Sarah on June 25, 2009 at 10:44 am

    My son is 16 months old. He says probably around 10-15 words, and points at what he wants. He eats a variety of foods, he answers when I call him, does stuff when I ask him to, looks me in the eyes, smiles at strangers and so forth,all seems normal. Except when he gets excited he stomps his feet (like Happy Feet the movie) and swings his arms and shakes his head back and forth. He is also really rough with other kids, he likes to play with them, but he just seems like the rough one of the group. I don’t know if he means to, or if that is just his way of playing. He always has to be on the move, he will never just sit in my lap and cuddle. This really concerns me. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks so much! -Sarah

  152. Laura on June 27, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Heather – If you are the in the USA, every state has a form of an early intervention program where you can get a child birth to 3 with suspected developmental problems evaluated for free. Search the phrase “early intervention” plus your state’s name and you should be able to find information. If you still can’t locate the source, call your pediatrician’s office. They should know who to refer you too. In most states services are free or very low cost compared to what it would cost if you were paying out of pocket. Good luck with that!

    In the meantime, don’t disregard how important it is for you to work with her at home. This website is full of ideas to help you teach her how to learn to understand and use words. Check out the DVDs too since then you SEE how to do these things with her yourself at home.

    Keep me updated with how she’s doing! Laura

  153. Laura on June 27, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Sarah – What you’re describing sounds like a high energy little boy! However, if all of that movement starts to interfere with his development, then you could investigate sensory processing disorder. Kids who are “sensory seekers” typically have to be “on the go” most of their waking hours. Occupational therapists treat children with sensory processing differences if you should decide you need some help in dealing with him. To find out more information about sensory processing dysfunction, check out the resources I listed in this article:

    Many toddlers have tantrums as you are describing. The point when you become concerned is when the tantrum doesn’t subside after 20 to 30 minutes. Low frustration tolerance is a part of typical toddler development, but again, if it’s interfering with his development, seek help from an OT.

    Hope these suggestions help! Laura

  154. Worried Momma on July 4, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    After stumbling upson a video on youtube I have been researching autism in regards to my child.
    Let me start by saying that I swear my cousin is living with undiagnosed Asbergers so I may be paranoid … but I started researching for her a few years back because I was worried for her.
    I’d also like to apologize for this being so long but I have never been able to voice any concerns without being chastized.

    Now, I have a 3 year old who hit all her milestones early and is a pretty happy, well functioning child.
    I never really thought about autism until seeing that video and the only thing that worried me until now was fact that she will ignore the heck out of you and she will almost obsesssively repeat dialogue from her favorite television show. I always thought these were typical toddler behaviors. All of these aren’t every day issues with her but after having read up on this stuff it’s enough to get me thinking.

    She exhibits 10-12 points on the list above fairly strongly and I’m actually quite nervous about this. Except for the delayed speech and motor skill issues (no problems) she does or has at one point show a lot of the ‘markers’ you mention.

    She doesn’t consistently respond to her name unless you say her name and tell her to look at you. She does this especially while doing things she knows she’s not supposed to (ex: pulling the cats’ tails and excessively turning the tv/dvd player on and off). A lot of times she will turn around, look at you and almost immediately go right back to doing these things.

    She can seemingly do well with imaginitive play as long as you are engaging her but I never really noticed her doing any of this on her own. No “feeding her babies”, she doesn’t play with her stuffed animals or anythign really but she will grab them all and move them somewhere else/sit them in a specific order or she will tell you ‘who’ they are as she hands them to you. Sometimes she seems to want to “play” with her toys alone and will tell you to stop or go away. She will roll her cars around but likes to usually just line them up.
    She still likes her blocks sometimes and just stacks them either in one tall stack or several small stacks and gets very upset when they fall over.
    She doesn’t stack or line things up ‘often’, like, it’s not obsessive or every day and there’s no specific order that I know of but she enjoys it and sometimes gets very upset if you move one of them or put them away.

    This is 1 of the 2 things I was concerned with previous to even thinking she may be autistic but she memorizes lines and dialogue from her favorite tv shows and repeats them incessantly. She knows 100’s of words, but rarely applies them to conversation. She knows her alphabet, colors, shapes (even pentagon, octagon, etc…) and numbers (can count to 20). She seems to repeat what she hears as opposed to saying things in her own words a lot. She will say “__ want to use the potty” or “want some (or more” milk/juice/water” and she can ask for things usually without problem but if you don’t acknowledge her immediately she will repeat herself endlessly until you get her what she wants or take her where she wants to go.
    She also doesn’t seem to follow directions too well all the time (probably just me overreacting to her willful toddler phase).
    She WILL point to things and look at things you point at.

    She used to not want you to actually read books but only flip through the pages but now she loves being read to. SHe especially loves looking at photo albums and pointing to things/people in the and naming them. One thing that kills me is she will still put things in her mouth though she knows she shouldn’t, even after you tell her to stop. She is getting out of that for the most part but will do it from time to time.

    Some other things that worry me is she really is always on the go. Se loves to run back and forth (burning off energy?). She is highly unnerved if youo break up her daily routine. She also has extreme attachment to her toys. She has a whole bag that she absolutley “HAS” to bring to my parents house when they watch her while we are working. When we are off and if she doesn’t get to go to my parents house she will spend all day off and on having mini tantrums about wanting to go over there or simply repeating “want to go to grandmom and grandpop’s house” or “grandmom and grandpop on their way”. The first phrase she made up on her own but normally I tell her that grandmom and grandpop are on their way and to get ready and I feel that she is just repeating that.

    I can usually help her with things but certain things (not always the same) she will have a total meltdown if I help. One thing that’s always the same though is her aversion to me helping her with the zipper and taking her coat off. This is the only thing she will actually throw herself on the floor for anymore… I CAN NOT help with her coat. If I sing along to songs sometimes she will say “stop mommy”. Usually if I smile and keep going she will smile but she will still tell me to stop.

    I guess the last of the big thins is this: she knows not to throw things, let’s say, into the pool. I’ve told her why she can’t do it and that I’ll throw away the item(s) she is throwing into the pool but she still will continue to do it. Sometimes I have to say her name and tell her to look at me before I get her attention and she will usually go right back to doing it. If she does continue to do it it may not be immediately but it will be within 5 minutes after I ask her to stop. When I follow through with taking the item(s) from her she will follow me trying to get it and screaming/crying the whole time. The rare times I actually give in and give the item back to her I would say about 1/3 of the time she will go right back to throwing it in the pool.

    I used to accredit a lot of her behaviors simply to always having a television with her shows on at my parents house while we are working. They even have dvds of her show on repeat when she is not even watching it! I have almost stopped watching television all-together recently and my parents finally cut back on tv time some and take her out more while they babysit. It actually has seemed to help in many respects but I would just once like to hear about my daughter’s day without having to ask her specific questions about what she did. She sometimes will just break into reciting a tv show she watched. When she does say something about her day when I ask she will usually repeat a phrase a few times but not elaborate on anything else.
    I know some of it has got to be the fact that she knows repeating these things (especially quotes from her shows) get a ‘pleased’ reaction from people, they smile and laugh because it’s “cute” and she does the motions and faces to go with it… but it started irritating/worrying me after a few months.
    Are my fears unfounded (because MANY people seem to think so)?

    I plan on asking about this as her next doctor’s appointment and possibly going for a screening of some sort even before then. It’s just disheartening because it seems as if a lot of it is normal child behavior but my parents/family keep reinforcing these behaviors (esp the quoting and repeating phrases, running back and forth and schedule/toy obsession) by anything from allowing them to go on to downright giving her positive reactions. Everytime I ask them to stop they make it seem like I am “mean” but it seems that if youo try to engage her in answering questions with her own words she doesn’t just repeat phrases she’s heard or that you have said to her or randomly quote tv shows.

    Finally, I have starting giving her “real consequences to her actions” and while she obviously does not like it it seems to improve a lot of situations.
    My parents think this is mean, and call me crazy, but I SWEAR I can see improvements sometimes. I have started doing this because she used to be a lot more misbehaved with them than at home with us but she started pulling my cat’s tail until I physically remove her grip from it and her not listening or flat out disobeying, etc…. and just displaying more “concerning” behaviors here at home.

    Again, I am sorry this was so long but I just needed to get all of that out without critisism!
    Thank you so much in advance for any insight.

  155. Laura on July 6, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Worried Mom – Of course I can’t tell you for sure what’s going on with your daughter since I can’t see her, but you have expressed so many different concerns about her that you should go ahead and have her evaluated. Sometimes moms really suspect something is wrong looooong before anyone else in a family, or even before the pediatrician notes a developmental concern. Call your local school system and ask about comprehensive evaluations for preschool children, or ask your pediatrician’s office for a referral to a private clinic or children’s hospital. Don’t wait too long, or you’ll be really upset with yourself if a problem is later identified. No Mom needs that extra guilt! Good luck! Laura

  156. Jeremy on July 29, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    My son just turned 1 a week ago and we are a little concerned about our son. He is very social, enjoys smiling at people, and when around other kids is fine. He plays as much as I would expect with other kids for his age. We are concerned though about his language development. He does not repeat at all. He looks at you when we speak to to him and he listens pretty intently put will not say any words back. A few months ago he said ball a few times but has not repeated since. We talk to him all the time, sing to him, and read as well. Even though it seems he is really listening and alot of times looking at our mouths he does not repeat.
    He also flaps his arms alot when he is excited. He is smiling when doing it and does not do it randomly. He also does not point or gesture for things he wants. He grabs items in reach but does not point at all.
    We seem to be getting almost mixed signals with everything else seeming to be normal especially social interaction. I have a cousin who had an autistic child and through them and general research we have learned that early intervention is very very important. His was not very early but he is doing much better now. I know it is hard to diagnose at his age but we want to make sure we give him the best care if needed. We have discussed having him evaluated. We go to see the doctor for his one year visit next week and will discuss it with them, but many times we bring up concerns they blow them off. For the first 3-4 months our son never slept (about 10-12 hours in a 24 hour period). I have read that sleeping is imperative to cognitive development which of course concerns us. He was very colicky, had bad reflux, and basically was what I would call a unhappy baby. Things have really turned and now you can’t get a smile off his face. What are your thoughts on the speech and not pointing for things as well as the arm flapping? We really are not crazy parents worried all the time, but when it is in the family it tends to concern us more. Thank you very much for your time.


  157. Jeremy on July 29, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I forgot to add that he babbles constantly. It is like he has his own little language. He does say da da alot.
    Just want to give you all the info.
    Thanks again,

  158. Jeremy on July 29, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    I keep remembering different things. If you ask him where mommy, daddy, and the ball is, he looks at the right person and gets excited.
    I am probably giving you to much info but I figure the more the better you may be able to help us.

    Thanks again,

  159. Laura on July 30, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Jeremy – I so applaud your efforts as a concerned Dad looking for information to help your son! He is very, very young, BUT I am concerned when language milestones, and especially gestures, aren’t developing as they should. I would do everything I can to help him start to develop those kinds of skills during imitation games. You can read HOW to do this in this article:

    I’d also try lots of social games with him, and here’s the link for ideas for that:

    If you’d like to SEE some of these techniques with real children, check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk.

    Good luck talking to your pediatrician. I hope that he/she will listen to your concerns. If not, in most states you can have a developmental evaluation by your state’s early intervention program for free even without a referral from your doctor. If you need information about your state’s program, google “early intervention” plus your state’s name.

    Good luck! I always admire Dads who are involved! Your little boy is lucky to have you!!! Laura

  160. Pallavi on July 31, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Hi, My name is Pallavi and I have 32 months old son. He says many words, we creates his own sentences of 4, 5 words. But most of the sentences are what I told him. He uses those sentences at right time though. he makes few sentneces by his own. He knows ABC and their sounds, number (1-20), counting, colours, shapes, animals and their sounds, play puzzle, dance. He is very active and ready to go kid. He likes to go outside, jumps, run, dance. He sings 10-12 songs (some of the words are not clear but sing it completly). He follows instructions almost I can say 80-90%. But sometimes I feel he is ignoring me. He used to say “comming” when I ask him “Where are u?” but now days he just don’t answer me. sometime he just come back to me or keep continue what he is doing.
    If I ask him to get me something e.g. “please go get your bag” or “ask papa, come for dinner” etc.. he follows it.
    He ask what he wants. He can’t take it then he ask me or his daddy. If see some new things, then ask me questions. He plays imaginative play like pretend like is he cooking, hide and seek. he knows taking turns.

    But beside all these things I am really worried about couple of his behaviour i see in above list but don’t know it is some delayed symtomps or other problems or I am not doing correctly. Before I tell you about my worries, I want to give you little backgound. He goes to day care since he was 10 months old. I speak different language(indian) at home. But I talk to him in english most of time. Also he had ear tube in his ear and recent ENT checkup, doctor said that he has little fluide in his right ear but said that it does not affect his hearing and ask me to wait till 3 months. My worries which makes me thinks that something is off:
    1. He play with other kids but always kind of bossy or negative action like “don’t touch that”, “its is mine”. He does not hit anybody though. He does not like to share his toys but He is always like to play with kids.
    2. He acts very shy or differently to outside people (adult) if they say “Hi” or question him. he just look down and does not say anything unless I insist him to say. sometime he answer but most of the time not.
    3. I am working on his potty training. At home, he tells me or my husband that he wants to got potty. But in day care he just doesn’t tell them or go by himself. Its been 2 months like this. I always feels like he acts very shy. His day care teacher said that he talks to other kids but as bossy (as I said earlier). But does not tell them what he wants or like. I don’t undertstand why he does not tell them even he is going their when he was very little. Is it because of communication problem, not confortable? Don’t know
    4. When he was 27-28 months old, he was jumping all the time. He was walking on toe for 1 min or so. But now he does not walk on toes. He does not sit on one place for long time also.
    5. He does not like if I say don’t do this or not good something. He gets very angry and throws tantrums, he will starts crying, throws things away, keep saying “…” and if i try to take him, he hits me. I am so afraid of this behaviour. I tried to lot of ways to carm him, tell him gently but he just doesn’t not listen.
    6. He does not like to cuddle, touch. He keeps saying “ don’t touch me” it makes difficult for me and my husband during bath, changing cloths. But he give kisses and hugs if i ask or anybody else asked.
    7. He wakes up in the night everyday arround 11.00 pm. Just start crying. If I try to ignore him at first, he doesn’t stop crying. If I ask him, what happened then he cry loudly again. It becomes very difficult to calm him down.
    8. It seems like he is confuse between ” you, youself and me”. most of the time he refers him self with his name (chiku) instead of “I” or “me”. e.g “that’s chiku’s”, “come to chiku’s home”. He used to repeates (2-3 times) same sentences what I tell him. now a days it is minimized but it is still there. If he ask some question and i doesn’t answer him, he will keep repeating it untill i answer it. Also If i ask him question like “how was your day to today at day care?” or “what did you do at play school today”, he just give me answer in one sentence. “I played number puzzle”. If i ask him again “and what else..” then will again give me same answer. I feel like he does not continue the disscussion. Does not tell me what happened at this play school.

    I gave you too much information but this keep me thinking that something is not right. I read so many articles on internet about autism but they do not match exactly but sounds like similar problem.
    Please guide me what shall I do.

  161. Jeremy on July 31, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Thank you very much Laura! We truly appreciate your advice. He ended up having a great day today. He was not repeating really, but when he dropped his sippy cup from his high chair he was looking at his mom and grabbing with his arm down. He would then look at his cup. so that I would imagine is good. He also has been getting alot of confidence lately and started to really walk tonight. He was all over the place, playing peek a boo and getting very excited when we chase him. He has always known who we are, but today a few times when he saw me he would say da da and really started with ma ma some tonight which he had never really said. Hopefully with your tips and our continued work we can rest a little easier.
    Again thank you so much. Today was a very positive day considering!

  162. Sarah on August 2, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I have a 22 month old daughter and I don’t know what to do with her anymore. Her speech development is excellent and other than being a little shy her interaction is good. Shes a very bright child. Her memory amazes me. but recently she has become uncontrollable. she hardly eats and when she does she will only eat a few different things. And things she used to eat she wont anymore. Like this morning I tried to feed her eggs and she wouldnt touch them. She always ate them before. She also wont let me help her eat at all. and if I have something she want if i try to hold it out for her to take a bite she throws a tantrum. And when I try to tell her not to do something she wont listen. Her tantrums are extremely bad. she will start screaming and throw herself down and wont let me do anything for her and becomes violent. And her sleep schedule has been completely thrown off. it is impossible to get her to go to sleep. she wants to stay up and play. She will go to bed late and yet still wake up early. Last night was the worst so far. I could not get her to go to bed until close to 200am and she woke up at 830. Also, sometimes she will play with her sister’s car seat and she will strap a toy in it and make me unstrap it. she will do this over and over. And she has recently become very attached to these two blankets. She also walks on her toes.

    But other than these things she doesnt have any of the other symptoms. I dont know if there is any other disorder she may have… I just dont know. I dont know if Im overreacting or not and I feel so guilty even thinking that there could be something wrong with my baby.

    Should I even be worried?

  163. Pallavi on August 3, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    hello Laura, I am still waiting for your opinion. I am concerned about my son. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks so much!

  164. Laura on August 3, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Pallavi – Thanks for your questions. Sorry I’m just now getting back to you. It was a busy weekend! Although you have concerns about him, I still think most of what you’re describing falls within the “typical” range as far as his communication skills. If he’s using 4-5 word sentences on his own he’s right on track. He may need some help learning to answer questions, but overall, he seems very close to normal. Check out the articles in the expressive language section about answering questions for ideas on how to work with this at home.

    As far as his behavior goes, are his teachers at school worried about him. Some of what you described sounds very normal – upset when he hears no, not wanting to share toys, etc… Talk about any specific concerns and advice for how to handle it with your pediatrician, daycare teachers, or other moms with little boys your sons’ age. If things don’t improve dramatically in the next 6 months, you may want to seek advice from a child psychologist who specializes in pediatrics.

    Keep working with him too! Some of the things you’re worried about, like potty training, take lots of time and practice. Hope this makes you feel better!! Laura

  165. Laura on August 3, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Sarah – Welcome to toddlerhood!! As long as her communication skills are moving along and she’s not losing developmental skills, I wouldn’t be too worried. Difficulties sleeping, pickiness with eating, and tantrums are hallmarks of turning 2 – that’s why we call it the “terrible two’s!” Keep talking to other moms and checking out websites for moms of toddlers for hints to help you with eating and sleeping. It doesn’t sound like you need the help of developmental specialists to me just yet. Try advice from other moms or your pediatrician first. Hang in there!! Laura

  166. concerned uncle on August 3, 2009 at 10:27 pm


    This is a wonderful forum, thank you for taking the time and thought to resond.

    I am concerned for my niece and just wanted to use you as a sounding board. My sister & niece live more then a few miles away, so I am not around for every interaction. With that being said my niece will be turning 2 years old in a few days and she does not say a word. She does babble & coo but as of yet no real words.

    At times she seems very able to mimic what she sees on a tv childrens show & she can at times respond well to communication. She knows what “no” means ect.

    Recently we celebrated me nieces birthday a few weeks early & she did not seems into her birthday party at all. No real interest in opening presents, blowing out the candle, going on a candy hunt ect. She just seems disconnected at times, but connected at other times.

    Lastly, she seems a moody in that when she does not get her way she will have a temper snap… He mom seems to be the only one that can help when that happens. She does not do well with others holding her or trying to play with her. (she seems VERY shy) I am not sure what this all means, but my sister seems to think she might be a later bloomer? I am a bit more concerned and think my sister should get things looked into a.s.a.p. in my mind a child should be talking by 2 yrs old…

    please help,

    Concerned Uncle

  167. Mary on August 4, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Dear Laura,
    I read your article and I could identify some of signs you listed in my 2 yr old son. Some of the things that my son does that worry me are that he is very hyperactive, he is always running around the house, he likes to line up his cars, (though he does play with them appropiately… and even trys to make car sounds), when he runs he looks to the side, he prefers to play by himself, and doesn’t really put words together to make a sentence, he’ll just say 1 or 2 words at a time. But I do have to say that he can identify some colors, shapes, likes to do puzzles, makes eye contact and smiles when you smile at him.
    He’s been in daycare since he was 12mos old and about three weeks ago he was moved up to a group where most of the children are older than him if not all. The teacher says that he is doing great, they are still working on him sitting still for circle time, which he’ll only do for a while than wonder off to do some other activity. I was very worried because he wasn’t talking that much but I have to say that lately I see that he is talking or trying to speak more, even if I don’t undertstand some of the things he says….his vocabulary has grown, he also seems to be socializing a bit more, when his cousins come over to visit I’ve seen that he trys to talk to them and play with them.

    Do you think that even though he seems to be improving his skills I should still have him evaluated???

    Please let me know….

  168. Alyssa on August 4, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    My son is 17 months, he refuses to sit in his stroller when we are out, he will scream and cry until we take him out, he stopped sleeping in his crib, he will fall asleep on my husband and he will be totally out snoring and all and when my husband goes to put him in his crib he will either wake up right away and cry or he will stay a sleep and will get up a half an hour after being put in his bed. we have tried to let him cry himself back to sleep but he won’t stop crying he will continue to cry until you pick him up we’ve let him cry for an hour in a half and he didn’t stop until he was picked up. Right now my son is sleeping on my husband on the couch at night. He has also stopped taking naps all of the sudden for the past 3 days. He hasn’t started walking. My husband stays home with him while I’m at work, he is attached to my husband, my husband can’t leave the room with out my son crying or following him to wherever he is going, my husband can’t even go to the bathroom or take a shower without my son following him. My son doesn’t want to sit in his high chair either. My son is also a picky eater he will only eat mashed potatoes, rice, cheerios, peas, toddler snacks if you try and feed hm anything else he will either throw it or spit it. If you can give me any advise I would appreciate it! Thank you!

  169. Nadine on August 5, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    My 17 month old son is a very bright child. He says many words and always amazes me with his intelligence. The problem I have been having for about a month or so now is his tantrums. It worries me very much. He throws his head onto hard objects as hard as he can! I am really scared that he will really hurt himself! It hurts to see my perfect little angel trying to hurt himself! I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I pick him up to restrain him from hurting himself and he gets even more angry and wants nothing to do with me. I try to be the most loving mother I can be and try to calm him down, but it doesn’t help. He throws about four or five fits a day. I wasn’t worried about autism until a friend told me that this was a sign. I’m still not sure though because he is not slow at all. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thank You

  170. Pallavi on August 5, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks trillons, Laura. I can not thank you enough! Your opinion gave me so much relief.
    I will talk to his day care teacher and will keep you posted. I hope in next few months things will change.

  171. Laura on August 5, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Concerned Uncle – I would highly encourage your sister to have her evaluated because of the language delay and more importantly, the social concerns. Sometimes children are late bloomers, but other times parents waste precious intervention time waiting and waiting on skills that don’t emerge with maturation alone.

    Since she’s turning 2, the best way to have her assessed will likely be through your state’s early intervention program. You can find out information about your state’s early intervention program by googling your state’s name plus the phrase “early intervention.” Your sister could also speak to your child’s pediatrician, but if she’s leaning toward “wait and see” most pediatricians will not push her to pursue an eval unless there are other red flags the pediatrician sees during the visit.

    Discussing suspected delays is often a very difficult subject to bring up to family members, so I applaud your effort, and hope that your sister appreciates your concern as well. Good luck! Laura

  172. Laura on August 5, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Mary – Thanks for your questions. It sounds like he’s making good improvements right now, but if you are still concerned in your heart of hearts, I’d go ahead and have him evaluated. If it turns out he doesn’t need any help, all you did was make a few phone calls and take a couple of hours off to participate in an assessment.

    However, if he is delayed, you’ll want to know sooner rather than later, so that you don’t let much time go by when you were concerned but did nothing. Action now, even if turns out that he doesn’t need it afterall, could save you a whole lot of guilt later!

    It is GREAT that he’s using more words and interacting more, so I am not down-playing his progress at all! For more ideas for how to work with him at home, check out the articles in the expressive language section as well as the DVD Teach Me To Talk. Good luck! Laura

  173. Laura on August 5, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Alyssa – I HIGHLY recommend that you have him evaluated by your state’s early intervention program. Not walking by 17 months is a concern. By your report he should also be eating many more foods than he is, and as you know, he should be understanding and using more language. From how you’ve described him, he’s also exhibiting some regulatory issues with sleep. Concerns in several areas point to an overall pattern of developmental delay.

    The GOOD news is, many times very simple strategies that therapists can teach you as they work with you in your home can help kids make HUGE progress, particularly when all there is is a delay. If he’s not just delayed but has a more complex problem, you certainly want to know as soon as possible so that you can get him the help he needs. Please discuss these concerns with your pediatrician. I’d feel certain that he or she would also be concerned about your child by the things you’ve reported here. For so many parents these first few conversations about their child’s needs are so frightening. You didn’t mention how your husband feels about all of this. Is he also concerned? I’d encourage you to be very proactive in this situation and pursue professional assessment and intervention. If he doesn’t need therapy, he won’t qualify for the program, but if he does, you’ll be glad you didn’t wait. Let us know how he does! Laura

  174. Laura on August 5, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Nadine – Tantrums alone do not mean that a child has autism. If there are no other developmental concerns, I’d dismiss this idea.

    However, if there are other issues – perhaps he says words but doesn’t use them to ask for what he wants, or if he’s not following directions, or more importantly he’s not enjoying play with others and regularly seeking out interaction with others, then I would consider the possibility that it may be more than just a tantrum.

    If you think the tantrums are to get a reaction from you, don’t react. Simply turn and walk away. Many children do stop when they realize it’s not an effective way to get mom’s attention.

    Sometimes moms who are sincerely afraid a child will hurt himself and when the child won’t accept comfort, pick up the child and place him in the safety of his crib until the tantrum stops. As soon as he calms down, go back and get him and tell him that he can come out now that he’s calm. Be really consistent with this and it should go away or at least reduce the number of times it happens in the course of a day. If it doesn’t, at least he’ll not be able to hurt himself (or you!) in his crib.

    Some children, who also display other developmental concerns, do bang their heads so hard or so often that you do want to seek the professional advice of either an occupational therapist to evaluate sensory processing issues or a behavioral psychologist to help you address disciplinary issues. When children are cognitively challenged and don’t realize they are hurting themselves, a helment is sometimes necessary to protect the child from serious injury.

    Hope these ideas help! Laura

  175. kristy on August 10, 2009 at 8:44 am

    hi laura my 2.5 has always had delays with sitting up crawling and walking and talking.he has always had a bad temper.he is really hard to understand when he talks.he does not really play with other kids and he is always lining his cars up in a line but he never plays with them he does the same with the blocks .he also does this head rocking from side to side.he trys to repeat everything that is said to him he even trys to repeat tv commercials.he is doing child find and they say there is something going on with his speech but they dont think it is if you could please let me know what you think.

  176. Laura on August 11, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Kristy – I’m glad you’re working with your state’s early intervention program. They should be able to tell you what’s going on with your son, and more importantly, teach you ways to work with him at home. They will be your best resources to help you determine what’s happening with him since they can SEE him. Participate in therapy sessions and ask the therapists to help you understand what his problems are. I know this must be frustrating for you, but you did the right thing by having him evaluated. Hopefully you’ll get answers soon and find ways to help him at home. Good luck! Laura

  177. Jenna on August 12, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Hi Laura,
    I’m new to your site, but in the the last day I’ve managed to read several back entries that have me nodding my head in agreement with more than a dozen, “ah-ha” moments. Thank you for providing such a great resource to parents such as myself.

    My daughter is 17 months old. When she was 10 months old and not yet babbling and was always unhappy, I raised and eyebrow but was convinced by family and pediatricians to lay low and wait. By 12 months I couldn’t take it anymore and had her evaluated by EI in my state. Long story short, she definitely met the qualifications and has been receiving services (OT) for almost 4 months now from both EI as well as private OT that we are doing privately.

    Our daughter has some sensory integration issues (sensory seeking) which is why we are having OT rather than exclusive SLP. My question is in regards to what is considered “words”. Our EI OT says that when our daughter had reached the goal of 10-15 words we can reconsider her IFSP goals as possibly completed which scares the daylights out of me. First of all, we seem to disagree as to what “words” are. Right now, she can say with accuracy “neigh”, “woof”, and “mo” (more). She can also snort like a pig and make some kid of attempts at a cat’s meow”. She says “mama” and “dada” but overgeneralizes both. Are these really words? The other day out OT listed 9 “words” that she believed our daughter said when in fact half of them were animal noises and the other half were attempts as consonant sounds (/p/ for “pour”). I’m flabbergasted as an English teacher that therapists would consider animal noises and attempts as “words” and I have to wonder if this is an attempt to discharge her too early. Also, with her sensory issues, is it appropriate to have an OT from EI or should we also be having specific speech therapy? I have asked about the SLP, but am being told that her sensory issues take precidence. I understand the point, as she certainly can’t focus unless she is regulated, but I fear we are losing precious language development time.

  178. Andy on August 12, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    My grandson is right at 33 months old. He has been exposed to several different home environments over the past 1-1/2 years. At one point my wife and I had him in our home and enrolled him in a learning daycare center. He responded very well to the routine and liked if very much. Unfortunately his parents, who do not live together and havent for well over a year, decided they could not afford the program and he went to live solely with his mother. Now he and his mother live with the my wife and I. He no longer eats foods that he was eating without a problem a year ago, and he had a very healthy appetite and would eat just about anything put before him. He cheeks food if he doesnt like the texture or color and refuses to swallow it after having put it into his mouth. He can feed himself, but he has diificulty getting food into his mouth at times. His vocabulary has gotten smaller and he refuses to say certain words that he has said in the past. He does not speak clearly and he does not speak any sentences or more than 3 words at any one time. His potty training has been a nightmare, but I attribute that more to him not having a regular routine and the fact that he has experienced chronic bouts of constipation. I realize that a regular routine strictly adhered to makes things easier and presently his routine is very skewed. But I worry about his development because he does not seem to be learning new skills. His favorite word is car and he has many of them to play with, but he refuses or cannot differentiate between the cars and what are obviously trucks. He makes attempts at playing with other toys, but eventually his focus reverts back to the cars. He will line them up in a row or side by side. He pushes the cars around but has a preference instead to just hold them in his hand. He will make attempts to throw balls and pick them up if they get past him although I feel as though his development with ball playing should be better. His attention span is minimal at best unless he is watching childrens programs on TV, but even then he cant follow along with the singalongs. He is terrified to the point of panic of lawnmowers running or not, cars starting, the movement of cars near him, being raised into the air, swings, having water poured over his head, some stuffed animals and a few other things that I cant think of. Baths are very difficult with him as he cries everytime an attempt is made to wet his hair or rinse it. He will not lay down in the tub, even if there is only 2-3 inches of water in the tub. I understand children having fears of the unknown and know that they should have a healthy fear of certain things, but this child has had exposure to all of these things in the past and there is no indication that he was harmed by any of these activities or by any of the situations mentioned. His eyes constantly wander when attempting to speak to him even for a short time. It’s just like someone else described in another comment, “as though he is staring right through you”. He has just recently began screaming very loudly when excited and began to whine more than ever over the littlest things. His mother has influenced alot of his recent behavior with negative reinforcement by choosing to baby him and not seeing to his needs properly. As an example she does not dress him on most days and has never really tried to get him to participate with help putting his shoes or pants on, choosing to just do it all herself. He does know how to step into his pants and get is hands into his shirtsleeves, but has what I call a lazy foot and normally refuses to help when putting his shoes on. I’m really concerned about his development because it seems as though he has regressed. I know living environments have a great influence on a childs development and routine also plays a role in early childhood development and we strive to maintain some semblance of routine and security. He has gone to get his hearing cheched and the routine tests showed his hearing to be below average and they want to perform further tests, but will have to sedate him as he refused to cooperate for the doctor performing the exam. That is another thing he has a great fear of also, when being examined by a doctor he squirms and cries and will not sit still and the same can be said for haircuts, he is terrified by the prospect of a haircut. The one thing he will sit still for is when I cut his fingernails. He seems intrigued by the process. He often scratches himself or holds onto himself and shows nervous behavior by manipulating his forefinger and middle finger together. I’m really concerned for my gradnson and find myself growing very weary and frustrated with his behavior and make bad choices in dealing with it. He exhibits behaviors that I have never seen or experienced in other children.

  179. Worried Sri on August 13, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Hi..My son is 27 months old. He can read and recite A-Z, a-z, 1-10 and he can also identify a lot of animals and things around him. He solves the puzzles. Identifies the sounds.He can even remember nursery rhymes and sing them though very unclear.But he is not communicating much.When I ask him if he wants milk…he can’t say either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.He says ‘milk’.When I ask him to say ‘yes’ he says ‘yes’..but if I ask him the same question immediately again he won’t say ‘yes’.Everytime I have to teach him…teaching this from six months..even today he is not getting to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for his needs. He whines for his needs. I teach him to say ‘Mommy..I want water’ Next time again he whines for water ..again I teach him. Now he remember that sentence(I want water) but every time I have to repeat that for him to say that. Why he is not doing anything on his own? He can remember difficult animal’s names…why he can’t remember my simple instructions though I am teaching him this throughout the day since many months? If I ask him ‘where is the car’ he points at the car and says ‘car’. But I tell him to say ‘there’ But he says ‘car’ and never says’there’
    He lines up his cars when he is bored.
    He has a good eye contact. He enjoys cartoon programs.Eats good.
    He is affectionate. But he becomes very upset very fast if something happens against his will.
    We speak two languages at home.
    And he is born preemie.
    What could be the problem. I am extremely worried.
    His ped told that he has a speech delay.I have taken appointment for therapies next month. But I am curious to know if everything is normal.

  180. Laura on August 13, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Jenna – I’m so glad you’re enjoying the site, and thanks for your great question! I do count animal sounds as “words” too, but not to the point that I’d say her IFSP goal of using 10 – 15 words is met. I’m with you – she needs speech! Don’t quit bugging your OT and service coordinator about this and certainly don’t allow them to discontinue her language goals from her IFSP without seeing an SLP! Your instincts about her needing more “real” words are right. She can’t really ask for what she needs during the day saying “moo” or “woof,” can she? And while I would count her /p/ as a word attempt, using a consonant sound alone to represent a word is atypical, and ANY speech-language pathologist would have to agree with that. Keep emphazing this to your OT and absolutely refuse to say that her language goal is met if you have an upcoming meeting. If you keep asking for a speech eval, you’ll get one. You may also opt to pursue a private speech eval just to get the results and impressions so that you can use that information as further rationale for her to get EI speech too. So many children with sensory processing difficulties are language delayed as well. Congratulations for recognizing how these areas are related, and more importantly, for pursuing help for your daughter. If you haven’t checked out my DVDs, you may want to do that so you can work on language at home yourself while you’re waiting on a real-live speech therapist! Either way, good luck! Your daughter is lucky to have such a committed mom! Laura

  181. Laura on August 13, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Dear Worried – I’m glad that you have an evaluation scheduled for your son. I can tell by your post how worried you are, so be sure that you tell the professional who will evaluate him all of your concerns.

    From what you’ve written it sounds like he’s having difficulty UNDERSTANDING questions since he’s repeating the last word of the question. If I’ve read what you’ve written correctly, then try some of the ideas in the receptive language articles section to help you work on his comprehenion skills. You may also want to check out the DVD Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2 for more ideas to help him at home until speech therapy starts.

    I do agree that he should be evaluated so that you can get specific answers for all of your concerns. Since I can’t SEE your little boy, I really can’t tell if he’s is delayed (or not), but you’re doing the right thing by having him assessed.

    Good luck, and keep me posted on how he’s doing! Laura

  182. Laura on August 13, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Andy – Thanks so much for your questions. I’d HIGHLY recommend that you have your grandson evaluated by a multdisciplinary team including speech and occupational therapy. Of course I can’t see him to know exactly what’s going on, but per your report, he is displaying many, many red flags that indicate language delay and sensory processing differences.

    I know that he’s had a rough start with lots of different living situations, but that’s likely NOT the reason he’s demonstrating these very significant developmental delays. Your instincts are correct, and I’d be concerned about him if I were you too.

    Every state has an early intervention program that provides free or low-cost evaluations and therapy for children ages birth to 3 with suspected developmental problems. You can find this information by Googling your state name plus the phrase “early intervention.” I’d recommend that you go ahead and pursue this, even though he’s so close to his 3rd birthday. The folks in that program will help you find the services in your community, often through your local public school system, for after his birthday. You could also pursue a private evaluation through a local children’s therapy center or hospital.

    Trust your instincts though. If you’ve never seen a child like this, chances are, things that aren’t developing as they should. So many grandparents unexpectedly find themselves in your shoes. I wish you lots of success as you work to find ways to help your grandchild. Let me know if you need other information! Laura

  183. Melanie on September 24, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I have friends who have a son that turned two two days ago. For quite some time I feel he shows signs of autism but too scared to approach my friends I was already to and found out they were prego with number two. When he was like one he would bang his head on hard things..and freak if you changed your appearance such as letting him see you with wet hair. He would be so scared shake and cry. He was seeming to be affraid of small children also. He loved my kids they are much older and he has been around us since he was born. Now he is two still doesnt talk and has his own language. He follows direction and is very smart at other things. He still from what I see doesnt like any kind of change. I had my foot on the chair he kept pinching my toe until I put it down. He will also only eat his food if it’s really cooled down.almost cold. I love him and his parents very much and so scared to tell them to be evailuated. What should I do? Should I mind my own business or tell them what I think. I worked in daycare for 9 years and watched many children grow he just seems to show mild signs of this.

  184. Melanie on September 24, 2009 at 11:27 am

    also still to this day you can call his name and he sometimes seems to not hear you or ignores you.

  185. Laura on September 25, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Melanie – Oh, what a difficult situation you’re in! You certainly do run the risk of ruining or straining your friendship with parents of this little boy if you voice your concerns and they feel insulted.

    However, without anyone else telling them there may be a problem, they may not know. Since he’s just turned 2, you might approach this by saying that you think by 2 most children are talking using real words and short phrases. Ask if they are concerned or have mentioned this to the pediatrician. It may just be enough to get their wheels turning. If you make sure that your tone and facial expressions match your concern for him and that you are taking extra care to be as kind and gentle as you can while discussing it, they will know that you’re saying these things out of love and concern rather than being judgmental or condescending.

    Whatever you decide, I do hope that they start to look at his development and seek professional help. From what you’ve described his expressive language is likely delayed, and he also has some other “red flags” with social skills and sensory processing characteristics.

    All states offer free developmental assessments for children birth to 3 with suspected delays. You can google your state’s name and the phrase early intervention to find out who/where to call.

    You’re such a good friend for being so concerned about this little boy. I hope his parents appreciate you as much as they should!! Laura

  186. GRANDMAWORRIED on September 28, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    My granddaughter (29 Months) walks on her tiptoes ALL the time and seems to have a severe motor impairment….she spins and looks like she will fall….also, she has REAL issues with allowing her bm to go anywhere except her diaper……does she need help….HELP!

  187. Laura on October 3, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Grandma – Walking on toes and spinning are usually more indicative of sensory issues rather than a true motor impairment. Occupational therapists treat sensory processing disorders by helping you realize the differences and needs a child has and more importantly, teaching you ways to help your child get that “input” to her body through activities you can incorporate into her daily activities through play. I’d recommend that you have her evaluated by an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory processing disorders. You can usually find one through your state’s early intervention program. The evaluation is free and if she needs treatment, therapy sessions are free or low cost.

    The potty issues sound pretty typical to me for her age. You can also get ideas for this from her OT should she need one.

    Thanks so much for your questions!! I love hearing from grandmothers who are so involved in their grandchildren’s lives!! Laura

  188. Taneisha on October 5, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I have a twenty eight month old little girl. Iwas worried when she was little because she just seemed like she would not speak. She started say some things but really does not talk still. She has a brother that is 9 months older than she is and she pretty much does what ever he does. I have been watching alot of her movements and she has really bad tantrums when ANY thing that she does is disrupted. She loves to take empty pill bottles and toys and just stack them on top of each other for hours on end. She has been extremely fixated on the fact that her name is Tattoo. She will say what you say as far as getting her to repeat her name with you but when you turn right around and ask her name she will say tattoo. Sometimes she will get stuck on the same phrase and just keep repeating the same thing over and over again even when you address what she has said. I am a mother of seven so for me to have concerns I feel as though they are legit because she is the second youngest and I have seen the older ones grow and develope at the same stages. She really seems like she is in her own world most of the time and really does not like to be bothered with anyone but her 3 yr old brother. Even when talking to her sometimes she seems spaced out. I asked her to go and get my cell phone today and she said here mommy but she was giving me my keys. Please someone tell me what to do because if there are steps that I can take now to help her I want to do it now and not later.

  189. Taneisha on October 5, 2009 at 12:37 am

    I also forgot to mention she goes to bed at 8 every night but will wake up in the middle of the night crying every night and will not respond to pretty much any thing. She ties strings and hair bow around her ankle all of the time. She is a good baby but I get scared when I look at her everyday routine. She was premature and she did not begin to walk until she was sixteen months old. Please just let me know the steps to take.

  190. Jessie on October 5, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Hi, Maybe you can better help with my worries. My son is 19 months. He is a typical little boy. Loves to play, stack blocks, pull his wagon and put things in it etc. He does respond to his name every time you say something to him. He is attentive when you talk to him and seems interested. He even knows how to bring you his sippy cup when he wants something to drink and then grabs your hand and pulls you to the fridge. My concern comes to his speech. He does repeatedly say mom, dada and other typical “first” words. Every once in a while he comes out with a random phrase but he never says it more than once. It seems as when he says something he doesn’t ever repeat it again. He seems to go around the house “talking” in a babbling sort of way to everyone and everything but nothing makes sense.

    If you talk to him or ask him “how was your day or what did you do today” he babbles away but nothing coherent. Is this normal for his age? Should I talk to his pediatrician and maybe seek out a speech pathologist for him?

  191. Laura on October 7, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Taneisha – I would have her evaluated by your state’s early intervention program as quickly as possible for 3 different reasons –
    1. Her speech-language skills are likely delayed since she’s not talking very much on her own and since she doesn’t always follow directions.
    2. Other areas of her development are likely also affected – social skills and sensory processing skills – based on how you’ve described your concerns.
    3. The eval will help YOU feel so much better that you are taking steps to help her instead of worrying yourself sick about her.

    You can find out info about your state’s program by Googling your state’s name and the phrase “early intervention.” The eval is free and therapy services are free or low cost.

    I applaud your decision to go ahead and do something now to help her. You’ve had other kids, so I think you’re a pretty good judge of when something’s not right. Good luck and I hope you find the help she needs! Laura

  192. Laura on October 7, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Jessie – By 19 months a child should have a minimum of 15 words he says on his own and be imitating other single words and short phrases consistently. Kids at this stage also do use lots of jargon to communicate, so it sounds like he’s close to meeting those milestones. However, in the next couple of months if he doesn’t significantly increase his vocabulary so that he has a 50 word vocabulary and is using short phrases on his own, I’d go ahead and have him evaluated. If he’s on track, you should see his “language explosion” in this next couple of months, and then you’ll have nothing to worry about.

    If you’re needing ideas for how to work with him at home, keep reading here on the website or check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk which will also SHOW you strategies for helping him learn to say new words.

    Thanks for your question, and good luck!! Laura

  193. Byndie on October 9, 2009 at 5:00 am

    Hi there, I have recently started to care full time for a you boy 22mths who I suspect is a little different to other children but haven’t as of yet been able to put my finger on why? I have been reading your forum and can totally relate to almost all of the symtoms listed and more than several of others comments on their children. The wee boy I look after is not quite 2 years old and doesn’t say a word. His parents are phillipino so they speak this at home and we speak english while he is in my care so we were told this could be why his speach is delayed.
    Over the last couple of months (I have only had him in my care 7wks) I have noticed several things I’m not sure are “normal” (I’m a first time mum and my baby is only 5mths) He is obsessed with the colour orange, if there is multi coloured toys he will always pick orange first, I had a wee tent with coloured balls in, in the lounge and he took out all the red balls, then the blue, then yellow then green. We have a shape sorter and he will only put the orange circle in the hole and will do so for as long as I continue to open it for him. I have tried to remove the orange circle and he has no interest in it at all. When excited he waves his hands, and when distressed by anything he just says dadadada loudly. He loves water and seems to dislike anyone or anyplace new. He is extememly picky with his food and refuses to try anything new. I have only gotten him to eat one new food (apple) since he has been in my care.
    When I first started to care for him he wouldnt look me in the eye or smile or basically have anything to do with me, now he seems the opposite, he constantly wants my attention and me to interact with him and has even started to show interest in my 5mth old by giving her toys and trying to feed her. I’m not really sure where to go or what to do as I am concerned how to approach the parents, they are lovely and very caring indiviuals and want nothing but the best for their child but I’m cautious to bring this up without some kind of confirmation. Do you have any suggestions please :o)

  194. Laura on October 9, 2009 at 6:18 am

    I just came across your website when I Googled “why my toddler won’t talk”. I am hoping you can give me some direction. I have a 20 month old son and he has never babbled or said any words. All he does is fuss when he wants something. I am sure most of you on here understand my frustration. He is in the Early Intervention Program but I have seen no improvement. He does speech every other week. I have taken him to an ENT and they tested his hearing which was good and they also did the ABR which tests to make sure his brain is comprehending what he is hearing and he passed with flying colors. I am at a loss what to do next! He smiles constantly and had always been such a good baby but where do I go from here? He has never said mama or dadda or anything. I quit my job to stay home with him and see if I could help him progress but that has failed also. I am at a complete loss. It makes me cry to even type this because I am so lost. The pediatricians tell me he will talk when he is ready but I am starting to lose hope. If you have any suggestions I would truly appreciate it.

    Thanks so much for any advice you may have!!!


  195. Laura on October 9, 2009 at 6:29 am

    Jessica – Thanks so much for question. I can almost feel your frustration as I read your comment! You are exactly the kind of mom I think of when I write articles and film my DVDs. You’ve done the right things too by getting him evaluated and in therapy, ruling out hearing loss, and in spending lots of time with him.

    What does your SLP think? Does she say he’s delayed, or does she suspect something more? If she’s never offered an opinion like that, you should ask her.

    You also haven’t said anything about his receptive language. Children have to understand words and follow directions BEFORE they begin to talk. Is he doing this? Can he go get his shoes on request or give you a cup he’s holding when you ask? Can he point to body parts when you ask him? Will he play social games with you like peekaboo? These are all very important precursors to language.

    If his receptive language skills are developing normally, then I’d suggest that you introduce signs. (I hope that your SLP has done this already!) Tell me how that’s going and I can give you some more ideas based on your responses.

    I’d also recommend that you keep reading ideas from here on the site as well as check out my DVDs, especially Teach Me To Talk. You’ll SEE exactly the kinds of things you can do with him at home to facilitate those early words. Sometimes it’s really not what you do with a child, it’s HOW you do it, and the DVD teaches you what I consider to be the basics. By being really playful and animated with him WHILE modeling words and/or withholding what he wants, a child does begin to want to try to talk. Again, check out the DVD. It’ll be worth your time and money!

    Keep me updated on how he progresses and good luck!! Laura

  196. Laura on October 9, 2009 at 6:38 am

    Byndie – What a difficult situation you’re in! You can begin to talk to parents by asking questions about how he interacts at home with them and then by gently saying that you’ve begun to be concerned. You might also ask how he’s coming along with his developmental milestones. Is he using 35 or so single words yet since he should be using 50 words by 24 months? Is he beginning to imitate 2 word phrases yet? Does he follow directions for them consistently? Does he understand simple phrases like, “It’s time for a bath,” and then begin to go toward the bathroom on his own?

    The language issue could affect how you’re seeing his development since he’s just now exposed to English with you, but if he’s not doing these things for his parents in his native language, then I’d be concerned. You might also ask what his pediatrician says about his development during check-ups. It could be that his parents haven’t thought about this very much yet. Sometimes parents don’t think that children talk before 2, so it could be that you’ll be bringing up concerns they’ve not thought about before.

    Keep reading for information here on the website about how to help him. Try the older articles in the expressive language section for very specific ideas. Begin with articles in early 2008 and read forward. You will be able to make a huge difference with him since he’s with you so much. He’s lucky to have you!! Laura

  197. Jessica B. on October 13, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Laura, Yes his receptive language is great. He follows simple directions and understands what I tell him. His SLP has tried to introduce a couple signs but he has no intrest. He does not “copy” others guestres or actions very well. She has not said whether she thinks he is delayed or what. I will ask her on Thursday when she comes. I am at a point that I am thinking about getting out of the program because I see no benefit as of now. But on the other hand what if it is doing good and I just don’t see it? Or maybe eventually he will catch on. I originally started him in Early Intervention because I thought maybe he had autism but they don’t think that is the case. I just don’t understand why he will not say anything??? No babbles, nothing. Most babies babble at six months or so but mine is almost two and moans and groans and fusses but thats it. I feel I have done all I can and have gotten nowhere. I am open to all suggestion. Please help!


  198. Laura on October 13, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Jessica – Let me give you a big piece of advice right now – DO NOT stop speech therapy!! You may need to change your approaches or even find another SLP, but since he’s not talking, you do still need to be in speech therapy. Don’t go at this alone! You’d never think of having a baby by yourself without a doctor or not seeing a cardiologist if you were having a heart problems, so don’t give up on speech therapy just because it hasn’t been “magic” yet! Especially don’t stop when no one has identified a “reason” he’s not talking yet. Have a frank discussion with your SLP about her opinions and her approaches. If she can’t give you answers that make you feel better and more confident about therapy, then call your service coordinator and ask for someone else. Another thing I’d suggest is that you read the articles here about “apraxia” and try to implement those ideas at home. Of course I can’t see him and don’t know what the problem is, but it sounds like he’s demonstrating some of these characteritistics and certainly changing your approach couldn’t hurt anything at this point. Good luck and let me know how he continues to do! Laura

  199. Jessica B. on October 15, 2009 at 5:20 pm


    Just a little update. What I thought was speech therapy is actually developmental therapy. The lady that has been coming over is not an SLP but she teaches them things which lead up to speech. We came to the conclusion that we are going to cut back on PT or cut it out and we are going to add two more sessions of developmental therapy a month. I think he will benefit much more from learning signs & sounds than from PT. I hope I am making the right decision. It feels right so it must be. I know you are not around my son but do you feel it could be Apraxia or is there other disorders I should look into? This one just seems to fit. Can you explain to me in “simple” terms what exactly Apraxia is and is there a cure? Thanks Again!

  200. Laura on October 15, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Jessica – To find out more about apraxia, you can read the articles here on the website in the category about apraxia, listen to my recent podcasts about apraxia beginning in August, and/or order the new DVD about apraxia.

    I’m glad to hear you’re changing his services to get what you feel would be a better fit for him. Does he have physical delays and motor challenges which warranted PT in the first place? Are those areas better, or is your DI taking over some of those goals as well. I’m also curious as to why he’s not getting speech therapy since communication is your main concern. Did he qualify for speech and there’s no SLP available? No offense to any DIs reading (and certainly not to the best DI ever – my podcast partner Kate!!), but if he needs speech, you should pursue getting him evaluated by a speech-language pathologist. Is this not an option for you in your state? Continue to keep us updated! I love following your story. Laura

  201. Jessica B. on October 22, 2009 at 2:00 pm


    They did not do a speech evaluation because he is not two years old. I have talked them into doing the evaluation now and it should be done in the next few weeks. I guess the SLP has a huge caseload. He does not have physical delays. He walked late but he does fine now. They are going to cut back on the PT and add speech if he qualifies. I’m sure he will. The service coordinator thinks he will qualify based on him having no words even though he is not two. I will keep you posted. Thanks so much for your responses!

  202. Laura on October 22, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks for the update Jessica. I’m glad you were persistent and advocated for a speech eval. Let us know how that goes!! Laura

  203. Mommyof2 on October 27, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    My son is 2 yrs old and he doesn’t talk. He just started saying a few words basically mimics what he hears mostly from his favorite children shows, but only one or two words of it. He has been in speech therapy for about 6 months and I haven’t seen very much progress at all. We can barely get through a session without a meltdown. He counts but it really has no meaning for him. He doesn’t follow directions such as give me the ball or go to daddy. He has just started pointing. He likes to turn his eyes to one side and twirl in a circle or try and run which of course he crashes because his eyes are turned completely to one side. He interacts OK but doesn’t respond to his name that much. And he doesn’t interact well with other kids. He loves other kids but his interaction with them is odd. He follows them but is way too close in their personal space. He doesn’t seem to understand when they are upset or crying. He wants to hold their head, poke their nose or just say hi over and over until they don’t want to play with him anymore. He gets transfixed by the wheel on wheel of fortune. He will only pay attention to the show when the wheel is spinning. He likes the ceiling fan and spinning his tricycle wheel. He does have some imaginary play that just started a few months ago. He will now drive his cars instead of just spinning the wheels. He also won’t eat but a few things. And gets almost enraged if you offer new foods or put them in front of him. His early intervention coordinator wants to have him seen by an occupational therapist as well. Everyone thinks he is just a late talker but me and dad know that something else is up. Dad has Aspergers and we are wondering if he is showing these signs as well.

  204. Laura on October 27, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Mommyof2 – I’d definitely pursue an OT assessment to address his sensory system needs.

    Since you have a family history with autism spectrum disorders, I’d also pursue having a formal evaluation to rule out autism as well. What does his SLP say about him diagnostically? As you pointed out, there are several “red flags” that would make me suspect more than late talking as well.

    Don’t give up on speech therapy yet either. It sounds like he is making progress socially and with play, and these things often show improvement before language comes along. For therapy at home when you and Dad work with him, I’d also keep emphasizing RECEPTIVE language, or what he understands. Social skills and comprehension are really the foundational skills for learning to communicate and talk.

    For the social interaction with peers, try to teach him some common preschool games like “Ring Around the Rosies” or “Hide and Seek” or even chase so that he has an activity he “knows” so that you can use this as a social “in” with other young children.

    Just some thoughts for you…

    Keep reading here on the website for more ideas. You may also want to check out my DVDs for more specific strategies for you and Dad to use at home as you work with him.

    Thanks for your comment! I love hearing from moms and dads!! Laura

  205. Mommyof2 on October 27, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    His SLP has not given us any indication of what she thinks dx wise. But I am definitely not going to give up on the speech therapy. I think that it has helped him with play like you were saying. While waiting for a response I perused the site and found the videos and was interested in whether they would help him. I was wondering were the kids in the videos pretty much non verbal and or non direction following before they were being helped? If so that makes me feel more positively about how things are progressing. There seems to be a lot of good information on this site. I will continue to read through everything. I am hoping that the OT can start soon. Thank you for replying so quickly.

  206. Laura on October 28, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Mommyof2 – With the exception of the children we used who were siblings of other children in the DVDs, ALL of the children were my clients in speech therapy during filming and were language delayed. Some children had only expressive language delays, and some had both receptive and expressive language delays.

    When I give recommendations to parents about what order to watch them in, I usually recommend that they start with Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 which outlines how to teach very basic language comprehension strategies, then Teach Me To Talk for basic expressive language strategies, then Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2 for more advanced receptive language goals. The clips of the DVDs are representative of the kinds of info you’ll see, so watch them to decide if/what would be right for you.

    Hope this answers your questions! Laura

  207. peter on November 2, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    My child is 2 yrs old and was born at 27 weeks. We have been through speech, occupational therapies. he was discharged earlier this year and seemed to be out of the woods for everything. As a micro preemie parent we worry about everything. He started one day to stutter and hasn’t quit. He eats about anything, but not much in quantity. He has only slept through the night a handful of times. He is very shy and doesn’t speak to anyone except for granparents and us. We think he is just shy or he hasn’t been exposed to many children…..anything to worry about?

  208. Laura on November 2, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Peter – Congratulations on your little boy’s progress!! To be discharged with age-appropriate skills at 2 when he had such a rough start is amazing!!

    As far as the stuttering goes, many children between the ages of 2 -5 begin to repeat the first word of the sentence as their way to “hold that thought” while their little mouths catch up to their racing brains. The experts tell us to ignore it. DON’T say slow down. DON’T ask him to stop or repeat it again. DON’T call attention to it in any way. What IS helpful is to model slow, relaxed speech – think sing-song patterns – since this automatically regulates a child’s rhythm.

    As far as feeding goes, if he’s eating at least 10 different table foods from different consistencies & several food groups and is steadily gaining weight, don’t worry. Now I’m an SLP, not a nutritionist or dietician, so there may be some different opinions from readers out there. If anyone else wants to chime in here, feel free!

    Shyness is a very common personality trait in toddlers, and well, every age group! Keep taking him to play with family, friends, their children, social places like the park, your church, McDonalds, and any other place where little kids are likely to be. Help him join in when you can. Again, in my opinion, unless he NEVER talks to anyone else or CAN’T warm up after being in a new place for 30 minutes to an hour, he’s fine.

    I readily admit that I am soooo not a person to ask about sleep. There’s an article here on the website written by my friend and colleague Dr. Lisa Powell about the importance of sleep and her advice for making it happen. Look in the parenting category about a year ago to read details.

    Hope I covered all of your questions! These were so good that Kate and I may discuss these on this week’s show Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate. Tune in!!

  209. makenzie on November 15, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    My cousin is 2 years old. She went to the doctors and they think she may have mild autism. I see no sign but im curious if it is autism or is she just being a 2 year old. Now my family thinks she is just being 2, as well as i do. She does like to be independent, memorizes words and phrases to movies, does things by herself, and throws tantrums. Now she is extremly smart. She is only 2 and can say all her ABC’s, can count to 15, knows people by there full name, etc…

    Are these any similiar signs?

  210. Becki on November 25, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    I have a 2 1/2 yr old daughter. She was born 2 months premature, for the last couple of months she has been doin different types of things that have started to concern me. first it was when she got scared or upset she would grab, cover, pull, or stick her fingers in her ears. She says a couple of words like pow-pow butt-butt stinky baby and things like that. Most of the words she say is usually a double instead of just butt its butt-butt. She also walks on her toes and is a very picky eater. She also flapps her arms when she gets mad and excited.. Could these be signs of early autism and should u get her tested for it

    A concerned mother

  211. Laura on December 3, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Becki – I highly recommend that you have her evaluated since her speech-language skills are likely delayed. Autism is not the only reason children talk late, and even if she’s not autistic, you’ll still want her to get help for her communication delays. Laura

  212. R. on December 7, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    There’s a few people in my family that tell me that I need to have my 3 yr old son checked for autism. He’s not a very good talker but he tells me what he wants, he asks for things and sometimes, if he don’t know the word, he’ll point. he’s not hyper unless he eats sugar. He only has a few of the symptoms on the list. When he’s playing with his toys he’ll line them up and get angry when his sister messes with it. He’s extremely obediant. He’s very loving and likes to hug. He plays well with his sister but in our family get togethers on sundays he usually plays by himself (not all the time). He’s a screamer, he don’t throw tantrums but if someone tries to play with him and he’s not in the mood, he’ll scream but will soon calm down. He follows directions well. If i ask him to get something he’ll get it. If I tell him to put something away he’ll do it. It took a little while for him to get potty trained but he’s been using the potty for quite some time now. He seems fine to me but when we’re around my family he don’t talk as much as he talks at home. He gives eye contact when he’s talking or when someone is talking to him and he answers to his name. The only time he don’t answer to his name is if he’s busy playing with a toy. My fiance and I honestly don’t think that there is anything wrong with him, but my family members think otherwise. I just want some clarity.

  213. R. on December 7, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    One more thing. He is very picky as to what he eats. Sometimes he won’t even taste something different. He does like to spin the wheels on his cars but it’s not in excess.

  214. Laura on December 12, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    R – If you’re not worried, then don’t pursue the assessment, but if there’s even a little part of you that wonders if your family members could be right, then I’d go ahead and have him evaluated. Since he’s over 3, you can start with your local public school system. Believe me, if he doesn’t need or qualify for any special services including speech therapy, he won’t get them! If you’d rather go the private route, talk to your pediatrician and ask where he/she sends children to be evaluated.

    Three year olds who are developing normally talk-talk-talk, so if he’s not doing that, then I would go ahead and line up the speech-language evaluation. If he is using language OFTEN to get his needs met at home and when he’s away from you, if he can participate in conversation with you and with others, and if he can play with and talk to other kids in an age-appropriate way, then I wouldn’t be concerned.

    Thanks for the question! Laura

  215. Rachel on December 18, 2009 at 3:13 am

    I have 3yr old little girl that sounds alot like some of your children she used to talk now all she does is repeat spongebob and bable she smells everything before she eats it don’t eat much hardly sleeps has fits but the differince is she wants us to do everything for her she don’t want to play games, puzzels, toys anything she wants to watch she throws fits because she wants something but we don’t know what it is she climbs all the time she is almost never calm she walks on her tip toes I mean she shows signs of Autism and ADHD what should I do she loves to be held seh looks at me all the time she just will not talk to me the onlt time I here her talk is when it has something to do with spongebob were do I go to find out what’s wrong I know she should be talking everyone thinks I’m crazy

  216. Laura on December 22, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Rachel – I’d strongly encourage you to have her evaluated since you’re so worried about her. I’m concerned too based on how you’ve described her. Since she’s over 3 a good place to start is your local public school system. You can find their number in the blue pages of your phone book, or search them online. Ask for the preschool evaluation department. If you’d like, you can also take her to a pediatric hospital or clinic to be evaluated.

    By 3 she should be very conversational with you. From what you’ve said, she’s exhibiting a pretty severe speech-language delay. Although she can talk, she’s not using her language to ask for what she wants and to respond to questions. Imitating what she’s heard on a TV show is not “good enough” for a 3 year old when you’re assessing true communication skills. You don’t want her to get to kindergarten and be so far behind the other kids, or not have enough language to make friends and “fit in.” The time to address communication challenges really is during the toddler and preschool period, so I’d strongly encourage you to pursue the evaluations sooner rather than later. Good luck, and let me know if you need any other specific suggestions for how to work with her at home. Laura

  217. michelle on December 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    I two have a 2 1/2 year old son.I called ei when he still was not saying more than 5 to 6 single words. he now sees a speech therapist,developmentalest,and some one for his behavior.I now have to see a developmentalest in st louis.The people at ei think he may have pdd-nos.he will be in the same room with other kids and not be by them .he may stack things he lines them and gets mad if you move his stuff out of line.he will push a car forword and make the sound but not feed a doll or anything eles.he has such a bad temper that if you don’t understand what he wants then he bangs his head or throughs thing at you.he may kick ,bit or even spit at you.he also fell from a stroller fractured his skull but never cried.he is always moving and harly ever sleeps and if he does sleep its only a matter of time before he is up again.i did not and still do not think that it is this pdd=nosthing bt if it is i can except it.this has taking a huge toll on the familly but i am trying.also he only weighs 22 lbs i can not get him to eat more than a couple of bites then he wants no more.he will not look you in the eyes for more than a couple of seconds if even that long.sometimes he acts if deaf but i know he is not .we can not wash his face without a fight or get him dressed.he has no interest in potting traing,even though his older brotheer who is 4 trys with us to get him interested.could he have this disorder or is everthing the ei people and i think just in our heads

  218. Laura on December 27, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Michelle – From what you’ve said about him, none of his issues are “in your head.” It certainly sounds like he’s exhibiting a very real language delay and certainly has other “red flag” behaviors usually associated with sensory processing disorder with or without pdd/autism. I hope that with your new evaluation you are also referred to an occupational therapist to help with the head banging, and I hope the developmental person can give you some ideas about how to handle the aggressive behaviors. I know it has to be frustrating for your entire family, and especially you as his mom. Under no circumstances would I stop therapy and hope these issues go away on their own or that he outgrows them. That simply doesn’t happen, so hang in there with your services! I hope your therapists are helping you learn how to work with him at home as well since parents really have the hard job of carrying over the therapy 24/7 at home. Without full participation by parents, children rarely make lots of progress. Good luck!! Laura

  219. Mary on January 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I have 22mo old twins and they are not talking yet they used to say a few words before their little sister was born now the sometimes repeat the words we are telling them,and sometimes they just stare back at you, they do understand when wo tell them to do something but sometimes thei just ignore us, when they need help they have a scream that they only do when they need help,when they get exited they jump and run and they scream and when they take each others toys and they won’t stop crying until they get it back.
    we took them to their pediatrician and she sayd they were looking prety normal but to wait until their 2yr check up and if they are still not talking she will recomend a speech therapist, now what can I do for them? by the way they like to eat paper alot they like to climb furniture and I don’t know if it is because they were watching tv I feel like is my fault because I shoul’ve turned the tv off or let them make a mess for them to learn how to eat by themselves(I forgot to mention that they can’tuse a spoon on their own, this is because when they were little their dad used to say “don’t waste my food I worked too hard for it and think of some children that don’t have abything to eat”) so I feel like I should’ve ignored him and let them make a mess, now if I give them food in a plate they trow it on the floor.
    Sirry if something does not make sence I just don’t know what to do?

  220. Laura on January 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Mary – I’d go ahead and push for the evaluation. Parents can usually refer their own children to your state’s early intervention program without a specific referral from the pediatrician, and the truth is, it may take a while to actually get them evaluated. If you go ahead and start the process now, they’ll likely be turning 2 when the eval happens vs. waiting another month or two after their birthdays. The BEST part about early intervention is SUPPOSED to be that the therapist not only works with them, but helps you know how you can work with them at home to teach them new words.

    It concerns me that they have lost words since this is not part of typical language development, but sometimes kids do “backslide” a little when a new sibling comes along.
    Again, I’d go ahead and pursue the assessments.

    You can also get lots of ideas with how to work with them at home by reading articles here on the website, and don’t forget to check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk so that you can SEE how to work with them at home.

    I would also let them become more independent with feeding, but you’re going to have to supervise closely and stand over them to help them learn how to do it so that the food ends up in their mouths and not on the floor. Maybe try to help one twin at a time eat, then help the other one, so that you can devote all of your attention to one at a time and make sure they learn to eat and not dump. Try to offer foods they LOVE during these times when you’re going to let them learn how to feed themselves too since they will be more motivated to do it and not spill it. If it does look like it could turn into a free-for-all with dumping, then take the food away and try again at the next meal. Children usually do make a little mess when they’re learning to feed themselves, but close supervision and a firm and consistent “No!” usually does the trick when teaching them to eat, not throw. Use hand-over-hand assistance too, that is if they’re not bringing the spoon or fork to their mouths, then use your hand to guide them.

    Hopefully these ideas will help, and let me know how they progress! Laura

  221. Margaret on January 7, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    My son is 33 months old, and for the most part doesn’t seem to exhibit signs of autism (of course I’m no expert), but there are some things that are a little concerning. I’m not sure if they’re behavioral/personality issues or potentially autistic tendencies. When he was a newborn we had a lot of problems with “colic.” He would scream constantly and was basically inconsolable. We didn’t actually see a little improvement until he was about 5 months old. He still screamed a lot then, but it did slowly improve from that point on. Because of the constant screaming his pediatrician referred him to a pediatric neurologist to check into autism at around 4 months, I think. We saw her until about 13 months when the neurologist decided that he seemed fine so she didn’t make anymore appointments with us. He was always behind compared to other children his age when it came to speech, but at 33 months old he communicates perfectly with us. I can’t even count how many words he says because he really says a lot, and he says 4-6 word sentences – maybe even more. Our concern with him now is that he’s not as friendly with strangers as other kids his age – specifically his cousin. For example, at Christmas we went to my step-mother’s family get-together, and it took a little while (as it usually does) for him to adjust to the environment. When he’s in new places with a lot of people he doesn’t know he usually just clings to me and insists that I hold him. Most of the time he does adjust, though. Also, that night the other kids were playing with toys, and he mainly pushed his firetruck around where they were playing and stopped every now and then to watch what they were doing. He didn’t really ever “play” with them. I’m not sure what should be expected of a 33 month old when it comes to playing with other kids in situations like that. There’s a boy in our neighborhood that he plays really well with, but they don’t get to play together too often. He also plays really well with his sister (1 year old). Other than that boy and his sister I don’t normally see him play with other kids very much, but this could be contributed to the fact that he’s not around other kids much? Also, he is a very picky eater. He eats a lot more than 4-5 foods (as mentioned in the signs of autism section above), but getting him to eat seems to be getting harder. I’m just not sure how much of that, though, is him wanting to eat what he wants to eat and us giving in if it means he’ll actually eat something so he keeps doing it.

    Two nights ago he had a seizure. We went to the children’s hospital and were told that he had an ear infection so they determined it was a febrile seizure and said that unless he’s ever had developmental delays (or even autistic tendencies for that matter) it was safe to say the seizure wasn’t an indication that he might have a seizure disorder. Would you suggest based off what little information I’ve given checking into things more? Does it sound like he could even have a form of autism?

  222. Debbie on January 8, 2010 at 10:07 am

    I have a 4 year old that just recently started shaking his head violently from side to side, he does it for about 2 seconds at a time and when I ask him why he does it he says “because i’ve never seen that before or because he’s happy for something” etc. He does it multiple times a day. He is a very active child and is always on the go but he’s very smart and is very friendly with others. Out of my 3 boys he’s always been the outgoing one and will always start conversations with others and before this I never worried about something being wrong but the sudden head shaking is worrying me a little. Other than being hyper, overactive and the headshaking I would say hes like every other child, maybe a little friendlier than most though.

    Do you think I have cause for concern? Is there a need to get him checked out and who would I need to take him to?

    Thank you.

  223. Laura on January 8, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Debbie – It sounds like he’s a “sensory seeker” since you’ve described him as “on the go.”

    Since he’s shaking his head just for the fun of it, he likes vestibular movements – those that stimulate inner ear movement. Some kids are cautious with this kind of movement, but some kids, like your guy, actually crave it. It probably either calms him down or revs him up depending on what his little system needs at the t ime.

    I’d suggest that you keep providing opportunities for him to get this same sensation since he obviously likes it – swinging, jumping and flipping on a trampoline, riding rocking toys – are just a few examples.

    You can read more information about sensory processing at this great link at:

    An occupational therapist trained in sensory processing can help you if you decide you need to take him to a therapist or these activities become so problematic that his development and learning are affected.

    If not, just keep giving him these opportunities since he seems to be “treating” himself.

    Thanks for your question! Laura

  224. Laura on January 8, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Margaret – Let me begin this response by saying I am not a physician, so of course you need to follow up with your pediatrician since this is a medical issue.

    I would also go ahead and make another appointment with the neurologist since you had cause for previous concern enough to warrant the referral when he was younger. I do tend to be a little more cautious about seizures than maybe other medical professionals would because frankly, seizures scare me! Seizures do occur in children with developmental disorders including autism more than children with typical development. In my mind seizures happen because there are neurological differences, but again, I’m not a physician, so please follow up with yours! Laura

  225. susan on January 14, 2010 at 12:28 am

    Hi I have a 3 1/2 year old son who I am concerned for. before I post an entire page 🙂
    can u answer this first: at the age of 2 1/2 he had a hearing test performed by a pediatric
    Audiologist, he was given meds to sleep and things were attached to his head etc, the test
    concluded perfect hearing. Nothing to be worried/ commented about in that area. Does that
    Mean I can rule out auditory processing disorder as a reason for y my son is the way he is? I will
    Post with more informationabout him but right now I am just hoping this could definitely not
    Be a possibility. Thank u

  226. Laura on January 14, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Susan – The test you’re describing is called Auditory Brain Stem Response (ABR) and measures if the brain registers the sound. It does NOT measure how a child understands or processes language, just the ability to hear sounds. Write me back with specifics about him, and hopefully I can point you in the right direction for help! Laura

  227. susan on January 19, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    I have been trying to post for the last few
    Days but my posts are not showing up. Is there a direct email
    I can reach you? Thanks

  228. Laura on January 20, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Susan – You can email me at Thanks!

  229. Anne on January 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm


    Thanks for sharing so much information. My son is 19 months old and doesn’t talk. He is not able to tell his body parts either. We realized it at his 10 months check up. Me and my husband work full time and a nanny was taking care of him. I feel guilty thinking that we have ignored him and not taught his body parts and did not spend enough time talking. We have scheduled hearing test next month and a speech therapy evaluation in March. I have been trying to spend more time with him at home but I have a 3 year old girl too who is a chatter box and can easily drive all the attention towards her and my son ends up playing by himself. He does ask for attention when I am there and loves to play with me but he usually loves to play with his toys by himself. If his sister takes away his toy he simply grabs another one. From your list I answered 22 no and 9 yes. He loves to read the book with me and if I tell the names of few things and not the others he points to them as if he is pointing that I did not tell him about those things. He does make eye contact and smiles at us but his eye contact is usually very short lived. I have noticed sometimes he will be looking at my eyes an lips when I talk but move his eyes away then will try to see again to see if I am still looking or not. He likes to point to things in books without knowing what he is pointing to (I think). He doesn’t point to anything when we ask for something such as ball or balloon or mommy or daddy. I know I should not compare but my daughter was much advanced at this age and I am worried. I am even thinking if I should leave my job or hange to part time to be able to give more attention to my son. It seems he needs more than I am able to provide him. I am not sure how speech therapy works and if there are any day cares that can work better than I can. I live in san jose, California.


  230. Anne on January 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I meant 18 months checkup. typo

  231. Laura on January 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Anne – Thanks for your questions. I think you’re doing the right thing by having him evaluated. Since I can’t see him, of course I don’t know what’s going on with him, so I’m glad you’re having him assessed. Based on what you’ve said it sounds like he may have a receptive delay (difficulty understanding language) and an expressive delay (difficulty using words/gestures to communicate with others), but don’t panic about this yet. He is still very young, and by seeking help for this early rather than waiting, you have much more of a chance to make great progress than if you did nothing at all. The speech-language pathologist who sees him will let you know if there’s a delay/disorder and if treatment is recommended, you’ll get specific strategies for working with him at home.

    In the meantime, read my articles in the receptive and expressive language categories, and you may want to check out my DVDs so that you can SEE exactly how to work with him at home to help him improve how he understands and uses words.

    Good luck, and let me know if you have other questions. Laura

  232. Jersey on January 27, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    My 2 1/2 year old son does not talk in complete sentences, he uses 2 words, such as stop mamma, get it, no Billy etc. He knows all of his body parts. I am concerned about his language development. He does not talk at all while he is at daycare, and he plays by himself while at home. He is also very possessive.

  233. Laura on January 30, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Jersey – If you’re concerned at all about his language development, you can always get him evaluated by your state’s early intervention program. Just Google your state’s name + the phrase “early intervention” for more information. The initial assessment is free, and if he does qualify for speech therapy, services are free or low cost. Let me also say that children who are a little delayed with language aren’t necessarily autistic. There’s usually a lot more going on than the mild language delay you’re describing, but again, I’d encourage you like any mom who’s concerned, to pursue the evaluation.

  234. Rachel on February 4, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Laura, I want to thank you for answering me and I took you advise I had her evaluated and they will tell me the results Feb 22 thank you for your help

  235. marie on February 7, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I am making myself sick worrying about my 17 month old daughter. She will say several words on her own-byebye, hey, no, momma, dadda, and shoe (maybe a few others.) She will repeat words after we ask her too-like ball, baby, cup, outside, and a few names. If I asked her to get a ball or baby, she will pick it up. But she will not point to them. She will point at random objects and ask “what’s that?” If she is standing in front of me she will make eye contact for either a few seconds or a minute or two. Is this considered good eye contact?? When we pick her up, she will deliberately look the other way and avoid looking at us. She loves to give hugs, get kisses, sometimes give kisses, play peekaboo, play and try to sing patty cake. She LOVES puzzles. She will complete some of them on her own and bring the others to me. She will hand me the pieces to put in the puzzles. She eats a variety of food. She will try to feed herself with a spoon. She smiles when smiled at. She lights up when she sees other kids. There is a cousin she is around alot. She will “talk” to him. She jabbers alot. We take turns talking alot.

    BUT over half the time she will not respond to her name unless I am adding some like “look at this” or “you want it”. Then she will look. It seems like she is ignoring us ALOT. But she also playes with us daily.

    My main concerns are her eye contact and not always answering to her name? My husband says that she is just a busy child doing her own thing. Also, she loves to look at books. She even pretends she is reading them to herself and her cousin. She will point at the pictures randomly, but not upon request. She pretend plays alot. She talks on the toy phones, pretends to eat, feeds her baby, hugs her baby. But she will pile up certain toys, like puzzle pieces and blocks. She doesn’t line them up but she sorts them.

    I am the type of person who worries about anything and everything. Should I be concerned???

  236. Laura on February 7, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Marie – I understand your concern, but other than eye contact and attention, it does sound like she’s meeting her milestones. Is her pediatrician concerned when you mention this during visits? Other than dad, what do other family members, like her grandmothers and aunts, say about her?? If you are still concerned about her development, go ahead and pursue an evaluation through your state’s early intervention program. Sometimes a mom’s instinct that something isn’t quite right is valid and leads to early intervention which prevents a small issue from becoming a larger one.

    If you do pursue the assessment, have an OT (occupational therapist) evaluate her as well. Sometimes children (and adults) process incoming information differently, like sounds, touch, and movement, and this is called a sensory processing difference of disorder. Don’t let this scare you though. It sounds like she has some real developmental strengths, so even if she is displaying some sensory processing differences which make her appear to ignore you or look “busy,” she’s compensating and continuing to learn language in spite of those. An OT can help you pinpoint those and give you simple ways to help her get those needs met so that those differences don’t result in delayed development.

    Thanks for your questions! Laura

  237. marie on February 7, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Thanks for your response. Her pediatrician has not acted concerned so far. But I have not mentioned how she doesn’t answer to her name like she should. I forgot to mention that she used to say “I Love you or I you” when you told her you loved her. But lately she has not been saying it or she will run the words together to where you can barely understand her. She used to say don’t and stop but I haven’t heard her say those words in a while but we don’t get on to her as much as we used to. No one in our family has mentioned her behavior to me. I just now discussed this with my mom and she said she doesn’t think anything is wrong. Also, the other day was were watching a show and there was a baby crying. Every time my daughter heard the baby cry, she would cry too like it scared or bothered her.

    I just reread the list above and feel that she only doesn’t do 3 of them-respond to name all the time, always make eye contact, sometimes hears but not others, and does not point and name objects.

    Can you please explain what is considered good eye contact?? My daughter will make eye contact when she is standing or sitting in front of me (not always, but alot of the time) BUT when I hold her she will not look me in the eyes at all. She is busy looking around the room.

    At this age, should she be able to point and name several things? Or point to what she wants? She will take my hand and lead me to the kitchen if I ask her what she wants, but she doesn’t usually point. But I blame myself for part of that because until now I have not made it a point to teach her how to point at what she wants. She won’t point at mom or dad when asked either. But if you tell her to come to momma, she will.

    Also, sometimes she will sing -pat a cake pat a cake throw em in the pan. She also says thank you since she was 12 months old but now it sounds a little different. She throws fits daily also (which I is probably typical for a child her age) but most of these fits are when you take something from her.

    Though I know you cannot see her, do you feel that she displays alot of behaviors that suggest autism? I plan to call her doctor in the morning to make an appointment to discuss this with her. I just like hearing other peoples thoughts and opinions while I wait.

  238. Laura on February 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Marie – If a mom is worried about eye contact, there’s usually at least a small difference in what their child is doing because otherwise, it wouldn’t even cross a mom’s mind. Does she “light up” and get twinkly – eyed when you play with her? Does she seem to “connect” with you when you’re talking to her? If you’re unsure, then there’s likely a qualitative difference. Sometimes children (even those who would never qualify for a formal diagnosis of autism) are so “busy” that it’s hard for them to settle down to focus, and this sounds more like what you’re describing. In that case, an internal drive to be constantly moving is what’s “causing” the lack of eye contact, not a true social deficit. This kind of issue is called a sensory processing difference, and occupational therapists help parents determine if there’s a true difference in how a child processes incoming sensory information. If you’re going to pursue services through your state’s early intervention program, ask specific questions about sensory disorders to see if this is also a possible issue for her.

    Pointing usually always emerges in typical development without working on it, so don’t beat yourself up that it’s something you haven’t taught her. Is she using other gestures such as holding her hands up to be picked up, waving bye bye, and any other individual gestures she’s come up with to communicate? If not, then this is another red flag.

    Just because she displays a couple of “red flags” doesn’t mean that she’s autistic either. Many children have a few “quirks” and yet still continue to hit their developmental milestones and make good progress, with or without special intervention. However, if you continue to worry about her, I would HIGHLY recommend that you get an assessment for her. You’ll either alleviate the worry altogether when they tell you she’s okay, OR help you know how you can help her learn things she’s not yet doing. And then you won’t beat yourself up that you had a gut feeling something wasn’t quite right and didn’t act on it.

    Either way, good luck and please keep me posted on how she’s doing! Thanks for your great questions! Laura

  239. Cristina on February 9, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    I am concerned about my 34 month old son and am not sure if I should get him evaluated. He has a great vocabulary and speaks in sentences appropriately, and is able to ask for things appropriately. He knows most of his letters, shapes, colors and some animal sounds. He makes eye contact with us and likes to cuddle most of the time. He seems to play appropriately with toys and likes to play alone, but on the flipside he also likes to play with other children. He holds objects a lot, but never the same objects. Could be a car one day and a little plastic figure the next. He does put them down and plays with other things. He can recite some lines of his favorite movie CARS, as he is watching it. He is a picky eater, but my daughter was the same at his age and now is a great eater, so I wasnt really too concerned about that. Lately, he does laps around an object that is on the floor, like a pillow. Today, my niece was sitting on the floor and he was slowly running circles around her. As soon as she got up, he stopped. Yesterday, he was playing my my other niece, who is about his age, and he got very mad at her over a toy and bit her badly on her cheek. There have been a few times when he gets mad and will bite an object like a pillow. He does seem deaf at times, like he is focused on something and doesn’t hear us when we call him. The thing that really concerns me is the biting and getting very mad. Any input would be greatly appreciated. My husband is concerned and keeps bringing autism up. Should I get him evaluated?

  240. Christina on February 9, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    My son turned 2 on November 30th. His vocabulary is very small. Since late last summer he has started throwing fits, which I have contributed to terrible twos… but it has gotten really intense the last couple of months. Screaming, hitting… that lasts for a long times upwards to 15 minutes. He also has severe bowel problems, difficulty going. I can’t get him off the bottle, still carries his blanket. I’m probably over reacting big time. I mean, he is a big time cuddle bug with me. But he will not let anyone do anything for him except me, he will throw a huge fit. Any advice for me? Should I be concerned or am I being silly. Thank you

  241. Laura on February 10, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Cristina – It sounds like his language is progressing based on what you’ve described, so I’d not be overly concerned about that since he uses sentences and can ask for things he needs and responds appropriately to conversation.

    Really nothing you’ve said seems out of the realm of typical behavior for toddlers. Biting is fairly common, especially in the heat of the battle over a toy! That’s also not to say that you’ll let biting go unnoticed either. At the very least you should be telling him a very firm “NO” and removing him from the offender.

    The other behaviors you describe don’t seem really atypical to me either. Some children hold onto an object for comfort. Some do it for stability if they’re having balance problems or sensory processing differences and aren’t quite sure where their little bodies are in space.

    However, if your husband has concerns, I’d go ahead and have him evaluated. You’d hate it if you put the evaluation off thinking everything is fine only to discover in a few months (or years) that he does have some developmental issues and you let valuable intervention time pass you by. Treating ANY developmental problem early almost always results in a better outcome than if you’d done nothing at all. And believe me, if you have him evaluated by a state program, if he doesn’t qualify for services, he won’t get them. Since he’s under 3, you can go ahead and call your state’s early intervention program. Once he turns 3, you’d call your local public school system. Either way, good luck and I hope it all turns out well for you! Thanks for your questions! Laura

  242. Laura on February 10, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Christina – I’d go ahead and recommend an evaluation, particularly for his language skills. By 24 months children should be using a minimum of 50 words and using a variety of short phrases they come up with on their own. You can also discuss his tantrums and the other developmental issues you’re having with the person who does the assessment for tips on how to handle that, or other services, such as occupational therapy to address any sensory processing issues he might have which might be the underlying cause for the problems you’re describing. You are not overreacting or being silly. And you’d much rather handle any issues now rather than waiting for them to become even bigger problems.

    In the meantime, please browse the articles here on the site for ideas for how to work with him at home to increase his language. You could also check out my DVDs for parents as well so you can SEE how to work with him at home to increase his language skills. Thanks for your comment. Laura

  243. Christina on February 11, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Sorry to add to my above post, but just got back from the ER with my little boy. He threw a 3 hr “fit”. Wouldn’t look at me, screaming, hitting me, punching, kicking. Throwing things. Kept ripping off his diaper, and twice urinated on the side of my bed! I was so scared, he has never been this extreme. They said his bowels are backed up… but.. they want me to take him to a Neurolodevelopment Pediatrician…besides Autism..can anything else cause this?

  244. Laura on February 11, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Christina – Wow! That sounds terrifying! I’m so sorry you and he and your entire family are going through this. Since I can’t SEE him, I can’t even speculate on what it could be, and it does sound like it’s beyond my scope of practice as a speech-language pathologist. They did identify a medical component with his gastrointestinal (GI) problems which could very well be affecting his behavior. When children feel really bad, they tend to act that way too. And without a way to tell you, “Mommy – my tummy really, really hurts” he likely feels very out of control. GI problems are very common in children who are later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, but one doesn’t necessarily mean a diagnosis of the other. Please follow up with the evaluation they recommended. You’re going to need some help to be able to teach him and help him develop those important early milestones. Go ahead and call your state’s early intervention program too. You can find the number by searching your state name plus the phrase “early intervention.” Parents can refer their own children, and the services you get will be free or low cost compared to paying on your own or filing your insurance. Good luck Christina. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with! Laura

  245. Crystal on February 13, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I have a 2 year old and he is an only child. Until recently I just believed he had started the terrible two’s early. But after reading the above signs of autism, I’m worried he may have it. He’s never really been a social child. And I have a big family with lots of kids his age. He can say a few words, and is learning to count. He will not allow me to read to him, he grabs the books from me. He lines everything up. From crayons, blocks, flash cards, CD cases, anything that can be stacked or lined up. And he throws horrible tantrums when someone attempts to mess them up. He’s very independent, and has a routine in the morning. My husband doesn’t think he has anything wrong. Do you?

  246. Laura on February 13, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Crystal – Since I can’t SEE him, I can’t say what is or what isn’t going on with him. Just because a child is having tantrums at 2 or likes to line things up does NOT necessarily mean he has autism. However, if you are worried about him, I would go ahead and have him evaluated by your state’s early intervention program. You can find out information by Googling your state’s name plus the phrase “early intervention.” By 2 a child should be using at least 50 different words and many 2 word phrases, so at the very least, based on what you’ve said, he’s exhibiting an expressive language delay, so you will want to get some help so that he can expand his vocabulary as well as target social skills so that he learns to communicate with and play with his peers by the time he’s a little older.

    Thanks so much for your questions. I hope it works out well for you and your little boy! Laura

  247. Bonnie on February 16, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    My son will be 3 April first and I have a trouble with him since he was 1. He was babysat by my mother on a Sunday ad she took him to church. They have a nursery there and the teachers over it were a couple that have an autistic boy of there own. They had a little chat with my mother after church was over and said that he was so focused on the door. He escaped 5 times within 2 hours. They also said that he plays alone and a few other things. Basically it all came down to them asking my mom if he was autistic. I have always thought there was a little something going on with my son, but I never thought autism. He is very smart at escaping but can hardly speak. He also is very independent and hyper. He stays awake forever and never naps. By the end of the day he is on wired energy and goes crazy! We actually ahve to lock him in his room at night and have a night ruitine that we do, but he does not sleep for about an hour and a half after we put him to bed (even when he is so tired). He will even wake up in the middle of the night and start playing with his toys and we have to tell him severa times to go back to bed. He does not repond to his name and I have to constantly say “look at me” and he still won’t. When he does not look at me, I know that he is not really hearing me, so I try to get him to look at me. I will grab his head and turn it in my direction, but he still will point his eyes somewhere else or just look right past me. He seems to be deaf at times, even when I am asking him if he wants some candy. He throws intense tantrums and will sometimes try to bite or hit me. He knows he is not suppose to, but he acts before he thinks. He does not actually do it, because he will catch himself. He will go to bite or slap and then stop, because he realizes what he is doing. He loves staring at our cd player when the cd is spinning. It will catch his eye, even when he is in the middle of doing something else. He prefers to play alone or he will act unappropriately with other kids. If everyone is sitting down coloring a picture, he will color on everyone else’s picture, but not his own. Or play with everyone else’s playdough, but not his own. We went to the park today and he just threw dirt at all the other kids. Sometimes he will hug the kids when they don’t want to be hugged and knock them on the ground. He does seem to tune people out and is in his own little world. He is a very picky eater. He never eats anything I make. He cannot have any pepper in his eggs or they cannot have any brown on them. I cannot cook them too long. They have to be perfectly yellow and white, nothing else. He does walk on his toes as well and has been doing it since he sould walk.
    These are all the things that relate to the signs written above. He looks like any of your regular kids and you could never tell that he was ever this way. He does wave goodbye and hugs and kisses us, but I have to wonder if this is “learned” behavior, or if he really is affectionate. Please let me know what you think, or if these are normal behaviors for an almost three year old. Thanks!

  248. Laura on February 18, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Bonnie – I strongly recommend that you have him evaluated. Since he’s so close to 3, start by calling your local public school system and scheduling the assessment for after his birthday. You should also discuss these concerns with your pediatrician since, as you’ve noted, some of them are not consistent with typical behavior.

    You included lots of information about his behavior, but you haven’t said much about his language. A child who is nearly 3 should be using short sentences to communicate and be able to follow lots of different directions. If he’s not doing those things, his language is likely delayed. That is reason enough to seek out some professional advice since you’ll want to do everything you can to help him while he’s young. Parents rarely regret initiating therapy services, but many regret not doing it sooner.

    In the meantime keep reading advice here on the website and you may want to check out the DVDs so you can see how you can work with him at home to improve his language skills. Good luck! Laura

  249. mom to sweet boy on March 6, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Hi –

    My son is 33 months. He is making a lot of statements in his speech.
    He requests for his needs..He goes to preschool. He likes his school a lot.

    He understands my instructions. He also replies to my questions promptly. But so far he has not come up with any question on his own. Instead of asking ‘where is daddy?’ he says….I want daddy.

    But when he plays with his toys…he will ask question to himself and gives answer to that……. where is sheep? ….There it is and what is this? its a car etc.

    Do you think he is practicing himself to ask questions and answers? He is doing this since 2 months.

    I know many kids his age ask simple questions like where/ what /why.

    He is also not very good at imaginary play….he does not talk about his school friends…nd what he did at school etc.

    But he always says…I want friends when he is bored at home.

    I was wondering when he will ask questions and talk about his day?

  250. Laura on March 6, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Mom to Sweet Boy – Of course I can’t see your son to know exactly what’s going on, but it sounds like when he’s asking himself questions in play, he could be rehearsing or echoing previous times during play when someone has asked him a similar question. Do you hearing him doing this at other times too?

    He should answer questions before he asks them, so that’s great that he’s already doing that. Asking “Where” questions usually emerges before 3, so he may be right on the verge. However, asking the question, “What’s that?” usually comes first and usually pretty early, around 15 to 18 months.

    If you really have concerns about his language, you may want to look into having him evaluated. Or you could start by talking with his preschool teachers. If they too have concerns, I’d definitely look into having him assessed. Since he’s under 3, you could call your state’s early intervention program. After 3, you’d need to contact your local public school system.

    There are articles here on the website about learning to ask questions, so take a look at those. Hope the ideas help! Laura

  251. mom to sweet boy on March 6, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks for the quick reply. His school is not concerned with his speech. I did check with them one or two times.

    He is already getting a speech therapy since 5 months.
    There is a big progress in him during last 5 months from not requesting for his needs to talking in sentences now.
    He will also start occupational therapy soon for some sensory issues (very active…likes to bounce, jump etc)

    He makes complex statements like ‘look here…a tiger is standing on the table” , Mommy is cooking, daddy is gone to office, I am jumping like a horse..all situation appropriate.

    I recently been to developmental ped. She said he is not autistic. But told us to continue with his speech and occupational therapies.

    But somehow I always have some concern about him back of my mind. He used ‘yes or no’ to my questions at 29 months for the first time.

    So far he does not ask me ‘what are you doing mommy’ or ‘the candy is yummy’ etc. I mean he uses less functional language.
    He does not call out Mommy and Daddy spontaneously but when I ask him to call Daddy…he says daddy come here!

    He knows his friend’s name, our name…but he does not call us. But he comes to us and ask what he wants.

    He knows most of his body parts. He knows his ABC’s, 123, colors, shapes.

    My husband is not worried but admits that he is slow. He thinks that he is progressing a lot and very soon will talk more and ask questions.

    But I get really concern when I ask him what he ate 5 minutes back and he does not give me proper answer.

    My husband thinks that I am worried for no reason because I read too much in the internet.

    Am I wrong in thinking that he should have been asking some simple questions by now especially when he can talk in sentences since 4 months?

    Thanks in advance!

  252. Lyndsey on March 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    My name is lyndsey and my child is in first steps and he will be 3 in 2 months and is still not talking. can you help?

  253. mamadews07 on March 9, 2010 at 12:49 am

    My son is 33 months old and says very few words, and when we are trying to teach him things like counting or colors or something like that he kind of tunes us out and/or will look past us. We know he can count to 10, not clearly but enough that you can understand, but when we try to get him to say it he wont, its almost like he has forgotten everything he knows. He would much rather start crying than say his numbers. He will say mama and daddy on his own, but not when we ask him to. I am worried that he is behind developmentally, his sister was using full sentences and knew most of her colors and letters by the time she was 2 and a half. He is also very energetic, and whines a lot and sometimes he will fuss or scream for no apparent reason What should I do?

  254. Laura on March 9, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Mom to Sweet Boy – Keep targeting those questions by “coaching” him to ask other people while you are there whispering/telling him what to say. He may just need extra help by having you model exactly what he should say so he can learn that new pattern. Ask your SLP for help and other ideas with this too and if she is working on this as well. It sounds like he still has some missing skills even though he’s making good progress, so hang in there and keep working with him at home. Laura

  255. Laura on March 9, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Lyndsey – I’m not sure what you mean by that request. Are you in Louisville too and wondering if I can see your child? There are LOTS of articles here on the website and check out my DVDs too for ways to help him at home. Laura

  256. Laura on March 9, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Mamadews07 – From what you’ve said, I would highly recommend that you have your son evaluated by a speech-language pathologist. By 33 months children should know and use hundreds of words and be speaking in 3-4 word phrases and short sentences sentences all of the time to ask for things he needs, ask and answer questions, comment on what you’re doing, label items and objects, call for you, and ask for assistance.

    Since he’s not 3 yet, for a free developmental evaluation you can call your state’s early intervention program. You can find information for this by Googling your state’s name plus the phrase early intervention. If you wait until after he’s turned 3, you can call your local public school system for a free evaluation. Again I would strongly encourage you to do this since it’s very, very likely he will qualify for services. You really don’t want to keep waiting to see if he’ll catch up on his own. Parents of children with delays often regretted they waited to seek help, and especially if they are close to 3.

    I’d also recommend that you STOP focusing on counting, colors, letters and numbers and teach him REAL WORDS he can use to ask for things he needs like favorite foods/drinks and his favorite toys and activities. There are lots of articles here on the website with ideas to help you work with him at home. I’d also recommend that you check out my DVDs to teach you how to work with him at home. Sometimes SEEING how to do is much more helpful than reading about it. Good luck with him! Laura

  257. baffled mom on March 27, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    my son is 2 and a half years old. he had really good speech and can talk and understand things, play with kids, etc. lately he has been hanging with his 2 year old cousin who has no speech now all he does is babbles, points to things, ahh ahh, stuff like that, he can’t even play nice. he still has his words but doesnt use them, its like he is different now, and it is very annoying and upsetting. what can be wrong?

  258. Concerned Grandma on March 28, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Good evening, my grandson just turned 3 yrs old. I am very concerned with his speech and behavior. I thought his behavior was semi normal for a 3 yr. But I am starting to think twice about that. His speech is absolutely not normal in my opinion. He usually only says 1-2 words, has a very hard time communicating what he wants. He repeats things off TV shows and movies and seems to only say curse words over and over. Which no matter what we do we can not get him to stop. We have strict no cursing rules in front of him. Something he heard from his late father. When he doesn’t get his way or its time to leave or you take something from him he throw huge tantrums. To the point of where my daughter has to hold him to keep him from throwing stuff and he does this high pitch screech over and over and over. When playing he mainly plays with cars, likes to line them up all pointing in the same direction. He completely obsessed with cars. He also seems to be obsessed with video games (he doesn’t really play them, just pretends) and has to watch the same movie over and over all day for days. He is very independent and has to do things by himself. He will only eat a few things and will not try new things. Sometimes he acts like he can’t hear and puts his ear up to the speaker on the TV or turns it way up. But then other times he just acts normal like he can hear it just fine. He is extremely hyper and does not play well with other kids. He will poke them in the eye, push them, takes things from them. And lately every night he wakes up crying/whining for no reason and takes several minutes to calm him. And he calls me Mom instead of grandma no matter how many times I try to get him to call me grandma. Even try to bribe him with toys and cars. He calls men Dad and he calls his mom Mommys. He seems to be very intelligent though. One time he had a little matchbox car, he put a little hair tie in it. He got a toothpick and got it out. Then he broke the toothpick and put half of it on top (like across like police lights) and started making police car sounds. I don’t know…it seems to me that he has over half the symptoms mentioned above. I believe my daughter should seek an evaluation. Something just doesn’t seem right.

  259. Laura on March 29, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Dear Baffled – To me it sounds like he’s imitating the behavior of his cousin. For whatever reason, he’s decided that this gets a better response from you. What I would try to do is ignore his babbling and respond PROMPTLY to his real words with lots of approval (verbal praise, smiles, hugs) and more importantly, getting him what he wants so that he KNOWS that when he talks, things go much better for him. When he’s babbling or pointing rather than talking, you might try saying, “What? I don’t know what you want” and then shrugging and walking away. If that doesn’t work, then model what he SHOULD say using words you know he knows.

    All in all, I’ll be this is just a phase. If all else fails, I’d probably then think about limiting the time he spends with the non-verbal cousin until he’s over wanting to imitate him. Thanks for your interesting question! Laura

  260. Laura on March 29, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Concerned Grandma – I HIGHLY recommend that your daughter have him evaluated. Based on what you’ve said, his speech-language skills are very likely delayed, and he’s also exhibiting several “red flags” that would make me concerned about his overall development. Of course I can’t SEE him, but from what you’ve said, he’d very likely qualify for preschool and speech therapy through your local public school program. I would strongly encourage your daughter to pursue help for him now so that he’s as ready for kindergarten as he can be. Communication problems are SERIOUS predictors that he may not do well in school, so you’re going to want to do everything you can to give him the best start possible. In the meantime, read articles here on the site for ways to work with him at home. You may also want to check out the DVDs for specific strategies that you and your daughter can implement at home to help teach him to communicate. Thanks for your question – Laura

  261. Concerned Grandma on March 31, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Thank you very much for your response…I am encouraging her to seek an evaluation immediately!

  262. Sarah on March 31, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    My son is 15 months old and has yet to actually say a word. He says Mama and Dada, but not to me or my husband directly, he shouts Mama and Dada over the baby monitor in the morning when he wakes up to let us know he’s ready to wake up, and will babble mamamama and dadadada during the day indiscriminately. He hasn’t said any word yet, but he does babble up a storm and has conversations with us where we pretend his babbling is him answering our questions. He points at things and babbles on and on about it, and get very excited with our cat and dog and babbles about them a lot too. He tries to call our dogs name, her name is Lola which I thought would be very easy to say but he just shouts out a random selection of constants in an attempt to call her. He follows directions well, can identify many things when asked, he can clap his hands, rub his tummy, wave bye-bye, blow mommy a kiss, get his paci, get the remote, jump, play peek-a-boo, get a book to read, go upstairs to take a bath and do many other things when asked. In my experience with other kids his age, he is very advanced with his gross motor skills, he can climb over almost anything if there is the slightest ledge, and even can outright run. He communicates with us for sure using gestures and grunts, and seems to get frustrated when he’s trying to communicate and we don’t understand what he wants.
    My main concern is that he does not and will not imitate any sounds I make. Even though I try to make it into a game, he will not repeat sounds. He will watch my mouth moving and sometimes moves his mouth but does not actually utter a sound. He mimics other physical things but verbally it seems like he’s just not that interested. I’m starting to worry about his speech. He is a very social little guy, loves other children, loves to be held and cuddled by family and friends and seems otherwise normal except for the verbal mimicking and saying words part. He actually shares surprisingly well with other children and doesn’t mind them touching his toys or playing along, and usually it’s the other kid who has a melt-down because they want the toy for themselves. I’ve addressed this with his pediatrician at his 15 month check-up and she said that if he wasn’t saying any words by 16 months then we should get his hearing tested. I’m just confused as to why he would understand verbal directions from us (I’ve tested and made sure I didn’t use any gestures to indicate what I want and he still did it) and still have a hearing problem. Could this be an early sign of autism?

  263. Laura on April 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Sarah – He doesn’t sound like he’s exhibiting ANY of the characteristics of children with autism. He’s social, his language comprehension is good, and more importantly, he’s gesturing to try to tell you what he wants. There are many reasons children don’t talk as expected, and autism is just one of them. It doesn’t sound to me that this is what’s going on at all.

    However, by 15 months a child should be using 8-10 real words on his own, so there is something going on. Having a child’s hearing tested is always the first thing we rule out when there’s a speech-language delay. Since his language comprehension is so good, I doubt this is the problem either.

    If he doesn’t begin to add words soon, I’d go ahead and have him evaluated by your state’s early intervention program. It could be that he needs a little speech therapy to give him a jump start.

    In the meantime read the articles here on the site for ideas on how to work with him at home. You can also check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk so you can SEE how an SLP would work with him.

    Thanks for your question! Laura

  264. Anita on April 3, 2010 at 9:05 am

    I’m concerned about my son who will turn two next month. He is learning two languages which I have heard can slow down speech but he can only say about 5 words. He gets fixated on a couple of workds which he will use all the time.

    As for playing, he will get my help with things and interact with me but he gets fixated on the same things and gets very frustrated if he can’t do them – often resulting in a huge tantrum.

    He has little things which he gets very fixated on too. For example he hates getting dressed but loves putting his socks on and gets very excited. When he is excited about things he often shudders.

    I can tell him ‘no’ over and over and he will continue to do what he is doing. He can get into trouble for doing the same thing several times a day every day.

    He pretty much never plays with his toys, except for the two soft toys he takes everywhere.

    When we go to mother and toddler group he tends to stan d back and watch the other children playing, rarely interacting himself.

    The biggest thing though is his tantrums. They’re huge and can happen very suddenly and with great frequency. He will kick and scream at the top of his lungs for just about anything which doesn’t go his own way.

    Am I just worrying for nothing or would it be worth having him checked out?

    Thank you,


  265. Nicole on April 3, 2010 at 9:37 am

    I have been worried about my son who is 18 months old. It started as little comments from others about his insesent need to rock. He always has to rock back and forth weather he is in his carseat, stroller, highchair, or just sittin in the middle of the floor. he has done this since he has been able to sit on his own. He also has other developmental delays. He has never waved goodbye and he hasnt been able to say any words. He can talk gibberish all day long but when he actually tries to say a word he gets so frustrated and gives up and walks away from whoever is trying to work with him. He doesnt play with others at all, he wants nothing to do with other children. When he plays outside at daycare he usually just walks around the playground sometimes he takes the toy cars flips them over and spins the wheels. I try to get him to play with them the right way but all he wants is to watch the wheels spin when he gets excited he has to sit down so he can shake his legs really fast back and forth he breaks his shoes because of this or they just never stay on. I always get told I am overreacting but as a mother I am concerned and would really appreciate some input thank you

  266. Paola on April 4, 2010 at 4:45 am

    Dear Laura: I told you about my son like 6 weeks ago. I took him to a Regional Intervention Center in my county and he was evaluated by a Speech Pathologist. She told me that he has an Expressive Language Delay, he speaks like a 13-15 months old, but he is really advanced on Receptive Language Skills, cognitive and motor development (24-27 months, for all of the other areas). She told me that the causes, of such delay, could be: hearing, genetic (my mother did not speak until she was 3), or apraxia.
    We took him to an ENT and they tested his hearing. The results are that his hearing is normal, at least in one ear (whatever that means). My husband took him to the appointment, so I could not ask what that exactly means.
    We enrolled him in an Infant-Toddler Center (Wylie Center, Riverside), because the Speech Pathologist told me that if he is sourranded by children of his own age he will imitate more sounds and will try to talk more.
    We speak only spanish at home, but now he is learning english over there, how do you think that is going to affect his expressive language development? Could that generate more frustration?
    He does not want to go, and I feel so guilty because I am not sure if that is the best for him.
    They also told me that they do not provide speech therapy, and that I have to go through my insurance. His health insurance does not cover it, unless the therapy is to restore speech. What can I do?
    I am really worried about the possiblity of Apraxia, due to the wide gap on development between his Receptive and expressive language skills.
    How likely is the possibility of genetics? My grandparents are dead, but my mom remembers the stories from her childhood. She says that my grandparents thought that she was going to be mute, and she did not speak clear until at least her fifth year of age.
    They also say my uncle, my father’s brother, spoke late. I do not know how late.
    There is nothing in my husband’s family, and my oldest son was speaking in full sentences by 20 months.
    I had a baby on december 1st 2009, and it was around the time my toddler stopped progressing on his receptive language skills. He is having the hardest time to accept his brother. He tries to bite him, he throws objects at him when I am breastfeeding him.
    Could celous be a cause? Have you ever seen a case of expressive language delay due to psycological reasons?
    I am sorry for this long post. Thank you so much for your time. I am lost and very sad for my baby. I am a teacher, so I know how cruel children can be, and I do not want my baby to suffer.
    I am buying your dvd about Apraxia right now. I believe it won’t hurt to try, even if later on we discover that is not Apraxia. Right?
    Thank you soooo much!

  267. Paola on April 4, 2010 at 4:59 am

    I forgot to tell you that he is 21 months old.

  268. Angela on April 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I am hoping this type of program might be helpful for my son, who is 2 1/2. He is a wonderful mimic, and has been so since he was 10 months old. He can say complex words and sing entire verses of songs that he likes…But he really struggles with questions. Yes or no questions, making choices, things that when other children are asked I see them easily answer. He also has his pronouns reversed, so he’ll say “Do you want a cookie?” when he really means “I want a cookie.” I’ve been trying so hard to present simple choices and model questions and answers with my husband but I’m not seeing much improvement. I’m concerned because of other behaviors too, like an obsession with wheels and fans, and his habit of lining his cars up over and over. Anyway as far as speech development is concerned I’m wondering if your techniques address these communication issues? He can follow directions and seems to understand what I’m saying to him, but he can’t tell me what he gets upset about, which often results in a tantrum that I feel would be preventable if he could just answer a question! I am going to have him evaluated soon but I’m hoping your DVD has some suggestions? Thanks, Angela

  269. Holly on April 6, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Dear Laura,
    I have a 17 month old little boy named Cameron. I’m a little concerned because he isn’t really talking much. He can walk and everything… but when it comes to language skills…. all he does is screech and babble. He won’t say momma or dadda and when he does say dada its one of his rambles that he does while moving his arms up and down in front of him with his hands together. He also acts as if he can’t hear me half the time… he’ll be a few feet away and i can scream his name and he won’t even look at me or acknowledge me. I can scream at him to stop if he’s running and he won’t or even tell him no to something in the house and he doesn’t respond. I know he isn’t deaf because sometimes he’ll look at his dad if i ask where is daddy and vice versa when his dad asks where i am. He has toys but he prefers his cars and his sisters stroller merely for the fact is has wheels and he likes to spin them. He never pushes his cars or anything… just spins the wheels. He just seems like a loner, and he has an older sister, he’d just much rather play alone and be in his room or something… i just don’t understand… My boyfriend (his dad) says that he’s just stubborn and lazy and doesn’t want to try and learn to talk because his sister does his talking for him. I just need to know if im just expecting too much out of him, or if my gut is telling me im right in thinking there is soemthing wrong. Please help 🙁

    Thanks In Advance,

  270. Laura on April 6, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Anita – I’d definitely recommend that you have him evaluated. Having only 5 real words by his age is a real red flag since children who are turning 2 should have at minimum 50 words they use on their own and be combining those words into short 2-3 word phrases.

    His frequent tantrums are also a concern. He may have some sensory issues that are causing him to process information differently. An occupational therapist who specializes in working with children who have these issues could teach you ways to work with him at home.

    You can check with your state’s early intervention program to have him evaluated by a speech-language pathologist and occupational therapist. You can get more info by Googling your state’s name plus the phrase “early intervention.”

    Also check out the articles here on the site as well as my DVDs for info for how to work with him at home.

    Thanks for your questions. Laura

  271. Laura on April 6, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Nicole – I understand your concern about your son’s development, and I don’t think you’re overreacting. The things you’re describing are big red flags in development. Rocking could be his way of helping himself stay calm and regulated, or even more alert and focused. An occupational therapist who specializes in working with children with sensory processing differences can help determine why he’s doing this. I’d definitely recommend that you have him evaluated by your state’s program. You can get more info by Googling your state’s name plus the phrase “early intervention.” Thanks for your question. Laura

  272. Laura on April 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Paola – You’re doing all of the right things for him by having him enrolled in early intervention. He’s had lots of change in his life right now with the new baby and then starting a new program, so give him some time to adjust. I’d keep taking him to his EI program, even if he’s upset until he gets used to going. Surely he’s having a good time when he gets settled in! Does he only qualify for that program now because he’s not 2 yet, and then could get speech therapy through that program later if he doesn’t make good progress? That’s usually how programs work, so you’ll want to keep asking questions to make sure you understand how it works.

    Genetics can totally play a role in when a child learns to talk. Many late talkers parents were late talkers too.

    I’m glad his hearing is okay. When they say hearing in at least one ear is normal, it’s because they are not testing only one ear at a time. Usually toddlers are tested while sitting in a booth on a parents lap and then sounds are delivered through a speaker in the room so that the child is hearing through both ears. When a child responds, we know that at least one of his ears is hearing adequately. Most of the time it’s both ears, but we can’t say that since we don’t test one ear at a time. Make more sense?

    The strategies you’ll learn on the Apraxia DVD will not hurt him in any way, even if he turns out not to have apraxia. If you didn’t order Teach Me To Talk, I hope you’ll back up and start with these strategies since they are easier for parents to implement at home. I hope you’ve watched either DVD and are using some of those ideas to work with him at home. YOU can be his speech therapist right now since he can’t get speech therapy through your insurance. Parents can make a HUGE difference in how their children learn to talk, so keep watching and then using those ideas with him. You said that you’re a teacher, so hopefully you’re able to watch and then implement those ideas into your play and daily routines with him starting today! They really do work. Let me know how he progresses and if you have other questions! Good luck to you and your little boy!! Laura

  273. Laura on April 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Holly – I’d be concerned about Cameron too. You are not expecting too much from him. Babies less than a year old consistently respond to their names. If your gut it telling you that something is wrong, then there probably is. You can have him evaluated by your state’s early intervention program for free, and then they can tell you if he needs therapy. Google your state’s name and the phrase “early intervention” to learn more about your program.

    In the meantime, please know that I believe children don’t talk because they CAN’T talk, not because they are stubborn or lazy. Don’t set up Cameron for a lifetime of thinking he’s “bad” or not smart enough by assigning those beliefs to him already at such a young age. When he learns what words mean and begins to consistently respond to you, he will very likely learn to use words to communicate.

    You can get good ideas to help you work with him at home by reading the articles here on the website. I’d also recommend that you check out my DVDs so you can SEE how to work with him at home.

    Thanks for your questions! Laura

  274. Jennifer Thomas on April 6, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    I have a niece who is 3 yrs old. She was born on methodone so I always gave the excuse of why that is the way she is. But the more that I am learning about autism, some of the symptoms fit. Let’s say for instance, breakfast time, 4 out of the 5 days, I make her pancakes with butter, on one of those day, she has a meltdown over the butter or the way the butter is placed on her pancake. She flaps her arms as if she’s flying away. She has a great vocabulary, talks like a normal three year old. Today, she gave my daughter a blue lollipop, n took a pink one for herself. She then went into a rage when she now wanted the blue one. Dropped to the floor and started freaking out. Another issue she has is: Routine, if you mess up her routine, she goes ballistic. She does not like her things touched, and there is a proper way and a place for each thing. Please tell me what u think? I am very concerned and need some advice.
    Thank you,
    Jennifer Thomas

  275. Carol Jones on April 7, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    I have been concerned for quite some time about my 2 1/2 y.o. son. He has not reached all of his physical milestones on time that why his DR had the CDSA to do test on him. He does not play with other kids when they are around, he will do fine around adults and kids that is older then him, but not kids his age.He dose not respond to us calling him at time either. He act like he deaf at times. He did not started babbling tell he was almost 12 months of ages. He has maybe 10-15 words he says right now. However much of it doesn’t make sense, he seems to get stuck on phrases and say them over and over again. One of his favorites is “bye-bye eat”. He says it at all different times. He can’t link appropriate animal sounds with the animal yet. He will not let me read to him, he rips the book out of my hands every time! If he wants something he gets it himself, if he cant he has a intense or violent tantrum. What I mean by violent tantrum is he bites, pulls hair, hits, and pinch me when he has one. If he’s trying to do something and can’t he has a tantrum instead of getting my help.He is very independent for his age. It seems like he ignores me at times, like when he’s doing something that will hurt him and I am telling him to stop and he wont. I don’t know but something seems off. He is hyperactive at all times he. He will not slow down for nothing. He can go from 6am-1am. I am so wore out. I am a single mother and this is so hard. He is uncooperative when I try to change his diaper and his clothes. Bath time is a strugle. When he gets excitd he does that arm flapping that they say autistic kids do. The part that really worries me though is the speech thing. His vocabularly has gotten smaller over time it seems and he just repeats the same phrases, also he does not mimic sounds. If we want him to repeat something we’re saying he won’t do it.He a very picky eater there times that it like he not eating ata ll. But all the DR cares is that he gaining weight. He wont eat meats, most veg. all he want is junk food and I dont like that. Thank you Carol

  276. Laura on April 8, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Jennifer – So many children who were drug-exposed prenatally have impulse control and other sensory issues. Since her language skills are age-appropriate and you don’t describe any other communicative problems, I’d still lean toward your initial instinct of what’s causing her issues. However, I can’t see her, and you can’t possibly tell me everything about her, so I’d have her evaluated to identify any developmental issues – perhaps by an occupational therapist to address the sensory perspective – or a pediatric psychologist to address her behavioral issues – or maybe a team. Since she’s already 3 you can begin with your local public school district, or have her seen in a private clinic. Good luck to you! Laura

  277. Laura on April 8, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Carol – Did your dr. refer him for a developmental evaluation? If not, then you need to call yourself and have him seen by your state’s early intervention program. For more information, Google your state’s name plus the phrase “early intervention” for more information.

    In the meantime, read the articles here on the site for ideas for how to work with him at home. Try articles in the expressive language, receptive language, and autism section. You may also want to check out my DVDs so you can SEE how to work with him at home to help him learn to understand words so that he can use them to communicate.

    Good luck with him Carol. I can read how frustrated you are, and I hope you can get some help with him to make things easier for you. Let us know how things go. Laura

  278. Carol Jones on April 9, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Yes the Dr did refer him for a developmental evaluation.I am reading everything that I can get my hands on. Tryio figuare out what I can do to help him. Dose it sounds like Autism? Was wonder so I can get him tested for that. I try not to get frustrated but it hard to be a single mother.He gose the 15th to see if he going be able to get the speech teacher when he in school.

  279. clara on April 11, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Hi, my son turned 2 a couple months ago, everything seems to be normal with speech and hes says 50+ words, also uses words together, juice please, more cookies, ect. he very active and very hyper! He plays with well with other kids even thhough he does have his “terrible twos” moments! BUt the only thing that has me worried is that sometimes NOT all the time, just every once in a while when he gets excited he does this weird thing with his hands! he tences up and like rolls his wrists? i thougt maybe its just a little thing he got use to or just doesnt no what to do with his hands when hes excited sometimes.. he does this every day, but its not like he doesnt have control over it he just does it, and then doesnt really notice hes doing it? so i’m just looking for advice, i was going to make an appt. with his doctor and talk about it, but its really got me worried, so what do u think this could be? i havent seen or even heard of other kids doing this! He doesnt flap his arms, he just tenses up and rolls his wrists, his face tences kinda when he does it too, i’ll ask him “what are u doing” he just looks at me like huh? And i no its not like turrets because he does it for some reason and he can go 5 or 6 hours without doing it.. then he gets excited over something and he’ll do it for about 5 secounds and then stop, like he does it almost every time he flushes the toliet.. thats like the only thing he does it every time to! so i would just like to no what you think about this!? Clara

  280. Kelli on April 11, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Hi! I have a 13 month old son who I have some concerns about. I know it’s a little early, but I have always had a nagging feeling regarding things with him. For the most part he has met most milestones, but towards the later range. At 13 months he has just started walking. He babbles a lot on some days and hardly at all on other days. His babbling started late as well. He says the words dada and mummummum sometimes, but it is not directed towards us. He doesn’t say any other words. He makes a lot of strange noises. He doesn’t try to get our attention for anything or try to ask us for things. He doesn’t converse with us back and forth and he doesn’t try to imitate us or repeat what we say. He is very content most of the time and probably wouldn’t eat if we didn’t sit him down and feed him. He does not point, but he will play pat-a-cake, peekaboo, and wave occasionally. He loves clapping and will clap most of the time for no reason. When we read him books he always wants to grab it from us and will look at the back of the book for about 2 seconds and then move on to something else. He hasn’t shown a lot of interest in being read to or looking at the pictures. He has good eye contact, loves when other people are around, smiles a lot and will cuddle. He likes playing with his toys although he does not do imaginitive play at all. He is a very picky eater and will not eat things with a mushy texture or a texture that is new to him. At times while he is eating he hits his head softly with his hand. Please tell me what you think. I look forward to hearing from you!

  281. Kelli on April 11, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Laura, I forgot to add that if we ask him to get a ball or other familiar objects he just looks at us and doesn’t know what were saying. Every once in awhile he will look at me or his dad when we ask where mommy or daddy is. Also, he responds to his name but only about 80 percent of the time. Thank you! Kelli

  282. clara on April 11, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Clara- i just wanted to add that his dad has always thought that hes had ADHD, even though its to early for him to get tested, so i decided to look up ADHD symptoms and it said ” twirling hands when excited” so i’m pretty possitive that its a early sign of ADHD! But i would still like to hear your opinon on it. thanks

  283. Jessica on April 12, 2010 at 12:48 am

    I have many questions and concerns for my 3 year old son. He does not talk with words at all he babbles all the time. I can yell his name right in front of his face and he won’t even give me a little eye contact. He has got better with eye contact but no where near where he should be. Everytime he babbles he has 2 put his hands in his face and flap them. His sleeping schedule is all over the place and it switches all the time. One week he is on a normal schedule and the next day he is up all night and sleeping all day. I am sure his eating habits are terrible as well. He will only eat chicken nuggets and a few other things. Everything he comes in contact with goes right in his mouth. There are alot more questions i have so if anyone could help me get the answers i would be very appreciative….. Thank You

  284. Sophie on April 13, 2010 at 1:03 am

    I have concerns about my 2 year old daughter.
    -She does not say any words but babbles.
    -She does not like to interact with other children. If I try to make her join a group of children she starts to cry.
    -Lately she has begun having tantrums if I take her to a new place or try to introduce anything unfamiliar. For example I took her to a toy store that she had never been in, ran to the door and cried.
    -A big concern for us is her attachment issues. If her father or I leave her sight she cries. If anyone tries to pick her up, this could be her grandparents who she has seen on a regular basis since birth, she cries.
    -As well she zones into things, we could yell her name and she doesn’t acknowledge us. We had her hearing tested, and it’s fine.
    -The last concern is that she used to say mama and dada and did simple gestures like waving around the age of ten months, but then stopped.
    Where I get confused on the red flags is that she maintains eye contact, is very affectionate towards her father and I, and has imaginative play.
    We hear everything from its just a phase, don’t pick her when she cries, its the terrible twos, to her doctor telling us that we don’t talk to her enough at home.
    I would greatly appreciate any feedback that you could provide.
    Thank you

  285. Laura on April 13, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Carol – Follow-through with the eval for speech and see what they say about him. Based on what you said, he does have some red flags for autism and certainly exhibits language delay since he’s not talking yet, but of course you’ll need to have someone SEE him to rule out autism and give you a firm diagnosis. Thanks for your questions and good luck!! Laura

  286. Laura on April 13, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Clara – What you are describing is what professionals call a stereotypic or self-stimulatory behavior. Kids do this usually when they see something they really like. It’s not part of typical development, but don’t panic, because although it’s not “typical,” it is pretty common with children with sensory processing differences. If this is the only behavior of his that concerns you and he’s meeting all of his milestones, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. But if it starts to interfere with other activities, if he begins to exhibit lags in development, or if you notice other differences, you’ll want to have him evaluated by an occupational therapist who works with children with sensory processing disorder. In the meantime, try redirecting him to clap when he sees something he likes. This will give him something to “do” besides twirl his hands and will look more typical. Thanks for your question – Laura

  287. Laura on April 13, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Kelli – He is pretty young, but I understand your concern.
    While he doesn’t have a major language delay, based on what you’ve said, there are enough red flags to be concerned. He does seem to be fitting that “late bloomer” model since he is social and understands well enough to do a few tricks and is hitting his motor milestones, but toward the later end of normal. I’d also be a little concerned about him hitting his head which might indicate he’s having difficulty with regulation/arousal – both sensory processing issues that occupational therapists address.

    Based on what you’ve said, you’re going to have to go out of your way to help him link words with meanings since he’s not learning to do this on his own. I can’t stress how important language comprehension is, and the good news is, you’re concerned early enough to make a real difference.

    You could go ahead and pursue a developmental evaluation, but some pediatricians won’t refer a child for speech this early. However, if you tell your dr. that he isn’t understanding very much, I think he/she would agree to go ahead and refer him. Keep in mind most state early intervention programs don’t have a requirement for physician referral, so you could call yourself and have him evaluated. The kicker would be that he’d just a little behind and not qualify for services yet, and then you’ll have to wait for a certain period of time to have him re-evaluated. I have assessed many children at 2 or 2 1/2 who were initially evaluated at 13 or 14 months when their parents were first concerned and who did not qualify for services, but had major delays by the time they were two.

    Read thru the articles here in the receptive language section for ideas for how to work with him at home. You may also want to check out my DVD Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 and also Teach Me To Talk for ideas to get his expressive language going.

    Thanks for your question. I have some other ideas for you, and I am going to talk about these on my podcast this week on Thursday at 2 pm. Listen in for Kate and me to read your question then discuss specific recommendations for you for home. Laura

  288. Laura on April 13, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Jessica – I’d recommend that you have your son evaluated right away. Based on what you’ve said about him, he very likely has a significant language delay since he’s using no real words at 3. By 3 children use and understand hundreds of words, so since this hasn’t happened yet, he very likely needs speech therapy. The language delay is reason enough to pursue an evaluation ASAP for him, but it sounds like he could be behind in other areas of development as well. Start with your local public school district and/or have him seen at a private clinic as soon as you can arrange it. Children typically don’t grow out of this kind of problem, so waiting to seek help is going to place him at risk to fall further and further behind. Thanks for your question. Kate and I will be talking about it this week on my podcast. Laura

  289. Laura on April 13, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Sophie – First of all, let me recommend that you get a new pediatrician. Blaming language delays on a parent is a crappy way to address a concern about her development, and you need someone who will listen to you and help give you real advice, not blame her missed milestones on you.

    Secondly, I would be concerned about her based on what you’ve said. She is LOSING skills. This is a big red flag for autism, and although I haven’t seen her and can’t say one way or another, this is a serious marker as described by every reputable source on childhood development. Again, for your pediatrician to have missed this is very, very serious.

    Thirdly, it’s a myth that children with autism aren’t affectionate with their parents. Many children with autism are so affectionate with their parents that they are even hyper-connected to mom and/or dad. This alone is not a reliable indicator for autism. Parents should look at a child’s social connection to other people to decide if there’s a problem.

    I hope that you’ll listen to your instincts and have her evaluated by your state’s early intervention program so they can tell you exactly what’s going on with her. Google your state’s name plus the phrase “early intervention” to find out contact information. In the meantime, read the articles here on the site for more ideas with how to work with her at home. Check out ideas both in the receptive and expressive language categories as well as my DVDs.

    Thanks so much for your question. I’m going to talk about this more on my podcast this week, so tune in for more ideas. Good luck with her! Laura

  290. Kelli on April 14, 2010 at 2:42 pm


    I want to thank you so much for your quick response and advice regarding my 13th month old. As you know, parents who are asking you questions on your site have concerns and the fact that you address these so quickly is very much appreciated. Being an elementary educators, I know the importance of early intervention and how small delays can quickly become a bigger problem. Again, thank you so much for your advice. My husband and I will be tuning in for your podcast on Thursday.


  291. tarsha on April 16, 2010 at 2:51 am

    my son turned 3 in march and is speech is very limited to less than 10 words he sees a speech therapist once a week for 30 minutes and i dont see that its helping any he been going since the end of january and i dont see any inprovement at all it seems to me that 30 minutes of therapy isnt long enough to make a noticable difference. I was wondering if me having high blood pressure my entire pregnancy had anything to do with his speech delay. Also he was delivered by c-section at 36 wks after they tired for 2 days to induce my labor and my cervix wouldnt open to vafinally deliver.

  292. mel on April 18, 2010 at 2:22 am

    HI i have a 21 month old son he is very smiley he cant walk he can crawl and he climbs on every thing . He lays on his back and kicks everything from cubards to radiater all in same patteren and flaps his arms gets right giddy he doesnt play with toys just spinns wheels he loves tv sits flapping arms twiches his fingers and his legs twich aswells he only uses da da da de but not at his dad no other words . He only eats crisps biscuits yogets he had just started to eat a bit of bread with cocholate spread on any other food he is sick if u put it in his mouth e will just whack it out of your hand he is still on baby milk due to lack of eating .He loves water no fear he lays in water spins round and round and flapps his hands and feet allways pointing his feet down he crys at trupet noises gets very upset takes about 15 min to calm down after hear it loves lights and chases vacume round and put his head on it but he will give eye contact some time but then i think he his looking through me he doesnt wave or point never asks for anything in his life am very worried he is my forth child and seems differnt to my other four i have seen doctor but she thought e gave a little to much eye contact but seen another and he seem to think e could be boarder line autism and been referd again

  293. Laura on April 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Tarsha – Regardless of what complications you had in your pregnancy, I am so glad you have him in speech therapy now. But you are exactly right that 30 minutes a week is NOT enough. You’re going to have to do most of the hard work at home. Is your therapist giving you ideas for working with him at home? If not, you should ask her for some homework. In the meantime, read-read-read articles here on the site for how to work with him at home. You may also want to check out my DVDs for more ideas. Teach Me To Talk will show you simple techniques you can use to increase his ability to imitate words. If he’s having comprehension problems too, you may also want to check into Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 and 2. Good luck with him!! Laura

  294. Laura on April 18, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Mel – He definitely needs to be referred for another assessment since based on what you’ve said, he exhibits several red flag behaviors. He needs to be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist and an occupational therapist who can help you learn how to get his attention, interact with you, understand words, and then finally talk. I’d push for the assessment as soon as you can get it. In the meantime read ideas here on the website for how to work with him. You may also want to check out my DVDs since then you can SEE how to work with him at home. Laura

  295. Carol on April 22, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Landan had his visit with the speech-language pathologist. She says that Landan is showing Selective hearing. Only do something when he want to. She also says that his understanding commands was very high. Also said that Landan has a barrow that he put up. We trying to get him to cross the barrow and she thank he be ok.There was a 15 % different between understanding commands and actually doing them. The other night he said his first 2 word together. wanna popcorn. It was muffle and hardly could make it out but I was so proud of him. He still mostly babble. They saying that he just getting in his terible 2’s he will be 3 in 4 months. I also found out something thro his Vision teacher and it is working. Kids with Autim and legal blind has a lot of the same sings. So anyone that out there that thank there baby has autim also get there eye check please. But with the eating issue try spiceing it up a little they dont have a high thruch hold and they need it even really hot or really cold. My son will eat Musturd, A1,and Salas by it self. It cause of the spice in it. His vision Teacher told me to add soom to the food that he having trouble with to se

  296. Laura on April 24, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Carol – Thanks for your comment. I wish you and Landan lots of luck! Laura

  297. Fallony on April 27, 2010 at 9:48 am

    My daugther will be 2 in a month. I have tried to find research and figure out if my daughter might have autism since she throws some of the more violent temper tantrums ever. If things don’t go her way she bashes her head against the wall. The last time she did this she bruised her forehead and i was talking to my co workers about this they asked me if i thought she was autistic.I never thought it could be this because i thought she was just a spoiled child because my husband doen’t like to discipline her. She is also extremely hyper. She does well with cousin who is 4 but when they get together its terrible she has her good days and her not so great days. The one thing that worries me is that shes extremely independent. She has no fear really she climbs on anything and everything. She once grabbed a toddler chair and placed it on her toddler table and then climbed on the table and then the chair as she stood there she was stomping on the chair that was on top of the table. I just thought she was extrememly smart when she was separating blocks by colors but i never thought it would be autism. She loves to read though we have your baby can read so she uses gestures and most of her vocabulary is mama, dada, dog, doggie, fishy, duck,uh oh, oh no, thank you. I’m not sure if she is autistic of just spoiled and smart, and impatient like i said shes only almost 2 i know she might have a lot more talking to learn. But i am concerned that by talking to some of my co workers would all ask me if she was autistic by some the stories that ive told them. Is it just my imagination or is it the real thing i don’t know.

  298. Laura on April 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Fallony – Of course I can’t see your daughter so I won’t be able to say if she’s is autistic or not, but if more than one person has told you this, then it’s definitely something to consider. I’d get her evaluated by your state’s early intervention program.According to what you’ve reported she doesn’t have as many words as she should for an almost 2 year old, so she likely will qualify for speech therapy.

    Not being able to ask an adult for help is the reason so many children seem to be very independent, and this in itself is a concern since it indicates she may not understand that things will be easier for her if she gets an adult ot help her.

    She may also need to see an occupational therapist to help you address those sensory needs – her need for movement, not attending to verbal directions, the need to sort/order items rather than play with them, etc….

    Good luck and I hope you can find some answers for her! Laura

  299. Amy on May 12, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    I have a daughter who will be 3yrs old in July. She doesn’t talk very much at all, but sings everything. I’m sure there isn’t even 50 words to her vocabulary. She lines up everything, from toys, to fruit, to change in the floor. Although she does not seem bothered by the “lines” being “interrupted”. She makes good eye contact, and loves hugging me, but I’m pretty much it. She isn’t very hyper-active, but will stay away for a long time…thinking she only need only a few hours a day or every couple of days. She gets up-set and will cry for hours and I have no idea what she needs or wants, we are no where near being able to work on potty-training. All I can do is “guess” I get her something to drink, eat, a bath, clean diaper, play with her and sometimes none of that is it. She is also much smaller than most 3yr. olds. I thought the speech delay may be a hearing problem, but I question that because she can sing everything. I’m really just at a loss as to where to begin to try and figure out what is going on.

  300. Charlene-South Africa on May 15, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I have a 4 jr old son that is batteling with speech and understanding, something you could try that helped my son alot is picture cards for each thing like a cup, he must use the cards to show what he wants, this helps them understand first, then like with him the speach will improve. If he wants something and babbles I say what it is , like “do you want the cooldrink?” , if he babbles again , i say cooldrink, I tell him to say cooldrink, and then he repeats, When I hand it to him I say: Say thank you mommy, he’s gotton so cute and says “Kiiitee” which is his way of saying thank you. His speech is improving, slowly but improving!!! And it meant the world , hearing him say ” Thanks mommy” today!

    Keep praying! keep working at words, point and say the word, children are like cups , if you fill it up and it overflows , when you keep adding words even if they not use it , it will get more and more words until their cups pours over and they start using the words.

    Have a blesssed day, having a child is a gift, keep on being strong. God does not give us more than he thinks we can handle.

    Too all the mommies
    Charlene, Mossel Bay , South Africa

  301. Laura on May 16, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Amy – I want to really encourage you to have her evaluated by your state’s early intervention program. She should be talking much more than she is, and the other concerns you mention are red flags. She very likely will qualify for services. State programs end at 3 and then children are seen for therapy by their local public school systems. You should pursue these services as well. You want her as caught up as possible by the time she goes to kindergarten, and from what you’re describing now, she is behind. Children usually don’t catch up on their own, so get some help from a pediatric speech-language pathologist and any other therapies she qualifes for. In the meantime, keep reading for ideas for how to work with her at home here on the website. She’s almost 3, so you need to increase what you’re doing to work with her at home to help her catch up. You may also want to check out my DVDs. Good luck to you and let me know if there’s any other info you need. Laura

  302. Laura on May 16, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Charlene – Thanks for your encouraging words and advice! Laura

  303. Wanda on May 19, 2010 at 8:02 am

    i have a almost two year old boy he doesnt really talk at all he grunts rather than speak he used to say ma ma ma ma to get my attention or da da da over and over i dont know if he is autistic or not we have our first doctor appointment on this matter today in two hours i’m so scared i know if he does i can handle it he’ll just have to learn differently then his sister(3yrs) and it will be hard at times my worry is how hard will it be on him. i dont know what to do i guess i should take it a step at a time but i’m a natural worrier i’m a mother which of us dont i feel like crying like have i failed him i had to work after he was born and take on a new demanding job i’m a single mom by the way did i not spend enough time with him i didnt work his sister first yr and she is advanced for her age i know its not right to compair i cant help it rather then have a fault or difference in him i want it just to be my fault something i didn’t do i’m a nurse now i’ve seen autism in my older patients i dont want this to be my son i dont know can anybody give me a word of wisdom i’m praying always but i need to know it okay if he’s autistic i want to know i still hear my baby’s voice say mommy or i love you anything lord help me i’ve been stressed over this for 5months seeing doctors that tell me he’s fine he just a late bloomer but i’m his mother i should know right.

  304. scared on May 19, 2010 at 10:38 am

    My daughter is 16 months and just babbles. Sge doesn’t wave and doesn’t point I can get hre to make eye contact but sometimes I really have to work at it (like if she is watching tv) she doesn’t spin things or stack rocks occationally she smiles when we have company over and thinks the dog is hillarious. She starts speach therepy tomarrow they told me she is 10 months developmentally and 11 months emotionally. I asked if they thought she was autistic and they said they don’t get that vibe. I’m so scared n loosing sleep. What do u think?

  305. What to do? on May 22, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Im not a parent of an autistic child, but I do have a family member whose child exhibits a lot of the behaviors listed above. The family member seems oblivious to the fact that her son is not developing mentally the way he should be he is almost 2 in less than a month and doesn’t talk the only two things I’ve heard him say are “uh-oh” and “Choo-Choo”. He flaps his hands when he gets excited, screams and bangs his head on things when he is mad…and often acts as if he can’t hear but other times he does. He doesn’t point or waive or seem to understand what other people are saying. I have never seen him play with a toy..ever he just watches TV excessively in my opinion and runs around the house. Those are just some of several other behaviors I have noticed, Im concerned for him because I know that IF he is autistic he would benefit greatly from being diagnosed and then getting some help but his parents really don’t act concerned. I know if it were my child I might be in denial too, but at the same time if someone from the outside looking in brought it to my attention I would at least check into it. Should I mention something or should I just keep it to myself. I would hate for them to be upset with me but I really am concerned for the little boy.

  306. Laura on May 23, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Wanda – I hope that you’ve gotten some relief from your worry since you saw the doctor. Even if he does go on to be diagnosed autism spectrumn disorder, it doesn’t mean that he won’t ever learn to talk. Getting him enrolled in speech therapy is very important not only so the SLP can work with him, but teach you what to do when you’re at home with him. Don’t beat yourself up over what’s already happened, and in my experience, no mother has ever “caused” her child to have a delay unless prenatally there was substance abuse or in the cases of severe neglect or physical abuse. Chances are, he was “wired” this way from the start. So now focus on what you CAN control, which is helping him get better. Check out your state’s early intervention program for help. You can find info about that by Googling your state name and the phrase “early intervention.” The assessments are free, and if he qualifies, therapy will be lower cost than what you would pay privately. If you’re a nurse, then your insurance may also cover speech therapy, so check that out too. You are his best hope, so keep pursuing professional help for him and keep reading for ideas here on the website for how to work with him at home. If you have’t done this already, check out my DVDs so you can SEE how to work with him at home. In my experience children whose parents make a commitment to work with them at home do much better than those whose parents don’t. Even if your time is limited, it’s better than nothing, so get started today. You can do this!! Laura

  307. Laura on May 23, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Dear Scared Mom – I’m so glad you pursued speech therapy not only for her, but for you! Ideally your SLP will be teaching you how to play with her so that she begins to connect more often with you, understand words, then finally use gestures and say words. She is so young, so try not to get too worried yet. In the meantime read the articles here on the website for more ideas so that you can work with her at home. You may also want to check out my DVDs so you can SEE how best to implement those techniques with a toddler. If she’s not understanding very much language, start with Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 and then Teach Me To Talk. Good luck and I hope the website and DVDs help you! Laura

  308. monique on May 31, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    my son is 17 months old he started walking at 14 months. my uncle works with autistic kids and hes always told me to check m y son. i guess i don’t think he has a problem the only thing he does is that show the symptoms are Does not consistently respond to his/her name.Doesn’t follow directions.and he talks but its not as clear its a little babble. if u can please give some kind of answer thank you

  309. roslyn on May 31, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    my daughter its 2years with 7 months, and she only said about 35 words and bubbles 90% of her time. she take speech terapy 3 times a week, and she be evaluated by a neurologist and he make a MRI and no appear nothing wrong, we evaluated by her ears and they appear ok. The sppeach pathologist tell me she not have sympotms of autism, but she doings some things i’m very confused, because she sometimes she has hand flapping, and walk in her toes sometimes, if she want something she pointed or take my hand a take me and pointed what she want, she have good eyed contact. She likes to take a bath, and she identify her body parts but whe i tell her wheres the feet she said fe.
    She is in nursery and she have good interaction with the other kids. when you call sometimes she looks and sometimes no.
    when she born she have fibramotosis colli, i dont know if this affect her.
    Please tell me what you think or what to do??

    i really appecite your help

  310. Laura on June 2, 2010 at 5:02 am

    Monique – Without seeing him I can’t tell you if there is or isn’t a problem. I highly recommend that you have him evaluated by your state’s early intervention program. By his age he should be responding to his name, following directions, and repeating familiar words in addition to saying around 10 words on his own. If he’s not doing those things, then he does have delayed communication skills and could most likely benefit from speech therapy to jump start his language skills. In the meantime keep reading for ideas here on the website so that you can work with him at home. You may also want to check out my DVDs too so you can SEE how to help him. Thanks for your question and good luck! Laura

  311. Laura on June 2, 2010 at 5:09 am

    Roslyn – It already sounds like you’re doing everything you can do. She’s in speech therapy 3x weekly, and you’ve followed up with medical professionals to rule out other problems. If her SLP and the other specialists you’ve taken her to see have rule out autism, then don’t worry about that anymore. There are other reasons besides autism that children exhibit communication delays and sensory processing differences. The important thing isn’t really whether she’s “autistic” or not, or that you get a firm diagnosis for her. It’s that she’s making improvements.

    You sound like a committed mom, so I also trust that you’re playing with her and doing “therapy” at home so that you can help her learn to communicate to the best of her ability. Keep asking the SLP who is working with her what you can do to help her at home. Keep reading here on the website for more ideas as well. You may also want to check out my DVDs so you can SEE how to work with her at home. Thanks for your question and good luck! Laura

  312. Stephanie on June 4, 2010 at 8:31 am

    You seem very knowledgeable, so I have a few questions for you. My daughter is 23 months old and is exhibiting some odd behaviors that have me concerned. The first one is that she does not cuddle, at all (unless she is really sick, which has only been 2-3 times. She will give hugs/kisses, but they are brief and hurried like she is too busy for them. The second is that every time our dryer buzzes, she covers her ears. She does say words (20-50), some anyone can understand and some that only the people who are around her daily would know, but does not really put words together too much. She says “no, no bad” to the dog and things like “oh my” and “oh boy.” Also, lately when I catch her getting into something she shouldn’t be, she stands there and looks down and pinches her thumb and index fingers together on each hand and kind of waves/twists them, which seemed odd to me. She also ignores us alot when we call her name, but not always. Some things she seems like she’s right on track, but she has these other things that seem abnormal to me. I don’t know whether to worry or not. She has her 2 year check-up in just over a month and I will definately mention it to her pediatrician, but I thought maybe I could do some research on my own before then. What do you think? Do I have reason for concern, or am I being a paranoid mommy? I would love your input on this. Thanks! Stephanie

  313. Laura on June 8, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Stephanie – Thanks for your question. There’s so much here to talk about that I am going to answer your question on my podcast this Thursday 6/10 at 2 pm. Listen in then! Laura

  314. Alisha on June 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I’ve got a son who is 2 1/2 years old. He has most of the mentioned above(almost all).I’m really worried about him. He’s not even walking yet, he manages to stand but not unaided. He’s not saying any words, flapping arms when he gets excited, he loves spinning things, hears the most quiet noises, crys when i put the kettle, microwave, washing machine etc..even cries when i’m on the phone or my husband talks to me in a loud voice. Has a lot of tantrums, does’nt wave bye, plays with his toys quiety, has some sleeping problems, gets severly consipated where he ends up bleeding.

    Is this a sign of autism? As he does smile back when smiled at, likes it when grandparents, uncles and aunties come round. Enjoys playing with his brother. Eats well, does respond to his name but only when its feeding time.

  315. Melissa on June 9, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Hi! I have a son who is almost 4 who has CAS. I am concerned about his younger sisters speech development. Leanna just turned 1 on Monday. She babbles (which is positive) and says ‘Dada’, but not in reference to her Dad. When we say ‘mama’ or ‘baba’ she does not repeat it, or anything else. We have been working on baby sign language (which worked wonderfully with my oldest, but not at all my CAS son), but she is not picking it up. I am not sure if I should be concerned or if she is in an average development pattern . . .Any advice? Thank you! Melissa

  316. Laura on June 14, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Melissa – Leanna is too young for you to know for sure what’s going to happen with her language development. I will tell you that I see LOTS of younger siblings of children I’ve seen previously when there are also language delays. As you know, the sooner you can get her in treatment, the better, but 12 months is way too early to know for sure. Continue your signs and all of the other strategies you’ve learned in therapy with your older son. If she’s still not coming along by 18 months, pursue the SLP eval then. In the meantime, read the articles her eon the site for more ideas. You may also want to check out my Teach Me To Talk with Apraxia DVD since it outlines goals for working with toddlers, and you could start on those things at home now on your own, especially since you’ve already participated in therapy with your 4 year old. Thanks for your question! Laura

  317. Laura on June 14, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Alisha – I’d pursue assessments TODAY for your child. Not walking at 2 1/2 is a serious issue, and you need professional intervention ASAP. Waiting to see how if he’ll grow out of these things is usually applicable until 2, and since he’s past that, I’d ask for a referral immediately for overall developmental skills. It doesn’t matter if he has autism or not since based on what you’ve said, he’s exhibiting delays in all areas. What does your pediatrician say about him? I hope that he/she is as concerned as I am. Please, please pursue help for him. It’s that important. Laura

  318. Alisha on June 15, 2010 at 6:07 am

    My sons got a nuerology app in 2 weeks, they’ve also referred him to Early starts Team, physiotherapy, audiology, speech therapy and i need to go to a special needs groups. They don’t know what the problem is yet.

    My son is not even feeding himself, when he drinks milk i need to feed it to him. When he holds a spoon he does’nt put it into his mouth, he would’nt even put a crisp into his mouth. He just looks like a baby. I know he’s having development delay but from what i’ve told you, do you know what it could be? Any advice would be of help, as he looks fine but just having severe delay.

    Oh! He was also 34 weeks premature. Thank you!

  319. MISS ORTIZ on June 15, 2010 at 11:51 am



  320. Laura on June 17, 2010 at 6:21 am

    Miss Ortiz – Not sharing and becoming upset when forced to share is pretty common, but I’d still be a little concerned about his behavior since he exhibits such extremes. He likely is having difficulty understanding language too. On my podcast today (#78 June 17, 2010) we’ll talk about the importance of helping a child learn to connect with you and play with you. Tune in for that! Thanks Laura

  321. Laura on June 17, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Alisha – I’m so glad he’s getting assessments. They will tell you for sure what’s going on with him. In the meantime, keep reading for info here on the website for ideas for things you can do at home. You may also want to check out my DVDs so you can SEE the kinds of things you can work on during play. Good luck and keep me updated on what’s going on with him. Laura

  322. Comment by Linda on June 17, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    To any of you who believe your child may have autism and they are have trouble communicating, you could try teaching them basic sign language to give them a form of communication until they start talking or forming words. This also gives their hands something to do. My son is 9 and when he was 5 I sat him down in front of the tv and he basicly taught himself the basic signs through videos. He began talking 1-2 words at a time after that even if he signed while talking. This gave him visual stimulation, because he liked to see things move. You can not take their hands away so they will always have that form of communication with them. Now my son does not use the signs except for bathroom. He says random words all the time, but is starting to understand when and where to use certain words appropriately. Also, make sure you discipline, redirect, or give your child time out like any other child. My son gets gets appropriate discipline for his actions and his tantrums are almost non existent and have been for about a year and a half.

  323. Tara on June 19, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Hi I want you to know your website and the responses have helped me. My son Jasper will be 3 in October. He did not walk until he was 26 monthes old. He can only say 10 words. He has awful fits were he hits people throws things hits himself breaks things flaps his arms up and down. Birth to 3 reporting he was doing most things at a 12 month age range. I have been told by severall people they think he has autism. This is all so scarey to me because I have 4 other children and they all done things early. Does anyone else think hes showing signs of autism?

  324. Laura on June 22, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Tara – Thanks for your question. I can’t say for sure what’s going on with Jasper since I can’t see him, BUT the important thing is that you have him in therapy. Keep working with him. Most kids, even those with severe issues, get better when their parents are committed to working with them and keep it up, even when it seems like things are moving ever so slowly! What do the therapists who work with him think? They will be your best bet at getting an accurate diagnosis. I’m glad the website is helping. You may want to take a look at my DVDs too! Laura

  325. stuart on June 29, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Hi Laura,

    I have a question about my 17 months old son, and about overall development in general. He was diagnosed with a gross motor delay at age 12 months, and we are still working with a PT to get him mobile (he is a VERY fast crawler, but a very hesitant walker). Over the course of his language development, he has consistently used about 8 words, but in the past month or so he has not added any new words and he has used the ones he has less frequently (often requires a lot of cueing).

    I spoke with both his PT and a friend who is an SLP, and they mentioned that this is likely due to the focus he is putting on his motor development, and to not worry about it right now. However, it is hard to do that knowing that loss of language can be a big indicator for autism.

    He has not displayed any losses in his receptive language, he is learning more body parts, following more daily routines, and so on. His play is not spectacular, he tends to like to drop things and see what happens a lot of the time. He does initiate lots of things with his mother and myself (the “hat” game where he signs “hat” and puts something on his head).

    Would it be worthwhile to schedule and appt. with a developmental pediatrician, or is this loss likely because of his recent gains in motor abilities?

    thank you for your time, I know you must not have a lot of it!

  326. Laura on June 29, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Stuart – I agree with your PT and SLP. As long as he’s continuing to add receptive language skills and is still progressing socially and initiating those cute games like his hat game, I’d not worry about him being on the spectrum. Just keep pouring that language in; one day you will hear it back!! If he’s not adding new words in 3-4 months, then get a speech eval. I probably wouldn’t go through the hassle of the developmental pediatrician unless you grow more concerned. Thanks for your great question. Laura

  327. Jill on June 29, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    my son is 2 1/2. he omits the consanant beginnings of almost all his words. is this something that is common or not. should i be worried and what can i do for him.

  328. Laura on June 30, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Jill – That’s a pretty atypical pattern. Leaving off ending consonant sounds is part of normal speech development, but not leaving off the beginning sounds. I recommend that you get him evaluated by a speech-language pathologist to help teach you how to work on this with him at home. As far as therapy goes, it’s not an easy pattern to fix, and in my opinion, would require tips from an SLP so that you know the right/wrong way to help him. Since his language isnn’t delayed, he probably won’t qualify for your state’s early intervention program, but you could call them and check anyway. Otherwise, you should ask around for the names of SLPs who work with very young children. If you wait until 3, you can call your local public school district, but I wouldn’t recommend waiting since this is an unusual pattern. Thanks for your question – Laura

  329. Lis on July 4, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Hi Laura, I just found this site and it has been extremely helpful, but I would like to ask you some questions. I have some concerns with my 23-month-old son. He throws some crazy explosive tantrums at least once a day, most times when I say no to something, for example, which I know is typical for toddlers. But sometimes it’s for things that I don’t understand, or out of the blue. For example, if we’re walking outside and I tell him “Come” he’ll start crying and throw himself on the floor banging or trying to hit me. Sometimes just for no reason. I know some of it might stem from his not being able to talk yet (he just started ST this week) and communicate with us, but sometimes it’s just baffling.

    Also, some odd behaviour that I’ve seen lately. We used to go to storytime at the library, and he would be completely fine. But all of a sudden, a month or so back, he would go crazy (with tantrums) the moment they started singing. Once they went back to reading, he would calm down. Then a couple days later I took him to a birthday party, at a place he knows with people he knows, and he wouldn’t have any of it. The moment we walked into the room, he started crying and only wanted to be outside running up and down the entrance ramp. (He does this at the park too, prefers running up and down a ramp and some steps they have instead of playing around.) I have noticed also that he will throw tantrums if we don’t go the usual routes he knows, when walking outside.

    He interacts with kids, likes to get their attention, but mostly older kids that won’t really play with him, instead of other toddlers like himself. He loves running around with his older cousins, so I’m thinking that could be why? Also, he has started just this past weeks to run or sometimes walk with his left arm (he’s a lefty) up, kind of with his hand towards his chest and the elbow pointing out. And when he does this, he puts his fingers in a weird position. I find that very odd. He’s very clumsy when running and walking, he trips quite often, and his gait is really all over the place. (I’ve already had his feet checked, everything was okay.)

    He flaps his hands when excited, like he can’t stop, sometimes walks in his tiptoes, but not that often. Loves lining up his cars or crayons, loves to watch the wheels on his cars or my office chair spin, absolutely obsessed with his alphabet and numbers puzzles, to the point where he learned to recognize the numbers and letters in a matter of one week, and spends a good chunk of time a day just playing with them. Not much of a cuddler, but will give you a kiss and hug if you ask. Has great eye contact. Loves to make us smile, but will rarely smile at others. Follows simple instructions.

    Oh my, this has been so long, I know, I’m sorry! I could keep going but I’m sure this should be enough. I just feel frustrated and I don’t feel like I’m getting much help from my pediatrician or support from my husband. I’m still waiting on a neurologist appointment for him (he has started patting/scratching the back of his head and his ears and putting pressure in his eyes with his hands) to kind of see where to go, but it seems like a very long road. Thanks for any input you may be able to provide!

  330. Laura on July 4, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Lis – By the way you describe him, it sounds like he has many, many sensory processing issues. He sounds like a sensory seeker – he wants to run repetitively, holds his hands funny to press against his little body, walks on his toes to feel deep pressure, and seeks out things that provide that visual “oomph” for him, such as patterns with letters and numbers and watching things that spin.

    If this is a new term for you, I’d recommend that you Google sensory processing disorder. I do have info about that here on the website, and last fall, I did a series about this on my podcast “Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate.” You may want to check out those out. The most current book about sensory processing disorder is Lucy Jane Miller’s Sensational Kids.

    Some of the things you’re describing (flapping and can’t stop, patting the back of his head, and placing his hands on his eyes) are also called stereotypic behaviors and are noted in children with sensory processing cravings who may go on to be diagnosed with autism.

    The tantrums you describe are also common for children with severe sensory processing and language delays. He may not fully understand what you want him to do, therefore he cries and becomes upset for no reason or “out of blue.”

    Are you getting speech through your state early intervention program? Is he getting Occupational Therapy too? If not, then you should ask your service coordinator for a referral for that eval as well. Or if you’re seeing an SLP privately or in a clinic, ask for an OT referral. Adding an OT who specializes in treating sensory processing disorders in toddlers and young children can make a HUGE difference for you. You’ll learn WHY he’s doing some of the things he’s doing and how you can provide alternative activities throughout your day to make getting through the day easier for him and for you.

    Liking to play with older children instead of other toddlers is pretty common. Older children (who are nice and who like younger kids!) are more predictable and more like playing with an adult.

    Don’t cancel the neuro consult, but your time and money will probably be better spent with a developmental pediatrician who can give you an accurate diagnosis if he fits any specific diagnostic criteria. By the way you describe him, he sounds fairly social, so he may not qualify for an autism spectrum diagnosis, but based on what you’ve said, he is language delayed with sensory processing differences, and a skilled developmental pediatrician can help tease out a diagnosis.

    However, I’d probably wait on this consult to see how he progresses with therapy in the next 6 months. I’ve treated many children who might have gotten an autism diagnosis as they were turning 2, but make so much progress over the next year that even the most inclusive professionals would hesitate to give the diagnosis at that point. If he’s not moving right along in 6 months, pursue the diagnostic appt. at that time. If he is making good progress in therapy, then you may want to wait until he’s 3 or after, or you may no longer be concerned enough at that point to pursue the formal diagnostic visit.

    BUT I do think you’re right in pursuing therapy services for him now at such a young age. Early intervention can make a HUGE difference in the outcomes of children when delays are first noted. I also do think you’re right in assuming that this could be a long road ahead for you. I know it hurts like crazy right now, especially if you’re not getting the kind of support you need, but you are doing the right things by pursuing information and professional assistance as you try to help him. Good luck to you! Moms like you are why I continue to do this website! Laura

  331. Anonymous on July 5, 2010 at 12:18 am

    I have been reading this site and trying to figure out all these things about autism. My son just turned 2 in June. He doesn’t speak much. Just says “what”, “whats this”, and “no”. He doesn’t even say “mom” or “dad”. He is is very big for his age. On average people, even doctors think he is 4 yrs old. But I have been reading some of these behaviors, and oh boy did I break down crying. I don’t know what to do, or how to go about all this. My son walks on his tip toes everywhere. Even in regular shoes. He flaps his arms and jumps up and down when he gets excited. He doesn’t listen when I call his name. Occasionally he will, but not very often. He likes to run away when we are in public, and not being able to see me or find me doesn’t seem to be a problem with him. I sometimes think that I am not doing a good job as a mother. He is my first and only child. My husband is deployed to Iraq. So I am on my own support system until he gets back. Its so hard, and some days frustrating for me. I cry all the time. And don’t know what to do. He doesn’t color coordinate things, or stack things together or in lines. But he likes to play in quiet. He interacts well with kids, sometimes better with older kids, but he does get kind of angry quicker when around kids his age and doesn’t like to share. He doesn’t repeat any words I try to get him to say. He likes to look at pictures in books, but hates when I try to read to him. He will only eat things he gets himself, and will throw a fit if I don’t open it just right. He only likes certain foods, and is picky about when he eats. He likes what he likes and no one can change his mind. He throws tantrums A LOT. My husband and I have a hard time taking him to restaurants with us because of his tantrums, let alone in public. He is fine at home most days, but sometimes he throws tantrums for no reason. His speech is really what has me worried though. I’m noticing more and more each day that there is no progress. He maybe has 10 words that he says. He will point and babble about things, but no actual words. He smiles when you smile at him, and he will try to count numbers to 5 on his fingers with you and then will give you a high five once you get to five. He says bye and waves, and when the door bell rings he will say “come in”, but it is kind of slured. I need help. But his doctors say this is fine and he is just a late bloomer. How do I get his doctors to work with me? I have military health care. They aren’t the greatest, but they aren’t the worst. And I am sooo scared to tell my husband. Give me any advice you can. I will take it with open ears. I just want the best for my son.

  332. Lis on July 5, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Laura, thanks for your prompt response. My son’s getting speech therapy through a private clinic through my insurance after he didn’t qualify for EI back in March of this year. At that point, they said he didn’t qualify because he was average or right on track in everything other than language. And I did ask my pediatrician for a referral for a developmental pediatrician, but she said to first start with a neurologist. Maybe I should’ve pushed for the DP more. I was thinking about asking for an appointment with an OT at his next ST visit. I’ll definately take into consideration what you said about seeing his progress in the next six months.

    He is pretty social, for the most part, but he does like to play on his own sometimes. I do believe that socially he’s alright, but, still, who knows? And I think that what’s driving more crazy is basically the wait, and trying to find appointments and what’s going on. I just want to get him the help he needs as soon as possible, but I know I have to be patient too.

    In regards to your website, it’s absolutely great. I’m taking pointers from various articles, and I will look for the book you mentioned. I’ve heard of it before, just haven’t looked into it, but I will now. Again, thank you so much. I will be coming back.

  333. Kay on July 6, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I have always worried about this Stigma “Autism” and I don’t know if that has caused me to look at every single thing that my child does as a means of analyzing his behavior pattern and worrying myself about the possibility of him being autistic. My son is 2 yrs 4mths old and lately i have noticed a few things that he does that concerns me. we will go through them all: He is a very active toddler and quite independent. He will watch his dvd’s (educational i.e. abc’s and others by himself for long periods of time). For the most part he already knows his ABC’s and some numbers. he knows each dvd (and he has about 30 so far), not sure if it is a by sight process that he uses or what. but he knows them differently from Baby Einstein to Alphabet Al. He is a very picky eater and some days he will have just applejuice all day long and cheese while other days he actually goes into the refrigerator and takes out his yogurts, chocolate pudding, milk or juice, but first he will say it out loud to me. like “mommy, i want my yogurt etc”. On other days he will eat most of what i give him to eat that I actually know he likes. He started saying a lot more words in February when we went to visit his cousins in Fla, which was right after his 2nd birthday. Now he speaks very clearly but at times when he is excited he kind of babbles his words. When i tell him to speak slowing so mommy can understand he does and then i do understand him. I have never done the baby talk (i.e. googoo gah gah like other parents). I have always spoken english in a clear manner. he understands almost everything i say or ask him to do. he is potty training through daycare and will come to me and say mommy i need to use the potty and pull his pampers off and run to the bathroom and get his seat and place it on the toilet himself. bear with me as i tell of all his good and bad attributes. whenever he gets upset he throws the most awful tantrums. he will flip his little table and chairs over, throw himself on the floor or try to hit or bite. At one point he slapped me in my face so hard that his dad was shocked and it stung so badly i had tears in my eyes. sometimes if he makes a mess (i.e. his toys or spills juice etc. he will run to me and say mommy i made a mess” and “I sorry”. his sense of direction is uncanny and also knowledge of outdoor places. e.g. i recently changed his daycare and and a few weeks later we drove down a street that led past the street you would have to turn on to get to the old daycare and he said “mommy go that way” and i said why and he replied “i want to go to daycare”. I was stunned to say the least. when i said no he had such a meltdown in the car and kept saying “GO THAT WAY” in a demanding voice. I was told i was very tempermental as a child and now as an adult i have very anal ways (i.e. I take the same route to the mall always and park in the same area on the 2nd level, i vacuum in a line and i would also put his toys in a straight line and i am also a neat and clean freak). I am thinking that perhaps he just has inherited a few of my behavioral patterns. Another day i pulled into a gas station and before i could even turn the car off he said “mommy you getting gas”. He knows that mommy doesn’t like daddy wearing his shoes in the living room and one day when his dad came home and had his shoes on he went over to him and said “daddy take it off” and actually took the shoes and placed them where they should go. I asked my self how does he know that i am getting gas? are these normal perceptive behaviors on his part? am i overthinking his abilities and his actions?

  334. Laura on July 8, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Anonymous – I’d highly recommend that you have your little boy evaluated by your state’s early intervention program. Based on what you’ve said, he is exhibiting some delays, regardless of whether or not he is on the autism spectrum. I’d also hope that you aren’t waiting until he’s evaluated to begin to target his language comprehension and expressive language. There are lots of ideas here on the site, and you may also want to check out my DVDs as well so that you can SEE how to work with him at home.

    I also hope that you are able to find some support for YOU during this time. With so many concerns about your little boy and about your husband who is so far away… well, that’s just about more than any mom and wife can bear at one time. You need someone to talk to for YOU and who can help YOU think through all of these issues so that you can be the healthiest parent for your little boy. Reaching out for help for child may be easier than getting help for you, but I hope that you can pursue both.

    One more thing – thanks to your family for your service to our country! I so appreciate courage to fight for all we have here in America. Thank you!

    Let me know how else I can help you – Laura

  335. Laura on July 8, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Kay – Since I can’t see him, I can’t say for sure whether you should be worried or not. Because you’re so concerned, I’d go ahead and have him evaluated. His language sounds like he’s moving along, but he does exhibit some sensory processing issues that with treatment may make it easier for him and YOU! At the very least, if he is developing normally, the evaluators will tell you that, and you’ll stop being unnecessarily concerned. If he does need some therapy, then you’ll be glad you pursued the assessments. Good luck to you~ Laura

  336. Alicia on July 10, 2010 at 12:56 am

    My daughter is 3 years old. She has always been advanced when it comes to physical activity. When she was about a year and a half she would bang her head if she got extremely upset. It went away 3 months after it started and everyone told me she was just being a kid. Well she did say her first word da da a month before she turned one. But she didn’t really develope much of a vocabulary until recently. She would just babble on and now she will babble still sometimes. She was tested for autism and they said she didn’t have it but a speech delay which my brother and me both had when we were younger. I’m still worried though. She just started to go to Day Care and before that she didn’t have any interaction with children. The Day Care says she is fine with the kids until she realizes the other kids dont’ understand her then she will scream at them or if any of them cut her she will fight them. She does become really shy around new people and will hide her face instead of talking to them but when we leave she will say bye to them. She has in the last month added a lot of new words to her vocabulary and started to put 2 to 3 word sentences together since she joined Day Care 2 months ago. She does have tanturms sometimes. They don’t seem outragous but still weird. She does ask for help when she wants something unless she can get it herself. I’m just worried cause she has always been more advanced in physical things, has a speech delay, every once in awhile she will line up her toys and she has been walking on her tip toes since she could walk. And what I mean by advanced in physical things is before she was one she could throw a ball with great accuracy which has gotten even better. She does play with other people and kids fine until she has to share with them. One more thing that bothers me is she cries really bad when I leave her at Day Care or with a babysitter. She will kick doors and stuff. Some people say it’s cause she has never before been away from me before without going to my moms.

  337. samantha on July 10, 2010 at 10:46 am

    i have a nephew that i think might be autistic he also has an older brother that is 6 and he is 3 when he talks you can not understand any thing that he says most of the time. i also work in child care the 3 years olds that i work with you can understand really clear. he also just stares at nothing with a blank look on his face. when he eats he will take is fork or spoon and even his food some times and rub it on his face. he just got fully potty trained at 3. when he plays he doesnt play for a long period of time or if he does play he trys to play with it the wrong way for example: they have a kids size pool table and he trys to use the pool sticks at golf clubs or a sword. if you could please help me and let me know what you think that would be great and it would also be nice if you could let me know how i could tell his parents. thank you very much

  338. Amy on July 11, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    I left a message on here back on May 12 and just wanted all of you to know your words did not fall on “dead ears” thanks so much for the encouragement, ideas and words of wisdom.

    After over a year of not really having anyone listen to me, I finally got someone in our county health department to take me and my concerns for my daughter seriously. The past month has been an array of doctor visits and a whole “slew” of paper work, but our little girl was diagnosed as being Autistic with Global Developmental Delay. The school has been great to work with and we will be starting speech and occupational therapy’s in the next couple of weeks. Thanks so much for all of your ideas. Two days ago she did say “or-e-o” needless to say, she got the cookie. She got the package out pulled the “pull tab” back and got out one cookie. I am so blessed and so glad to have all of the great people and professionals around me going out of their way to help.



  339. steph on July 13, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Wondering if anyone can help, just read this page as my son’s development is worrying me.
    He has just turned 2 and can only say 2 words and nod and shake his head.
    He spins in circles while at the same time looks out the corner of his eyes at the same time. He cannot follow instructions like get me your teddy.
    He has a strange way of showing excitement like hand flapping or like he has a tremor and his head tremors.
    He lines up his blocks but wont build them, and I could shout on him and he seems to not hear me.
    He has the most terrible tantrums where he will slap himself or bank his head on the wall to show frustration.
    Im really worried and do not know how autism can impact his life. HELP!

  340. Laura on July 20, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Steph – I STRONGLY recommend that you have him evaluated by your state’s early intervention program. He is very likely exhibiting language delay and sensory processing disorder. He should see an SLP for his speech-language issues and an OT who specializes in sensory processing disorder. You can find info about having him evaluated by your state’s program by Googling your state’s name and then the phrase “early intervention.” In the meantime, read ideas here on the site, and you may also want to check out my DVDs so you can learn how to work with him at home. Good luck with him! Laura

  341. James & Lucy on July 26, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    There are a few things that me and my partner are a little worried about with our boy who is 2yrs and 2 months. The main thing is the way he constantly lines things up, be it pens, books, blocks, toy cars – he always has to have them lined up. The other day, he had a load of books piled up and my daughter went to take one – he got really upset and started crying until she put it back. Also, we have a very slight concrete slope in our garden and he is constantly going out there to roll things (pens, toy cars etc) down it even though they go really slowly.
    The other thing is he really does not like crowds of people – if we are having a family gathering or something, he will cry and be really upset, sometimes for over an hour. The other day, we had friends over and they brought their sister with them. My son wouldnt even come into the same room she was in and it was quite embarrasing.
    When he gets a bit hyper or excited, he doesnt wave his arms around, but he does throw himself around while laughing.
    He does have a pretty good vocabulary but its the way he says things. Its all vey high pitched towards the end of anything he says – not sure if that means anything.
    Any help would be appreciated.

  342. Laura on July 30, 2010 at 5:32 am

    James and Lucy – Sorry I missed your question before. It sounds like he may have some sensory processing differences which are causing the behaviors you’re concerned about. An occupational therapist who specializes in sensory processing issues can help you sort these out. If you’re in the USA, contact your state early intervention program for an evaluation, or take him to a pediatric occupational therapist who is in private practice. A good book to read for more info is Sensory Kids by Lucy Jane Miller.

    High pitched voices aren’t too atypical in toddlers, but as he gets older, you do want to help him sound more “normal” as he speaks. Some toddlers with social communication disorders/autism use voices that sound a little different, and so do children with apraxia since their prosody or rhythm of speaking is affected. Without hearing him I can’t say for sure what this could be, but if you continue to be concerned about him, see a pediatric SLP who CAN listen to him talk and tell you if this seems to be a problem.

    Hope these ideas help you find some answers for him.

  343. Kavita on August 2, 2010 at 11:59 pm


    First I must salute you for the help you are providing to the concerned parents. I am a concerned parent and I know there are very few fears in the world that can come close to the fear of possibly losing a child to autism.

    I have a 18 month old boy. He has always been slow in most of his development milestones like sitting at 8 months, crawling at 12 and walking unsupported at 16. But he used to babble a lot and undestand a few instructions like sit down, standup and has lost them recently. He was never very intersted in learning anything. Anytime I tried to teach him body parts he would just start looking elsewhere showing he dislikes the teaching. Now at 18 months he doesn’t speak anything more than Mama (nott to address me) and BaBa. He doesn’t point at anything, doesn’t look when I point, doesn’t understand most of what we tell him.

    He seemed to have some sensory issues with his hearing as anytime I start singing he will instantly look back in my eyes and smile. He keeps checking sounds of objects in the house like chair, wall, floor etc with his finger or any solid toy in his hand. His obsession for hearing how anything sounds seems to make him throw everything on floor. As a baby he loved to throw on hardwood and used to crawl from carpet to area with hardwood to hear how object would sound. he loves sounds of wind chimes, door opening closing etc.

    He is normal in other areas. He loves to play with us and his brother. We have had 3 nannys so far and he has been freindly with them. He has great observation- loves to keep moving his hand to see his shadow moving, loves to play peekaboo, shakehand, hifive , flap pages of books, follow any sound like of a car etc. He does walk on toes but so did my husband and my elder son and hey never had any speech issues.

    We have an appt next week with a Development pediatrician to go over this but the scare of him having autism is making us crazy. I read your posts and thought of asking you if you come accross such children and what is the best way to help them.

    Thanks much.

  344. Laura on August 5, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Kavita – I think you’re doing the right thing by having him evaluated, and I know you’re scared. The important thing is to get him help. I like your question so much that Kate and I are going to discuss in on the podcast today. You can listen in live at 5 pm eastern time, or better yet, call us yourself at 1-718-766-4332 to discuss ideas for you. If you can listen today or call, you can always listen later to show #83 in the blogtalkradio section of the website in the right column above. Take care! Laura

  345. Kavita on August 6, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Thanks Laura and Kate for your suggestions on the show. I am in US and I have already contacted Early Start. The evalualtion for that is also scheduled next week. He had his first round of evaluation of the total two before we will be given therapy suggestions and he did well in the first test. He asked the doctor to blow more bubbles when she was doing it by looking at her and smiling and making that “do it more” expression. Thanks for letting me realise that he is more in the Visual stimulation and can be encouraged to learn like that. He was throwing a lot of toys and enjoying that so much at doctors office jeopardizing her tests.

    Having said that I am so happy to tell you that he has come a long way in last two weeks in terms of being totally engaged with me, my husband, our Nanny all the time depending on who is available with him. Today he asked Nanny to play ball with her by throwing it at her and waiting her to throw it back. I had been practicing this two people play with him for last one week to make him realise that playing with a friend is a lot fun. He did do his first spontaneous immitation by trying to take beads from point 1 to 2 because I did it first. He smiled at me after that. He tried to communicate with me the whole day (I work from Home office and keep going out to check on him). Smiled at me and asked me to play fun things with him. He was laughing and running with kids in Park although he was not very interetsed in playing with them but he was happy to see so many kids running and playing. He wanted to climb stairs of slide just like his brother was doing today. Yesterday he heard his dad who has been working so so hard with him and he is funny trust me. He heard him on phone and starting doing their silly BaBa game where they make some sounds.

    He seems to now respond sometimes to his old understanding of Sit down and stand up but I am not 100% sure.

    So the progress is that if you didn’t know he oesn’t know language you can not guess he has any problem.

    But the problem still remains – He doesn’t understand and hence speak language and doesn’t communicate by pointing. We have to work very hard for that. I tried again to tell him body parts by tickling. He laughs a lot but I don’t think he knows the body parts. When I get serious and ask him “Where is your Tummy” – he shows bored face. I am cluless why he doesn’t understand. But whatever it be we have to find some structured scientific approach to help him. We are waiting for some therapy suggestions as we are both working and have just 2-3 hours a day with him.

    Thanks much for your suggestions. I am going to buy the DVDs you mentioned to gte nore ideas on communicating with him.

  346. Kavita on August 6, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Another thing – I have excluded milk from his diet for last two weeks. My doctor says its all my playing that is helping him but I have to try everything. Nowing seeing his progress i am keeping it that way as I am not sure what s helping him.

  347. Jamilah on August 6, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Hello Laura,
    I have twins ages 19 months old and I feel that my son is autistic, I first thought that he was deaf because he never responds when you call him by his name or when you call him period.
    The doctor referred me to see 2 audiologists, and they both said his hearing was down, so then I was referred to take him to the hospital to get a ABR test which stands for (Auditory Brainstem Response) which I did today, the doctor informed me that he can hear, but he must have a developmental delay because by this age he should be responding to me, like his sister does.
    I was also referred to Early Intervention for him right after his 1st birthday because he has been banging his head since he was 7 months old and he still does it every single day, he sees a Play Therapist and a Occupational Therapist on Wednesday & Friday every week, they also informed me that he has a sensory problem as well, he makes this loud humming sound as well, strange because my now 11 year old son did that as well when he was little and still does it to this day, they first diagnosed my 11 year old with PDD and then Autism, his school informed me last year, that they now believe he isn’t autistic, because he is too smart.
    Back to my toddler son, no matter how loud I talk he doesn’t hear me,he also sometimes rocks back and forth, this started in May, but he doesn’t do that on a daily basis, any input you can give us would me greatly appreciated.
    Thanks & God Bless!!!

  348. Lesa on August 9, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Just want to say although I am not a doctor,I teach preschool ages 3,4 & pre K. I have seen children that show many of the signs of Autism and too many parents choose the “WAIT and SEE” course of treatment.

    So many parents don’t even realize the red flags in front of them. They see their child with many of the signs above and just refuse to connect the dots because it’s so upsetting to open the Autism possibilty. Many times children do not have all the signs but they have a few. Parents are afraid to link the signs together. The signs are not even always present the day I teach them but they are still there. Doctors only know what parents tell them so Autism can be hard to spot.

    Most all of the time, I hear these preschoolers did get Autism confirmed a year or two later. It was Autism all along but of course there are different degrees. I understand denial is a safe place for parents to be but it only prolongs the help these children need right away!!! As a teacher we delicately try to point these behaviors out to the parents. Most of the time these parents are a deer in headlights and it is a hard scary pill to swallow. The fathers especially have a very hard time.

    LISTEN to these grandparents,relatives,teachers and friends because they most likely are not wrong to be concerned and neither are you. Like the parents these other people in their life love the child too. Autism can be caught by parents early, even first time parents. You don’t have to wait for 10 signs and 5 years old. The signs and behaviors listed in this site should help parents come to terms with what might be happening. Please make the calls and get these kids the proper testing and a developmental MD. As a teacher I know when children are developing EVERY day counts! God Bless.

  349. Kavita on August 9, 2010 at 7:15 pm


    Today after his second test my son has been diagnosed with Global development Delay. He is very behind his language development at 10 months as opposed to 18 months. We were not told why he is globally delayed but were told that he doesn’t fall on Autism spectrum. We are confused why he is so delayed.

    Anyways just wanted to share with you in case you have any suggestions for us. We have started doing some fun games with him for his pre-verbal skills. Hoping to see some results there.


  350. MG Anonymous on August 22, 2010 at 4:01 pm


    I have a 27 month old. He shows a few signs of autism and I am concerned about it. He tunes me out a lot. He cries and has meltdowns for what I think are things that are not necessary. He will sit on the couch for hours and watch the same channel all day. While he is watching he rocks back and forth. He will do this multiple times a day. If you call him he wont look towards you. You have to go in front of him and block the screen in order to pull his attention away. He sings the theme songs to all of the shows and knows the names of every one of them. He request strawberry milk ALL OF THE TIME. He doesnt have a healthy sleeping habit either. I will wake up in the morning at 530 am and he is out in the living room watching TV rocking away. I worry about him. Sometimes he will stare at the ground with his eyes wide open when you are speaking to him. I have three children and he is the only one that I have experiences these issues with, so I have always labeled him as my “differnt” child. Maybe I am wrong, but I think I should have him tested. Is there such a thing as doing testing too early? Any help or suggestions are appreciated.

  351. Kristie P on August 24, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I just started questioning whether my daughter, who will be 2 in October, may be autistic. She doesn’t have a lot of the symptoms but there are just a few things that stand out that she does and I question because none of my other children ever experienced issues like this. Some of the things she does, which I attributed to “terrible two’s” that just seem odd to me are:

    *Ketchup…she has to have ketchup with every meal. I figured she just had a taste for it but it does tend to get our of hand.

    *Seating arrangement…we eat a family dinner at our dining room table every evening. We have our usual seats but if one of my other children sits in the “wrong seat” for breakfast, lunch or snack…my daughter goes bananas until they move to their “designated” seat that she’s used to seeing them in.

    *Emotional attachment…This is by far the worst I think. My daughter seems to have a serious attachment to whatever she is wearing for that day. If we try to dress her in the morning, she throws severe fits because she wants to continue wearing her pajamas or socks. She will kick, scream, spit, slap, etc as she tries to rip her clothes off and go towards the laundry room to get her already worn clothes that were just removed. This goes for any time of day that her clothes need to be changed. She’s inconsolable for a considerable amount of time. We attributed this to being spoiled. She also wants to sleep with her shoes on…wants to wear shoes 24/7.

    *Social interaction…she is fine with people that live in our house (for the most part). Any new people (children or adults) she hides from. Jumps on our lap and may cry if they talk to her or come close. She’s been in daycare for well over a year and cries when we drop her off (we didn’t think anything of this until it all started coming together in my mind).

    Her speech, intelligence, etc is wonderful. She sometimes repeats words that are obviously not right. Example: Our dogs name is Stormy…rather than call him dog-dog, we’ll say, “What is Stormy’s name?” She’ll say, “Gah-buh”

    I don’t want to “jump the gun” and take her to the pediatrician for nothing. The thought of labeling my child is terrifying but in the same instance, I wonder if there is something I could be doing to help her adjust to things.

    I appreciate any response.

  352. Barbara on August 26, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I’m only on this site because a family member, who we are currently staying with, believes my son is autistic. She believes this because is always on the go, running in circles, running back & forth, almost like out of control dancing. However, I’ve seen children behave this way before and they are perfectly normal. I mean, he’s only 29 months and a very active toddler. Also, when my son is tired, he rubs peoples’ arms and legs (he basically hugs an arm or leg and sucks his thumb). She knows this 19 yr old autistic kid who acts hyperactive like my son and rubs his mother’s hand. I went through all of the warning signs of autism and nothing really stands out to me. He may not be “up to standard” with a lot of kids his age but he has been extremely sheltered. Since the age of 15 months, he has spent a lot of time with my mother since I worked all the time and he practically lived with her. He has had a lot of change in his life, moving from place to place, living with different people, etc and he smooths right in. He rarely ever plays with other kids. He doesn’t seem to know how to, which i think is understandable since he has never really been faced with it before. We don’t have conversations but he does let me know what he wants. “pop” for a drink, “goldfish” when he wants those snacks, “ana” when he wants a banana, etc. He doesn’t say “I want drink” and such but I understand what he wants. He points a lot too rather than speaking but when he wants to speak, he can definitely prattle on. He uses “I”, “me”, and “mine” pronouns. My mother is not very affectionate and she doesn’t talk much (I rarely ever talked growing up because of this). This family member is also worried because he won’t kiss her when she asks for it or hug when asked but when I ask he gets all excited and smiles and hugs and kisses me. Also, recently, she feels he is getting violent with the animals (dog, cat, and 2 birds). Apparently he slaps the cat and stomped very hard on the dog. I recently started lightly spanking is bottom when timeout never works so I wonder if this has to do with him experimenting on smacking the animals. I do believe he may be a little behind with talking with people and social skills but I blame that on my mother’s home environment (she’s a hermit and never took him out and rarely has one on one interactions with him). So ever since I took him away from her influence, his language has soared in the last 2 months. Sometimes it’s hard to grab his attention, but only because he is playing and excited but if you speak his name sharply enough, he does respond. He smiles when smiled at and looks me in the eye when I say his name. Of course, he knows the cat’s name is “Dorothy” and he knows all the other animals names, he knows most of the names of the Cars movie, and knows I’m mommy but when I ask him his name, he responds “baby” even though he reacts to his given name. He doesn’t really listen to me, disciplinary wise, but he’s barely 2 1/2 so should I really expect him to be a perfect angel? When I give him simple directions, like where to find his drink, he understands me and goes to get it. He may be quite and a little withdrawn but so was I for a very long time growing up, thanks to my mother, but should I be worried?

  353. sw on August 30, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I’m an Occupational Therapist that works with children from birth to age three. While I cant and wont diagnose a child, I often feel that if there are any concerns reported by yourself, or a loved one, then it is worth at least investigating. Early intervention is so crucial and makes a huge difference in the lives of so many children. If there is anything that you can be doing now to make things easier for him in the future, it is worth it. Consider talking with his pediatrician and finding out about your state run early intervention program. He can at least be evaluated by them to see if he is behind in his development (social, motor and/or speech/language).

  354. wendy on August 31, 2010 at 1:40 pm


    I have read most of your articles. Thank you very much for putting up all these helpful information.

    My son is 2 year 8 months old. He has been a very happy boy, started daycare 3 days a week about 2 months ago. He has amazing memories, knew all his letters by 1 year 10 months, knew 1 to 10 by 2 year 3 months. He could even learn by himself (without much of my help) and finish very complex puzzles such as map of the united states(more than 50 pieces) when he was 2 and 3 months. He eats well, sleeps well. But he does not speak much, does not respond to his name and does not point to make requests.

    I had him evaluated in June when he was 2 1/2 by state early intervention, they told me that he had more than 33% receptive/expressive language delay, no sensory issues.

    In the last two months (since June till now), he has made great progress, such as: starting to staring at strangers( still less eye contact than typical 2 years old), can go to very noisy places(such as parties, sesame place) without too much frustration; play beside other children (but does not initiate play with other kids); use words together with the sign to say “Help me” when he really needs help.

    But I still have a lot of concerns: he still does not responds to his name well(actually, this is the only concern his daycare teacher talked about now); He is starting to point using his index finger to pictures/letters when reading, but still not pointing to make requests; does not call mama/daddy (maybe mama when he cries and really needs me sometimes); He can say about 40 words unclearly (ex: eesh for fish, eggi for elephant), but only says ball/car/shoes/chair, 26 letters and 10 numbers clearly in daily life. He loves to read, that’s how I managed to teach him those 40 words in the last two months, but what concerns me is: he could not say those words clearly, i am the only one who can understand him, AND he can spell those 40 words, which upsets me actually! He does not imitate well. I managed to teach him those words by pretending to imitating him. When i say some words wrong, such as, if he points to “chair”, I say “pants”, he would point to the chair again and again, until I say it right.

    But he does know how to get my attention. When i told him “i am angry”, he would immediately come up with something, such as pretend to fall to get my attention. He plays well with my friends who come to my house very often. He is very happy and excited when other kids coping his activities, but he never copies other kids or me. And just two months ago, he started to blink eyes. We have his hearing tested and eyes checked, all turned out to be perfect.

    We have to wait for a long time to see developmental pediatrician, I am really wondering what could be wrong with my little one and what I should be doing next to help him, such as how to teach him to respond when his name is called,etc.

  355. Laura on September 4, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Barbara – Although environment certainly plays a huge part in language acquisition for children, please don’t get lulled in to thinking it’s the only reason your little boy may be exhibiting a language delay. Even though he’s doing better, I’d encourage you to have him evaluated as quickly as possible by your state’s early intervention program. If he isn’t on the spectrum, he still likely could benefit from speech therapy to help you give his language a jump start. At the very least you’ll learn ways to continue to facilitate his language development at home. Good luck to you as you work with him! Laura

  356. Laura on September 4, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Wendy – Congrats on your son’s progress! It sounds like he’s making gains. I do think some of the things you’re describing sound like sensory issues or self-stimulatory behaviors – rapid blinking to get visual feedback (sometimes kids see little white dots when they do this) and it certainly sounds like he responds well to visual stimuli since he gravitates toward that kind of learning with the early fascination with number and letters and with his great puzzle skills. He does have some of those “red flags” associated with children with autism, so I do understand your continued concern. The important thing is that you have him in early intervention so that he can get the help he needs early, and you’ve already done that, so congrats to you!

    It sounds like he’s still tuning out language, especially when his name is called. Many specific ideas to try can be found in my new therapy manual Teach Me To Play WITH You which may be helpful for addressing issues like this. In the meantime try singing his name or using another word such as, “Look!” to help him alert to your voice. Again, you can find more ideas and specific ways for handling them in the book, so check that out.

    Take care! Laura

  357. Sara on September 11, 2010 at 12:22 am

    Hi Laura,

    My name is Sara and I have a 2 years and 4 months old son. He was speech delayed up to age 2. I think one of the reasons could be because he was getting exposed to three different languages. English (his father, TV, and outside), nanny (Spanish) and me as his mother (my native language which is neither English nor Spanish). I took him for evaluation when he was 2 and they put him in a program called ABA. As a person who has done years of education in Child Psychology myself, I noticed ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) is for autism. However, the regional center (in California) who recommended ABA repeatedly said that they had NOT made any diagnosis. The pediatrician kept telling me he is NOT autistic. Regional Center recommended ABA just in case (more as early intervention in case he is). He never had any problem with eye contact or attention. His attention and eye contact has been always great since the day he was born. After we started the ABA, he started talking in English (I tried to speak to him in English only). He listens and repeats now. He can sit and read book with me for hours. He remembers them very well and says them back to me even after weeks. His memory is unbelievable. He is a very kind and happy boy. He smiles most of the time and comes huge us. He now says a lot. His vocabulary is very strong and he names almost everything around the house and in many different books. He loves to read and book is his biggest fun. He counts 1-20 in both English and Spanish and knows both upper and lower case letters.

    There are however some signs that I am very very concerned about and I feel that’s why they put him in ABA in the first place. He loves to follow lines. Any line (street lines, rail lines, wall line) anything that has a line, he follows and go back and forth many times. Imagine a line that is created by the division of the wall and the floor. He sometimes goes back and forth that line for 20 times until I stop him. Another hobbit he has is that he is very obsessed with “light”. The first word he said was in fact “light”. He can turn the light switch on and off for 30 times and keep saying “light is on”, “light is off” over and over again. He does not have that much of an interest in playing with other kids and rather play alone (I should mention that he does not see that many kids around him either, no sibling, no cousins, etc…). When I take him to the park, he plays with the slide and the seesaw and especially loves swing but I have to get involved myself too (for example, I should go up and down the slide myself so he sees it and do it.) otherwise he does not show that much of an interest. I have to praise him (clap after he comes down, or say loudly “good job, good job my boy), so he gets excited by my cheering and do it. If not, he does not want to do it on his own and rather follow the line or follow his own shadow if it is day-time. He loves playing with his own shadow for a long time. To be honest with you, I am very confused myself. I see some serious signs but people around me (including the pediatrician, my husband who is also a physician, etc…) keep telling me his is not autistic. Please help me. I am driving myself crazy everyday. I know I have to keep calm but I cannot help it. I take him to birthday parties and he does not show any interest in playing with the activities (jumper, pool of balls, etc…). I see other kids his age going crazy with those activities. Then I want to cry. I get upset, depressed.
    Any advice help, any.

  358. Diane on September 20, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Hi Laura
    My son is now 3 years and 4 months. He has a diagnosis of Autism before he was 2. He is none verbal but makes lots of noises. He also likes lines and follows brick walls etc with his eyes to the side. He does not mix with other children but tollerates being alongside them at daycare. Like you i praise him by saying good boy etc so he feels as thought he is interacting. I do get smiles and eye contact from him. and sometimes a cuddle (few and far between). He also likes shadows and has noticed them since he was very young. He also concentrates on his hands as though mesmorised by them. this send him to sleep, like you i get upset when i buy toys etc and he is not interested in them. It has taken a long time for me to accept Liam’s diagnosis but now i have i can move on and plan his future. x

  359. Chris on September 21, 2010 at 8:57 am


    I believe my 2 yr old may be autistic. Where to begin.
    He says only 2 words, bye and hello although he is working on outside. He will pace back and forth like a cat looking at a table or a wall. He “organizes” his toys constantly and gets upset if one is moved or falls off the couch. He is very picky about food to the point that he won’t eat for 12 to 16 hours unless he gets the food he wants. He will play, but is usually found by himself looking at books, playing with a musical toy or organizing. He motor skills seem to be okay as he runs, throws and climbs about as well as our three yr old. He babbles constantly, but not many words. He does respond to his name, looks directly at you and responds to smiling/frowning. What should I do?

  360. Tiffany on September 21, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    My mother-in-law, a kindergarten teacher, speaks often on how her boys, now in their early 30s, were slow speakers. In fact, her son who is now 32, did not speak until he was 3ish. When asked why he didn’t speak, he said, “I didn’t have anything to say.” He does not have autism or any other learning disability. Very typical, funny father/husband.

  361. casey on September 28, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    so im worried now this just could be me being a young mom and in over my head because i am a single parent with little to no help and i am always with him… here is a couple things i am dealing with,,,
    complete disobiedience. like iw ill tell him no about the same thing twenty times in a row. he has had time out,i have taken tons of toys and cool things away,i have swatted him on the diaper.. anything you can think of i have tried.
    nothing seems to work cause he will look you dead in the face and do it all over again.he says the same thing over and over again “daddylucy” lucy is his dads dog and every time he wantst to go to his dad or wants to see him he says this.i thought i was cute at first now im kinda worried. also he acts out really hard. as in he will just walk up and smack me in the face or hit me with something.he doesnt eat very much but is still healthy none the less he is very talkative though. he really can have full conversations but seems to get excited and slur his words or just plain out studder.also i am a young mom so i do curse and his dad curses alooottt but my son will just walk up to anything and cuss at it.. also he just said this phrase so it made me think of it.. he wont say happy birthday or sing the song happy birthday to you.. he just says in the same singing tone”to you cake” over and over again.let me know what you think

  362. Laura on September 28, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Casey – You should have him assessed by your state’s early intervention program. You didn’t mention how old your son is, so I can’t really tell you if he’s meeting his language milestones or not. It does sound like he’s having difficulty understanding what you tell him to do, is using predominantly jargon rather than building a true single word vocabulary, and may also be echolalic, based on how you’ve described some of his verbalizations. However, since I can’t see him or assess him, I can’t tell you for sure what’s going on with him, but your state early intervention program can. Good luck and let us know what happens. Laura

  363. Rebecca on October 4, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I am not sure what happend, I tried to post something and I didn’t see it so I wrote hey to test it out. My 27 month old does not talk and is fasinated with opening and shuting both drawers and doors. I caught him spinning things. He use to say his sisters names and a few other things he no longer says them. He likes to push the locks on door knobs and turn knob to have it pop out and do it over and over again. he is starting to walk more and more on his tippy toes. I am not his biological mother, I have been around him for the last 8 months and have 2 children of my own 7 and 5 he does not act like them when they were 2 at all. I have concerns. Birth to 3 is our states early intervention program and they seem to think he is fine only because he doesn’t show hand flapping, lack of eye contact and is not a picky eater. They do however say he is a yr behind and the behaviors of repetiveness with the doors and draweres are just imature play of say a 15 month old. They have been working with him for 4 months with no improvement. we can not get him to imitate sounds of animals or even say milk, juice, eat or things that he wants. He does point to eye, nose, hair,ear ect. when asked where is your…….. I don’t know he just doesn’t seem like a typical 2 1/2 yr old . What do you think.

  364. Charlotte on November 15, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    I came across this site and was really glad to see that people are still commenting and it is still up and running. I was hoping to ask what you thought about my son to get your opinion. I know that you can not “diagnose” him, but any information would be helpful. I have been thinking for a while something is “off” with him and someone mentioned Autism to me so I have been looking into it further, and right now we are waiting on a referral to a speech therapist for our next step.

    My son turned 2 in September, he is a very smart, very adorable little boy but he does things that I don’t see other 2 year olds doing or not doing. First, he doesn’t really speak at all. He says maybe 8 words I can think of off the top of my head, and just babbles other then that. You can tell he is trying to talk, or at least acts like he knows what he is saying but we have no clue. This causes him a lot of frustration and us sometimes when we can’t communicate well with him. He is a very specific little boy, if he doesn’t get what he wants exactly how he wants it he flips out and throws severe tantrums (for example if you give him the wrong cup or toy and he wanted something different), to the point of throwing stuff at walls and turning over chairs, but if you give him what he wants he acts like nothing happened. He acts extremely SMART, but doesn’t act like he is listening to you when he obviously is. He will do things without you showing him how such as brushing his teeth, getting a bowl of ice cream, changing the channel on the tv, he mimics everything we do. And half the time he looks at us and will listen when we tell him no or to do something else, but most of the time he pretends like he doesn’t hear you when he does. He blantanly ignores us and refuses to listen when we tell him no. He is very independent and wants to do everything HIMSELF and gets angry when you don’t let him. He is also an extremely picky eater, only eating maybe 20 different things tops, he won’t touch or eat anything that is not a certain texture or style of food. He also gets fascinated with one or two things and doesn’t want to do or be around anything but those. He also constantly is lining objects up in lines such as toys, food, whatever is around the house. At first I was thinking maybe he is just spoiled and thinks he can get whatever he wants, but I truly don’t think that’s the case, he flips out way more dramatically then a 2 year olds normal tantrums.

    He does cuddle sometimes and gives hugs and waves/says bye, put his clothes on things like that, however he screams and kicks and cries everytime we change his diaper. He won5412’t sit still for anything (like reading a book) because he wants to do it. He is also very destructive which could obviously be a normal 2 year old boy ha but I can’t keep up with his messes. He is OBSESSED with water or anything liquid and could play with it/in it all day. He likes to take cups of water/juice/milk and pour it into different cups and containers and sit and pour it back and forth for a long period of time. He also doesn’t care for other children at all, he prefers adults and won’t play with other kids, most of the time he hides or wants to cuddle and cry like they are mean to him, or he pushes them away if they get near his toys things like that.

    Again, he is not like this 24/7 he is extremely smart and shows that a lot, in fact sometimes he shows us up and makes us feel stupid haha, and others comment all the time how smart and nice he is, which he is such a great kid, I just have a gut feeling what he does is not normal.

    I’m sure there is more I could think of, I’m just looking for answers, for help, sometimes I think what have I done wrong to make him so different, is there something I could be doing to help him?? Maybe nothing is wrong and this is normal I just don’t know anymore. I love my little man I just get overwhelmed sometimes with all of the “rules” we seem to have to go by with him, like I can’t control my own child or life. 🙁

  365. Laura on November 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Charlotte – Thanks so much for your comment. Yes, this website is up and running!

    I’m so glad you’re seeking a formal evaluation. You certainly were correct when you noted that I can’t diagnose him since I can’t see him, but like you pointed out in how you described him, he is exhibiting some red flags that would make me concerned about his development too. At the very least, he’ll qualify for speech therapy since he is behind where he should be.

    Secondly, I’d really recommend an Occupational Therapy evaluation since many of the things you describe are sensory processing differences, and an OT can help you sort those out. An OT may also be able to help you come up with some solutions for his “rules” so that he’s easier to live with. OT is a life-saver for many, many families.

    As far as language goes, my website is FULL of ideas for you to use at home with him to improve his language. You may also want to check out my DVDs as well so that you can SEE speech therapy in action with a variety of toddlers with language delays.

    Anytime a mom says, “I have a gut feeling what he does is not normal,” I believe her. Moms usually know in their heart of hearts what’s going on and when to worry or not worry. You are doing the right thing by having him evaluated. Let me know how it goes or if I can help you in any other way. Laura

  366. Erin on November 22, 2010 at 1:49 pm


    I have a 22 year old niece who I fear may have some issues. She was a late crawler and walker (walked at 18 months) and is not saying a word or communicating at all. She doesn’t point, clap, wave or any other form of communication. She responds to her name about 75% of the time and knows where mommy, daddy, gramm and aunt erin are when asked. She doesn’t play with her toys properly except for pushing buttons to get music or lights to play. We thought her drooling was an issue of teething, but it appears she has fairly low muscle control in her mouth, tounge and jaw.

    She is in speech therapy once a week and is being evaluated by our state “Help Me Grow” program but the process has taken a LONG time to initiate and an even longer time to implement next steps.

    What can we do, if anything, in the meantime? What kind of therapy should we push for once it gets to that? Physical therapy? Occupational therapy?

    Thanks for your feedback!


  367. Alison on November 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Hi Laura,
    My son is about to turn 3 in December. I have always noticed he seems to be a little different than kids his age, though he is very verbal (can make 6 word sentences) and on the mark for his speech milestones. This summer he became obsessed wtih letters and numbers, can site read 20+ words and names and is now obsessed with lining up his number blocks and gets crazy if it is disrupted. His teacher noticed that he is also rubbing plastic toys on his face in school at times. We have had him evaluated by an OT and are starting treatment now. She has said he does have sensory processing issues- mostly he is overwhelmed by visual stimuli, a little bit of tactile issues and issues with gross motor planning.
    He is very social, loves his friends and family. Will interact and imitate friends. Runs up to them and greets them and notices details (he will often tell me he likes my shoes/bag etc or if his friend had a doggy shirt etc). He asks us for help when he needs, points things out, but verbally he doesnt seem to convery a lot of information. It is very hard for me to get info out of him (ie what did you do in school today) unless i ask super specific questions (what did you have for snack in school today). Is this age appropriate?
    Does he seem like he can be autistic, or do you think the SPD is the crux of his issues?The OT believes that his issues are all “treatable” in her words, though im not exactly sure what that means?
    Thanks, Alison

  368. Karen on December 3, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    My grandson is 27 months old. He has been evaluated and is enrolled in an early intervention program for speech. I noticed he has made vast improvement. I am concerned because he seems to put an “a” before most words he says…as in “a blue”, or “a truck”, “a balloon”. His evaluation today said he is improving but is still about 3 months behind-so he will continue in the program. Can you give me an explanation for him putting “a” before almost every word. It is clear he understands and follows directions well. He makes eye contact and is very loving.

  369. christeen on December 6, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I have been concerned for awhile. It started with my son when he was just learning to walk at 14 months. He sometimes still runs back and fourth while staring off to the side for hours. He also, used to never do much of anything during play time with other kids. His favorite thing to do at that time was to study his cars (not play with them) and then at some point he would and still does start crying loudly and throws it across the room and then it doesn’t stop there. He would and will go back to the toy and it starts all over. My son is now 3 almost 4. I have talked to his pediatrician and she evaluated him when he was 2, but doesn’t seem to have any promblems. I now am seeing things that seem to be a issue. My husband and I ask him questions and he wont answere most of the time. It will be a simple question and something we have been talking about. If he gets mad at his toys, I or my husband have asked him, “do you want mommy and daddy to take the toy away?” he will answere yes. so we do and he cries. Or if we ask him do you like ice cream he will answere with no or I don’t know. He sings his abcs, but will run away when we show him letters, but he can count to 15 and sometimes he will know what numbers look like. The temper tantrums at times have been to the extreme. He throws himself around and screams and hits his head onto the floor. Sometimes when he gets hurt he wont even cry. He has chipped at tooth and neither my husband and I saw or heard him cry. He is a REALLY picky eater. When he is around other kids he pushes his head into them or holds them tight and he wont stop. If the child cries over something he laughs. He doesn’t understand personal space. He is super loveable, and caring, but my husband and I are frustrated because he shows no interest in what most kids are interested in and he is frustrated himself. I don’t even like taking him to the park, because most of the time he just wants to spend hours playing (throwing) dirt on himself. He is really smart, but with things that are easy or day to day situations he has a hard time understanding. We have done everything we can think of to help him understand and we have nourished the things we don’t understand, but now I am worried about putting him into school, because I don’t want him to get his feelings hurt. Sometimes he gets his feelings so hurt and no one ever sees it on him. He stays quiet about it and his whole little person changes.

  370. Laura on December 6, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Alison – Thanks for your question. I’m so glad he’s getting OT since sensory processing issues do seem to be at the root of all of your concerns for him. It also sounds like he’s having some difficulty processing incoming information – which is why he can’t answer questions yet. Talk with your OT about auditory processing and how his sensory issues might be affecting his ability to consistently make sense of incoming information. Keep giving those “forced choice” options to help him understand what you’re talking about. If he continues to struggle over the next couple of months, take him to an SLP who specializes in treating children with autism or one with a good sensory processing background. He likely won’t qualify for a school-based preschool program since he is communicating, and many busy SLPs might hear him pop out a 6 word sentence and think he’s on track without delving into his ability to really process language. Many children on the spectrum who are “high functioning” fit the profile you’re describing, but without seeing him, of course I could never make those assumptions. If you’re still concerned in another 6 months after he’s been in OT and continued with preschool, get a full evaluation by a developmental team at that point. Until then, keep working with him to help him learn to consistently process language. My DVD Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2 has some sections that may be helpful to you in working with him at home – the auditory processing games section and teaching specific age-appropriate language concepts. I’d also encourage you to keep talking with your OT if she there might be an appropriate diagnosis for him beyond sensory processing disorder. Seeking therapy for him at this point is what you’d do anyway – with or without a formal diagnosis – so you’re doing the right things. The next 6 months will be critical for him to see if some of these issues resolve with treatment and/or maturation, so again, I’m glad you’re in OT. That would have been my recommendation for him based on what you’ve said about him. Thanks so much for your question. Laura

  371. Laura on December 6, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Karen – I have seen children insert “a” before every word since someone in their life is modeling words this way. For example, when looking at pictures, perhaps you, or mom, or dad say, “a truck,” “a dog,” “a baby.” He’s overgeneralized this. Figure out who is doing this and encourage them to drop the “a” before words and simply label the word or action and encourage him to imitate you. If this is what’s happened, it should resolve with this kind of focused modeling. IF not, ask his SLP what she thinks is going on. Thanks for your question! Laura

  372. Laura on December 6, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Christeen – I’d highly recommend you have him evaluated by an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory processing disorders. Many of the things you’re describing can be explained by differences in how he processes or perceives incoming information.

    As I’m sure you also know, several of the things you list are also red flags for autism, so again, I’d encourage you to have him re-evaluated by a developmental pediatrician or team assessment with several different professionals (speech language pathologist, occupational therapist, developmental psychologist or pediatrician) in a program who can rule out autism for you.

    Your point about school is one I hear often with mothers. Of course you’re not going to be able to keep him out of school forever – unless of course you decide to home school him, but that probably isn’t the best option for a child who might struggle socially since that tends to make the problem worse. I’d recommend that you go ahead and have him evaluated by your public school preschool program to see if he qualifes for that. They certainly have experience in dealing with children who have sensory issues and will be trained with techniques to help him now. Waiting until he’s older to address any of these very real developmental issues is not recommended since he’ll likely fall more behind. Address these issues this year so that he’s as ready as he can be for kindergarten. Thanks for your question. Laura

  373. Laura on December 6, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Alison and Erin – I answered your questions on podcast #93. Take a listen for those!! Laura

  374. Lisa on December 6, 2010 at 6:56 pm


    Hi, My son is 27 months old and I am pretty sure he is having some language delays. He is very smart, and his motor fine and gross are on par. He is very busy, often he does not want to do what you ask him to do or does not understand (honestly I’m not sure which). At first I thought he was developing slower because he was so active, but when I see the other children in his MDO program singing nursery rhymes and he can barley put together 2 word sentences, I’m starting to worry.

    Some of the things I have been noticing are: He doesn’t really respond to his name, sometimes I have to say it several times ( not sure if he is ignoring me or he just doesn’t know it). I have tried working with counting, He understands that he needs to make three sounds when counting to three ( So I know he gets the concept) but he can’t actually say one, two, three, he just makes up some babel word for them, He is very stubborn and often will understand what you want him to do, but either ignores you or does the opposite. I say some words to him and ask him to repeat and its like he doesn’t understand me.

    Today I spoke with his future elementary school and they do have an early intervention program that starts at age 3, which we are going to have him evaluated for in May, but I guess my question is what can I do in the mean time to help him with his language development.



  375. Laura on December 6, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Lisa – I wouldn’t wait until 3 to have him evaluated. Call your state’s early intervention/birth to 3 program since he will likely qualify for speech therapy. You can get info about the program by Googling your state’s name plus the phrase “early intervention.”

    In the meantime read the articles here on the site for help. Start with articles in the receptive language section and then progress to the expressive language category. He has to understand words BEFORE he can begin to use those words.

    You may also want to check out my DVD series. Since he has delays in both understanding and talking, take a look at the 3 DVD series – Teach Me To Talk and Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 and 2. The DVDs will teach you how to work with him at home and walk you through the basic stategies and concepts to target at home during play with him.

    It just may be that he CAN’T talk or consistently understand language yet, not that he WON’T talk or listen, so be careful you’re not assuming he’s “stubborn” since late talking and comprehension issues are hardly ever related to a behavioral decision a child consciously makes. (When it is, it’s called selective mutism, and that is extremely rare! In that case children use age-appropriate language in some settings but not others, so this doesn’t describe him.) Search the article “Can’t vs. Won’t” by using the search bar at the top of the page, and take a look at that as well.

    Hope these articles and the DVDs can give you some good ideas. Good luck with him! Laura

  376. Beth on December 18, 2010 at 10:31 pm

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

  377. sinead on December 24, 2010 at 2:38 am

    hi i have a 26 mth old son , my only concerns are that he seems in his own we world sometimes,and he talks in his own we language, he says about 20 reg words and takes me by the hand to get what he wants. he has great eye contact , loves his daddy swinging him and throwing him up in the air, he gives lots of cuddles and loves children , he doesn mind noise and loves new things and places. he sometimes ignores people when they talk to him and says bye when he feels like it. he can follow instructions, like close door , get me the book etc

  378. Jaedo on December 26, 2010 at 9:34 am

    @ sinead, this sounds EXACTLY like my cousin who is 29 months.
    I dont’t think its anything to worry about.
    Sounds like a NORMAL, individual child (they are all their own person).
    “His own world” is just using his imagination,
    Don’t fret. 🙂

  379. Laura on December 27, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Sinead – How you’re describing his language sounds like he’s using lots of jargon, which is an in-between step between single words and phrases. To help target more “real words” state what you think he’s trying to tell you with single words or short 2 word phrases and have him try to repeat you.

    It’s great that he’s social, affectionate, and can follow simple directions. I’d keep working with him to build his expressive vocabulary. With a vocabularly of only 20 words at 26 months, he is behind the minimum # of words we’d like to see for a child at 24 months, which is at least 50. He likely would qualify for your state’s early intervention program. You can usually find information by Googling your state’s name plus the phrase ‘early intervention.’

    You may also want to check out my DVD Teach me To Talk to teach you how to work with him at home. Good luck, and let me know if you have other questions about how to work with him! Laura

  380. Laura on December 27, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Jaedo – Thanks for your reassuring input, but please know that I am really cautious about telling any mom who is concerned about her child that he’s “normal” unless he’s meeting the milestones she’s concerned about. In this case, it’s expressive language, and according to the info the mother provided, his vocabulary is not what we expect for a 26 month old. In fact, it’s not where we would want a 24 month old to be, so she should listen to her gut instinct and be concerned.

    Although professionals certainly recognize each child’s own individual path of development, there are red flags that indicate that a child may potentially need some assistance to meet the minimum milestones we expect to see for the range of typical development. Telling a mom that a child who ignores others social overtures and language directed to him is just “using his imagination” is very difficult to quantify, particularly without seeing a child or knowing how a specific child is developing cognitively. While this could be the case, many times children who are at risk for autism ignore others and language since they have difficulty engaging socially and have increased difficulty understanding and processing language. To let a mom believe this kind of behavior in a child is typical when we haven’t actually seen the child could be potentially harmful if we cause a mom not to seek additional advice from a professional who CAN actually SEE her child. I hope that the mom you referenced will follow up with someone to address her very real concerns and continue to seek out ways she can help her son develop language skills. That’s what the website is here for. Laura

  381. sinead on December 28, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Thanks laura thinking about it he may have more than 20 words not exactly sure, i had him at a speech thearpist who has referred him to a ped , when she evauluated him he just ran about her room exploring the new toys and surroundings she was worried cos he never really paid much attenetion to her , but some 2 year olds are just like that,, i was worried incase he was showing signs of autism , but i work with children special needs , so i can identify signs and im pretty sure he doesnt , he loves scaring me with dinasaures and playinh hide and seek, he loved santa in creche and wanted on his knee, he doesn need routines or same toys or anything and copes really well with change, he loves all sorts of toys and plays app with them ,, do you think its just a we language delay like has got con about single words and phrases and thats when the jargon comes out, i really find this sight helpful, thanx sinead from northern ireland , oh and thanks Jaedo

  382. sinead on December 30, 2010 at 4:20 am

    Thanks laura thinking abouit it he may have more than 20 words not exactlysureiahim at the speech thearpist who ahs ref him to a ped, when she evaluated him he just ran round her room exploring the new toys and surroundings, she was worried cos he never really paid any attention to her, but some 2 year olds are just like that, I was worried incase he was showing signs of autism ,buti ork it chiden with special needs , so i can identify signs so im pretty sure he doesnt , he has plenty of verbal (even thoug its jargon) and non verbal communication, he loves playing haide and seek, he loved santa in creche and wanted to sit on his knee, he does not have to stick to a routine, or same toyss, and copes really well with change, he loves all sorts of toys and plays app with them, do you think its just a language promblem,, oh yesturday , i asked him to call daddy, he stood at the bottom of the stairs and said”daddy were you go” i was so happy but its just now and again the rest is jargon ,, thanks sinead from belfast

  383. Laura on December 30, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Sinead – I’m glad that you’ve seen an SLP. Is she working with him now in speech therapy? I hope so. I didn’t realize you weren’t in the US, so thanks for sharing that.

    Keep using the tips you find here on the website to help him. Helping him learn how to imitate single words will be a HUGE step. This is how you’ll increase his vocabulary. I’d focus on that for now during play and during daily routines. You can see some clips of my DVDs here on the website to let you watch how to help 2 year olds learn how to imitate words. If you’re fun enough, he will want to sit and play with you. Use that time to work on helping him learn to imitate new words for the objects you’re using in play. When his single word vocbulary increases to the near 50 word mark, then he should be able to say some short phrases that aren’t jargon. Hopefully that will happen soon for him and YOU! Good luck and let us know how he progresses! Laura

  384. Audrey on January 5, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    First off my younger brother has autism & it has me terrified about my son. My daughter is 10 & highly intelligent. My son is 14months old & was 3 weeks premature. In some things he is ahead of the rest. has really good motor skills. whta concerns me is that fe flaps his arms all the time especially when he gets excited. I have even seen him get so upset that he is trembling. He only knows a few words. mama, dada. sometimes he will sya car or quack quack for a duck. he stands on his tiptoes and can cruise, but not walk. He has a weird fascination with lights & ceiling fans. He is very affectionate & recognizes people he knows with big smiles. Am I overreacting?

  385. Audrey on January 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    he has in the last week learned to blow kisses when I say give me a kiss & he can wave hello & good bye

  386. Gemma on January 5, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Hi,after reading alot of peoples concerns on here i thought id see if anyone could advise me too! My lovely boy is 28 months and hard hard work! From when he was first born he made no eye contact AT ALL! I put that down to him being 5 weeks prem and having breathing problems, but it never improved. Now im having real horrific tantrums which my family have witnessed too (thank goodness) as i thought i was going mad and it was me, but my other two who are 14 and 9 never had them as bad. He says things that are totaly bizarre, instead of yes he says wee ( like a french yes oui is it?) It makes us giggle but really concerns me. His total vocab is about 15 words if that, he does not repeat and will ignore you. If he gets himself in a “tiz” and he wants something like his dummy you will have to hand it to him up to 15 times for him only to refuse everytime and on the last try will take what he actually wanted in the first place his dummy! Ive had to empty entire cuboards with him screaming at it for something he doesnt know. I thought it was just tantrums but its not, hes unreasonable and my family dont know where i get my patients from as he can scream for hours and hours, one day he cried screamed and tantrumed for 8 hours and in desperation called my doctor as i thought i was going to cave in! There are other things he does which seem “odd” like having to get dressed a ceratin way and his buttons have to be done up bottom to top not top to bottom otherwise he will throw a fit. With all of this though hes clever and funny with a sweet side, but cheeky after pushing me out of the door and i fell over started to cry and he didnt know where to put his face. When he runs his eyes are somewhere else he gives me heart attacks trying to catch him! Help im going mad with despair for my beautiful boy who cant tell me what he wants and in the UK takes forever to get a referal!!

  387. Laura on January 6, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Audrey – I certainly understand your concern about autism since you have firsthand experience with your brother. Researchers do believe there’s a genetic component to autism. Whether or not he’ll eventually be diagnosed or not diagnosed isn’t really your issue – it’s how he’s developing and the very real concerns that you have that’s making you worried.

    You’re absolutely working on the right things by teaching him to associate words with people and events and having him learn to follow those early directions like waving bye and blowing kisses. Keep working with him to help him learn what words mean by following familiar directions such as, “Give it to me,” bringiing you familiar objects such as, “Where’s your cup/shoes/blanket/car?” etc… He has to understand words before he’s able to use them to talk.

    Be sure you’re continuing to engage him in social play with games like Peek-a-boo and Patty Cake as well as other little songs and cute play routines. Again – those fun “games” are how we teach children to interact which is the foundation for communication.

    If you continue to be concerned about him over the next few months, if you’re in the US, you can have him evaluated by your state’s early intervention program. If he’s not walking in the next month or so, I’d definitely go ahead and call. If he’s not hitting his language milestones at 18 months (saying 15 words on his own and consistently following simple directions) then proceed with the speech eval as well.

    In the meantime keep reading for ideas here on the website. You may also want to check out my DVDs to get ideas how to work with him at home to facilitate speech-language development.

    Good luck and I hope he does well!! Laura

  388. Laura on January 6, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Gemma – Please go ahead and push for the eval even if it’s difficult for you to get in the UK. Early intervention is the key when working with children with developmental challenges.

    At a minimum he’s exhibiting a speech-language delay since he’s only saying 15 words at 28 months. The MINIMUM # of words we want children to have at 24 months is 50, so he is behind based on what you reported.

    I don’t think you mentioned how much language he’s understanding. I hope that he’s linking meanings to words and is able to follow directions during your daily routines. If he’s not, then this is the place to start since kids have to understand words before they use them to talk.

    I’d also tell you that how you’re describing his behavior sounds concerning as well. While all toddlers can have tantrums, an 8 hour tantrum is extreme. An occupational therapist who specializes in sensory processing disorders may be able to teach you ways to help him stay regulated. How frustrating this must be for the both of you! He doesn’t know what he wants, you don’t know what he wants, and no one is happy!

    I do hope your pediatrician can hurry the referral process along. In the meantime keep reading for ideas here on the website with ways to work with him at home.


  389. sinead on January 8, 2011 at 8:25 am

    hey laura sinead from belfast again, this jargon is doing y head in ,, he never stops talking , is that a good thing ,, he is following instructions well ,, and i dif think his vol is increasing , he dif knows what he wants and just talks to us like we understand ,, he started doing this weard eye thing which is worrying but he laughs when he does it , like every now and again he looks out of the side of his eye ,, but like i said prev thats my only concern ,, . what do you think ,, thanx

  390. Michele on January 10, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    The more I read about this subject the more unsure I am if my son has a medical issue or is quirky. He is talking more, his tantrums are still present but have diminished. However hs is very afraid of loud noises like garbage trucks, motorcycles etc. He also will only eat maybe the same 8 things over and over again. However his biggest issue, the one that worries me the most, is his social skills. He become very very angry if kids or adults notice him when we are out or say hi to him. He will glare or cuss at them or tell them to shut up then ask me to tell them to quit looking at him.

    Its very stressful and my heart goes out to him. Not sure if he is in a weird stage or what is happening. Its getting worse. He also will not potty train. He is 4 in March. Any thoughts you have are appreciated. Thank you for this site!

  391. Donna on January 10, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Hi, I just scheduled my son with developmental pediatrics. It just worries me so much of what he may be diagnosed with since he won’t be seen until next month. We never had any developmental delays of concern not until he was 3 1/2. He just turned four recently and does not say much – conversational wise. My mom says he probably just do not have anything to say. He started reading books when he was 3, knows his numbers (1-10), colors and shapes by 22 months. The red flags we have are: flapping his arms when he gets excited or when we say “good job”; paces back and forth staring at a table or a wall and repeating words if he does not know what to say; likes to roll clay with his fingers or rolls cotton ball into tiny circles. Daycare says that he does not engage much and does not play with other kids, however, when he is with us he does play with other kids. Another concern from daycare is that at times he is physically there but his mind is somewhere else which I have not noticed at home. Could this be signs of mild autism or just delay in speech?

  392. Gemma on January 11, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Thank you Laura, what you have said has been of great help and comfort in a way. He does understand what you are saying to him and can follow the daily routine but we have glitches where he cant due to frustration and temper. Today we had just three 45 minuet tantrums and was over joyed at that. You can see him trying so hard and hope i can really make a difference by understanding and patients, though its thin i hold it together for him. I hope to get this referal soon and help him move forward thank you and will keep reading this great site for more help and tips its brilliant! x

  393. Laura on January 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Michelle – I’d be very concerned for his social development since what you’re reporting could be due to a shyer temperament, however his responses are very anti-social and atypical for a toddler. Not meeting self-help milestones, like potty training at almost 4, either indicates a cognitive deficit or extreme sensory processing issues. No matter what’s causing it, I’d seek some professional help for him. You can start with an OT who specializes in sensory processing disorders to address his auditory sensitivities, feeding issues, and perhaps even the potty training since some children’s reluctance to train stems from regulatory issues. You may also want to consult a child psychologist as well to help you tackle the social issues and the potty training since this could be behavioral as well.

    I can tell that you’re so connected with him and really empathize and even appreciate his differences, but delaying treatment for him real