Be sure to check out our Store for a complete listing of all our products!

Have a Question? I’m Here to Help!

Laura Bio Pic

Every day I get hundreds of emails from every corner of our globe from parents of late talkers and the professionals who work with them. When I say professionals, I’m mainly talking about speech-language pathologists and other early intervention therapists, but in the last couple of years, psychologists and pediatricians have begun to email me too, which makes me very happy!

I love, love, love sharing what I know about the development of communication skills!

But because I’m one person, I can never seem to keep up with the sheer volume of the questions.


I’m starting something new! 

If you have a question about your child, I am more than happy to try to help guide you, especially if someone else can benefit from the response. Even though every child is different, many parents share the same concerns about their toddlers. Some days it feels like I’m reading the same email over and over – there are more similarities than differences in the questions I receive.

Here’s my invitation to you…

Feel free to reply to this post with your own questions about your own child or a child you’re working with. You are more than welcome to remain as anonymous as you’d like or provide as many details for me to get a feel for what’s going on – it’s up to you! My only request is that you include the phrase QUESTION FOR LAURA in your opening sentence so it’s not deleted by our spam program.

In reading questions and comments from other moms and dads, parents often find great comfort in knowing that they’re not alone. Someone else’s question may actually help spark something new for you.

So… ask away!!

I know this is going to be great!


(Your post will not appear immediately since all comments are moderated to prevent the thousands of spam posts we receive in a day from appearing here. Check back in a few hours to read my response to you. If you don’t see your post after a day or two, it means it was accidentally filtered out by our automatic spam detection program. Please include the line QUESTION FOR LAURA at the beginning so that your question isn’t deleted by mistake. Thanks!!)


Posted in



  1. Ady on April 28, 2015 at 8:35 am

    I am so thankful this website exists! My daughter is 18 months old & has “forgotten” all the words she knew & hasn’t acquired new words. It was a gradual process that I started noticing at 15 months & mentioned to her dr but he didn’t seem too concerned. Well IM FREAKING OUT. She’s meeting her milestones besides talking & makes an effort to talk to her play date friends but only gibberish comes out (she even uses inflection & facial expressions like raising her eyebrows when “talking”). Her lack of speech causes massive temper tantrums. My biggest fear is that she could be autistic because she meets some of the symptoms but it’ll be a while until she can see a specialist. What can I do in the meantime? Was this something I could have prevented? Also, can using a binky/pacifier cause speech problems? Thank you!

    • Laura on April 30, 2015 at 7:46 am

      Hi Ady. Thanks for your question. Some professionals say that ‘losing’ words is normal, but in my experience, it’s a red flag. While some toddlers may repeat a word and then not use it again, that’s not the same as losing words that a toddler had previously used spontaneously and frequently. If there are other red flags as you mentioned, I’d definitely go ahead and seek services now. Unfortunately, waiting never, ever has a positive outcome. I like the mantra, “Wait and treat” rather than “Wait and see.” You can proceed by contacting your state’s early intervention program directly usually without your doctor’s direct referral. Google your state’s name and the phrase “early intervention” for information. In some cases, she may not be “delayed enough” to qualify since she’s still so young. If happens, you can get a speech-language evaluation privately – meaning you use your insurance or pay for the service directly. Always look for a speech-language pathologist who specializes in toddlers and of course, one who is certified/licensed.

      In the meantime, there are lots of things you can do at home too! This whole site is FULL of recommendations – so start in the Expressive Section by clicking BLOG from the categories across the top banner.

      If you’re looking for products, my DVD Teach Me To Talk has fabulous ideas for parents and it’s always the place I recommend that parents start. If you’re more of a reader, check out my book Building Verbal Imitation in Toddlers since it will walk you through the process of helping her learn to talk. I can’t seem to link additional posts right now, but you can find them by using Search at the top of page or clicking on SHOP and scrolling down to the title.

      The important thing is to get going NOW with helping her at home. Many toddlers who exhibit ‘red flags’ overcome those and regain words pretty quickly when moms and dads implement a directed focus on helping her learn to understand and use her words (new and previous words) rather than just worrying and waiting. Good luck to you and let us know how she does!! Laura

      • Anonymous on May 2, 2015 at 3:21 pm

        If you confused , can’t affird , not ready ie still HAVE to wait ( which I discouraged . I waited & regret now) atlest do occupation therapy .

    • Jean on July 6, 2015 at 11:00 pm


      Hi Laura!

      I am an SLP and a big fan of your website and therapy manuals. I have purchased a few of your manuals and they have completely changed the way I do therapy!! I’m writing because I am stuck on a kiddo and could use some advice. I have your manual on verbal imitation in toddlers, which I have used with this child (I will call him “M”). I have gotten him to the point of repeating whole words and some familiar phrases. M has great social skills in that he initiates play, makes great eye contact, and happily engages with others. However, I am noticing several red flags that make me believe he is on the autism spectrum (covering his ears when over stimulated or in anticipation of an event, fascination with spinning ANY toy he can get his hands on- a ball, a block, wheels on a car, ceiling fan, etc.). But a huge indicator is regression. Instead of building on acquired skills, M will begin using a skill (a sign, a word, whatever) and it will stick for a few weeks, then it’s gone. It is so difficult to see a child make progress and then lose it. I’m just really not sure where to go from here. Receptively, this child is not able to identify even five common objects (clothes, body parts, toys, etc). He was previously identifying body parts, and now that is gone. Currently, I continue to push onward with the sign language, receptive language (identifying just a few motivating common objects), and simple functional phrases (“more”, “all done”, etc.). Do you have a resource that is more specifically tailored to ASD? I understand that we treat the symptoms, not the diagnosis, but in this little guy’s case I am wondering if there is a better route to go due to the continual progress and then regression (maybe PECS?). I’d appreciate it if you can help point me in the right direction. Thanks!

      • Laura on July 15, 2015 at 5:53 pm

        Hi Jean! What a question!! It does sound like he’s got some red flags for a delay beyond an expressive language delay (perhaps ASD) and you are so, so, so right to back up and work on receptive skills. Since he’s social with you, I’d focus on that particular piece and keep working your expressive stuff in there as a
        ‘bonus’ goal. When kids don’t retain the words or signs, it really is an indication that they don’t “own” that information – in other words – it’s probably not meaningful to them yet. They can give it back to you, but there’s no intrinsic “reason” for them to keep using it or they would. That usually also means there’s an underlying cognitive problem – with attention, memory & problem solving (He should be thinking – “Hey! I can use those words/signs to get what I want this week just like I did last week.”) If you’ve not thought about this child in this way, it can be eye-opening. You should also be talking with his parents about that regression and what that means. If you do have Teach Me To Talk: The Therapy Manual, look at the cognitive and receptive language chapters for more specific ideas. If you have Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2 DVDs, tailor your therapy activities to look like those. You’ll still include those early expressive goals (signs & early words), but your BIG focus is making it meaningful so it will stick. Good luck to you! I’ve had HARD kids like this before and I grow as much as they do while I’m treating them with all they teach me! Laura

  2. Anonymous on April 28, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I have a three-year-old boy with an expressive speech delay. No other diagnoses has been given. He understands almost everything that is said to him. No issues with receptive language. What kinds of recommendations would you offer? I would love to speak to you personally and even have you meet him. I’ve looked at your website a lot and have found some good information. But as a parent I want to do everything possible to help him.

    • Laura on April 30, 2015 at 7:50 am

      Hi there! Without knowing more details about your little boy, it would be hard to give you recommendations. I’d love to help you here on the site if you want to give me more information about his specific challenges. The very BEST way to get my personal advice during a phone call is to be a guest on my podcast. If you’ve never heard my show, click the PODCAST category at the top of the page and listen to a few shows. Sometimes it’s just me, but many times I have guests who are parents with questions about their own child. If you’d like to do that, email me at to set it up. Thanks! Laura

  3. Lorren on April 28, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    My 29 month old still has echolalia. He labels a lot of things and often answers questions that are simple (“What color is it?” “What’s your name?” “Do you want toast or cereal for breakfast?”) He also makes observations independently (“Look, there’s a snail” “I want a bite of your smoothie” “Want water” “The snail is eating the grass” “There are cars on that truck”) But other questions, he simply responds by repeating the question. (“Did you have fun playing with Freddie?” “Did you play with Freddie’s trains?”) He is also very good at remembering books and songs. Is this a negative thing? I always thought he was bright, until his daycare teacher said he was only using echolalia at the daycare (this is definitely not the case at home). I was never concerned about it until now, and now I am noticing every little thing and freaking out that he has a speech delay or bigger issues.

    • Laura on April 30, 2015 at 8:04 am

      Hi Lorren. Echolalia IS a part of normal development – all kids learn to talk by repeating what they hear. BUT… when it’s the only kind of language a child uses, echolalia is a red flag as his teacher pointed out. When echolalia is pointing to another developmental issue, there are always other signs too, so carefully look for those, but without causing yourself even more worry and heartache!!

      I think it’s very positive that he uses language spontaneously with you. He may use echoed speech more at daycare because it’s easier for him to access, meaning he doesn’t have to ‘plan’ new things to say. He could be using echolalia there because his familiar phrases are a comfort to him during a stressful situation (being away from home and you). He may also be overstimulated, especially if this daycare is new or he’s in a new class with a new routine, and his echolalia is just his “default” speaking pattern. If that’s the case, his spontaneous language should emerge when he’s more comfortable with the routine.

      Many times children use echolalia when they’re having difficulty processing or understanding what’s happening around them. This may be magnified at daycare and you not see these issues at home since everything at home is familiar and probably pretty routine. If he has any difficulty following verbal directions, then this may be part of what’s going on with him. You may want to quiz his teacher for more information about how he performs in this area there. I would pursue a speech-language evaluation if you think this is even a mild issue for him.

      Advice I give parents is to focus on teaching him NEW words at home so you’re expanding that word bank. If he seems hooked on a few shows or books that you are hearing over and over, expand his repertoire by helping him watch or listen to new content.

      If you are seeing other red flags, especially if he’s having difficulty understanding what he hears best measured by following your verbal directions, then definitely follow up with a speech-language assessment. It will also ease your mind. Even if there are delays noted, you’ll feel much better addressing them than if you waited and did nothing and he did end up having trouble later.

      Let me know if you have other questions. I’m happy to help you! Laura

  4. Sarah Johnston on April 29, 2015 at 4:30 am

    Hello, my daughter is 3 and not talking. She babbles and says a few words beginning with ‘b’, but does not repeat words & seems content not to speak. She does him times, such as Twinkle Little Star and her hearing is said to be perfect. She was late with most of her milestones, so whilst not a surprise, her lack of language at this age is really scaring me. She has started once a week speech therapy and is a couple of weeks in. I guess I’m looking for new ideas to help her and positive stories of others who’ve found themselves in this position.

    • Laura on April 30, 2015 at 8:08 am

      Hi Sarah. You’ve come to the right place – this site is FULL of new ideas for you to help her at home. I have hundreds and hundreds of posts with ideas and “how to” instructions. Also check out my Therapy Tip of the Week series for ways to use toys to play with her at home. It’s a great way to get started and daily I hear from parents who tell me those ideas have been so helpful for them at home. You can find those short videos under the VIDEOS tab at the top of the page. I do hope other parents will chime in with their success stories. I see children getting better and better every single day, so don’t give up! Speak with her therapist specifically about what you should be doing at home with her too. If you need help with products, let me know and I can make some suggestions for you there too! Laura

  5. Emily on April 29, 2015 at 7:02 am

    Thanks for your site! Here we go with my question(s)… apologies if it’s long!

    My son is 30 months old. He was born six weeks early. He pretty much never babbled, though at about 14 months he started saying “dadadada.” I think he said “dada” with meaning at about 16 months. He finally said mama at 19 months. These days he has about six clear words – mama, dada, uh-oh, wow, pop (though sometimes pop is just pah or even bop), pie (which is more like paaah) and about 20 words that don’t resemble the actual words at all. Examples are tuh tuh tuh for car, di di for train, doo dah for bear, di dah for Mater, etc. It’s like his own private language that only I can understand. His father even has to ask for translations sometimes. We joke that he speaks a tonal language because so much of it is based on pitch – high-pitched maaa is a cat, but low-pitched maaa is a goat/sheep.

    Here are some other weird things he does: di di means train, but it also means crane. A high-pitched maaaa means meow/cat/kitten but also means mittens. He uses “da” as his default sound. He almost never imitates our speech – once I did something silly and said “duh!” and he imitated that, but that’s the only time I can remember him imitating us. Oh, and once we had a friend over who was saying “poo-poo” and he imitated that, but he’s never said it since.

    He *loves* learning new signs, and picks them up immediately. He also routinely makes up his own.

    Now, it gets complicated because we’re expats in the Netherlands. We’re an English-speaking family, and he wasn’t exposed to Dutch until he started preschool a couple of months ago. He seemingly enjoys it there (he goes three mornings a week), but he doesn’t speak to them at all. He does a hand signal to let them know if he needs to go to the bathroom.

    We finally managed to get a referral to have his hearing and speech assessed, but that isn’t for another month. Sometimes I wonder about his hearing, because it seems like he can’t find us in the house when we call for him, even in the same room sometimes. But then it seems like he hears every little thing, so I’m not sure. I’m also very concerned about apraxia. My biggest concern, however, is making sure that his assessment is accurate, and he gets the help that he needs. What are your feelings on our situation? The assessment will be a Dutch-normed one, but they’ll have an English translator available for it. That in itself worries me, since I think an English-normed assessment would be more valid. Also, if he needs therapy ( and I can’t imagine he wouldn’t qualify), it will have to be with a Dutch therapist. I’ve no idea if I’ll be able to find one who can work in English; there are a few in the country, but they charge extra and would require quite a lot of travel time. We’ve been working with the methods in It Takes Two to Talk and have seen a little bit of progress (he started saying pop and da for down). I guess I’m frustrated by how long it took them to give us the referral, and worried that living here is going to screw him up permanently because he may not be able to get the right services for his needs.

    • Laura on April 30, 2015 at 8:19 am

      Hi Emily. What a situation you find yourself in! My advice would be to use the Dutch SLP particularly if you’re going to be there for a while. You know he’s going to qualify for services because he doesn’t speak Dutch! He will absolutely need to understand and speak Dutch if he’s beginning kindergarten there. Period. Even if you don’t speak any Dutch or plan to speak Dutch yourself, he will be at a real disadvantage for academics if he doesn’t know the language for instruction at school. That alone would be worth pursuing that option for me.

      If you get the Dutch eval and aren’t happy, you can always pursue your other options for assessment at that time. If it takes a long time to get an appointment, go ahead and begin the procedure now. You can always cancel if you change your mind.

      Without seeing him, I have no idea what’s going on with him, but I would be concerned about speech development too based on what you’ve said. Apraxia did come to mind as I was reading about him. Hanen is a fabulous starting point for language and you will never, ever go wrong with that, but if apraxia is his diagnosis, you are going to need to do some other things for him and you will need an SLP with expertise in that area to get him over the hump and make significant progress. It may be pricey, but not doing it may cost even more in the long run!

      I think you’re in a difficult situation right now. You sound like a great mom so follow your gut instincts with what to do for him.

      As a side note – I’ve been hearing from a couple of moms from the Netherlands. OR it could all be from you and I’m not connecting your names/stories. Regardless, there may be other English speaking moms with toddlers with delays there. If so, I hope you’ll all respond to here so you can connect and find support!

      Thanks for your question and good luck to you!!!!! Laura

      • Emily on April 30, 2015 at 2:39 pm

        Thanks for your reply! We currently intend to stay here; if we move in the future, it would likely be to the UK. They start school at age 4 here, so as you can imagine, I’m very anxious to get him started in therapy and on the right track. As long as he’s able to work with a Dutch-speaking therapist, I’m more than happy for him to see one. I can get by in Dutch fairly well, so I’m not too worried about being able to communicate with his therapist. I just want to be sure that he’s able to get something out of it if she’s speaking Dutch to him. There’s also a good chance he’ll get a referral to go to a speech and language preschool.

        I don’t think I’ve posted here before, so I think it must be other people! There is quite a large expat community here, and I know a few other English speakers who also have speech-delayed kids. However, most live in Amsterdam where there are a few English-speaking therapists who can help them. We live near Amsterdam, but not close enough to make it super convenient if we go down that route. Still, I’m glad you were able to reassure me about having a Dutch therapist. I think we’ll definitely start with a local therapist and see how we get on. Again, assuming he qualifies (and I can’t imagine how he wouldn’t).

        Thanks again for your help!

        • Laura on April 30, 2015 at 4:08 pm

          I hope the other moms and dads reading from the Netherlands will try to connect with you here Emily! We have shipped several product orders there lately, so there are other parents there in similar situations, even if they’re not in the same city. Good luck to you!! Laura

        • Ira on May 8, 2015 at 2:00 pm

          Hello Emily,

          I’m one of the expat moms from the Netherlands with a 2 year old daughter who has a speech delay as well. In fact your story, resembles ours in some way. We’ve a;ready gone through testing her hearing and hiring a very expensive English speech therapist who was not exactly what we had in mind. I’d love to connect with you privetly and talk about the exprience we’ve had. Perhaps we could help each other.
          We also live close by Amsterdam….a small town of Weesp.

          Would love to hear back from you.

          • Laura on May 10, 2015 at 5:03 pm

            IRA!!! I have looked and looked for your email to contact you and reply to your questions!! I read it one morning and I did not feel like I had the time to adequately answer all of your well-crafted questions, but I was not able to find it when I tried a couple of days later. I think your husband also left me a comment and I did respond to him, but I am happy you’ve written in so I can tell you all of that myself!! Please, please resend it to me so I can address it and I am very, very happy you responded to the other mom in the Netherlands. Thank you!!! Laura

          • Emily on June 6, 2015 at 1:25 pm

            Hi! Sorry it took me so long to respond; I haven’t checked this is a while! We live in Haarlem, so the other side of Amsterdam from Weesp.

            Here’s where we stand now: we had our evaluation and he scored perfectly on both hearing and receptive language. His expressive was extremely low. They’ve put in a referral for him to start a special preschool for language delays, where he’ll receive speech therapy and be in a smaller group than his current preschool. We’re now debating whether to start him in this group in a town a bit further away so he can start in August, or put him on the waiting list for our local group, and have him do private speech therapy until he gets into the group, likely in December. We haven’t yet decided. I also haven’t yet read the full report on him, but I’m hoping we’ll get it this week.

  6. Dad on April 29, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Hi Laura- I just saw your website and list of potential warning signs. I have a 10-month old son who seems to be developing well otherwise. He is crawling well and learned to pull himself up by 8 months, and I think is very close to taking his 1st steps without holding onto something. I also taught him how to clap (though he still prefers to grab my hands and clap them). However, he isn’t babbling at all. Rarely, we will hear a ‘baba’ and one day a couple of weeks ago there were a few ‘mama’s . But otherwise nothing, unless he has his hand in his mouth (which will help him induce ‘yaya’ or sometimes ‘dada’). He will coo vowels. Our pediatrician at our 9 month visit said we should address it when he is 12 months, but I am getting worried. My wife is content to just listen to the pediatrician. Is there more we should/could do? Thank you

  7. marium on April 30, 2015 at 12:20 am

    dear laura,
    teaching pronouns and answering questions is the most hard milestone where parents are stuck. plz can u write an article about it .

    • Laura on April 30, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      Hi Marium! I wondered if I’d hear from you here : ) I know you have Teach Me To Talk: The Therapy Manual, right? Tell me how it’s going with the activities listed in the book and I will help you more! Laura

      • marium on May 2, 2015 at 3:17 pm

        hey Laura,

        You have given us a great platform to answer our queries and i didn’t want to miss this opportunity. The activities are VERY HELPFUL but now i am kind of stuck in pronouns and only modeling pronouns to her like My juice if she says Fatima wants a juice , say my chocolate and also modeling a question , who is mamas little doll? i encourage her to say its me Fatima sometimes she says its me but most of the time she says her name Fatima. whenever she wants something instead of saying I OR ME she says her name Fatima wants a chocolate or Fatima wants to go to park . i know she is going to be 4 in June and that kind of possession is not appropriate at her age level. what should i do to help her.
        Laura you have mentioned a milestone in Ur manual Relates personal/recent experience which is in expressive development from 2-3. PLEASE give me some tips and tricks because i need more details. IN your manual u mentioned about prompting a child to relate shared experiences to others by saying things like TELL GRANDMA WHAT WE SAW WHILE WE WERE DRIVING HERE TODAY? can you explain what prompting is and tell me how do you target this with your little friends in therapy sessions.
        One milestone that i have not worked on Laura is response to name with her. i find it very difficult so i worked on to improve her vocabulary and did not work on this for a while i paired clapping and hug with her name so that she looks at me but she doesn’t i call her name but she is busy in her palyand she does not respond. Laura need a detailed answer.
        yes / no questions. when i ask her wanna play bubbles? instead of saying yes she answers play bubbles. need your wonderful tips LAURA on this please.

        • Laura on May 3, 2015 at 4:52 pm

          Hi Marium. I can always count on you for the most technical questions : ) Let’s break it down by sections:
          Pronouns – You may have to set up “mass practice” which means you’ll have her say the target pronoun in a phrase (as you’re already practicing!) many, many times per practice session. Repetition and practice are the only way to make it “stick” since you’ve tried more naturalistic methods with little success. So… this means that you’ll get a big bar of chocolate and say, “Who wants chocolate/a piece?” She can say “I do” or “Me!” so pick which one you think will be most helpful for her to learn first. Ask your question – “Who wants a piece?” and then model your target answer so she can repeat you. As soon as she says it correctly, give her a SLIVER of chocolate. Then quickly repeat the process 20 or so times in one sitting. Do the same thing a few hours later so that you’re practicing like this 3 or 4 times per day, more if you can, for several days in a row always telling her exactly what to say with little explanation like “Can you say…” Or “You’re supposed to tell me…” Just stick to the question and modeling what she should say. After a week or so of “mass practice” every day, probe to see if she will begin to answer correctly without the model. If she doesn’t, she needs more of the same kind of structured practice. If she does, practice it the same way without the model for a few more days, THEN try your practice with something else she loves. You may have to start completely over with “Who wants ____?” and then modeling her phrase “I do” or “me,” and even if you have to start over, it’s OKAY! She may need several days of prompting with this new thing before you can fade your model of what she should say, but over time, it should work.
          Relating personal experiences – THIS IS SO HARD FOR ANY TODDLER AND PRESCHOOLER WITH A LANGUAGE DELAY!!! This skill depends on memory, receptive language and expressive language, so a triple whammy!! What I do is practice, practice, practice during play or daily routines. Ask the questions as you’re playing, “Fatima… what are you playing?” Model the answer if she doesn’t respond. Ask several times as you’re playing. Then ask immediately after play. Then ask again a few minutes later. As soon as someone else is available, have them ask her the same question “Fatima, what did you play today?” If she doesn’t respond, that’s when you prompt and cue her by saying, “Remember Fatima? We played ____. Tell her I played ____.” You can use the same method with snacks, special events, whatever…. but ask her the question and cue her DURING the event many times, IMMEDIATELY AFTER the event many times, several minutes later, and then when it’s practical, have someone else ask her as you are available to give her your “Remember Fatima?” cue/prompt. I hope that explains it in detail better for you!!
          RESPONDING TO NAME – So are you saying she never responded to you calling her name with the clapping & hugging or she did? Let me know and we’ll go from there.
          YES/NO – Just like the skills above, you are going to have to ask the question and give her her response as a model. So…. you’ll say, “Do you want to play bubbles? Yes!” Nod and smile enthusiastically as you’re saying “Yes!” If she says, “Play bubbles” say “Yes! Play bubbles” and wait for her to imitate that. It’s the enthusiastic head nodding as you’re saying “yes” that usually works for me to get that answer. Also practice with “No” with things that are appropriate for “no” or read her body language and model “No no no!” for her when she seems to be rejecting one of your options for whatever you’re doing. For example, if she appears not to like a food, ask her “Do you want ____? No! No! I don’t want ____.” Keep repeating it emphatically shaking your head no, making a terrible face, anything to entice her to repeat you. When she’s better with her accuracy (meaning yes always means yes and no always means no) you can switch to “Do you want bubbles, yes or no?”
          As usual, I love your questions for Fatima and I will use it for an upcoming podcast to explain in great detail. Look for that in the next few weeks. I have a couple of topics/guests already scheduled and I need to do those first, but I will get to it. I know you’ll lovingly remind me if I don’t! Laura

          • Laura on May 3, 2015 at 5:10 pm

            Well Marium…my reply did not format correctly, but I’m not going to redo it! I hope you can understand my suggestions! Laura

          • marium on May 13, 2015 at 2:05 pm

            Dear laura , you asked me a question about RESPONDING TO NAME – So are you saying she never responded to you calling her name with the clapping & hugging or she did? Let me know and we’ll go from there.
            well laura she never, did what should i do.

          • Laura on May 15, 2015 at 2:10 pm

            Hi Marium – Then pick something she LOVES and use that as her “reward” for when she responds to her name. Set it up like a game just like I described with the chocolate in my previous response. OR try singing her name. Doesn’t she like music? Try that for a while then you’ll fade the singing over time. Laura

          • Anonymous on May 17, 2015 at 12:52 pm

            thanks LAURA for your help. I WILL work on your wonderful suggestions and will let you know how it goes and secondly to remind you lovingly about using my questions in your upcoming podcast. will be waiting thanks once again.

  8. Laura on April 30, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Hi Dad! I love hearing from fathers by the way!! What a lucky little boy and wife you have for you to be so committed and involved!!

    At this point you should be hearing some sounds, but as you know, you can’t MAKE that happen. What you can work on with a little one who’s not even one yet is his interaction with you, making sure he’s learning to connect people/objects/events with words, and learning to use those other early gestures like waving bye bye, pointing for awareness and to communicate with you, as well as clapping along with you. Without those skills, he won’t talk on time, even if he is more verbal.

    I can’t emphasize the importance of helping him learn to understand words too. He should start to look toward each of you when the other asks, “Where’s mama?” or “Where’s dada?” You should notice that he’s making more connections every single day, even if he’s not making much noise. If he’s not doing that yet, then he’s really having difficulty with language or understanding and processing and not just the prerequisites for talking.

    As far as getting him to be more verbal, movement does usually work, so try bouncing him on your lap, swinging him in your arms, etc… Early vocal play like squealing, laughing, and blowing raspberries are prerequisites to babbling, so make sure he’s doing that too.

    If you need step by step instructions for that process, my book Building Verbal Imitation in Toddlers will give you new ideas. He is too young for some of those activities right now, but the theory is SOLID for what he should be learning to do to lead to words. Another great reference for parents for ideas for early play and helping a child learn to do his part is my book Teach Me To Play WITH You. Take a look at that one too.

    Good luck to you!! Laura

  9. Buffy on April 30, 2015 at 8:35 am

    My daughter , Mia, is 7, first grade, since the first day of school i approached staff that my child had something wrong but i wasnt sure what it was…Kindergarten she spent 3/4 the year being bullied her teachrr in.cluded..This year she has struggled tremendously however is finally at a point where she feels comfortable enough with her peers and tbe teachers that the meltdowns have deteriorated. Last year it was said she had apraxia. This year from get go they said no, but as of a week ago yes she definitely has apraxia. Final outcome is they THINK she has primarily Autism with a secondary of apraxia. And are now wanting to transfer her out to special needs school because of the Autism…i believe as many others who know Mia that she absolutely does not have Autism…the social hardship caused by the apraxia may seem autistic but its not…How do i stop this? mia is extremely smart and talented artisticly and musically she just cant mock the things you ask of her…and doesnot understand complex direction

    • Laura on April 30, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      Hi Buffy. What a tough situation for her and for you! I don’t think you’re going to be satisfied with truly knowing what’s going on with her until you get a second and perhaps third opinion from an outside program or professional. I’d also ask for confirmation of the diagnosis from the school in report form if you don’t have that already. The school may pay for that additional evaluation, but I’d probably pursue it on my own to be sure there’s no predisposition or influence with the new professional who is assessing her. This is to ease YOUR mind so that you know what’s going on with her since you’ve had such conflicting opinions and then also so you’ll know to proceed with treatment. The bottom line could be that her current school does not know how to help her learn so you are much better off having her moved to a new setting where she can get the help she needs. That may break your heart, particularly if she’s being misdiagnosed, and as frustrating as that is, the truth is probably that she’s not thriving in her current school situation REGARDLESS of what the diagnosis is or isn’t. It’s great that you’re finally seeing some progress, but you really want her in a school setting where she can thrive all year long. It’s so frustrating when a teacher or therapist gives you mixed messages and especially when you’re hearing something you don’t think is true. I haven’t seen her so of course I have no way of knowing what is going on with her, but I’d encourage you to get those additional assessments so you can be sure you know what her issues are or aren’t and then so you can provide her with the best possible academic setting.

      Apraxia is a tricky diagnosis and it can be a child’s only challenge or part of a broader developmental diagnosis. Since she’s also having difficulty understanding complex directions, it likely is part of a broader issue, but I have no way of knowing since I haven’t seen her myself.

      I will also add that if you find yourself truly at odds with the school system, you may want to find legal representation. In many states that assistance is free for children with special needs. Do some Google searches to find out resources in your area.

      In closing, let me say that I love that you are recognizing her strengths as well as her weaknesses. She is lucky to have a mom who is trying so hard to get her the help she needs. Good luck to you both!! Laura

  10. Julieta on April 30, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Dear Laura,

    What is the timeline for responding to Yes/NO questions? Are object + animal sound counted as phrases?

    My 25 month old boy has about 130-150 words, and he has about 20-25 two word phrases (he never repeats phrases, only spontaneous phrase production like “apple eat”, “eat more”, “airplane bye bye”, which leads me to believe that maybe he has some very mild difficulty with stringing sounds). He often says “cow moo”, “cat miau” “dog woof woof”. He does use the animal labels separately, and he does respond to “What does the cow say” with “moo”. Are these true phrases? It seems like he is omitting “says” but otherwise are sentences…

    He recently started to respond to questions with Yes and No…which is great, except I am pretty sure he doesn’t truly understand them…For example, do you like pizza? NO Do you like broccoli? Yes
    Sometimes he will repeat the word, but not like true echolalia…Do you want milk? response: Milk…and he points towards the milk to request it, but to some specific questions, he is saying random YES or NO. Is this normal? When should he be able to fully understand and respond to yes/no questions?

    • Laura on April 30, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      Hi Julieta! Accurate responding to yes/no questions (beyond “Do you want ___?”) is listed as a milestone on speech-language assessments around 30 months so he’s right on track since he’s clearly ‘working’ on this new skill. You know he’s ‘working’ on this since sometimes he’s right and sometimes he’s not – just like we all do when we are first learning something! Keep practicing with him – he’ll get it – just like he’s learned everything else. I’m so happy to hear that his phrases are coming along so well and I know how worried you were about that!! : ) I do think you’re exactly right about him using the animal sounds with the word, but I probably wouldn’t count it as a true phrase just yet, but I’d sure be telling mom “It’s an almost phrase!” Again, you know he’s TRYING which is exactly what he should be doing. When he says those kinds of phrases, I’d excitedly say, “Yes! The cow SAYS moo!” Emphasize the word “says.” It’s likely a new word for him and quite an ‘advanced’ verb! Thanks for the update about him and keep working momma! You’re doing great!!! Laura

      • Julieta on April 30, 2015 at 5:14 pm

        Thank you so much! I wanted to just add a little note to the previous poster DAD above. My son started to babble at 9.5-10 months. He was doing lots of raspberries and other vocal play before that, but the true “babababa” came at close to ten months. In addition, my son was clapping my hands instead of his up until 13 months! I have checked this activity with a dev ped, and it is normal (not a red flag for anything) As noted, my son turned out somewhat slower speaker than average, but still within normal range at 24 months. I know many other boys who started to babble at 10 and 11 months and are mildly or not delayed at 2, so DAD just to calm down a little bit…the road to fluent speech is long and it is too early to worry 🙂

  11. Anonymous on May 1, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Hi Laura

    I have a 5 year old son who is on the autistic spectrum and also has an additional diagnosis of oral motor dyspraxia.

    His understanding of language is of a 4 year old (he has been assessed), but the level of his speech is of a two year old. As you can imagine, he is highly frustrated.

    What is the difference between oral motor and verbal dyspraxia?

    Also are there any techniques located in your site or in your manuals that can assist me with his oral motor of speech. I know his communication skills are waaaay more important than the oral dyspraxia. But I just will like some tips on how I could help him with this.

    • Laura on May 1, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks for your question. Oral motor dyspraxia is not really a diagnosis frequently used with preschoolers in the US, but I know that it is used around the world. In the US we use Childhood Apraxia of Speech or suspected childhood apraxia of speech which is difficulty planning and executing the motor movements needed for speech which would be verbal dyspraxia. I explain this to parents as “He knows what he wants to say, but the message gets short-circuited on the way to his mouth.” That’s not exactly how a neuroscientist would explain it, but it makes it easier for the rest of us to understand!

      As for oral motor dyspraxia, anytime the word “oral motor” appears in the diagnosis, it does refer to the mouth and its structural and movement components. Dyspraxia broken down means “dys” or difficulty with, abnormal and “praxis” or movement. In the strictest terms an “oral motor” dyspraxia means he has difficulty with non-verbal movements of his mouth too such as performing oral commands on request – “Stick out your tongue,” “Pucker your lips” or even “Do this” as the person models a mouth movement for him to imitate. It may or may not include the verbal piece too – you’ll have to ask the SLT (speech-language therapist, since you’re most likely outside the US!) to explain her diagnostic differences.

      I don’t do lots of oral motor work with a child unless he can’t become verbal or intelligible without it. Level 3 of my Building Verbal Imitation in Toddlers has lots of ideas for how to work on these things, BUT he may be beyond those kinds of activities since he is verbal. I also don’t do more aggressive oral motor work (really at all), but only when a child readily accepts it and understands commands well enough for those techniques to be active or performed by him – meaning I don’t do lots of manipulating a child’s mouth or use lots of oral motor tools beyond what would be developmentally appropriate for young children – whistles, horns, etc… Lots of SLPs do, but I don’t since many toddlers don’t meet all of my prerequisites for including that kind of direct oral motor focus. And here’s the thing… there’s little evidence (or research) to support using lots of those kinds of activities with a child when apraxia is his diagnosis. (It’s a completely different story if there’s obvious muscle weakness!)

      I hope my response hasn’t confused you even more!! What I’d recommend is that you spend some time talking with your child’s SLT about what his diagnoses mean specifically for him. You’ll also want to see what impact that diagnosis means functionally for him. Is it impacting his ability to imitate new words? Or does he mostly have difficulty when he’s combining words in to phrases or short sentences? Is it mostly an intelligiblity problem – meaning he’s trying to talk and combine, but you just can’t understand him? All of those issues require different strategies and you’ll want to be clear about what his MAIN challenges are so you are directing your efforts toward the most important pieces.

      Also – I am so, so, so happy you’ve prioritized communicating!! Since he’s on the spectrum, this is even more important for him!!

      Thanks so much for your questions!! Good luck to you!! Laura

  12. Jessie on May 1, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    I have a 4 year old who did not ever babble and did not begin to imitate anything until he was 3. Now at 4 the majority of his words are approximations. He has about 15 words he can say close enough for others to understand him. It has been suggested that he has apraxia of speech but so far his SLP has not seen enough evidence to label him with this. Right now we know that he has severe expressive language disorder and severe speech sound production disorder. He also has some developmental delays and sensory issues that prevent him from eating anything but crackers and pediasure. He is starting to put together 2-3 word sentences but without his hand gestures and outside information we usually do not know what he is trying to say. He has been in speech therapy for a couple years now and has been evaluated by a feeding therapist (we start feeding therapy in a couple months). He has excellent oral motor skills according to both therapists but he struggles to form words. We are still trying to get B, M, and P sounds down in therapy. It is very clear that he can understand 100% of what is said to him and he does not have any hearing problems. What can I do to help him gain some vocabulary and clarity in what he is attempting to say to us? He still spends most of his day pretty silent and only trying to express words when absolutely necessary. He has also started to only try to speak at home and around a select few that he feels comfortable with.

    • Laura on May 2, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      Hi Jessie! What a tough situation for you all! I think you’re doing what you can by having him in therapy. What kinds of ideas is your SLP providing? She should be consistently giving you things to work on and do with him. INSIST that she do if she’s not.

      The other question I have is if you’re using any kind of AAC – that’s Alternative Augmentative Communication. Since his receptive skills are relatively good, a device would be the way I would lean for him. If your SLP doesn’t have much expertise in this area, she should be able to track down an AAC Specialist – usually an SLP – to help her trial a device in therapy with him. Some parents are so reluctant to try a device because they feel like they’re giving up on talking, but that’s just not the case. Many times the child feels much less pressure and actually responds by making more progress verbally since he’s not just depending on speech anymore. It certainly reduces the frustration that you both are certain to feel every single day.

      If you’re not happy about a device (and that choice is certainly up to you as his mom!!), then look at low tech options like signing. Signing is helpful for improving motor planning for some children if apraxia turns out to be his diagnosis. If he’s already gesturing, it’s a natural extension. If you tried signs for early words like “more” or “please” and then stopped, revisit it. I’ve seen children in my practice who have HUNDREDS of signs before they become intelligible enough for others to understand them. You’ll have to learn the signs too, but it’s an area I ALWAYS explore.

      Pictures are another option – even without a device. Some parents are reluctant to do this too, but if he’s frustrated AND shy (a double whammy!!), pictures are a fantastic choice since EVERYONE understands a picture. PECS Picture Exchange Communication System is EASY to teach a child with no receptive challenges. If you’ve not done this before, I’d try it now.

      Let me reiterate that using any kind of AAC – a device, signs, pictures – always helps a child who can’t communicate, especially when he knows you have no idea what he’s trying to say. An additional way to tell you things may alleviate his reluctance to communicate. AND you should always encourage him to talk as he uses his device, signs, or pictures. This is actually how I see more progress than speech alone with this kind of kid because they try new words without the pressure of you understanding him. You likely already know this and may even be using some alternatives, but I want to mention it for other parents reading who may have been on the fence.

      Good luck to you! Hope these ideas help!! Laura

      • Laura on May 3, 2015 at 9:40 am

        Jessie – I woke up this morning thinking that I didn’t finish answering your question about how to get his words going. I got off on my ACC tangent – which is a conversation every SLP must have with parents who are in your situation – but I didn’t also give you suggestions for helping you with what you asked – which is how to help him become more intelligible. I LOVE that he’s trying to use phrases – which suggests that his language IS moving along, so congratulate yourself on that! What I do for kids like this is to pull out words they are already trying to say often and work on those words as single words. You may also take a look at that list of 15 words he is saying and analyze those sounds. If he is using words mostly with /d/ or /n/ correctly or /k/ and /g/ or whatever sound it is, then think of other words he’s trying to say with those sounds and help him practice. Set up situations where he has to use those words too so it’s not just “therapy,” but real life situations where he has to use those words first with you and then with his trusted circle.

        For bilabials, those lips sounds you mentioned /b/, /p/, /m/, has his SLP shown you how to use some gentle tactile cueing to help him get closure? Ask her about that if that’s what she’s using. That’s what I do when a child can tolerate it without freaking out and is a little older as your son is. If his feeding issues are sensory based, this is also an important distinction in figuring out if he can accept tactile cues to his face or if that’s aversive for him. Either way, that’s worth talking about with your therapists. The other thing I do when a child is missing a whole class of sounds is to bombard their little systems. This strategy has been around for a long, long time and is called various things – but basically, to do it with a toddler or preschooler – you’re going to purposefully select target words and activities for you to do together so that he hears those sounds over and over and over again. Some SLPs have parents read lists of words with the target sounds. I’ve done that, but I get better results from the method I previously described. So… for bilabials… depending on what the child LOVES we’d play with balls, bubbles, balloons (a harder word to say, but very motivating!), babies, blocks (again that /l/ is probably too hard, but you’ll accept “bah” or “bahk” for block), puppy, anything we can “push,” and then pair other words with bilabials during the task. So.. for bubbles you’re also using “pop,” “up,” “boom,” “more,” “please,” etc…

        I hope those ideas make sense to you! If you need more guidance, I’d love to have you as a guest on the podcast to talk about it and I”ll provide some real life models of how to do that. Email me at if you’re interested. It’s such a good question, I’ll probably still use it even if you don’t want to call in, but it will be better if you will!! Laura

        • Jessie on May 3, 2015 at 11:05 am

          Thank you for all of the suggestions. Our SLP is kind of puzzled by him and we are trying to throw a little bit of everything at him to try and find what works best for him. He does not like anyone to touch his face so there are no tactile cues but we have tried doing little finger cues on our own lips and he will try to mimic the gesture on himself to help remember the target sounds. He can produce vowel sounds pretty good but his consonants are very limited. Yes, we used to use a few signs and they work well at home but no one understood his requests at school. We did just recently introduce a communication book with some homemade pictures for him to point at. I am still trying to build the pages for it to include more of his daily life and any images he may need. This morning he said “Doe Dah” so he wants to Go somewhere but I couldn’t decipher it within the first 10 guesses so he just broke down crying and now won’t speak to anyone. 🙁 I needed a picture for Dah but I don’t know what or where that is.

          • Laura on May 3, 2015 at 4:54 pm

            Well that story just breaks my heart, for him and for you! I love that you’re making him a little book. Will his teachers make him a little book for school based on what you did? I’ve had success with that and if the teacher does it, she’ll usually use it more!! Laura

  13. Carolyn on May 2, 2015 at 1:05 am

    My two year old has autism. He currently receives speech therapy once a week. He used to use sign language (apprx. 7 different sign) but stopped around 12-18 mo and also hardly babbles anymore. When a child with autism regresses does it ever come back or is it possible that it is gone for good. At what point do you say those skills are not coming back and move on to something else? Our therapist has suggested pecs but will not say he has apraxia. Says too early to diagnose apraxia of speech. His only spoken word is mama. He does say ahhh sound and blow raspberries.

    • Laura on May 3, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Carolyn. “Losing” skills is noted in many toddlers who are on the spectrum. Don’t give up on a “lost” skill since it’s still in that little brain somewhere! I always think… “He’s done it before. He can do it again.” and work like crazy to get a word or sign back. It’s usually doable if you recreate what worked the first time. Sometimes you do realize that a prerequisite skill isn’t in place and that’s why he didn’t retain what turned out to be a splinter skill (like saying a word when he had no real comprehension for what the word means). Your SLP should be able to explain that to you and tell you if she’s “backing up” to work on prerequisites first. (That would be my guess with what’s going on!”

      I do think PECS is the way to go for him for expressive language and it’s exactly what I would do with him. It’s the most research – supported AAC strategy, especially for kids on the spectrum. DO IT : ) (I’d never work on PECS as my only goal though! There should be several goals on your treatment plan. More about that in the next paragraph!!)

      Also… let me say this as kindly as gently as I can to all parents reading this… please don’t get hung up on the apraxia vs. autism debate. I see it all the time. Moms cling to the apraxia diagnosis somehow believing that it’s the bulk of the problem. If there’s an ASD diagnosis, that is his main challenge, particularly since he’s 2. Of course I haven’t seen your little boy, but from my experience, working on “apraxia” in and of itself is NOT successful with toddlers who are on the spectrum. That’s probably a contributing factor to why she won’t diagnose apraxia – and I probably would not either if I were her – since my experience has been that moms tend to overfocus on that piece of a child’s diagnosis rather than looking at the big picture.

      Addressing the global communication issues – social interaction, receptive language, imitation, and expressive language (whether it be with PECS, signs, gestures, WHATEVER WORKS) is always the way to go knowing that working on speech sounds/intelligibility will get better as, and in many cases AFTER, all of the other skills improve. You may also simultaneously target verbal language with your other goals – for example, vocal play and verbal routines as you target your social and receptive goals.

      AND if your SLP won’t work on those “lost” signs, there’s no reason you can’t do it at home. Go for it!! Learning PECS won’t interfere with that. It will probably help!!

      Thanks again for your question Carolyn!! Good luck to you!! Laura

  14. shimmy on May 2, 2015 at 2:55 am

    Hi Laura, I have a grandson who will be 5 in august. His parents do not have medical aid and the state in South Africa do not offer speech therapy facilities on the turn.
    DG started talking late and everybody said “dont worry boys are always late”. I was always worried. He lisps , which im not really concerned about. If he is given the tablet, he goes straight on to the u tube and watch the optimus prime series. These are basically reviews showing how to put the toy together. Or change the robots to trucks etc. Even if the program is in Spanish, he watches intently!!
    When he plays with his lego blocks, he then builds his own design, he will never copy the one on the box. He also cuts some of his words in half. Mato is tomato, tato for potato, lete for delete, zign for design! We repeat the full word to him but it has not helped. The teacher said it would come right?? When he watches tv or tablet, DG is deaf! Sometimes i have to touch him or shout and all well get is “yes” and and a quick look at you. I used to think he may have a hearing problem but it’s not so. He has started to display unreasonable tantrums, eg he insisted on using a dirty spoon to stir his drink. It sounded more like frustration to me.
    He started pre school whe he turned 4, and according to the teachers he has adjusted. I spoke to the principle regarding his speech, and she says he’s coming along. I know they dont have specialist teachers but at present its the only school they can afford. Im trying to teach him to write but he’ ll say “you do it”. Same for colouring in. The drawings he brings home from school has shown colouring all over, doesnt stick to inside the lines. He has a brother who will turn 2 in July and who is just starting to say certain words clearly. “Hello, car, Gran, thank you,”. DG has never interacted with him and hits him if he interferes with his toys, etc. We don’t compare, as we do not want him to feel inferior but it’s obvious the younger one is going to speak clearly much earlier. Sometimes he will count up to 10, other times only 5. On the report from school they put it down as 5. I have bought charts and it’s been up on the wall since he was one. We used them to show him alphabets, numbers, and animals but he still does not recognise the animals etc or does not want to say it. For instance ill ask him ” show me number 3″ and he’ll either show a wrong number or say “I don’t know”. I have even taken him to two game pals to try and show him the real animals. Some animals he’ll recognise. Others he doesn’t (or won’t show). I have bought puzzles for him since he was one and he was pretty good at them. He manages 36 piece puzzle on his own.
    Please help, I need interventions that I could do and which won’t cost me. I’m a pensioner so am on a limited budget. I get to spend time with him. I pick him from school and take him home and then leave after dinner. I would appreciate any advice you could give me. I am at my wits end as I know early intervention is best. Please help.

    • Laura on May 2, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Hi Shimmy. Let me begin by saying, I soooooooo wish he could be evaluated because that would give you a better idea of what’s going on with him. I know there are SLPs in South Africa (because I ship materials there!) who do early intervention so I’d encourage you to help his parents pursue accomplishing that important piece for him. He may also need to see an Occupational Therapist to help with sensory issues contributing to his tantrums. Have you tried a hospital or private practice rather than depending on school? I know funding is a concern, but look for what might be out there that is affordable before dismissing that as an option. Ask school about that too. They may know some therapists that can help you at a reduced fee.

      Thanks for your questions about how to work with him. I love it when grandparents are involved with their grandchildren!! I have a couple for you so I can give you better advice. He’s obviously talking, so does he speak in short sentences? How does he let you know what he wants? How does he follow commands for you? Are you only concerned about academics, or does he not seem to understand many words? Let me know those answers and I’ll give you some more ideas.

      In the meantime, check out my Therapy Tip of the Week videos. They are free and can give you ideas for what to work on as you’re playing with him.

      I’d probably also try to limit his tablet time when you’re together if you can and opt for interacting and doing things together so he’s including you and learning from you. He obviously has some visual learning strengths, so use that as you play together. Does he let you join in with those puzzles? Can you find ways to do things he likes, but use them to teach new words and other concepts? That’s where I’d begin since that’s fun for him and you won’t have to work to get him to pay attention, BUT don’t let him leave you out! Some SLPs love apps for these kinds of kids, but my experience is that they don’t interact when the device is present. If he will, find some games/apps you can do TOGETHER. If you disappear when the tablet is out, no tablet.

      Hope these ideas help!! He’s lucky to have you!! Laura

  15. Janette on May 2, 2015 at 4:51 am

    My 3.5 year old son has some language difficulties. We live in eastern Europe and have been unable to get a professional evaluation. He began saying words at a normal age. Could count in two languages and knew the English alphabet before he was two (also recognized numbers and letters not just saying them). Numbers, colors, shapes and the such have always been easy for him to remember. He has a very large vocabulary, but has also always been a babbler. He would go back and forth with his Grandpa with many facial and body expressions as if they were having a real conversation (Grandpa would speak proper English) . When he was 22 months his little brother was born and we began to see some changes in him. Babbling continued and some anxiety issues appeared (particularly with the laughter of adults). We stopped speaking two languages in the house although he still is exposed to Albanian on a regular basis. He has improved greatly this past year, but I am sure he’s not in the normal range for his age. I believe his biggest issue is with questions, answering and reasoning. Sometimes he can answer my questions and other times he simply repeats the question. He answers questions like ‘what’s your name? How old are you? What’s your brother’s name?’ and so forth, but when asked ‘did you have fun? What did you do? What’s your favorite…?’ he is unable to answer. He makes observations like, ‘look the bird is flying high in the sky’ or ‘that’s Mommy’s bag’. Things like this. He has friends and plays well with them, but also enjoys playing alone. It’s difficult for me to fully explain everything as I’ve tried to put all this in writing several times for other professionals in the USA. We’re unable to get the professional help we need here because he’s only verbal in English. Can you please at least give me a suggestion for how I can do speech therapy with him at home? I feel the weight heavy on my shoulders and am unsure what to do. Again, his pronunciation is near perfect, better than most children his age, his vocabulary is very large and growing every day, he has trouble with questions, answering and reasoning as well as anxiety (crying with tears) of adult laughter. Any help you can give would be appreciated. We are desperate to see him thrive! Our hearts hurt deeply when we see him struggling. Thank you!

    • Laura on May 2, 2015 at 1:33 pm

      Hi Janette. Of course without seeing him I have no way of knowing exactly what’s going on with him, but I will try to help you. Based on what you said about him, he seems to be able to answer “rote” questions or questions that have one specific answer, but he’s struggling with novel questions and questions that require him to process and then generate the answer. You’ve probably ‘practiced’ answering those other familiar and routine questions like “What’s your name?” so he’s better at those because we all get better with practice!

      Without seeing him it’s difficult to say whether the problem is due to processing what you’ve asked (the receptive piece) or formulating his response (the expressive piece). So… without someone to look at it with you, you’ll probably have to target both.

      Questions are HARD for lots of toddlers! A few years ago I wrote a post about this: Teaching Your Toddler to Answer Questions which may explain this issue more and give you some basic strategies.

      If you’re looking for more guidance, I’d also recommend my book Teach Me to Talk: The Therapy Manual because you can tease out which specific areas he’s having difficulty with by looking at the language milestone, observing if he can do it, and working on it with the ideas I have listed for each goal. Ideally you would be working with a speech-language pathologist to do this, but if that’s not possible, this will provide more targeted help. The book covers under 12 months up to 48 months. He is at the upper end of this range, but if you’re looking for a “this is how to do therapy” guide, then it’s perfect for you. Good luck!! Laura

      • Janette on May 2, 2015 at 2:54 pm

        Thank you, Laura! I failed to mention that he’s again started babbling a lot recently. It’s almost like he really wants to have a conversation, but doesn’t know how. He’ll babble and look around then say something like, ‘the tv’s a rectangle’ or ‘Gideon is sitting on the couch’ or something else that he knows. How should we deal with this? Should we stop him and say, ‘I’m sorry I don’t understand that. What do you want to say?’? This is what I normally do, however it doesn’t seem to help him be able to say anything different.

        • Laura on May 3, 2015 at 10:06 am

          Janette – I wouldn’t do lots of stopping him. I’d repeat what you think he said (I call those “almost” phrases/sentences.) and ask, “Is that what you wanted to talk about?” Then if he agrees, then isolate those single words to practice so he gets closer. What I think you’re describing is jargon and it’s prevalent in toddlers as they move from single words and short phrases to longer sentences. You’ll hear a word or 2 that’s close and then our brains (thankfully!) fill in the rest of the sentence with more complex patterns (grammar) since they can’t do it yet. It’s a very good sign that language is moving along so try to embrace and support it rather than stopping him to try to get every single word right. That’s frustrating for him AND for you. So take a different perspective and it may help him become even more intelligible because there’s not as much pressure. Laura

  16. Barbara Plan on May 2, 2015 at 6:43 am

    my grandson is 2 years old and is getting speech therapy at home. There may be apraxia involved but not certain. He is staring to say some words knows all his colors and shapes and animals when asked he points to them. He says some colors and some animal sounds. He has a little difficulty saying orange he will move his mouth and say or or hor for horse . He has good memory knows all song and interacts with some. The speech therapist says there is a little motor delay, but not in his understand. Would your manual or DVD on apraxia help. We want to verify if this is apraxia. Thank you

    • Laura on May 3, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      Hi Barbara. Without seeing your little grandson, I can’t really help you verify if it’s apraxia or not, BUT you are right in my tools can help you regardless of the diagnosis! I always recommend that parents and grandparents begin with the DVD Teach Me To Talk since you’ll SEE the play-based strategies. I also have a DVD for apraxia – Teach Me To Talk with Apraxia & Phonological Disorders which includes lots of diagnostic information to help you and his parents understand the nature of apraxia and if it’s not. One other resource that may help you is my book Building Verbal Imitation Skills in Toddlers. If any of you are readers, check that out too! All of those products are in the Apraxia Resource Set and it’s on sale this weekend until Monday night! Thanks again for your question and good luck to you!! Laura

  17. mom on May 2, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Hi Laura. I have a 3 year old diagnosed with autism and is suspected to have apraxia. He doesn’t have much of a problem in the receptive language department, as he understands the majority of what is being asked of him. When he communicates, he usually uses some gestures or words/approximations. He has a little over 50 different words/approximations I’ve jotted down that are fairly consistent and several that are spontaneous, but he has yet to say the majority of them accurately. He will verbally communicate what he wants on his own by pointing and naming objects, saying “opo” when he wants something open or “uhpah” for up if he wants to be held or get something out of reach. He does like to label objects, but knows their functions. For example, if he sees a crayon, he will point and say “cay” and if I ask what we do with crayon, he will say “dah” for draw. He will often say the first two letter sounds of words that are usually CV and VC. (ba – ball; pehpeh – pretzel; opo – open; ow – out). He also often deletes the final consonant. He just started to pick up the end consonant for eat and egg though, but the issue is that he doubles the majority of single syllable words. (eat – eat ah; egg – egg ah; cow – ca cow; pig – peh pih). For multiple syllable words, he has a hard time stringing them together. For pizza he will say “pee-pee” but if I say “pee” he will finish the word by saying “sah”. For the last month or two I have been trying to use tapping gestures on his body or mouth and/or clapping with more melodic speaking or singing on each of the syllables in a word but hasn’t shown much improvement. Is this just something that requires more repetition of words, practice and time? Do I just try to work on the words/approximations he says well until we reach better accuracy or should I work on words that he is having a harder time saying? For example, he cannot do L, R and N sound.

    Also wanted to mention that he is a very visual, active sensory seeking kid. I’m wondering too if his hyperactivity could be contributing to the doubling of single syllable words. I’ve incorporated a lot of your sit, move and repeat strategies and also some of your recommendations for toys and playing with visual kids. This has really helped improve his ability to initiate and engage with adults and kids, but right now I’d only say he does it about 50 percent of the time. Do you think that working on articulation and intelligibility would even be a direction to take or just keep at the social games until he engages more than half the time? The intent to communicate is there and I can see he is trying hard to say what he wants, but I get a little confused as to what direction we should be taking now. We are in between therapists so I wanted to pick your brain in the meantime. Sorry for the length and multiple questions. There a lot of information I have stored in my head and want to make sure I provide enough info.

    p.s. you’re awesome! I don’t know how you manage all that you do, but I’m grateful you do it! : ) Thanks!

    • Laura on May 2, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      Hi Mom! Thanks for your details! If I were working with you, I would not spend most of your time focusing on cleaning up those words yet. With only 50 words, I’d continue to devote most of my efforts to developing his vocabulary and working toward phrases rather than anything related to artic/intelligibility. You can continue to use your strategies – tapping, clapping, melodic speaking – to help him internalize, but honestly, he may not have the ability to do anything beyond that right now based on what you said about his attention and regulatory state. Focusing on building his attention span and the time he can sit and play with you, as you’re already doing, and this will continue to prep him for the intense focus required for working on artic later, because without a consistent ability to attend and follow directions, he’s just not ready yet. I think many times therapists who insistent on doing that too early for a child end up driving children away from them and that helps NO ONE! My best advice to you, and what I would focus on if I were seeing you, would be to keep pumping in those new words (especially new verbs and prepositions) and I’d also start with some holistic phrases, probably in your social games, to get some early phrases going. The post below has fabulous ideas for that and guidance for moving toward phrases.

      Making the Leap from Words to Phrases

      If you do feel like he’s ready to work on those artic-ish things, I’d try something a little different. OVER-reward him for imitating a two syllable word correctly. So… if he likes candy or being swung around or swigs of milkshake (a treat he doesn’t get very often) try to use that as motivation for him to try those patterns that are harder for him. Start with something you know he can do – like pizza – (which is a good choice since he seems to want to add an “ah” for the ends of words (as you said “eat ah” “egg ah” to ‘mark’ that ending consonant sound. By the way, that’s not a bad pattern for where he is developmentally. Even kids who are typically developing use that “ah” pattern on a word ending as a step to mastering final consonants.) AND pair this extreme reward with a technique called ‘backward chaining’ to get that last syllable of a two syllable word. Backward chaining works like this: you’ll actually only model the last syllable for a few times then add the first syllable.

      So…back to the pizza example – model “zah” and have him imitate, then “zah” and he imtiates, and then “zah” again and then quickly add “pee-zah” and let him try to say it. If he gets close, give him a bite/drink/swing/whatever you’re using. The key is to keep that work time pretty short so he doesn’t become bored and ONLY use something as a reward that he LOVES but rarely gets. Keep your turns fast. If he doesn’t perform, doesn’t make a big deal about it, but he doesn’t get the reward. Instead move on to something else and save your best reinforcers/motivators for that kind of focus.

      Now… if you get no success with this method, stop. He’s just not ready yet. It’s a little more ABA like, but I promise, it works. And you’re not pushing him beyond anything he can reasonably do.

      If this example makes no sense to you or you need more guidance and a real life “model” of how to do this, let’s set you up to be a guest on the podcast and I’ll talk you through it. ALSO… as soon as you get your new SLP lined up, she should be able to help you with this strategy IF she thinks he’s ready. Since I can’t see him, I have no idea. It’s just another option for you to try in the meantime since you’re working on it already, BUT… let me reiterate, spend most of your time on new words and building that vocabulary. Sometimes artic improves on its own as children mature and grow and expand their language skills. It likely won’t take care of everything, and I’m not saying he won’t have to do any artic/sound work, but you should see some changes with time.

      I think your instincts are fabulous!! Keep it up momma : ) Laura

      • mom on May 2, 2015 at 11:50 pm

        Thanks so much for your reply Laura. I have not received a response with that much clarity or those suggestions yet so thank you! I have encountered some slps that do push a little more than the kid is ready to do thinking its more behavioral and they bypass their sensory issues or don’t incorporate much movement activities into the therapy and just in case there is a mom reading this and feels somewhat uncomfortable with the way their therapy is going, I just want to say, its sooooo important to talk with your therapist about concerns you have in her strategies. I’ve had my son cry, kick and scream from being asked to sit or play for a little longer and it went nowhere. Ok, sorry Laura I just felt I had to throw that out there.

        So, I understand the concept of backward chaining and the principles of more of an ABA-ish strategy, but still have questions about the whole execution. I actually wouldn’t mind a bit more guidance and if the podcast is the way to go, I would love to set that up if possible.

        Also, I was just thinking of word lists and wondering if words/approximations he says include those he just labels and says without any function (like labeling objects numbers or alphabet)? And do word approximations (“pehpeh” for pretzel) count as a “word”?

        • Laura on May 3, 2015 at 4:57 pm

          I’m so glad you’ll be on the show!! Email me at and we’ll set it up! I don’t ‘count’ a word until a child is using it functionally BECAUSE I learned the hard way that kids on the spectrum may SAY 250 words but only USE 5. That’s a big, big difference. I do count approximations if they’re consistently USED. We’ll talk more about that on the show. Can’t wait to hear from you!! Laura

          • Mom Says on October 19, 2015 at 11:25 am

            Hi Ms. Laura I have 3 years old and 6 months toddler that he can’t still talk and try to talk but its like a baby talk. We went to our local school here Speech therapy to evaluate him what is really wrong why he have speech delay . but we still waiting them to call us other question what can i do to help me to stop drinking in bottle and potty train I’m struggling to do this thing its seem like he can’t understand me? Can’t wait to her from you..

          • Laura on October 24, 2015 at 3:39 pm

            Hi there Mom! I understand your concerns about him and I’m so glad you’ve called your school system to have him evaluated. It’s certainly true that a child who doesn’t understand what he’s hearing will have a harder time learning to talk. Without seeing him, I have no way of knowing exactly what’s going on, but your school will be able to help you. In the meantime, I’d recommend that you begin to work on helping him understand more words. Read the posts in the Blog section under receptive language. You may also want to get my DVD set Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2 so that you can SEE how to teach him to understand new words. Use the coupon code in the free parent eBook to save yourself some $$!! Good luck to you!! Laura

  18. Lily on May 2, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Hello! My husband and I are seeing some autistic tendencies in our daughter. She will be 4 in July. Some of the things we are noticing are:
    1. Significant language delay (although has a rich vocabulary, does not know how to use it, cannot answer the simplest questions, like “what is your name?” and “How old are you?” Also none of the wh questions)
    2. Hand flapping when excited
    3. Pronoun reversal (says “She wants milk” instead of “I want milk” OR “You want to go to the zoo” instead of “I want to go to the zoo”)
    4. Lining up blocks, books.
    5. Not willing to try new foods.
    6. Lots of echolalia (repeats phrases that she heard or from the movies out of context).
    Is this something that can be corrected? Thank you so much!

    • Laura on May 2, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      Yes in THERAPY, THERAPY, THERAPY!! Find an SLP who specializes in autism. Don’t try to go at it alone. You want her as ready for school as possible, so get her scheduled quickly. Good luck to you!!! Laura

  19. Liana on May 2, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    I have 2 child that needs help. First is 6 yo with high functioning autism & getting a lot of therapy OT DIR ABA social skill but no speech therapy cos we can t afford. His speech is of 4 yo age , he can’t initiate or make long conversation . He does echolalia & uses them appropriately but still sounds weird & talk about what he likes only. He has little bit of comprehension issue , phoneme problem , both receptive & expressive is delayed but not to the point that he qualifies for speech services from school but enough to make speech slow & hampers his social skill.He had speech from school till age 4 , he goes to general Ed class with aide. We hold him back so he goes pre K.. I don’t understand what to do now. I need to know where his struggles are & help him accordingly. His floor time specialist says when he is high up on his developmental stage (5 6 ) he will catch up with conversation & comprehension. Right now he is at stage 4. He has no articulation or dyslexia or dyspraxia issues. Can you plz suggest.

    • Laura on May 3, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      Liana – I agree with your floortime therapist. When he’s ready, he’ll be more conversational!! Your ABA person should be able to help you break down specific issues he’s having at home and also be able to help you come up with ways to “practice” those early social skills he needs. He’ll likely first need to hone those during therapy and with you before he’s successful with a peer. Even though you’re not seeing an SLP (which I highly recommend when you can!), your team IS addressing language & communication or should be. Keep talking with them and INSIST that they tell you what to work on at home. They’re going to have a much better idea of what to recommend for him than I would since they see him every week and since he obviously has a whole lot of therapy going on already. Use your team – that’s what they’re for : ) Good luck to you!! Laura

  20. Anonymous on May 2, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Hi Laura

    I am the parent that asked “What’s the difference between oral dyspraxia and verbal dyspraxia” and who’s son is 5 and is on the autistic spectrum and has been given an additional diagnosis of Oral motor dyspraxia.

    Sorry I didn’t produce much information from my last post .

    I am from the UK (which may be the reason why you have not heard this term in the US :)).

    My son is actually only saying 20 singular words! He is not combining sentences at all! He has great difficulty in imitating words, especially new “easy” words like “Hello”, “no” etc. The speech therapist actually said his Oral motor dyspraxia is significant. Even with the words he already has, you can see it takes a lot of strength for him to use the word that he even becomes breathless.

    My son can stick his tongue out on command and somewhat can pucker his lips. Which was why I was bit surprised of the diagnosis. However, looking back, he wasn’t able to blow a candle out till he was about 3. His eating ( mouth movements) are still immature. He is able to smile when he is happy, really excited, but if I told him to smile on request (without showing his teeth) he finds this difficult and looks like his mouth is straining. Though I just assumed this was part of the autism/communication side of things. Also the speech therapist did say that he finds it difficult to blend sound words.

    I loved your Building Imitation for toddlers! It worked wonders for him. I took some copies of your recommendations from your manual into my son’s school. Unfortunately I have realised that they have not implanted your strategies as such.

    But yes Laura, I am very worried about my son’s level of speech. I am happy he has this additional diagnosis as I knew there was something else going on besides the Autism, though in the UK, if you have a diagnosis of Autism they seemed to slum all the child’s issues onto the ASD and fail to investigate other things that could be going on. But, he does find it very very hard to imitate words and I am very sad about this.

    I’m sure if you know of this, but in the UK they use things like the Kauffman cards to help with kids who have verbal or oral dyspraxia. This really helped my son, I was wondering if you also encouraged those kind of tips.

    • Laura on May 3, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      I thought you were from the UK!

      I love the theory of “word shells” and have used it since the first time I heard Nancy Kauffman speak in the ’90s! I don’t have the cards since I’m not really a “flashcard” kind of therapist, BUT I do have lots of families who have purchased them so they can have the reference for the hierarchy of approximations as they work at home. I do encourage moms to use the cards for her as a way to model the approximated word rather than showing them to the kid, but lots of SLPs like to use them the intended way and drill, drill, drill. When I use cards, I try to set it up to be as “game like” as I can with having them do something with the cards such as sliding them into a “mail box” or Cookie Monster’s mouth or hiding them around the room and then saying the word as we find them. When you try to make it more fun, there’s usually less refusal to practice from a younger child.

      Hope that helps! Thanks for your questions! Laura

  21. Elena on May 4, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Hello Laura,
    I’m so glad I found this website, and was wondering if I could get some insight before I jumpped for help from EI. My 14 month old has stopped talking. He knew about 4-5 words and babbled like crazy at 11-12 months but up until a couple weeks ago he stopped communicating and just babbles to himself. He is in the process of learning to walk but hasn’t fully grasped it yet. All his cognitive and social and motor skills are right on track, if not early but I am growing concerned about the talking. From things I have read, if they’re in the middle of a major milestone ,such as walking, they tend to focus on the more important task at hand (walking), and then come back to other skills after that has been mastered (talking). In your experiences, is this something to be concerned about, or should I wait and work with him to see if the urge to talk comes back to him after he’s walking at a rate that doesn’t require much effort before running to an agency, such as EI, for help? Thanks.

    • Laura on May 4, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Elena. I NEVER tell parents to wait, but in your case, I would give it a few weeks and here’s why, if everything is right on track, you will not see ‘lost skills’ in other areas and the words will come back pretty easily with a little effort on your part and certainly when he’s walking. If things aren’t going as well as to be expected with typical development, then you’ll begin to notice red flags in other areas. It won’t be as easy to get his attention. He may respond less to his name (which all toddlers should be doing no later than 10 to 12 months!) or he’ll need more effort from you. He won’t pick up any new skills with gestures or may lose some of those too – waving bye bye, pointing, following your point, clapping with you, etc… He won’t learn to follow any verbal directions for you such as “Where’s Daddy?” and looking toward him, or “Wave bye bye” or “Show me your eyes.” He may stop being interested in a variety of toys. There are all of the red flags to look for. If you don’t see any of those over the next couple of months and certainly if he starts to become verbal again, it was just a bump in the road. BUT if you don’t hear any of those established words come back and if he’s not trying to imitate new ones, then get him assessed. He likely would not qualify for services right now anyway because of his age UNLESS there were other milestones he’s missing.

      In the meantime, don’t “wait and see,” but “wait and treat.” Treat doesn’t only mean by a therapist either. There are LOTS and LOTS of things you can do at home with him. There are fantastic ideas here at for Social Games, Early Receptive Language Games, and ideas for working on vocal play and imitating actions with objects, gestures, hand motions to songs, etc…

      If you want to be super proactive and need a little guidance I recommend my DVD Teach Me To Talk and/or if you’re a reader, Building Verbal Imitation Skills in Toddlers.

      Great question!! Thanks so much for asking because I KNOW other parents are in the same boat! Laura

      • Anonymous on May 4, 2015 at 6:55 pm

        Thank you Laura! Your response is extremely helpful and I will work on skills with him to see if he can pick it up again. Thank you!

  22. jessica on May 5, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Laura…my son is 23 months old, my son says a dozen words, 15 at the most, maybe. he is currently working with a speech therapist through our countys school system. He has been doing this for about 5 months and has not said a single word that is generally incorporated in the “play time”. of the words he says, most have seemed to come about (not during therapy sessions) but since he’s started speech therapy. Any word he says i try to think of other useful words with that letter to see if he’ll attempt it. I have no luck. Any word he says isn’t a word we stressed on. His speech therapist now has me working on 5 words only since there hasn’t been progress. I am upset and frustrated. I ask him to say a word, even just one time, and he gets mad, looks away, and ignores me. He’ll break down into a tantrum if i ask a handful of times. I don’t know what to do and fear this speech therapy isn’t working. His therapist is lovely and doesn’t have negative feedback but has expressed he isn’t where they want him to be as far as his progress….this is stressful and sad an it’s putting a strain on me becuase i am wth him all day long. My oldest son (i know i shouldn’t compare) didn’t have speech issues so i don’t know how to handle this.

    • Laura on May 5, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      Hi Jessica. You’re working at a level that’s too hard for him, or he’d be doing it. Back up and work on easier, earlier targets – vocal play, exclamatory words, and verbal routines. If you need some guidance, get my book Building Verbal Imitation in Toddlers because it will give you step by step what to try. Use the coupon code from the free parent eBook to save $$. Hang in there and good luck to you and him!! Laura

  23. Dianna on May 5, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Dear Laura,

    My 24 month old has been repeating the alphabet and the numbers from 1 to 10 quite often. He has good amount of functional words (over 100+), two word sentences, and he follows two step commands. It feels as if sometimes he has nothing to say, so he starts the ABC thing…sometimes to get a praise from us, and sometimes when he is counting or playing with toys. Is this a reason of concern, like echolalia? He has no other echolalia so far. He has been listening to lots of kids’ songs so he learned it from there…

    • Laura on May 5, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Hi Dianna. I wouldn’t be concerned. He sounds very typical to me. If it were echolalia, you’d see other red flags too and if you’re not, stop worrying : ) Laura

  24. anonymous on May 5, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    My son doesn’t have a diagnosis yet, but I’m guessing he might be diagnosed with ASD, Level 1. Our ped. says my son doesn’t exhibit classic autism, and he thinks it’s too early to diagnose him with a higher level of autism because he’s only two. However, the ped. did start the process to initiate a referral with a developmental pediatrician, mainly because of my persistence.

    My son points and shows me objects, but most of the time, I don’t think he looks at me when he does these things. He’s 26 months and creates some novel speech but also relies on some echolalia. I have looked at your echolalia posts and have been trying to work on that. I’ve taught him “mine,” and am working on “me” versus using his name. My husband and I have stopped letting our son watch TV, and we’re trying to initiate more eye contact, because we’ve noticed that in the age of social media, we’ve been setting a bad example by using less eye contact ourselves.

    Sometimes I do wonder if my son has apraxia as well because when he first learned words, he would use “Bee” for baby and bear and berry. His dad said his first word at 18 months (my son knew 8-9 by then, so I also wondered if there was a genetic family speech issue). Also, my son abbreviates words like his name. He can say his name, but if he uses it in a sentence, he will usually abbreviate it to just the first letter (a vowel). I know my son can’t blow out candles, so I guess I’ve wondered if he might have oral/speech apraxia, but then he echos sometimes, so I don’t know…

    Because I’m waiting to see a specialist to receive a diagnosis, my son is not receiving therapy (although I’m meeting with early intervention services this week, so maybe that will change). What can I do at home to work on improving joint attention, especially because I know my son can point and likes to show things. How do I get him to look at me when he does these things?

    My son has a favorite phrase that he repeats, usually when we get in the car. I’m guessing it serves as conversation because he doesn’t know what to say. How do I work on this? Just keep teaching him more words so he can express himself?

    BTW, I am the one that wrote to you about “What’s that?”, and I was so proud when at the grocery store my son pointed to some different cereal boxes and said, “What those?”

    I see the word “turntaking” a lot. I don’t think I’m doing this with my son, other than, in the car, my husband and I say part of a song and let my son fill in the missing words of the song (e.g., Twinkle, Twinkle, Little (he replies “star)). Is that okay, or do we need to do more than that? I tried to get him to take turns with putting cars down a ramp, but he isn’t interested. Construction trucks are his thing right now, so maybe I should come up with a related activity?

    If you have a particular book or DVD that relates to my concerns, please let me know. Thanks. I love your site!

    • Laura on May 16, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      Hi there Anonymous Mom!! I’m glad to hear the other ideas worked for you!! So…. turn taking really does mean that you do something, he does something, you do something, he does something… etc… The toys are a great way to start, BUT if he’s not interested, you’ll have to “back up” so to speak, to an easier, earlier level. For him, this means playing social games with you like Peek a Boo, Patty Cake, Ring Around the Rosies and other games like that. That’s EXACTLY what I would do with him during therapy, based on how you described him, and many children who have red flags for autism, but who have obvious strengths, like your little guy, come along so well after we focus on the social pieces of communication in that way. My book Teach Me To Play WITH You will teach you how to do that at home with him with step by step directions and words for those little games. It’s a tool that I know will help you get started working on those things because all of the skills that you need to build are built in to those games, which makes it easier for your husband and you!

      Secondly, he probably IS using echolalia to initiate conversation with you, like in the car example, because that’s all he knows how to do. Take that as your cue to mean, “Talk to me Mom!” What I always recommend is that you keep it directed to the here and now. You can acknowledge his echolalic phrase (some kids get so mad when you don’t!!) OR if he’ll let you, just move on to say something novel about getting in the car. “It’s time to go. We’re going to ____. Climb in.” Try to vary what you say at least a little every day so you’re not helping him stay “stuck,” but at the same time, that level of repetition may be what he needs to learn what things mean and what to say. As his vocabulary grows, echolalia should diminish, unless he’s using the words/phrases for self-comfort, and then they will pop up, especially in stressful situations. Here’s the kicker though – don’t worry so much about it. Focus on the fact that HE KNOWS HOW TO TALK and your job is to help him have more to talk about and even more importantly, UNDERSTAND what he’s saying. Many, many times kids with echolalia don’t, so be sure you’re focused on the comprehension piece even more so than the expressive piece, or what he says.

      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I’ve been digging my way through lots and lots of comments! Thanks for your questions and I can tell you’re kicking it in to overdrive right now to try to find ways to help your little boy! This process can be so tough for parents, but I love that you’re tackling it head on and seeing the developmental pediatrician and EI services. INSIST that they listen to you and offer your boy anything they can. Sometimes kids with obvious strengths and higher level skills like your little guy fall through the cracks. Be his champion and persist through these evaluations to get him help!! If EI won’t see him, pursue a speech assessment from a private clinic or hospital. I do think he needs some therapy and the SLP will certainly be able to guide you through some of the questions you’ve asked even better than I can because she can SEE you and your little boy and work with y’all directly.

      OH… and I loved your comment about “not modeling eye contact.” This is HUGE right now for lots and lots and lots of families in our device-addicted age right now. You’ll do better since you know better now – so don’t beat yourself up about it!! Thanks again for your questions!! Laura

  25. Anonymous on May 7, 2015 at 4:30 am

    All the details concerning my daughter’s case. I started noticing that she doesnt talk and in her own bubble by the age of 2. When she was younger she used to babble and make eye contact i wasnt worried. Then she changed. So i took her to an slp when she was 2.4 years. She told me after listening to me that she will not evaluate her now that she will work with her first then we will talk. She started with her and i attended the sessions to copy what she was doing. I started seeing progress but it was only for 1 month and half then the therapist had personal issues so she had yo transfer us to another. The second therapist was highly structured for my daughter and didnt use many toys and there was no progress. My daughter still used the same words she learned from the first one and still socially withdrawn. When my first slp got better i took my daughter back to her and then i read your article about autism so i went to a know psychologist who specialise in working wit autistic kids, she evaluated my daughter and told me that she is not under the spectrum but has autistic features so we should work with the VB-MAPP

    So we started and in the same time i found your website and ordered your material. My daughter was progressing. But still socially delayed and started to be repeat cartoon scenes and repeat what we say so i read your article about echolalia. And i took her to an OT specialised in sensory integration and he told me that she needs the sensory integration cause she has a sensory processing disorder, she is on the go like you say in your podcast.

    Ok after explaining the details of her case my issues are:
    1. I fear that working with the VB is making her not understanding everything she learns. I interfered a few times with ideas from your website to make her sessions more fun and make her understand more
    2. I feel the goals are too much for her and i told them that they should back up a step
    3. I am not fun to play with, i try your techniques sometimes she connects sometimes no, and i dont know how to expand the play i watch you videos imitate you and that’s it.
    4. The therapist in my country are all for the structured sessions, only the one i am now with believes in floortime and play technique and now she is not available.

    I need help and guidance. And i am asking for skype consultation so you can help me. I need to know what can i do to helpy daughter.
    Thank you

    • Laura on May 11, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      Dear Anonymous – You’re in a tight spot because you have therapists, but they’re not providing the interventions that you have found to be successful with your daughter, BUT those therapists are out there, so try to keep looking for someone new even while you have her currently with the other therapists.

      I’ll bet you are more fun than you think you are when you are playing with her!! Faking it or copying me is fine until it becomes more natural for you. Just keep at it! I’ve taught lots of moms who thought they were terrible at playing to be pretty good by the end!!! Send me the ideas of what you don’t feel good at and I’ll try to guide you with examples. I may do a podcast about it if you’ll tell me what toys you have and what she already likes to do. Starting with social games is always, always, always a good idea when you don’t feel very fun because the fun is built in. I’m not sure what country you’re in, but favorite ones in America are Ring Around the Rosies, The Night Night Game or pretending to sleep, Ride A Little Horsie, Chase and Tickling Games, etc…. I think you said you have my books. If so, get going with those games in Teach Me To Play WITH You. I promise you won’t go wrong with those and the instructions are right there for you to read and do.

      I love that you know to “back up” with her. Keep doing that at home, even if your therapists aren’t. Give me an idea of her specific goals and I’ll try to guide you some more. I will also email you about Skype. Thanks for your questions!! Hang in there!! Laura

      • Laura on May 11, 2015 at 6:11 pm

        I also accidentally deleted your email, so email me at so I can talk with you about Skype.

  26. Tara on May 8, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Hello Laura,
    thank you for your wonderful website. I have a 26 month old boy and had a baby 11 weeks ago. I noticed that after I had my baby, my toddler stopped talking. He was saying about 30 words before then although was a late talker.

    We had him assessed by a speech and Lang therapist who said he’s got delay in his receptive and expressive language but also said he is too young for therapy. She gave me a few things to do at home but it’s not working.

    He tries to talk sometimes but is mostly quiet. He said ‘peppa’ last week and ‘well done’ the week before but nothing since.

    He will often take my hand and lead me to something he wants which is usually food.

    He also no longer answers to his name, he doesn’t flow instructions, he loves spinning, he stares at the light, he doesn’t acknowledge his baby sister.

    The speech and language therapist doesn’t think he has autism but we are waiting to see a paediatrician. We are also waiting to have his ears tested though I’m very certain he can hear well. He also has rhinitis and sleep apnoea which the ENT appointment should correct, hopefully.

    Is there anything I do for him whilst waiting for these appointments? I have asked my brother in law wii lives in the States to gt your DVDs (we’re in the UK).

    • Laura on May 10, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Hi Tara. Let me just say, in the US, he’s not too young for therapy, but I do understand that you have a different system in the UK!! There are lots and lots and lots of things you can do with him at home, but the most important thing you can do is to help him learn to UNDERSTAND words. Start with very familiar commands and words. Here’s a post of ideas to help you:

      Learning to Follow Directions for Toddlers

      If your brother-in-law is getting the DVDs for you, be sure to get the ones that will help you with receptive language – Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2. I get emails every week from parents who are finding success with those strategies at home!

      Use this time to establish your connection with him and get that social interaction piece going, and I know it’s HARD with the new baby. I did a podcast about this topic a few weeks ago, so listen for those ideas:

      New Sibling and a Late Talker

      Good luck to you Tara and hang in there!! Laura

      • Tara on May 11, 2015 at 5:57 pm

        Thank you so much for your response Laura, I was very happy to read your response and to know there are things I can do to help him.

        I do find it difficult and sometimes frustrating because he was already saying some words and then stopped. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the DVDs and my son begins speech therapy this weekend, I just pray to God that it works.

        Thank you again for taking out time to help concerned parents. God bless you.

        • Laura on May 11, 2015 at 6:16 pm

          You’re so welcome Tara. Good luck to you!! Laura

          • Tara on May 12, 2015 at 6:54 pm

            Hello again Laura, I need your advice please. For the past 3 days now, every time I take my son to give him a bath, he turns to the shower and babbles holding his arms out. This happened after I turned on the shower in his presence but he cried because he didn’t like it. He has babbled consistently for a few days now and it sounds like ‘bababababa’ sounding exactly the same every day.

            What can I do to get those words out again? He clearly wants to talk bit is finding it very difficult unlike before when he just said it exactly as he heard it.

            He is also a lot more clingy now. Every time I sit to feed my baby, he sits behind me and wraps his arms around me.

            Please help me Laura. I so want my boy to be normal. Like I said earlier, he starts speech therapy this weekend and I’m not doing much now with him because of the baby.

            I try to read to him but he’s not interested in books.

            I’m so sad and down that I’m not even paying much attention to my baby.

          • Laura on May 15, 2015 at 2:08 pm

            Hi Tara. What I always recommend for jargon or babbling is that you try to say, in single words or simple 2 to 3 word phrases, what you THINK the child meant to say. If you really have no clue, say something, anything other than “I don’t know what you’re saying.” Use that only as a last resort and only with a child who CAN talk. So for the “shower” example, if he seemed like he was upset and wanted you to turn it off, I’d say something like, “Water! Oh no! That water scared me! Turn it off! No water!” Always restate what you think he’s trying to say and moms usually CAN figure this out because you do know your child. Sometimes this helps tremendously because even if you’re not exactly right, you’re close and it feels better to everyone.

            Don’t read books to him if he hates it. Try pointing to the pictures and naming them. Include a short phrase if he’s listening. For example, “Car! Go car go!” or “Look! Shoes! You wear shoes on your feet.” Or “Dog! Woof woof woof! Dog!” I have several Therapy Tip of the Week Videos about Books. Click on that category and watch some of those for more ideas.

            Even better than books is just playing with him with toys on the floor. Being present and labeling the toys as he plays and then making short comments is better than nothing at all, I promise.

            It also sounds like you’re just plain worn out Tara. You just had a new baby. You have a toddler who’s not talking. You’re not sure you’re doing enough for either of them. That’s overwhelming. Give yourself a BREAK and know that this is a short season of your life. It feels like nothing is going right, but it will get better and it will get easier. Don’t be so hard on yourself right now!! Talk with the SLP about what you should do and then focus on that. You can do this… you really can!! Hang in there! Laura

  27. Kate on May 8, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    Thank you thank you for this website.

    My son is almost 26 months old. He has NO words. He babbles a lot and makes lots of sounds, but zero words. He has been evaluated twice. Once by EI and once by a private speech therapist. EI recommended starting therapy. Private ST initially said to re-evaluate at 30 months but then changed her mind. I want to start therapy ASAP, but the wait list is 4-6 mm that long! I can’t go through EI because our insurance covers therapy. He’ll be over 2.5 by the time he finally gets into therapy!

    I’m SO upset. He understands absolutely everything that is said to him. His evaluation placed him at or above age level in every area except for expressive language. He uses sign language. I’m so frustrated. I feel like I’m doing everything i can and I can’t get any help for him. What’s wrong with my baby???

    I want to hear him say “mommy” more than anything.

    I try to help him at home. When I ask him to repeat a word, if he does try he usually says “ba ba mmmmm”. I’ve heard him say mama, but not contextually, just as babbles.

    I’m sorry if this is rambley-I’m just sad and frustrated.

    Thank you.

    • Laura on May 10, 2015 at 4:46 pm

      Hi Kate. That situation has to be incredibly frustrating for you! Are there some other options? Can you try to find another private SLP rather than waiting??? Even if you had to drive to the next city, it would be worth it to get him in services sooner rather than later. Can you appeal waiting for EI since there are no openings privately? I’d try that too. Call, call, call them all back until somebody will help you!! Of course without seeing him, I don’t know exactly what’s going on with him, BUT there are things you can do at home. I know you’re trying to prompt him to imitate words, but sometimes words are just too hard and you have to start at a level where he can be successful. Have you tried easier, earlier kinds of vocalizations? Here’s a post with those kinds of ideas:

      Let’s Make Some Noise.

      For a step by step guide for that kind of approach take a look at my book Building Verbal Imitation in Toddlers. It’s a blueprint for therapy and you WILL be able to understand it and do it with him at home. Based on how you described him, it’s EXACTLY what I would do for him if you were seeing me for therapy so you can rest assured that that approach does work!

      Since he’s already using some signs, are you getting in his little face and modeling the words with those signs? Even him imitating the first sound or trying is progress for him. There are lots of examples of that on my DVD Teach Me To Talk and the DVD Teach Me To Talk with Apraxia & Phonological Disorders. Check out those DVDs so you can SEE those examples of how to work with him at home.

      Last year around Mother’s Day I posted this Teach Your Child to Say Mama with tips for helping him learn how to say “mama.” Watch and try those ideas with him!!

      Hope this gets you started!!! You can do it Kate!! Hang in there!!! Laura

  28. Pari on May 10, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    My son is named Darius and he is 33 months old. We recently saw a developmental pediatrician, was evaluated by the county’s infant and toddler connections screener and evaluated by a speech language pathologist. The developmental pediatrician says he still needs to review our questionnaires, speak to his preschool teacher and then get back to me. The SPL said he is developmentally normal in his language and the screener also said she did not see any delays but did see what might have concerned me and will push for the full assessment. Here is a little about him, please let me know your take on the situation.

    1. Started walking and talking at 9 months. By 13 months he knew and could pronounce 100 words.

    2. Very affectionate, loves giving and receiving hugs and receiving kisses.

    3. Excellent memorization skills. knew colors, numbers and shapes by 15 months. Abcs by 17 months. Can memorize entire adult songs (sound of music do re me) or books and poems and songs really quickly. Knows the names of almost all animals. Like difference between parrot and parakeet, peacock, chicken, Cardinal…

    4. Does analytical behavior too like put ball on cone shaped basket and said it was ice cream cone. (He did this at 18 months). Or notices me cracking an egg and comments that it’s “just like the baby penguin” he saw on a national geographic clip.

    5. Knows his name, and gender.

    6. Makes good eye contact with most people he knows.

    7. He does well with routine but is not bothered if his routine is changed.

    8. Plays with other kids and copies them sometimes.

    My concerns:

    1. Echolalia- not done all the time, but done occasionally, especially if the answer is yes.

    2. Some of the time does not respond with a yes or no and instead repeats the question to mean yes or no response to mean no or I don’t know. Or instead of saying yes or no he will form an entire sentence? Ex. Do you want to go see the stars with Baba? — I want to see the stars.

    3. Doesn’t understand “did you” questions that well.

    4. Does not ask or answer “why” questions.

    5. Still has strong separation anxiety from mom. (But not to go to school, toy store, outside ect,) his anxiety revolves around mom leaving not him leaving.

    6. Preschool teachers say he stays he doesn’t follow directions consistently. Or sit in circle consistently (it’s hit or miss). They say he is always on the move doing stuff. He loves music class but doesn’t sing in it often, instead sings later after class at an ‘inappropriate’ time . They say he is excellent at memorization. His teachers also say he doesn’t make a lot of eye contact with them.

    He has been going to his 3.5 hour preschool program for almost 5 months now.
    Please let me know what you think on this.


    1. Started walking and talking at 9 months.

    2. Very affectionate, loves giving and receiving hugs and receiving kisses. Gives kisses to parents on special occasions but loves giving his little brother kisses.

    3. Excellent memorization skills. knew colors, numbers and shapes by 16 months. Abcs by 19 months. Can memorize entire adult songs (sound of music do re me) or books and poems and songs really quickly. Knows the names of almost all animals. Like difference between parrot and parakeet, peacock, chicken, Cardinal…

    4. Does analytical behavior too like put ball on cone shaped basket and said it was ice cream cone. (He did this at 18 months). Or notices me cracking an egg and comments that it’s “just like the baby penguin” he saw on a national geographic clip.

    5. Knows his name, and gender.

    6. Makes good eye contact with most people he knows.

    7. He does well with routine but is not bothered if his routine is changed.

    8. Plays with other kids and copies them sometimes.

    • Laura on May 11, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      Hi Pari. Of course I can’t see him to know exactly what’s going on, but he has lots and lots of strengths, even if he is exhibiting some quirks. It does sound like he has some higher level language processing issues to account for his difficulty understanding questions, but he did score in the within normal limits on the language test, so if there are delays, they were not in the range that the SLP felt she could qualify him for services. However, I do think a developmental assessment from the pediatrician is a good idea to rule out anything else that could be going on (to account for your other concerns) and to calm your worries if everything turns out okay. An extra set of eyes on him is always a good idea if you’re concerned. Even if he does end up getting a diagnosis of some sort and gets a recommendation for treatment, you are catching this very early. I have seen children with milder issues like this who go on to do beautifully with intervention now. You’ll also learn how to help him understand those higher level skills you mentioned like questions. I would definitely work on consistently following 2 and 3 step directions at home – this will help him tremendously at school. Start with “game like” ideas. You can see examples of those on my DVD Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2. Good luck to you Pari and try not to worry. He IS talking and communicating. You’ll be able to address those other weaknesses too!! Laura

  29. Tisha on May 12, 2015 at 12:58 am

    Hi Laura,
    My little girl is turning two next week and we have already decided we will be calling early childhood intervention because her speech is just not coming along. We aren’t really concerned about other areas of development, just language. She has about 23 words she uses fairly consistently and roars to identify lions and dinosaurs. She also has about 10 words she has used (repeated) once but we haven’t heard again. There are times where it sounds like she says complete phrases as well and my husband and I look at each other and ask did she just say …… ? She has used two word phrases but very seldom (bye bye dada) and one wonderful time she said “bye bye mama”. The only time she has said mama and it was around 6 months ago.
    I have two questions about her, first she doesn’t point at body parts or pictures in books. I find this odd because she will, most of the time, follow directions. How can we help her to work on this skill.
    Also, of those 23 words, there is only one noun in the bunch, dada (although she might also say “da boo” for the book, not really sure) The rest of her words are exclamations or general greeting words (ow, wow, Uhoh, hi, bye bye, hey, numnum, eww, no). The rest are verbs (kiss, kick, hug, throw, go, etc…) We’ve been working with her to try to label things she’s most fond of like names of toys or foods, but so far no luck. How can we help her begin to use nouns in her vocabulary? It seems strange that she doesn’t use nouns.
    Thanks so much,

    • Laura on May 16, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      Hi Tisha. Based on how you described her, your little girl is displaying some patterns that aren’t exactly typical, BUT it’s fantastic that she has verbs and that she follows directions pretty well. Both are huge strengths for her. I do hope she qualifies for early intervention. My guess is you’ll have to push for services since most state programs require a pretty significant delay before services are recommended. However, if she doesn’t qualify, I’d still do what you can to have her evaluated by an SLP in a clinic or hospital setting since she does have some quirks with how she’s learning language. Usually my little clients who have only verbs are kids that are on the go constantly and those are the words that are most meaningful for them. OR it could be that all of her words have sounds or patterns in common that make it easier for her to produce. Your SLP will help you figure that out.

      As far as pointing goes… does she point to direct your attention to something, like an airplane in the sky, or a dog, or anything else in her environment? This lets you know she understands how to gesture to direct your attention and that she CAN use a point in that way, which is very similar to pointing on request to pictures. If she’s not doing that yet, it could be that she doesn’t understand gestures yet or that she can direct your attention. Those are usually social engagement issues, and you’ll have to work on it that way.

      Does she isolate her little index finger to press buttons for toys or for buttons on the phone or remote or keyboard? If she’s not doing that, then this could be a physical problem or a problem with coordinating or planning her motor movements.

      Those are 2 things that immediately come to mind, but without seeing her, it would be hard for me to tease it out exactly. Talk with the therapists who evaluate her and be sure to mention it during the referral so you don’t get turned away since she has so many words already. Another piece of advice – report ONLY the words that she says consistently ( not the sounds for words) so that you’re not inflating her vocabulary. In some states, like mine, the lead agency is using a telephone interview to determine if a child gets through to the referral. I’ve seen several moms in the last year who unwittingly over-reported skills and whose children did not get an assessment, but who desperately needed one based on what I saw during my assessment. When I mentioned this to the mothers, they all said, “I was just trying to give her credit for all she could do.” The problem was… I would never have counted a word as a word if a child didn’t use it functionally and consistently and some of those moms did, and certainly for the right reason, but it hurt them in the end. Their kids couldn’t get services OR even an assessment, so be careful when you’re talking with them, even on the phone!! I have no idea if any of this applies to you or not, but I did want to mention it just in case!!

      About the nouns, keep trying!! Choices are a good thing because you’re teaching her to use words to request things she LOVES. Teaching her in that way would be EXACTLY how I would do it in therapy. I assume that she’s imitating you pretty well since she’s using those verbs and exclamatory words, but if she’s not, then focus on helping her learn to copy/repeat what you say. My book Building Verbal Imitation Skills in Toddlers will walk you through that process.

      Good luck to you! I’d be interested in finding out how things go for your little girl!! I wish I could see you myself because I love to work with kids who don’t fit the mold, so to speak! She sounds like such a great kid with those strengths and I hope she comes right along for you in therapy and with some tweaks to what you’re going at home. If you’d like to talk about her one on one, I”m always looking for moms to be guests on my podcasts. I’d love to have you if you’re interested in that. Email me at and include PODCAST GUEST in the subject line. Thanks!! Laura

  30. Tanyaradzwa on May 15, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Dear Laura,

    I am so thankful that I came onto your site. I feel that God led me because I have been so desperate to find an answer to my son’s challenges, and just last night just after midnight, I was lying sleepless in bed and praying and I found myself demanding from God ” Just give me one answer Lord, will my child ever be able to converse with me, I just want a yes or a no?” . Was feeling very desperate.

    I am resident in Zimbabwe and the mother of four children, my last one being a son who recently turned 3 last month. My concern is with my last child. I started worrying about his speech when he turned 2 and was still not able to say mom, let alone identify me as his mom. He also was not able to call any of his sisters by name by that time. The situation however improved a few months after that and he started saying simple words. Now he is able to say simple phrases, can follow simple instructions particularly if you give some nonverbal cues. He also socializes well with kids his age and he is always ready to go after other little boys his age.

    My concern is however on the fact that, despite understanding and following simple instructions, he appears not not to understand conversation. He can not engage in any conversation whatsoever no matter how simple. He goes to a preschool and spends a lot of time with toddlers his age. I have noticed that he can be within a crowd of other toddlers but he seems detached, and does not respond to conversation initiated by others. He can call out some simple instructions to others in the playgroup but does not respond well to anything initiated by someone else unless its a simple “instruction” of some sort. He is usually silent most times at home unless he wants something although he can actually shoot short-phrased questions when he wants to e.g “where is the phone”, “where is daddy”, “where is my ball. If you respond to any of these questions, he does not comprehend the answer but keeps on asking the question over and over again until you probably look up the thing he wants and hands over to him. When I ask him simple things like “where is your ball”, “who is your friend” , he appears confused and just ignores me. No matter how simple a question is, he can not respond to it. But if its an instruction, he makes effort to follow it.

    I have also noted that the things he says are like learned things, sort of like he crams phrases and words and then uses the same over and over . He can therefore respond to a question by pulling out any one of the phrases he knows, not necessarily relating to the question asked. Unfortunately in my country social services are not developed and SLPs are only now emerging but the profession is still in infancy . My pediatrician has also not been able to give me a firm response , but he managed recently to refer me to a speech therapist . Like I said the profession is in infancy so will see how it pans out.

    From reading your writings, it appears to me that my son may be having a receptive language disorder. I have also noted the tips you provided for home assistance and will be putting them in practice to the best of my ability. I however need your opinion on this, do you think this could be the problem? Could there be elements of autism from the description I have given you? if its a receptive language problem, do kids eventually outgrow this and get to a point where he will be able to converse? Which one of your resources would you recommend ? I also would like to be able to verify whether I will be getting the actual help that my son needs as I work with the speech therapist, so I would appreciate if you can give me some pointers on what areas I should see covered.

    Please keep up your good work, I had never appreciated the challenges parents of children with disability go through until my last child, and its a real comfort to know there are people who have always been working to assist parents in this area.

    Kind regards

    • Laura on May 15, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      Hi Tanya – First of all, I hope you don’t mind that I shortened your beautiful name : ) Secondly, without seeing him I can’t tell you exactly what’s going on, but based on what you said about him, I think receptive language delay or disorder is a good place to start as a possible explanation for his difficulties. You will most definitely need to approach his assessment with his SLP by stating this concern and probable diagnosis soon as you make contact to be sure you’re on the same page. I would definitely pursue this option as long as you get a pretty good feeling when you make the appointment. Even if someone is a brand new therapist, if they are passionate and committed to finding ways to help you and your little boy, you will be much better off than going at this alone without any kind of guidance. I love that he’s made some progress this year without formal therapy, but I’m sure you’re doing your part to help him! Keep reading the posts in the receptive language category. I would also recommend my DVD set Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2 since it explains receptive language delays and lets you SEE play-based therapy. If you’re a reader, then I’d also suggest Teach Me To Talk: The Therapy Manual. There are EXCELLENT goals and activities listed in the receptive language chapter. Although it’s written for therapists, committed moms use it all the time to guide their work at home. Good luck to you as you navigate options for your baby. I wish I were closer so I could work with you myself! You sound like a fantastic mom! Laura

      • Tanyaradzwa on May 28, 2015 at 8:27 am

        Hi Laura,

        Thank you for responding to my email. I do not mind you shortening my name I understand why you needed to do that. I am encouraged to work with the SLP and I hope my son’s speech will improve.

        On another note, it will be helpful if we could see some testimonials from people who have been down this path with their kids , just so that we can see how they have fared later on. I have seen some older posts on this site where the kids demonstrate some of the behaviours I see my son. It would be nice to hear the happy endings just for encouragement.

        Once again thank you,

        Best regards

        • Laura on May 28, 2015 at 6:09 pm

          Hi Tanya! I wish we could hear from mom whose kids are better, but here’s the truth… once their child is better, they’re not coming back to They move on to other things… as they should! I did do some early podcasts in 2009 with moms of children on my own caseload who did really well. I tried to link directly to blogtalkradio, but the audio quality was NOT good. It may have been just a whacky connection with my internet or computer, but you’re better off to try iTunes and search for Teach Me To Talk and listen to shows #55, 41, and 40. Here’s a link I hope works for you to the overview page for the shows. All of the shows are FREE and it’s really a wonderful resource for all parents and professionals. I get emails every day that start with “I was listening to your podcast and I have a question…” Here’s the link:

          Good luck to you Tanya and I hope you’re back on here soon with your own success story!! Laura

  31. Lainna on May 17, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Hi! First, thank you for being available to concerned parents like me. It helps to hear a voice of a professional. My son is soon to be 1 year old, and doesn’t respond to his name. No matter what! I can be nursing him without any distractions at all and call his name and nothing.

    He babbles, tries to share his food with me, gets excited when in the company of other children. He’s very bonded to me and reaches to be held. So many good signs but when it comes to me encouraging anything from him I don’t get a response back. He will often look at me and babble, laugh. He even plays hide and seek with me. But he doesn’t look to me when I call him. Doesn’t imitate my words, facial expressions or commands. It’s like he can do things but only when he wants to.

    My question is, if a child doesn’t respend to his name by 1 year old, and doesn’t engage in initiated conversation, is that enough to seek help? My doc says to stop worrying and that he’s just very independent but everything I read says that he should be more interactive by now.

    Thank you!

    • Laura on May 17, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      He should be more interactive and he should be looking when his name is called by his first birthday. Is he waving or pointing to direct your attention? Can he follow your point? Does he understand any words yet – like “Where’s Momma?” or “Where’s Daddy?” Keep talking with your doctor about it, but in many states you don’t need a referral for early intervention. However, he may not qualify for services because in most states, a child has to be pretty behind before he’s eligible. You could always go the private route and have him seen by an SLP who is in private practice at a clinic or hospital if you really want a professional opinion.

      The very best thing to do, regardless of whether you see someone or not, is to start to work with him at home. Lots of therapists may tell you 12 months is too early for therapy, but it’s NEVER too early for parents to tweak what they’re doing to help a child learn to understand and use words. Here are some posts with ideas to get you started.

      Early Receptive Language

      Social Games for Babies and Toddlers

      Let’s Make Some Noise

      If you need more guidance, get my DVD Teach Me To Talk and Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 so you can SEE how to work with toddlers using play-based strategies. The DVDs are on sale this weekend too! Hurry to save $$ : ) Laura

      • Lainna on May 18, 2015 at 11:27 am

        P.S. Did I miss the sale?

        • Laura on May 18, 2015 at 7:09 pm

          Lainna – I believe it runs until tonight! Also – it looks like you may have tried to send another comment and it didn’t go through. Our spam filter sometimes deletes real comments, so if you don’t see yours after a day or so, please resend it!! Laura

  32. bun on May 17, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Hi there,
    My child is 29 mo without clear words, let alone sentences. At 18mo I began to worry about his speech, also no pointing, waving, semi bad eye contact. His dr believed it wasnt autism based on other things. At 2yr I brought up again: uses approx 25 unclear words (I know what they all mean), no pointing. Eye contact improved and he had started babbling in phrases using dadada with great eye contact. Dr said speech was the least of his worries however autism is the least of mine. My child understands what I say, follows direction, imitates gestures and faces, interested in peers.

    Now hes nearly 2.5, points and says what things are in his language, expresses want, says mommy and daddy clearly (does not call me mommy), mostly still babbles or jargon sentences. I feel mostly his delay is due to his environment and not a serious issue. Hes not in daycare, not around peers often. So my question is should I be worried still? Hearing his dr say ‘speech is the least of my worries’ made me feel his word explosion would be soon. But with his regular used words still the same as before, and not a lot of speech progress, im just wondering what I can do to help.

    • Laura on May 18, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      Hi Barbara. Since I can’t see your little boy, I don’t know exactly what’s going on with him, and honestly, you won’t either until you have him assessed. Some pediatricians are not as good with detecting developmental issues as they are in treating medical problems, so I wouldn’t solely rely on your doctor’s opinion, particularly since he’s not been sensitive to your maternal instinct that something isn’t quite right. Most toddlers with typically developing language experience those language explosions around 18 to 24 months. If he’s 6 months beyond that and it hasn’t happened yet, the very least that’s going on is a language delay. Since he’s still using jargon with no huge increases in language, I’d be a little more concerned too. If nothing is going on beyond a language delay, therapy should help him catch right up. If there’s more going on, then you’re much better off to address it early before it turns in to something that could have been prevented with some intervention when he’s 2 rather than waiting until later.

      Let me address one more common misconception. Toddlers learn how to talk from adults, not from other kids, so NOT going to daycare is NEVER a reason that a child’s speech is delayed. Period. Toddlers can learn social interaction skills from other peers and learning to make little friends your own age is important too, but I don’t want you to believe that that’s why he’s not talking as well as he should be.

      As far as products go, I always recommend that parents start with Teach Me To Talk the DVD so you can SEE how to work on language during play-based activities. Many toddlers who are still using mostly jargon also have underlying processing or receptive language issues too. If he’s not consistently following your commands, identifying body parts, pointing to a variety of pictures in a book on request, then I’d recommend Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2 as well. I think you said that’s not an issue for your little guy, but if any other mom is reading this post thinking their are similarities with their child, I want to be sure I include that too! Good luck to you and thanks so much for your question. My big piece of advice to you would be to trust your instincts! Usually when a mom is worried, it IS because something isn’t right. Laura

      I can certainly recommend products for you, but I’d be neglecting my obligation if I didn’t strongly encourage you to pursue an assessment.

  33. Mom on May 20, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    I’ve been following your blog for weeks now as we try to get to the root of what is going on with our 26 month old son. To give you an idea of what we’re dealing with, several people at EI and our local Children’s Hospital have said he is “a mystery” and they’re simply not sure what’s going on with him. We have scheduled 3 different appts with Dev Specialists but of course they are months out at best … So we wait and it’s driving me crazy not knowing what is going on or the best way to help him. Here are his personality traits described to the best of my (unprofessional) opinion:

    To me he seems “behind” as in he acts much like one would expect perhaps of a typical 18 mo old, with exception to motor skills – he has GREAT motor skills. He doesn’t really talk at all but on occasion he will mimic a word we said or use it within context (E.g.: hold up arms to be picked up and say “up!” or even “climb up!” when climbing up his swingset. Or we’ll be reading and the book character will yell “Hooray!” And he’ll say’ “Hooray!l” He has also learned songs such as Twinkle, twinkle, little star at his daycare and he tries so hard to mimic the words and hand motions for his dad and I at home. The words are jumbled but the intonation is there and he’s so proud of himself when we lavish him with praise for his efforts. That’s the thing: his social skills are seemingly age appropriate if not advanced according to his teachers and evaluators. He makes great eye contact and has really good joint attention. He loves to run to be with other kids the moment he sees them or hears their voice. He is perceptive to expression -I.e. If you laugh, he will laugh/smile too, even if he is unsure what may be funny. He does not have tantrums or stim or show repetitive behavior or do many of the other things they’ve looked for in association with ASD. He is behind in his receptive language skills but not terribly so (I.e. He understands most simple commands most of the time. Complex can get a little complicated for him and when they do, he will ignore us – likely because he has no idea what we’re talking about). In the last two months he’s come really far with his receptive language whereas before he turned 2 I definitely had my concerns.

    A few other things about him: he always responds to his name and things such as ‘wait!’ He follows basic instructions (throw the ball to daddy, put the hat on mommy’s head, etcetera. And he even looks both ways for cars before crossing the road!) However, he doesn’t ‘naturally’ point. He will bring me an item he wants or reach up to it. If we give him choices we can say; “point to the one you want” and he will do so but only if we ask him. It’s my understanding that most kids just naturally know how to do this. Also he doesn’t call for “mama” or “dada” but someone can say “give your mama a hug and he will do so” (he is a very affectionate little boy!”) he can blow kisses and wave and say “bye-bye” but he isn’t always consistent with it. He also has trouble with nouns such as simple things like I don’t think we’ve ever heard him say, “dog” but again he can say action verbs without prompting (climb, jump, go, up,).

    We’re at a loss. I’ve read you should not use the same techniques for speech delayed kids that you would use for ASD kids and vice-versa or it could be ineffective and even prolong the speech impairment. While I’m fearful of labels in this case, I want to be sure we’re using the right techniques to help him along. Any advice you could offer?

    • Laura on May 20, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      Hi Mom. I do understand why your evaluators are at a loss to put a firm label on him based on how you’ve described your little boy because he doesn’t clearly seem to fit one distinct category. Based on what you’ve said about him, I probably wouldn’t push for a firm diagnosis for him either and instead I’d focus on treating his weaknesses right now while celebrating his strengths!

      Here’s why…when you base treatment strategies on a diagnosis…. you ALWAYS miss a child’s “individualness.” Not every child with the same diagnosis is exactly the same either, particularly during the toddler period. We should ALWAYS base our treatment strategies on what a child can and can’t do rather than have everything hinge on a diagnostic label. While there are some techniques that do seem to address characteristics of a particular diagnosis better than others, there’s not only one “autism” therapy or one “language delay” therapy that will be effective for every single child with that diagnosis. I hope that makes sense to you and will calm your fears about not knowing EXACTLY what’s going on.

      I do hope too it will steer you toward using his little strengths to select treatment strategies, rather than only looking at the weaknesses. For example, he has some GREAT social strengths, is progressing nicely with receptive language, and is expressively at the verbal routine level. For me, that’s a dream kid to work with – I don’t have to focus heavily on the social piece. I can continue to facilitate the nice catch up pace he’s using for receptive language, and I can jump right in there for verbal routines to get his talking going. It wouldn’t matter to me what the diagnosis is because I already know everything I need to develop a WONDERFUL, COMPREHENSIVE treatment plan for him. He is in therapy, right? I hope you’re not waiting until the testing is done. If so, you’re wasting valuable time and focused on the wrong thing. Work on getting him better and there may not be a diagnosis beyond “late talker” or “speech delay.” Isn’t that what you’d like most anyway?

      Here’s what I think happens A LOT with toddlers… which may or may not fit your situation, but it’s a possibility that I see often…A baby is born with some tendencies for delays (meaning he’s born with some neuro-atypical wiring), but his environment is great with loving, responsive parents who care about him and are doing everything right. So… by 2 when all of these milestones are supposed to be met and all of the differences usually begin to really stand out, this child doesn’t have all of the “red flags” for any one diagnosis because his parents have done a fabulous job helping him learn and rewire his little brain from the start. If his environment had not been so great, he would probably look a lot different. Does that ring true for your child? I wouldn’t know because I don’t know him or you, but I have seen it happen fairly regularly. A child doesn’t meet all of the criteria for a particular diagnosis because he’s already had “mom and dad therapy” from the beginning so he naturally is coming along as opposed to a child who didn’t have at least one parent working with him day in and day out. As diagnosticians it makes us a little crazy because we can’t put a child like this in a clear cut category, and when this happens, I try to tell parents, this is actually a GOOD thing. He already has some strengths which make this diagnosis a little less likely. Let’s run with it and see what else we can eliminate as a concern. For some kids, the progress has been so dramatic that there was no need for a “bigger” diagnosis. Late talker or language delayed was a good enough label for all of us to know we’d better get busy addressing his language, regardless of what the final “label” would be down the road.

      I have rambled and rambled and have NO time to edit, so I hope this makes sense to you! I like this question and overall topic so much that I’m going to use it as my podcast topic for tomorrow. The guest I had lined up has rescheduled, so this is perfect for me! I’ll post the link when the show is up. Thanks for much for your question!! Laura

  34. Mary on May 21, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    My daughter is four years old and has Down syndrome. Due to heart issues she spent her first two years in and out of hospitals. She was diagnosed with reflux at 3 months and developed food aversion after not being able to breathe during bottling while hospitalized for pneumonia at 1 1/2.

    She never really babbled, in fact it is only since starting pre-school at age 3 that she really started babbling at all. She managed to say “dada” around 9 months, then lost it once she figured out how to say “mama” at around a year. Any word she does “have” centers around things that sound like “mama” or start with b. She will say “bye”, but never just one syllable – it is more “bababababa” in a string like that. Ball, baa (for sheep), book all sound the same, except ball and book are one “ba” and sheep is 2. Words that she attempts that sound like “mama” are Emma and Obama (Emma Stone and Michelle Obama both do Sesame Street videos that she likes to watch lol). She won’t really even attempt anything else. That being said she has close to 100 words in sign language, though because of lack of figure dexterity and precision some can be hard to make out or differentiate. She also has about 10 sight words that she recognizes.

    We’ve worked with SLP therapists since she was a year old (her doctor didn’t want to start earlier- he wanted us to concentrate on heart issues first). All therapists that we’ve worked with concentrate on oral motor exercises and talk tools like iPad apps or flip books, but we haven’t made any headway in actual speech happening. Some moms I’ve talked to suggest that we cut out recognizing her signing to “make” her talk to us, but therapists are against it and I’m afraid it would cause behavior problems. There is also the issues of not everyone knowing sign language and her imprecise signs making it more difficult, although she always seems able to make her point known.

    She understands everything you say to her and follows directions well. My biggest worry is that we will be heading to kindergarten hopefully in a year, but because she does not have a hearing problem, the school will not recognize the need for a sign language interpreter for her. Everyone seems to be at a loss for how to help speech to happen. She seems perfectly happy learning new signs and communicating that way, but I would love to be able to have her talk to me and others.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    • Laura on May 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Mary. I keep trying to reply to you and it keeps disappearing!! First of all, thanks for my laugh of the day with your little girl saying “Obama” to request one of her favorite episodes of Sesame Street… so funny!!

      I would NOT recommend that you stop responding to her signs. That’s a little… well, mean, in my opinion. It’s how you’ve taught her to communicate and now it’s not good enough. I’m glad your therapists don’t recommend that approach either!

      Let me also say that the average age kids with Down syndrome talk is between 3 and 5, so she’s right smack in the middle of her optimal time! She’s demonstrating that too with her little core set of words. She CAN talk – she just has a limited set of sounds right now – and if she could say more, I bet she would. She’s not capable of holding out on you. She’s not sitting in her bed plotting “I won’t say a new sound today no matter what my mom or therapists try!” So… you’ll have to prime her little system. Here’s what I would try:

      1. Start with any and every word you can think of that includes ‘m’ or ‘b’ or ‘p’ since those are sounds she CAN say. Build her vocabulary with words with those sounds. I know you’ll be able to get some new ones like that!!

      2. Try other words that have her pattern of repeating the syllables – so words like “no no,” “da da,” “night night,” “na na” for banana (although the /b/ may help you here!) Even if she said “mo mo” for no no would be okay at this point because she’s TRYING.

      3. Back up to easier, earlier vocalizations like play sounds and exclamatory words. Look at this post for ideas:
      Let’s Make Some Noise

      4. If you need step-by-step directions for ‘backing up’ to those easier levels, get my book Building Verbal Imitation Skills in Toddlers. It will walk you through it!

      5. Emphasize vowel sounds in words she signs to encourage her to try a new word. So for a word like “dog,” say “Doooooooooooooooooooooooooooooog! Doooooooooooooooooooog!” Somehow it takes the pressure of trying and you can start that whole “trying” with vowels instead of consonants with lots of toddlers.

      • Laura on May 23, 2015 at 4:09 pm

        Part 2… I can’t post LONG replies… so I broke it up!

        6. Try the “bucket” method. Several of my little friends with Down syndrome have not tried to imitate much of anything until I tried this trick. I don’t know why it’s been so successful, probably because it’s novel and super fun. Get a bucket, or big bowl, or pasta pot, anything that’s HUGE and echoes. Sit on the floor with her with the container in the middle. Look at her with lots of anticipation – big eyes, big smile like “This is going to be so fun!!!” – and then hold the sides of the container, lean down while still looking at her, and then say something like “Da da da!” I’d choose a new sound combination other than /m/ or /b/ since you know she can do this. Look at her excitedly and repeat yourself several times pausing between. Don’t say anything else, but smile and laugh and again ACT LIKE THIS IS THE MOST FUN THING YOU’VE EVER DONE IN YOUR LIFE. Sit back and see if she’ll try. If she doesn’t, hold the container toward her, shake your head “yes” like you’re saying, “You can do it! Try!” Model it again a couple of times. If she doesn’t try, switch to something you KNOW she can say and try that to get imitation going. Other things I try are a scream, a silly noise, a play sound, a whisper, coughing, anything that’s fun to entice her to try. Sometimes another child (one that’s very cooperative who will do EXACTLY what you say) can be helpful to model a new sound for her to try. Lavishly praise the other child when he/she tries. Keep looking expectantly at her as if you expect her to do it, but without lots of other verbal directions. More than anything else, make it FUN!!!

        • Laura on May 23, 2015 at 4:18 pm

          Part 3…

          7. If those things don’t work to get her to try other sounds, then go a little ABA on her. Pick something she LOVES but doesn’t have very often – a milkshake, sweet tea, a soft drink, a piece of chocolate – ANYTHING she loves but again, can’t have all the time on her own. Put her right in front of you on the floor, or her on a chair and you sitting right in front of her on the floor. Say a new sound like “Ha ha ha.” You may have to say, “Say hahaha. Or “Tell me hahaha.” As soon as she sort of tries to repeat you, give her a drink or bite or whatever you’ve chosen. Keep your turns short. Keep it super, super fun. You may “tease” her a little and say, “As soon as you say it, you get a bite” in your most fun, most loving, most super playful way. If she doesn’t respond, move on. Don’t beg her. Don’t get upset or frustrated. Just keep it light and fun. Reward her for any try in the beginning. For some kids, I reward opening their mouths!

          OR… go SUPER ABA – and start with things she will copy like clapping her hands and reward that. Then patting her head and reward that. Then saying ‘mamama’ and reward that and then sneak those new sounds in always rewarding her attempts. Go back to what she can do keeping the ratio of lots of easy things vs. a few new sounds.

          So… I hope one or ALL of these ideas will work for you! Keep me posted on her progress. I love updates!!!! Laura

  35. Tina on May 24, 2015 at 8:26 am

    I’m loving your website!
    My little boy is 9 months old, he would be what I would call a high needs baby. When he was little I couldn’t put him down, he didn’t sleep well, and cried ALOT!
    Now at 9 months old, I’m wondering if something developmental is going on, he isn’t babbling, at all, he will make bubble sounds and say aaaaaahhhh, but no consonants. He doesn’t imitate, can’t wave or anything like that yet. He does respond to his name, smiles and laughs, has amazing motor skills, is pulling to stand up already, he will look us in the eye, but often times he is so busy that he doesn’t focus well. He doesn’t sit still – ever.
    He get very upset whenever we go out (change in routine), especially if going out involves a place where there is commotion – babies, lots of people talking, dogs barking. He will start crying very hard. He is especially sensitive to startling noises, if another baby cries he will start to cry, if a dog barks he will too. I’m starting to worry about sensory issues.
    He is also making a very strange excited face, it’s almost trance-like. His entire body and face tenses up and his hands make little fists (almost like flapping hands, but his fists open and close) and his mouth opens and he makes weird noises. I don’t believe it’s seizure related as I can say his name or put my hand on him and he snaps out of it. He does it with pretty much everything that really excites him, trucks, balls or even when eating something he likes.
    I’m wondering if it’s too soon to read anything into all this behavior, I’m just super frustrated because I can’t take him anywhere, even grandma’s house – without having to spend the entire time consoling him in another room.
    Any advice would be appreciated, should I be concerned and speak to my doctor or wait it out.

    • Laura on May 26, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      Hi Tina. Based on what you said about him, I’d be concerned too, especially about sensory issues. I’d ask for a referral to an Occupational Therapist who specializes in sensory issues TODAY from your pediatrician. If he/she doesn’t have anyone, then call your state’s early intervention program yourself and ask for an assessment from their best sensory OT. OR do your homework and track one down in your city yourself. What you’re describing is not typical and hopefully an OT can help you with strategies that will make both of your lives much easier.

      What it sounds like you’re describing with his excitement could be self-stimulatory behaviors, but it is common for young babies to use their bodies to express excitement. Without seeing him it’s difficult to know, but if it looks different enough for you to notice, and based on what you’ve said about him, it is something I’d explore further. Your pediatrician and the OT should be able to help you with that piece too. Children who go on to be diagnosed with autism do exhibit these kinds of repetitive “self-stims,” but kids with other kinds of developmental delays, especially kids with sensory differences, do as well. My own son (who is 25 now and about to graduate with an engineering degree!) was a hand flapper at ages 1 to 3. He had lots and lots of sensory issues to deal with throughout his life so I speak not only as an SLP, but a mom who’s lived this path for 25 years now! Addressing these issues EARLY will give him his best start if it does turn out to be beyond typical baby excitement – and again – those strategies will help YOU tremendously as his mother.

      Language-wise what I’d get going for him would be all of those early “baby” games so he does start to link meaning with words and routines as well as learn to “do his part” with gestures. Check out this post for ideas: Social Games for Babies and Toddlers. It is NOT too early to start those : )

      Thanks for your questions. I hope I’ve given you some practical advice you can use! Good luck to you Tina!! Your little boy is so lucky to have a mom as connected to him and as observant as you are!! Laura

  36. Sylvia on May 27, 2015 at 5:26 am

    Hi Laura. My only son is 20 months old. He understands everything we say and i bought him many books and flashcards, he can point almost everything right, he can do what we asked him to do, but he just does not speak. I got excited when he just started to say Mama and Papa when he was around 13-14 months, and i tried to teach him to say few words, and he probably said about 8 words by 18 months, although it wasnt easy to get him to say those words. He can say mama, papa, grandma (ama), car(caa), star (ta), yes (ya), yum2 (yam2), jay2 (which is his short name for jayden). But since he was 18 months, up until now he just doesnt want to learn new words, he will keep repeating what he already learnt, but he wont imitate new words. I should mention my son is just very strong willed and will not repeat ANYTHING you say. He does babble a lot everyday, but with his own baby language.
    Even i keep teaching him or ask him to imitate my words for a simple “Hi Bye” he just simply shake his head. So i tried to ask him to say “Ha Ba” and he could kinda imitate me. But when i continue to teach him to say hi bye, he shake his head again. It seems he only able to do “A vowel” i dont know why.
    Either he’s not confidence to say or anything. Everytime i ask him to say new words, like when he want to get something, he only keep saying mama mama, but dont want to repeat or imitate what i asked him to say, and he will start nagging and it gets frustrating. I would want to force him until he speak new words, but he has a very high sensitive gagging, and when he start to nag and cry, he will easily throw up, so it gets me very frustrating. And his eating habit is very hard, he still eats half puree until now.

    When i found your website, i feel hopeful and it would be greatly appreciated if you can give specific advices or ideas for my situation.
    Thanks so much, Sylvia.

    • Laura on May 27, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      Hi Sylvia. It’s FANTASTIC that he understands words and will follow directions. Because he’s on track receptively, I have to think this is a case of he CAN’T talk vs. he “won’t” talk or is not confident. He’s smart enough that if he could do it, he would do it. Read this post to help you understand that important difference:

      Can’t vs. Won’t I’ve also done a podcast about this topic. You can listen to the show at the link here.

      So.. you’ll have to take a new approach by teaching him exactly how to imitate and you’ll probably have to start with easier, earlier vocalizations such as play sounds, sound effects and exclamatory words, but not “real” words since those are too frustrating for him. My book Building Verbal Imitation in Toddlers will walk you through that entire process, but this post will get you started with ideas:

      Let’s Make Some Noise!

      If he can’t do those things in imitation of you, back up to helping him copy mouth movements – like opening/closing his mouth, clicking his tongue, licking his lips, kissing puckers, etc… Most late talkers do NOT need to practice or learn how to do that, but because he has a history of feeding difficulties, you may have to try those too.

      I also would HIGHLY encourage you to have him assessed by a speech-language pathologist. If you’re in the US, you can contact your state’s early intervention program. Find info by Googling your state name and the phrase “early intervention.” Emphasize the feeding issues in addition to the speech delay when you call them. If you’re outside the US, start with your doctor or health provider and ask for a referral for feeding and speech.

  37. khadeejah on May 27, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    HEY !LAURA ,,,AM A THERAPIST OF 4 year old , shes on 2 to 3 word phrases , and its only because of following your guidelines from manual teach me to talk . we are working nowadays on
    RELATES PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: AS u have mentioned , model the sentences of an activity and make him say the sentences to someone …we are working on it ,,,like after an event like going to market ,,,,we keep telling her that today we went to a market , saw balloons and bought a mouse .
    and then keeps asking her questions again n again where we went ?? what we saw ? and what we bought ? sometimes she ignores and when we get her attention fully which is difficult ,,,then she says it like market , balloons n mouse in answer to above questions, also shes not looking at our face ,,,looking around and answering which is sometimes very ,,disturbing for the parents and therapist ..PLEASE GUIDE ME TROUGH IT ,,,,,,
    SECONDLY : YES /NO QUESTIONS: again following ur manual noding for yes in case for needs and favorite items shes repeating after her yes but not looking to face and ..just repeating so that she could get it ,KINDLY tell the answers to the problems ill be highly obliged .
    from pakistan , lahore

    • Laura on May 27, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      Hi Khadeejah! It sounds like she doesn’t really understand what she’s saying since she’s looking around or just repeating you. So… to repeat what I always say… you have to back up and work on receptive language. Look at those underlying skills in the receptive section of Teach Me To Talk: The Therapy Manual and don’t require the verbal response until you KNOW she understands what you mean. It IS true that some children with autism have to say a word before they understand what it means, BUT for her since she’s just “echoing” what you want her to say, I’d really recommend you spend some time treating comprehension. Look at all of the skills in the 24 to 30 month section of the receptive language chapter. Analyze those skills one by one to see what she can and can’t do consistently. Begin working on what she is TRYING to do but making errors with or isn’t consistent yet. As she masters one goal, move on to the next milestone. Then bump up to the 30 to 36 month receptive language skills. My guess is that after you spend some time shoring up her receptive language deficits, she’ll come along expressively too. It’s a miracle how that works : ) Good luck to you!! Let me know if you have more questions! I love hearing from therapists around the world!!! Laura

  38. Katie on May 27, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    Hi Laura!
    I just started working with a 32 month old who is bilingual. Most of her speech consists of jargon and she only has about 8-10 true words that she uses consistently. Mom says she understands almost everything and, from what I have seen so far, her receptive language seems fine. She imitates EVERYTHING (actions, sounds, words) but will not use any of these imitations functionally or spontaneously. For example, when I introduce new words, she will imitate them in the moment but then there is no carryover whatsoever. How do I get her actually USE the new vocabulary and not just imitate? Also, any thoughts about the jargon? While playing, I’ve been “rewording” her jargon into true words to expose her to vocabulary which she could be using to express herself. If there is an occasional true word within the jargon, I will repeat it back so she understands that the word has meaning in isolation. Any thoughts would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance!

    • Laura on May 27, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      REQUESTS, REQUESTS, REQUESTS! You have to give her a reason to USE those words and nothing works better than requests! For a little girl like her, I’d give her the model only while she needs it…so you’ll be doing more withholding and sabotage in these situations. I have some great tips for using those techniques in this post:

      A Little Frustration Can Go A Long Way

      BUT let me caution you to make sure she UNDERSTANDS the new words you’re teaching her. Let me say that sometimes even we SLPs give our little friends WAY too much credit for receptive language and if you haven’t done a formal test, then you may be doing the same thing. I made that mistake A LOT early in my career. If any mom told me she had no concerns with receptive language, sometimes I glossed over what a child couldn’t do for me in testing and thought things like “I’m new so she doesn’t know me yet.” or “Mom knows her better than me so I have to believe mom.” Then I learned that I had to see it to believe it! (Not in a rude or condescending way to moms because they will ALWAYS know their child better than us, but in a practical, professional “this is what a 2 1/2 year old can do so I need to see it for myself to rule out any underlying problems.”

      A 32 month old should be following two step commands EASILY. She should find things around her home when you ask her without any problems. She should CONSISTENTLY point to pictures and body parts on request. She should understand LOTS of different verbs, pronouns, and prepositions and follow directions with those words in daily routines and in play with you in sessions. If she’s not doing those things consistently, there’s an underlying receptive language problem. I haven’t seen her of course and you have, but it makes me suspicious when you said “from what I have seen so far.” TEST HER and you will KNOW : ) If it’s fine, then you do know you can treat this as a straight expressive problem.

      I’d keep on with what you’re doing with jargon. (By the way… if a child is using jargon beyond the 2nd birthday without the presence of a growing single word vocabulary, there’s nearly always a receptive language problem! Which is another reason I think you need to reassess her comprehension.)

      If you can, I’d also do lots of your rewording and labeling in BOTH languages. This could be an expressive lag due to the bilingualism, but it shouldn’t be this dramatic and my gut instinct would tell me there’s more going on here. When there’s a true language problem, kids are delayed (or have disordered features) in ANY language they learn. If her expressive delay IS due to the bilingualism, sometimes focusing on one language does the trick and the child comes along, but experts discourage that. I have seen some successes with focusing on one language with toddlers and I’d try it if none of the other advice seems to work after a few months.

      Update me and let me know how she does in a few weeks. I’m anxious to see what worked!! Laura

  39. Katie on May 27, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    I’m struggling to work with a 20 month old who is always on the go and will not sit or attend for more than 1 minute at a time. Redirection to an activity results in a tantrum, crying, screaming, etc. Mom says he only does what he wants to do and will not follow directions. Some days he will ignore me completely and he will scream when I attempt any type of joint play (and sometimes even parallel play). I’ve tried HOH assistance with him to help him follow through with directions and it only upsets him. He has about 5 words he uses consistently (according to Mom) and is using 1 sign independently (all done). I can’t get him to imitate actions or sounds. Any advice on how to get him to attend to an activity for a longer period of time and begin to follow directions? Since he is not yet imitating actions, should I back up (to where?) or is that where I should start with him? I tried imitating HIS actions but that only resulted in him screaming. I feel like nothing gets accomplished during our sessions because I can barely get him to interact with me.

    • Laura on May 27, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      Hi Katie. You’re going to have to back WAY up and work on social interaction with him so that he LIKES you. Happy interaction is your ONLY goal. You probably should ditch the toys and focus only on social games right now. YOU have to be the toy! Do you listen to the podcast? I’ve done several shows about kids like this. Here are some links to get you started:

      Ideas for Toddlers Who Don’t Sit Still The main idea is MOVE – SIT – MOVE – SIT. Or for some kids… Move, move, move, Sit for 30 seconds, Move, move, move. Listen to the show and you’ll have a better idea of what I mean and what works with these kinds of kids!!

      BE The Toy! This turned in to a series of 3 to 4 shows. Listen to them all for ideas for kids who really need help to learn how to interact with you.

      Also – – back up to receptive language. It sounds like you may have some of my books or have somewhere heard me say “back up.” If you have the DVDs, rewatch Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1. Start with those “tell him, show him, help him” cues. Teach mom how to do it and stick to this for a while BEFORE you expect ANY new signs or words. Based on what you said about him, he’s just not there yet when it comes to talking and signing. Meet him where he is by working on the social and receptive pieces. If you have Teach Me To Talk: The Therapy Manual, look at the 12 to 18 month receptive goals and start there. If he can’t do those yet, back up to the under 12 month receptive goals. When a 20 month old qualifies for therapy, there’s usually a SIGNIFICANT delay and you have to start WAAAAAAAAAAY back at the under 12 month level. He may be different, but that’s usually been the case in my experience.

      More than anything, help him learn to associate you with FUN and GETTING WHAT HE WANTS. Right now it sounds like neither one of you are having very much fun and you have to
      change that before you can change anything else. Also… you want to make sure mom gets this too. If she’s not very much fun, then this poor little guy’s pattern may be screaming and fighting with any hint of an expectation of him communicating and interacting. You have to change that pattern. If you do things he loves and make it SUPER FUN WITH NO DEMANDS, he will begin to pay attention and include you. Then and only then will you be on the right path to teaching him anything! It might be hard, but it can be done!!! I promise : )

      If you need some more guidance, let’s set it up for you to be a guest on the show. I have had LOTS of success talking therapists through these kinds of issues. Let me know if you’re interested! Email me and say PODCAST GUEST in all caps so I’ll see it in my batch of 200 or so daily emails.

      Thanks Katie and good luck to you!!! If you can make headway with this kid and learn how to deal with this issue, you’ll be a different therapist from now on! Laura

  40. khadeejah on May 28, 2015 at 4:08 am

    hi Laura,
    I have recently finished my BS HONORS in speech and language pathology and i would like to know about my niece, she is 4 years old , i used your manual teach me to talk and it helped me a lot but somehow i skipped a milestone response to name which is an early receptive language target and worked on adding new words to her vocabulary like verbs SHE KNOWS A LOT OF , prepositions and descriptive words I ALSO WORKED ON MAD ,SCARY, HAPPY, SAD BY MAKING MY FACIAL EXPRESSIONS AND NOW SHE ALSO SAYS THAT DAD IS ANGRY WHEN HE IS ANGRY. BUT did not work on pronouns like I me, my and mine. boost in her vocabulary leads her to speak in 2-4 word phrases but when we play with dolls or any other character she loves for symbolic PURPOSE its hard to build joint attention so how to WORK ON JOINT ATTENTION? YOUR MANUAL HAS LOTS OF DETAILS IN IT, I READ IT BUT CAN U PLEASE TELL ME EXACTLY HOW DO U TARGET IT IN THERAPY LIKE WHAT DO U SAY TO MOTHER OF CLIENT IN EXPLAINING JOINT ATTENTION. with her BECAUSE SHE GRABS THE TOY AND LET ME AND HER MOTHER OUT AND WANTS TO DO IT HER OWN WAY.
    HER MOM WORKED ON HER ALOT BY USING YOUR MANUAL AND IT WAS A GREAT SUCCESS she follows commands and like social games like ring around the roses with other kids and her sibling she knows whole roses song and becomes very happy , peek a boo, ride a little horsie, row your boat . she is going to preschool and had learned a lot of poems there with actions and speaks very clearly.

    • Laura on May 28, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      Hi Khadeejah – I know you’re not going to want to hear this, but go back and read the sections of the manual for those specific questions and the skills that she’s not yet doing and work on those things with the step-by-step instructions in the manual. What I have listed in that manual are the REAL, ACTUAL ways I work on all of those skills with the children I see. Those are my BEST tricks, I promise! Try it for several weeks and if those things aren’t working, then message me back for ways to problem solve.

      About eye contact… some kids CANNOT look at you and TALK and PROCESS or UNDERSTAND language at the same time, so don’t demand eye contact. Invite it : ) What I mean by that is to make yourself so FUN to look at that she can’t help but look at you to see what you’re doing. Usually if you’re smiling and expressive with your face, it will help, but the truth is, it may never be perfect because she is delayed and not typically developing.

      About joint attention… I explain that there are 3 requirements for joint attention – a child, you, and something for you to share. It could be a toy you’re both playing with, an object you’re both using, an event like swinging or sliding, or something you’re watching like a butterfly. For a child to exhibit joint attention, she has to care that you’re there and want you to see and participate too. So… to work on this, we make ourselves part of what she’s doing. We can do that by talking to her to help her include us, positioning ourselves so that she sees us and what she’s looking at, and if possible, making ourselves completely necessary for the event. If she’s swinging, she can’t push herself to make herself go, so she HAS to include us. We might stand in front of her rather than behind her to push to make ourselves part of that event. If we’re playing with a toy together, we get down on the floor and put our face right there where she can see it. We don’t talk on and on – but we use simple language with lots of play words and fun facial expressions and a happy tone of voice to encourage her to look at us. You can’t FORCE eye contact, but you can invite it : ) That’s exactly what I say… and then I show mom and I talk about all of those things AS I AM DOING THEM so she knows what I mean. I also coach her to do those things. So if she is standing up and holding a snack her child wants, I say to mom, “Get down on her level. Put the snack by you face.” or “She’s not including you mom. You want her to look at you too. Make yourself sound more playful. Try it like this.” and then I give her some examples. Hopefully that will help you!!

      So… I am going to ask you a very direct question…. has this little girl been evaluated for autism yet? I haven’t seen her and of course I won’t commit to any diagnosis for a child until I spend time with them face to face, but the kinds of things you’re saying about her are red flags for autism and it would not be ethical (or kind) for me to ignore those behaviors and not provide honest advice with a recommendation for testing.

      She is very, very, very lucky to have an aunt as loving and as committed as you are. I hope her mother appreciates all you are doing for the both of them and that this little girl adores you : ) Good luck!! Laura

      • khadeejah on May 29, 2015 at 6:19 am

        yes Laura she has been evaluated a year ago. she is diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay co-morbid with autism traits. the behavioral child psychiatrist administered CARS FOR SCREENING AUTISM. she SAID she exhibit some autism traits but the score did not qualify for it. so will evaluate her again. she advised behavior and speech therapy. and also said the prognostic factor will be speech . so what do u say?

        • Laura on May 30, 2015 at 1:09 pm

          Khadeejah – I’m so glad she’s been evaluated. I’m not necessarily recommending another evaluation. but I just wanted to be sure you’d seen someone professionally. I can’t make any comments about her one way or the other since I haven’t laid eyes on her in person, so I’d suggest you keep working with her as you have been and following the advice of the psychiatrist who has seen her. Laura

  41. Anonymous on June 9, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Hi Laura! I’ve tried searching your site on assessments/evaluations, but haven’t had any luck, so I’m sorry if I’ve missed this information somewhere! I’ve been given the amazing opportunity to build a clinic with a local pediatrician and am overwhelmed with the assessments available to us. Unfortunately, at my last job, I did not have a choice in tests and used what they offered, but now that I get to pick, I was hoping for some insight from you! I know each test needs to be chosen based on the child, but do you have a list of favorites or could you provide a list of assessments you current use fairly frequently?

    I would greatly appreciate any feedback! Thank you again! I LOVE all your resources!

    • Laura on June 17, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      Anonymous – Are you asking for toddlers or preschoolers or both? Laura

  42. Judy on June 21, 2015 at 2:31 pm


    I am the nana/momma of a special needs boy. He is a wonderful 8 year old that was shaken at 3 months and now is legally blind and has brain damage. He speaks lots of words but most are not very plain and some words are his own that do not even come close to what they mean……..But, we know what he is wanting 🙂 What book or tutorial would you recommend to help him speak plainer? He tried school but unfortunately the school system where we live does not employee teachers with true “special needs” training and we are home schooling him now.
    Thank you,

  43. tanesha heron on June 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    my 3yrs old daughter cant talk .she only can say mommy and aunty .but that it,if she want anythings she just point .she cant follow instruction.should i get her evaluted.

    • Laura on June 29, 2015 at 5:42 pm

      Hi Tanesha. Yes, yes, yes you should have her evaluated! The sooner you figure out what’s going on, the better. Since she’s over 3, call your local public school system. Or you ask your pediatrician for a referral to a speech-language pathologist or track one down yourself. It’s so important that you get her help now. I have some fantastic resources here to help guide you at home, but you’ll be better off having a professional assess her and more importantly, teach you how to work with her at home. Thanks for asking your question and good luck to you and her. Laura

  44. Helen on June 26, 2015 at 4:27 am


    Are the developmental milestones for speech the same when a child is hearing 3 languages at home? My son is 2 years and 2 months, and only says 3 or 4 words. we thought this would improve since starting nursery school 2 months ago, but the only word he has added is ‘bye bye’. The paediatrician told us a while ago not to expect him to speak ‘any time soon’ and gave the example of another patient whose family also spoke 3 languages at home and she spoke when she was 3. I am now sufficiently worried to have him assessed. What do you think?

    • Laura on June 29, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      Hi Helen. The research says that toddlers who hear more than one language may be a little delayed in expressive language or how soon they use words, but using only 3 or 4 words at his age is beyond that and would indicate that there’s likely more going on.

      The more important factor beyond what a child says at 2 is what a child UNDERSTANDS. Does he follow directions for you? Does he respond when you’re talking to him? If not, then there is more going on than late talking.

      The research also says that if you have a language disorder in one language, you’ll have difficulty in every language. Based on that, I definitely think it’s time for an assessment so that you can address whatever issue there is NOW without wasting valuable time. Although we all continue to learn our whole lives, birth to 3 (really to 5) is the critical window for language development and waiting may do more harm than good.

      In the meantime, you’ll want to do everything you can to help him link meaning and then begin to imitate what you say. I have some good resources here to help you do that, but please know they’re for monolingual homes! However, you can take those strategies and apply them across the board for any language you’re teaching.

      If he seems to understand more words in one language, you MAY want to simplify and focus on that one for a while. I have seen children begin to make progress using that strategy of picking one dominant language and sticking to it, but that approach is not wholeheartedly supported by researchers or bilingual SLPs (or parents!) so it’s really up to you and what you see happening with him. If it seems to help, fantastic. If it’s super important to you that he too is bi (or tri!) lingual, then you’ll want to provide an approach that focuses on all of the languages you use at home. Sometimes parents base their decision for what approach they ultimately take on what they think they’ll do in the future for academics. He will definitely need to understand and use the language he’ll hear at school.

      Regardless of what you decide, I love that you’re taking action now at 2. I’ve seen lots of children who were minimally verbal at 2 completely catch up by 3 when there’s only been an expressive issue. If there’s more going on with him than late talking, of course it will be more challenging, but the earlier you begin to address it, the better his outcome will be. Good luck to you!! Laura

  45. Angelica on June 27, 2015 at 11:34 am


    Hello! I’ve been so relieved to find your site! You have so many answers I’ve been looking for online but couldn’t find for the longest time! Right now we’re about to have our almost 3 yr old (he’ll be 3 in August) assessed for his speech. I often say that he follows his father’s developmental pattern very closely. His father didn’t talk until almost three as well. But every time I say that, doctors and SLPs dismiss me. Why is that? I understand everyone is unique but I thought that many late talkers had late talking parents and it would be something to take into account? Our son’s vocabulary has exploded in the last 4 months but I think we’ve gotten to a ‘frustration point’ for him, where he thinks he’s telling us what he wants but hasn’t mastered all the sounds necessary. He’s also mixing up words he was saying with more and more clarity so we’re all working hard to understand each other. Some days he just devolves back into his own language or sticks to the words he knows over and over. Anyway, I often feel dismissed when I talk about what my son can do or the things I’ve observed.

    • Laura on June 29, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      Hi Angelica. This is such a good question that I know many parents will relate to as they read it. It requires a long response from me, so here goes.

      As you pointed out and know, late talking does certainly run in families, but many times parents dismiss very serious red flags as a simple case of “late talking” when there’s much, much more going on with their child. For example, if a child exhibits issues beyond an expressive delay, meaning that a child doesn’t understand language well enough to follow commands fairly consistently at almost 3 or a child who doesn’t consistently interact with other people beyond his immediate family, there IS more going on than late talking. In my 20+ years of practice, I’ve seen this happen many times. Parents tell me of other ‘late talkers’ in the family and when I evaluate their child, I realize that there’s a global developmental issue that goes beyond late talking. To let a parent hold on to a thought like “he’ll talk any day now, just like his dad did” when I have a pretty good indication that’s not going to happen based on all of a child’s issues, is not very ethical (or kind). Many times I’ve had to gently lead parents to understanding that there’s more going on than late talking.

      Of course I haven’t seen your little guy to know if this is applicable or not, but a child who is using jargon (which is what many parents consider “his own language”) at almost 3 usually does have an underlying language processing issue which is the reason he’s not yet talking intelligibly. This would also be “more” than late talking. This could explain why every one you’ve seen is hesitant to characterize him as a “late talker.”

      Perhaps the SLPs and doctors you’ve seen have experienced this in the past and want to be sure they approach your son and your situation with utmost caution and not “assume” that he will automatically catch up as your husband did. Maybe they see other red flags and haven’t expressed that to you yet holding off to see if intervention will take care of those concerns. Sometimes parents share with me conversations they’ve had with professionals who have “tip toed” around issues rather than being blatantly honest and I realize that the parent didn’t understand what they professional was trying to say.

      Or it could be that you’ve seen people who have become a little “jaded” and aren’t necessarily looking for a child’s strengths in addition to his weaknesses.

      Any number of things could be going on here, but without meeting your little boy and talking with you more, it would be hard to determine exactly what’s happening.

      I’d encourage you to continue to ask your team questions and honestly discuss how you feel. You may want to say something like – “I feel like you’re dismissing me and the positive things I tell you about my child. I don’t feel comfortable and I need to ask you why this is happening. I want to feel like my opinion matters to you.”

      I’d also tell you to keep looking for your son’s strengths and sharing those with the therapists who see him so that they can use those strengths to address his goals. I love it when a mom tells me something I don’t know about her kid – it’s like finding a short cut!

      If you feel you can’t do that with your current SLP and continue to feel “dismissed,” especially after having an upfront conversation as I described in the previous paragraph, then it may be time to find someone else to work with who will listen to you and make you feel heard, valued, and respected. Either way, I hope that you’re able to work it out so that you develop a wonderful relationship with your son’s therapists. That’s when the best outcomes happen! Good luck to you Angelica and write back with any other questions you may have!! You sound like a very caring mom! Laura

  46. Eryn on July 6, 2015 at 1:06 pm


    My daughter is 23 months, and only uses a couple real words. She can say da-da and ma-ma, and knows what they mean, but doesn’t use them spontaneously, only when prompted. Her other words are “ow” (loud), up (means either up or down), and just recently “doo” (two). Everything else she wants, she points and says “uh-da.” I know she understands much more than she can communicate — she can follow commands like “put this in the laundry” and “get the shirt from the bed”. She also can identify about 20 animals and make an associated sound/movement (some would be recognizable to a stranger, some not) — she holds her arm out from her nose like a trunk and says “bwoo-ooh” for an elephant, flaps her elbows and says “boo-boo-boo” for a chicken, etc. I think she uses them like nouns — when she sees a dog, she points and says “woof,” or if I ask her what animal is that, the answer is “ssss” (to which I say “yes, a snake,” so she does keep hearing the real word). But I still don’t feel like they really count as words, and the crux of the matter is that they aren’t very useful in communicating. Should I at this point try to start teaching her signs? Or I’ve even thought of “tricking” her into saying words by telling her an animal says it — we have a book with a meerkat that she always points to, but I don’t know what a meerkat says — maybe a meerkat could say “more?” What’s your advice?

    • Laura on July 15, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      Hi Eryn. Thanks for this great question. I love all of the things that you’re doing to help your little girl learn to communicate! She is lucky to have you! I would definitely recommend signs paired with words for helping her learn to request things she needs. I’d also really focus on the requesting piece in addition to the nice labeling you’re doing. I think the signs will help her isolate more words and associate those with requests. One question – does her “uh da” mean “want that?” Do you say to her often… “Do you want that?” I had a little girl who said something very similar and we realized she really was requesting and TRYING to say “uh da” which was a lot different than us thinking she used a “default” sound when she didn’t know what to say or that all of her words sounded alike. If you think this is what’s happening (and I have no way of knowing without seeing her!) when she’s pointing and saying ‘uh da’ you could say, “Oh… you want that. That’s ____. Say ____.” If she doesn’t and you know the sign for it, pair the sign with the word and try modeling that. If this is the case, the focused sign/word combo could help her get closer to the target.

      She sounds like she’s at the “almost” word step (which is a very important phase for new talkers!!) so you should start to hear some real words pretty soon UNLESS there’s a speech sound issue that’s severely affecting her ability to produce words. However, I don’t get that sense based on the description of what you said she can say because she is using several vowels and consonants – m, d, b, w. Try HARD to focus on words with those sounds too since you know she can say those. Instead of telling her, say ___, you may try just modeling the word you want her to say over and over and over. Say it happily and as naturally as you can, but focus on a few key words in whatever you’re doing. For an example of how that looks, get my DVD Teach Me To Talk so you can SEE it and hear it to be sure you’re modeling language as effectively as you can.

      Have you had her assessed yet? If she’s not coming along shortly after her birthday, I would suggest that too so that someone can lay eyes on her and tell you if there’s a specific problem beyond late talking.

      Again – you sound like a great mom! Hang in there! Laura

  47. Dianna on July 7, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Dear Laura,

    My 27 month old is bilingual, and somewhat slow to speak. He has lots of single words that he uses to request things, social words, names for people, and quite a few verbs in English. I would say he has over 200 single words.

    He does use various phrases such as dog eat, car go, bye bye please, red apple, mama no no, etc, but no sentences, or “What’s that questions” yet. He predominantly uses single words “No”, “thank you”, “please” , “good job”, “all done” and hi/bye bye to communicate.

    Since we have decided to help him with his speech, we are concentrating to teach him English, so we teach him phrases and 3 word sentences. But…he doesn’t hear much connected English speech at home, because we all speak the other language at home.

    As such, I think he is struggling with his sentences and conversational skills (since his input is much more limited than native English speakers). Even though he learns single words daily, he doesn’t really form longer sentences beyond the two-words at this point.

    Is this normal for bilingual child? Will daycare help?

    • Laura on July 22, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      Hi Dianna. Research does confirm that bilingual children are slower to speak, but not slower to understand. If there’s any problem with comprehension, then you’re looking at a completely different issue. Based on what you said about him, I do think the reason he’s not doing more phrases is because he doesn’t hear English as often or as naturally as your other languages. Is there any way you can provide that input for him at home? That would be your best option. Daycare could help if he would hear English all day long if EXPOSURE is his only issue. You’re in the best position to judge what would help and what wouldn’t. You can always try it and if there’s not much progress, pull back. I’d really share with the staff why you want him there too so that they know to focus on English. Good luck to you!

  48. Sara on July 7, 2015 at 8:27 pm


    I don’t know if I’m too late for this, but here goes. My daughter is not quite 2 (22 months) and today we completed her ECI evaluation. She qualifies for help with her speech/communication as she is delayed. Thank goodness because I need help. I’ll be reading your blog and hopefully watching the videos when I can, however I’m a little nervous about dedicating time to ‘play’ because I’ve also got a 6 month old that demands much of my attention. I guess I’m hoping for tips on how to engage her since I have to split my attention for most of the day. I sometimes get lucky when #2 is down for a nap and #1 is up and awake.

    And since we’ll be creating her family coach plan next week… I don’t have a clue where to begin. I know I want her to talk. But how small should I be shooting for? I think we’re doing some things we should and I need to learn how to do the play and such.

    • Laura on July 15, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      Sara – Your team will lead you through the plan. They will also make you feel more comfortable about how to work with her at home. I understand your concern about time for play, but honestly, it’s the only way you’ll make a real difference for her and maximize progress. When parents are willing to do that and create the time in their hectic lives, we see more improvement than when they don’t. You can certainly tweak your daily routines and include all of the new things you’ll be learning as you go about your day. Many SLPs will tell you that’s enough and sometimes it is, but more often than not, you will have to change things you’re already doing, including spending more time focused on helping her, in order to see the changes you want to see. It IS a challenge, but I promise, it will be worth it!! Good luck to you! Laura

  49. Jessica L on July 8, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Question for Laura:

    Hi Laura,

    I’m at a loss as to what’s going on with my 3 1/2 year old son. He has only begun repeating words with prompted maybe 4 months ago and is just starting to use his own words over the past two months. However, most of the time his spontaneous speech is single words or very simple phrases. The big problem we are having, though, is he is extremely difficult to understand if at all. He is trying so hard to repeat words but he literally can’t make the sounds much of the time. For example, the severity of certain errors ranges from dog sounding like dah to help sounding like bobble, and when I help him sound it out he will say belp. Alot of words he says will even sound like babble. For example, he will close the door behind him when we leave the house and he will say gudagudadawww. (Close the door), and counting sounds like ah, ooh, eee, oawh, ice, it, eheh…. You get the point. He seems to understand most of what I say to him. I had him evaluated multiple times and he does not exhibit signs of autism as per evaluation. I personally don’t feel that is the problem either as he does not lack socially nor does he have repetitive behaviors. I was wondering about apraxia but he doesn’t have sensory issues. He has been to three speech therapists and is now in the special needs preschool and no one can give me answers. When I asked about apraxia they kind of just say, hmmm maybe but not sure. They always say how great he is doing, which he is showing alot of improvement since doing to school, but he is nowhere near where he should be, not even close. Any ideas as to what we are dealing with here? Thanks in advance.

    Jessica from New Jersey

    • Laura on July 15, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      Hi Jessica. Without seeing him I have no way of knowing specifically of what’s going on with him, but I am a little surprised that no one else has been able to give you more of a direction to lean for diagnosis EXCEPT (and this is big) that he’s just begun to talk.

      In order to reliably analyze specific sound patterns, kids need to have a spontaneous vocabulary of about 25 different words. He may be at that point now, but since it’s only been 2 months since he’s really started talking on his own, it may still be too early for a firm diagnosis. Since he is such a new talker, I think it’s still really too early to be concerned with ‘how’ he’s talking just yet. Think of it this way – if he had talked on time and started getting words at 12 months, you would not be overly concerned when he was 14 or 15 months old with any errors he was making because talking was still so new. It’s the same for him now, even if he is 3 1/2 now. It still will take some time for his little system to sort it all out. Be thankful he IS talking now (and I know you are!) and just let that be enough for now. Keep pushing for more new words, more attempts, and expanding vocabulary over any of your other goals.

      If you do feel the need to get a definitive diagnosis in the next few months, take him to an SLP who specializes in preschoolers and request an evaluation specifically for help firming up the diagnosis. Find out who the best SLP ‘guru’ is in your area and book with that person. I know it’s frustrating for you since you’ve already seen several people, but a little more time AND/OR getting him seen by someone who is used to providing those 2nd (3rd or 4th) opinions is what I’d recommend. You’ve done that before for autism, so it may be time to do it for just speech and with someone with an ‘expert’ reputation. Good luck to you! You sound like a great momma : ) Laura

  50. Tara on July 17, 2015 at 4:09 am

    Hello again Laura

    Thank you so much for all your advice and help. I have been following your advice on your DVDs and playing a lot more with my son and I am beginning to see some improvement although I am now concerned about echolalia after reading your article.

    He says Ready, Steady, Go! randomly and will also say 1, 2, 3 randomly. Is this echolalia?

    When we play, I leave the last word off and he is beginning to complete them e.g ride a horse into town, he say down when he falls and says peek a bo when I cover my eyes and he’s also initiating games however he is not using words spontaneously.

    I keep trying the 6 methods of playfulness, signing, witholding etc but he’s not talking!

    Our SLP is very positive but that is also because she sees how worried I am.

    • Laura on July 22, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      Hi Tara – That’s not the kind of ‘echolalia’ we worry about. It’s the RIGHT kind of imitation he needs to do in order to learn to talk! You WANT him to imitate you. He needs to practice! Younger babies practice vocalizing and we look at it as normal and it’s really the same for a new talker. Don’t worry unless he begins to quote longer passages that don’t make sense. Right now just encourage him. Help him link meaning with the words too. If he’s randomly saying those kinds of things, try to link it to something you can do. If he is having difficulty understanding words overall, you know you’ll have to help him understand “when” his specific little words fit. Because I can’t see him and don’t know your routines, I can’t give you specific examples, but I bet your SLP can. Talk with her about it and get her to tell you why imitation is GOOD and when you would really worry about it. With a brand new talker, we don’t worry about that at all. BUT we do want him to understand what he’s saying – which is why we work just as hard if not harder on making words meaningful for him. You should always, always, always prioritize helping a child understand words, not just talk. Hope that helps you! Laura

  51. Emily on July 17, 2015 at 2:39 pm


    I wrote to you a couple of months ago regarding my son. We’re the expat family in the Netherlands with the now-32-month-old boy. I just had another couple of questions…

    We recently started speech therapy, and our (Dutch) therapist said something that confused me a bit. She made a comment about how my son thinks he’s using the correct words (he uses many approximations like waaah for “big” and eeeeee for “little,” as well as other noises to mean words) and won’t figure out he’s not saying them correctly until he’s 4. Have you ever heard of anything like that? I may not have heard her correctly, of course, and I’ll clarify with her when we next see her. Is she referring to something that all children do, or something specifically that my son does? Or do you just have no clue what she was talking about?

    She’s encouraging us to focus heavily on signs right now, as his ability to produce sounds and words is so limited. During the session she was working on the sounds “boom” and “whee” and he never tried to imitate her at all. She did point out that he was moving his mouth as if to imitate, but he never actually made a sound. Perhaps this indicates a planning issue? He did vocalize with her – he used his generic “da” to give instructions or point outside. She wants us to work on simple sounds at home, like mmmmm when we eat. At home when we talked about the session he did make attempts at making the sounds, though they were again approximations.

    Lately he has been adding a few new words to his vocabulary, but they all sound like words he already says. It is getting so hard to figure out what he’s saying because he’ll use the same sound for three or more different words! I guess maybe signs will help with that. I hope so! He acts like I’m the biggest idiot when I can’t tell if he’s saying Thomas or trucks or bulldozer (all sound like “dih-dah”).

    We have a little over two months with this therapist until he switches to a preschool setting for language delays. I’m hoping we’ll see some improvement!

    • Laura on July 22, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      Hi Emily. You’ll have to ask your SLP what she means to be sure, but she probably is referring to the belief that most young children don’t “self monitor” their own speech regularly so they may not realize that what they say doesn’t match what you say. However, you can help a young child learn to do it, but it will be easier as he gets older. I do agree with focusing on signs, mostly to help you know what he means, but not at the expense of speech. You do WANT him to keep trying, even when he’s not understood. I promise it will get easier! Keep at it!! Laura

  52. Dianna on July 24, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Hi again Laura
    I asked the question about the bilingual 27 month old, who is not talking in longer sentences yet.
    You mentioned bilingual kids might speak later, but should understand as monolongual.

    He can respond with Yes or No to questions (do you wanna go to the park? No)…and he can follow some two step commands…lets put on your shoes and go out (he brings shoes, sits down, and after the shoes are on, runs to the door) or take the chair and go wash.

    Is this on track for his age?

    • Laura on August 5, 2015 at 8:22 am

      Hi Dianna. Those responses sound like he’s moving along with his receptive skills. Keep monitoring how he’s following directions for you to be sure he’s processing and understanding in whatever language he’s hearing. I’d also be sure you’re speaking to him in shorter chunks with tons of repetition for shorter phrases since that’s what he should be imitating for you for his age. The more he understands, he more he will be able to say. Good luck to you!! Laura

  53. Melissa on July 28, 2015 at 3:46 pm


    I’m so thankful I found your website! Your approach to speech therapy seems so fun and interactive, so I’m hoping you may have some insight into some struggles we’ve been having lately. Here’s some background: My son is 22 months old and has been in speech therapy for the past 4 months because of a speech delay. He has no formal diagnosis, just delayed speech (he had some language regression at 16 months- his vocabulary went from about 20 functional words to just a few words- “uh-oh”, “okay”, “up”) and some sensory processing issues. He’s made great progress the past four months- his vocabulary is now around 75 words, he is more willing to imitate new words, and is starting to combine some words into phrases.

    He is a very active, sensory seeking little boy, and although his therapist has some of the toys you mention in your posts, she requires him to be sitting down at the table while playing with them. He seems very engaged when she first brings out the toys, but looses interest when he can’t move around and play- he starts climbing out of his chair, fussing, and turning around to face away from his therapist. When I’ve asked her if he can be more active during the session, or stand at the table instead of sit, or at least alternate a movement activity with a sit-down activity, she says that “he will focus better if he is sitting down” and that “the climbing out of his chair is not sensory seeking, it’s behavioral and task avoidance that shouldn’t be rewarded.” Today she had him sitting at the table for the entire 45 minutes, playing with a few toys but mostly flashcards, and she had to redirect him from climbing out of his chair at least 15 times.

    My main question is: Is it time to find a new therapist? Should there be more of a balance of playing with toys around the room vs playing while sitting down at the table? Everything I’ve learned from your website seems like a different approach would work so well with my son- “Make it fun! Make it goofy! Take it at each child’s pace”. Should his therapy goals include lengthening his attention span, or will requiring him to stay seated just frustrate him and do more harm than good? His therapist is incredibly sweet and kind, but it just seems like something needs to change. I really appreciate your perspective. Again, thank you for the amazing resources available on your website!!

    • Laura on August 5, 2015 at 8:35 am

      Hi Melissa. He’s 22 months, right??? Did I read that correctly?? There’s no way that flashcards and sitting for 45 minutes at a table is appropriate for him. In any world. Under any circumstances. Ever. I think he’s a champ for doing it that long!! He’s obviously making incredible progress with his language too so taking a hard line approach like that isn’t warranted in my opinion with a toddler. If he wasn’t making progress, then I MAY be able to see a tiny bit of value in helping him settle down to focus, but I think toddlers (and even older children!!) learn better when they can move-sit-move-sit.

      I can’t tell you what to do about finding someone else since I can’t see him or your therapy, but I always tell moms, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not, and you should pursue some kind of change. Talk with her again. Show her how he performs for you during more play-based activities. If she still won’t budge and if your little boy is still miserable, then you will be more confident in your decision. Good luck to you!! Laura

  54. Joey on July 31, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Question for Laura.

    Hello Laura, I have a son that just turned 20 months old. My wife and I have become concerned with language development. As of right now he’s only saying a few words, most of the time he babbles, and it’s mostly “dada” “dida” “dayeh” and other dada variations. And he does this all the time he’s constantly babbling and trying to say stuff. He’s also as of the last week or so very fund of the word “go”. One of his toys says “lets go go go” so he likes pressing it then running around the house saying go go go. He also says Baba and Mama but it’s very inconsistent. He also has tried to say other words but only gets to the “si” for sissy and doesn’t really try much after that. And as far as the dada, mama, and baba I’m unsure if he knows what they mean or not because he uses them correctly sometimes and sometimes he just says them.

    Yesterday, we went to the Pediatrician and told him this and he recommended speech therapy. That was kinda scary for my wife and I. We currently waiting on them to call us back with an available appointment, and we also set up an appointment with the audiologist.

    After we left the pediatrician I began to do some research and and putting in some search terms on some of the things my child does, and Autism kept coming up, which had me really concerned. Just to give you an idea of some things my son does. He’s a very happy baby, he’s always running and smiling, loves to chase my wife around the house playing tag and always laughing with her. We have to lock all the doors because his big thing now is opening doors and he likes to open dryer door and try to hide in there. Most mornings when he wakes up he’ll let us know he’s up by babbling and then when we come in the room he looks at us and gives a big smile. He still sleeps in the bed with me and my wife, and he’s a big cuddler, usually my wife cuddles him and sings to him to put him to sleep. He’s also always reaching for us to pick him up. He’s also a real big climber and explorer he’s constantly climbing on everything and hasn’t seen a place he didn’t want to explorer. Some things that were troubling to me is sometimes he doesn’t respond to us when we call his name. For example, if he’s busy playing with toys or watching TV, he won’t answer us, we have to say his name with a very stern voice to get his attention. He does understand basic commands, like “get down” “no” “come here” “put that down”. But again, we have to say it with a stern voice for him to do it sometimes and then he usually whines about it when he does do it. He also is a very picky eater, most of the time he just wants milk or juice in his sippy cup. My wife and I sometimes have to hold his hands down just to get him to eat food, because he just wants to either feed himself cereal, chips, or just wants his sippy cup with milk. And he actually likes some of the foods we give him, he just refuses to eat them or try them, we have to make him.

    The things that really had me concerned after doing some research is he really doesn’t play with toys correctly. For example if I show him how to stack blocks or how to push the train on the floor he prefers to just grab the blocks and put them in his mouth and throw them on the floor or he just prefers to press the all the buttons on the train rather than pushing it on the floor. And he tends to favor toys that light-up and makes sounds. Also, he doesn’t point or wave, now this may be our fault because we never really pointed at stuff or taught him to say “bye bye” or any of that. I’m self-employed so I keep him at home, and had him in front of the TV a lot, which I regret now. If he wants something he usually just grunts or whines until we get it or goes and gets it himself if he can. Last night my wife and I tried to get him to ask for his milk and put it where he couldn’t reach it, and he would just walk over to us and look at us grab our legs then walk towards the milk, like he was trying to say “follow me or something”. When we wouldn’t do it he eventually just forgot about it and tried to get to something else. He also doesn’t really like reading books, he’ll look at my wife and listen to her if he’s sleepy but other than that he just wants to always be on the move. He can’t really point to body parts although, sometimes if I say nose he will do it, but it’s not consistent. He kinda flaps his hands occasionally if he’s excited about something on TV. And likes to get near the couch sometimes and try to stand on his head, and likes to spin around on occasions as well. I wouldn’t say he does any of this all the time, but just wanted to mention it because he does do those things. Recently I’ve really been trying to work with him on body parts, and working on him clapping his hands to the “Clap your hands song” and it’s odd because when I sing it sometimes he will clap his hands, sometimes he runs to me to clap my hands, sometimes he just laughs and smiles at me when I do it, and sometimes he comes to me and wants me to clap his hands for him. Other notable things he does, he will imitate me if I do “bibble” which he really likes, which is when I flick my bottom lip and make a bibble bibble sound he loves to imitate that. Also, he puts so much stuff in his mouth I’m constantly telling him to open his mouth, if I say say “Ah” he will say “Ah” and open his mouth (though not happy about it). Also he will imitate me brushing my teeth when he has he touth brush he will do the same. But anything else I try to get him to imitate he really won’t do it.

    I’m sorry for being so long winded, just wanted to make sure I mentioned everything. I know we are both nervous waiting to get him evaluated. In your opinion what does it sound like could be the problem?


    • Laura on August 5, 2015 at 8:47 am

      Hi Joey. I can’t see him so it’s a little unfair of me to make sweeping statements without laying eyes on him, but I would be concerned based on the things you’ve said about him. He does have a language delay. He should be responding when you call his name and he should be following simple commands more consistently during the day at 20 months old. He should be saying more too, but talking is not as critical as understanding language, and not as much of a concern as the other red flags you’ve noted with the self-stimulatory actions like spinning and flapping, pulling you to request what he wants, not using any gestures, and his delayed play skills. I’d definitely pursue the assessment and I’m so glad your pediatrician recommended that now rather than waiting. I’ve seen children make INCREDIBLE progress when we begin therapy that early. Sometimes they look like completely different kids by the time they turn 3 or 4 when we start therapy and consistently address their issues. I’d start working hard with him at home to help him learn to understand more of what you say and begin to imitate play and actions/gestures. I have several good resources here and I’ll post the links for you below. You may also want to check out my new ebook “Is it Autism?” so you can read more about that to help you understand what’s going on with him and if that’s a valid concern for you. Thanks for your heartfelt comment. I love it when dads are as committed as you obviously are and your wife and baby are very, very lucky to have you. Good luck and let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help y’all. Laura

      • Joey on August 5, 2015 at 10:49 am

        Question for Laura,

        Laura thanks for the response. I’ve been monitoring him the past week and just observing the things he does and made a list. He hasn’t watched TV in nearly a week, I made sure to completely eliminate that, because I had him in front of TV for hours a day, while I was working, and I just would sit him in his play pen and let him play with toys and watch TV. I’m starting to think that may have been the problem. Also, he seems to be responding to his name the majority of the time now, he definitely responds to commands. I’m going to order the books you suggested to get a better idea of some things.

        Here’s a list I made of some things he’s currently doing.

        – Not saying many words (Dada, Go, Baba, and babbles a whole lot, mostly dada related babbles)
        – Flaps his arms and spins occasionally (I wouldn’t say he does either a lot, usually flaps his arm when he’s excited). We can easily get him to stop and he only does it for a few seconds.
        – Very picky eater still eating 2nd baby foods mostly just eats chips, crackers, milk, and juice. Acts like he’s gagging if we give him certain foods he doesn’t like.
        – Doesn’t point or wave
        – Occasionally doesn’t answer when we call him (Most of the time he answers if not preoccupied with toys or TV. But, if we say his name with a tone in our voice he’ll usually answer then.)
        – Kinda awkward around other kids, He’s not scared of them or doesn’t want to play with them, it’s just if they wave or speak to him he likes to give them a hug, and they will have to initiate play with him otherwise he’ll do his own thing. (Now I am self-employed and kept him the entire time so he’s not been around many kids at all)
        -Doesn’t play with all toys the correct way or have much imagination with his play (For example sometimes he’ll just press one button and press it over and over for a couple minutes before he does something else, and likes to put them all in his mouth.
        -Likes to bang the doors together sometime
        -Doesn’t know body parts (If he does he doesn’t show us)
        -Can watch TV on certain shows he likes for hours and can’t be distracted.
        -When we sing the clap your hands song, sometimes he claps his hands, sometimes he comes and tries to clap mine, and sometimes he wants me to clap his hands for him.
        – Once he’s comfortable somewhere he just walks off and we have to call him to come back.

        Some things he does that were not signs of autism.

        – Not usually attached to things or certain routines, if we turn off the TV, take a toy, make him stop doing certain things, he may whine for a minute but gets over it pretty quickly or we can distract him with something else pretty fast. Doesn’t have any patterns or have to have anything a certain way.
        – He makes eye contact with us and smiles when we smile at him. When we play games and sing to him he looks back and forth between my wife and I if we both are singing.
        – He seems to know facial expressions and tones (If we make a serious face and tell him to come here he usually whines because he knows he is in trouble, and he comes to us).
        – He listens to commands for the most part (He knows come here, get down, no, give me that)
        – He’s hit all his milestones up to 18 months.
        – Very cautious when trying or climbing new things, he’ll usually look to grab my hand or make sure I smile or give him the go ahead before he does it, but then after he’s comfortable he’ll explorer everything and we usually have to call him back.
        – He likes for us to sing to him and loves to cuddle. (He still sleeps in bed with us still)
        – Imitates some things we do. (For example if he sees me with my toothbrush and I give him one, he’ll brush his teeth as well, he also knows how to give high fives, he opens his mouth if I open mine and say “Ah”. He also does “bibble” which is where i flick my bottom lip and make a bibble sound, if I do that he will do it as well.) But, those are the only things we can get him to imitate.
        – Never been sick or had ear infections.
        – Reaches to be picked up, or reaches his hand to hold hands. Or holds his hand up to give a high five. Also will give you a hug if you ask for one.
        – If he can’t figure out something, he will bring it to us to do. (For example, if he wants a bag of his snacks opened, he’ll bring the bag over to me to get me to open it.)
        – Like to hide in covers sometimes, and wait for us to ask where he’s at, then he’ll pop his head out and laugh.

        We also just came from the audiologist and his hearing is fine.

        • Laura on August 6, 2015 at 10:34 am

          Hi Joey. I’m glad his hearing is okay. He has some nice strengths and I love that you’ve already seen some improvements with less screen time!

          Follow up with your other referrals just to be sure and to get speech therapy going for him. Therapy will be great for all of you because he’ll learn and so will you!! Tweaking how you play with him and interact with him during the day can make HUGE differences, I promise!! Check out the other resources I listed in my previous reply to you to get started even before those appointments. Good luck to you and keep us updated on his progress. Laura

  55. Samantha Carragher on August 4, 2015 at 1:47 pm


    I have a 26 month old boy that is currently enrolled in speech therapy and is doing great! I also watch your videos and try to apply techniques to him as much as I can.
    I want to teach my son my native language (which is Portuguese) and I see that the majority of the bilingual parents raise their kids speaking their native language because their kids will pick up the English by living here in the US and that seems to be a great strategy!
    We started speaking English with our son from day one and he has an amazing understanding and comprehension (only delayed in speaking) but I REALLY want my son to learn my native language and although the therapist says I have to wait until he speaks more English to introduce the Portuguese, I feel like I am running out of time and I should start speaking with him now.
    But at the same time, I wonder what his little head is going to think when I start talking a different language out of a sudden (since he is still too young to know I am trying to teach him another language).
    So, what should I do now? When to start introducing Portuguese? I would rather not wait too long because I know the more you wait, the more the child is likely to reject learning and speaking the new language introduced.

    Please Help, Laura!

    Thank you so much

    • Laura on August 5, 2015 at 8:55 am

      Hi Samantha. Research tells us that using more than one language does NOT cause a child’s delays. If he is delayed in one language, you’re likely to see that across the board in other languages. If he doesn’t have a delay in understanding English, then he’s not likely to have a delay understanding Portuguese according to the research about bilingual children. However, he may have expressive delays in Portuguese too since there’s a delay in his native language (which is English.) If it’s important to you, I’d go ahead and introduce Portuguese. You’ll know if he’s having issues, but my guess it, it won’t interfere. You can always change course later if you see a difference. Laura

  56. April S. on August 4, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    QUESTION FOR LAURA. Hi! My 2nd son turned 2 in May. There are no red flags except his struggle to say words. He prob has about 20-25 words he can say that we can fully understand and he is saying correctly. He can even put 2 words together, the ones he can say well. But you can tell he has trouble with most sounds and almost acts like his tongue just isn’t working correctly to get the sound, word, etc. He will even tell me “no” when I ask him to say new words b/c it’s like he knows he can’t say them. We read, try to get him to repeat what he wants, etc, but it’s such a struggle for him to get it out even half way right. Tips? 2-3 resources that would be a great starting point for helping him at home? I truly feel like we can do this at home but just guidance and some good resources!
    Thanks for your time!

    • Laura on August 5, 2015 at 9:03 am

      Hi April. Without seeing him it’s hard to tell you exactly what’s going on so that I can point you in the right direction. I do think you can help him at home once you know what his issue is and for that, you’ll need to see an SLP. I’d recommend that you take him to see someone locally for an assessment, ask for strategies to help with his specific issues, and then work with him at home. If it is just an intelligibility problem, no busy SLP will want to see him for more than a few sessions to give you some tips since he’s so young. If there is something more going on, you’ll want to know now so you can address that too at home. The best resource I have for intelligibility issues are my DVD Teach Me To Talk with Apraxia & Phonological Disorders. He is further along than the beginning strategies on the DVD, but it will still be helpful for you, especially if you don’t want to see someone in person yet. Good luck to you! Laura

  57. sehar on August 10, 2015 at 11:54 am

    QUESTION FOR LAURA: HI my son is 27 months ..just started saying sum words like car, train, sun, star,, moon, but he says them when he points to pictures in books but he doesnt say them to real objects. And if i try to make him say them,,he gets so frustrated…its hard to get him to sit still for more than 5 or 10 minutes..he wants to go and play all the time..i dont know what to do to teach him and get his focus..please help

    • Laura on August 10, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      Sehar – KEEP TRYING!! Even 5 to 10 minutes of play with you is better than nothing : ) I’d do some matching activities to help him associate the real object with the book. Here’s a therapy tip of the week where I show you how to do this activity:

  58. zoni on August 17, 2015 at 1:58 am

    hi laura,
    i m a dad of a 5 year old SON and i would like to ask some questions. my QUESTION IS………………
    MY SON does not responds to name, i call him several times but he is busy in his play and does not even look at me. so i read your manual and applied that, call his name and then make a silly sound he starts responding to the name and silly sound part ,but after a while when i say his name and make silly sound he ignores me it seems that he is bored now. what to do he is delayed receptively and still i am having trouble with response to name. his language level is 19.2 mon app so should i work on pronouns at this stage? he is following one step directions sometimes two step and has vocabulary of 200 plus words and using 3-4 word how to proceed? thanks

  59. MUM in desperation !!! on September 22, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Hi Laura, I have two questions for you.

    I have a 5 year old who is nearing six. He has severe oral motor dyspraxia ( can only say 30 words) and has problems with social communication, but has excellent social interaction skills.

    He goes to a specialist speech and language school and he gets intensive speech and language therapy there. When I read one of your manuals, you say along the lines of “….whether your child goes to a regular school or a special school, parents have to do the speech/communication work in the home too”.

    I totally agree with this, but when I tell many parents and even therapists, that I spend two hours a day with him after school to work on his speech/communication skills, they tell me that it would be too much for him to process as he has already been submersed in language at his special school , and that I should allow him to relax at home and leave it up the school.

    Are they right? Am I doing too much? Should I just leave it up to the school? It’s just that, for some odd reason, I see..I shouldn’t say better….but when I work on his speech/communication skills at home, there are faster results I should say… but I don’t know maybe I should slow down.

    Second question: My son also cannot say “mum”, funny enough, if I ask him “Where’s mummy?”…”Grandma..?” etc, he answers this correctly, but does not call out to me. He instead taps on my hip and points to whatever he wants. Is this a social communication difficulty? I have looked at your suggestion about the “mummy” game, but this is difficult as there is only my son and I in the home( and no other third person), and all my family members live very far away from me. Is there another suggestion you can suggest to help him say “mummy”.

    Thanks very much.

  60. Linda on September 28, 2015 at 8:36 am


    I’m hoping you can help me. I have a 28 month old boy with a speech delay. At 26 months (i.e. July) he had about 30 words plus knew his alphabet (I don’t know if letters count as ‘words’). After some suggestions from his pediatrician and a speech therapist I had come over, he now has over 100 words.

    However, he isn’t really putting two together well. This could be because most of the words are nouns but he knows go and fall and doesn’t put those together either. At best he says ‘uh oh fall’ or uh oh shoe, (if his shoe comes unlaced) hi + noun, bye bye + noun. He sometimes says fall down.

    If he wants something, he says “juice” or “more” but never “more juice”. If he wants to go somewhere, he’ll say “go” or “up” and point in the direction he wants to go but he won’t say “go up”.

    In addition, his articulation/pronunciation isn’t very good. Purple, wipers and bubbles all sound almost the same i.e bubu or pupu. For some some things, he has his own words e.g. dodi for dinosaur, caca for swing or vappy for truck and bus and lawnmower.

    I feel like he is now learning new words much more quickly but I think he actually has difficulty making his mouth say the sounds. For example he says attie for yes and also for the letter S. He has started adding ‘me’ to the ends of some words eg. book-me. I assume this means my book or read me a book, but he also adds it to the end of some colors (not all) and some numbers e.g. red-me, one-me and eight-me which doesn’t make sense.

    His mistakes, however, seem to be consistent i.e. he always says kai for car and stai for star.

    In case you were wondering, the therapist we saw didn’t leave me with anything really. She said she didn’t think there was any underlying issue and that “it will come” (however, he said very little during our session).

    I guess at the time, she didn’t see a problem but I don’t see why he isn’t putting two words together now that he has so many more, and why some things he says are way off. It’s really frustrating because I feel like he needs help and I don’t know how to help him.

    I don’t know if this is relevant but just in case… we also speak Italian at home. In fact even though we almost always spoke italian, his 30 or so words in July were almost all in English. After seeing the speech therapist I decided to just speak English with him in case he was confused and his words increased quite a bit. However, he understands both really well. Much more than he can say.

    I’d love any advice on how to help him start putting words together… I’m new to your site having just discovered it and maybe you have a previous post on how to do this. Could you give me some tips and point me in the right direction to a previous podcast or any resource you have that you think could help me address this issue??

    Thank you so much!!!

    • Laura on October 1, 2015 at 7:05 am

      Hi Linda. I wish the SLP had helped you understand what she thinks is going on with him so that you’d know how best to address his issue. Answers really depend on WHY he’s not combining words and WHY he’s difficult to understand and of course, without seeing him, I can’t really tell you what’s happening specifically. Because he’s 28 months, overall my best advice would be to focus on the language aspect with getting more phrases. Here’s an article with some ideas:

      Making the Leap from Words to Phrases.

      You can also scroll through the podcasts for ideas since I’ve done several shows with that topic. Good luck to you!! Laura

  61. desperate mom on October 12, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Hi Laura,

    I have toddler who is 19 months old, I am very concerned about his development and don’t know what to do..although i talked to his doctor and discussed the concerns also with my parents I am not feeling comfortable and I feel like I need professional advice.

    We are bilingual family living in the US, we traveled 2.5 months ago to our homeland and we stayed there for a month at that time my son was around 15 months most of the time he wasn’t with me and he didn’t have the daily routine he is used to, he was just starting to talk he had 3 words, he knew how to point to his eye, when i ask him where is the light he could point to it and he responded to his name.

    apparently the travel was not good with him, once we came back he stopped responding to his name forgot all words in English catch up one word in our language and stopped pointing to his eyes or the light.
    I was afraid and had his hearing tested and it’s fine, started thinking maybe the travel was traumatic and it’s better to spend more time with him and he improved a lot.. honestly i was suspecting Autism at the beginning but then I told myself how come Autism if he is improving that fast and coming back to be himself again.? but i am still concerned.. i will share with you his abilities and let me know what I need to do:

    at age 19 months he can do following:

    – most of his speech is jargon but he says once or twice a day one word.

    – so far i heard from him 20 different words:
    I want, what’s that, this, ball, movie, here you go ,bird, car, give me, up, down, hello, cleanup,don’t want, No,wheel, go, book, more. in second language – light, want , don’t want. I am pretty sure he says more than that because he is at daycare 8 hours a day and those words I mentioned I heard them at home only.
    The problem is that most of the words i heard him saying it once.

    – Shake his head for No.
    – Point to things sometime, if he likes the picture or interested in the object.
    – wave bye bye without showing him how to do that.
    -clapping once movie is over or we finish book or when we sing.
    – play pretend play with me and his sibling, likes to hide in the tent or cover himself with blanket, pretend he is sleeping and observe my response.
    -he tests my limits, go to the sofa and before he is jumping he looks at me and laugh because he knows i will start freaking out, i am over protective mom.
    -he has a very good eye contact.
    -love cuddling and hugging and kissed only daddy.
    -very enthusiastic when dad come home.
    – very strong physically had no delays on this side. he can climb stairs very quickly and he is learning now to go down without crawling.
    – likes everything that has wheel, i know it’s red flags but he plays with the cars and trains normally means attach the train part together and put them on the track, drive the card normaly, sometimes he spin the wheels but he isn’t stuck on that for long.
    – he is interested in other toys, very good at puzzles, love blocks, legos, art and water play.
    -he know how to use things in normal way, he puts sun glasses on eyes and brush his hair with a brush and also put the phone on his ear and say hello.
    – respond to his name sometimes, after we came back from the vacation i gave him attention and he responded to his name always , the last week i was busy and didn’t give him attention so he is totally ignoring me and his dad.
    -walks on his tip toes, another red sign i know, but his sister is almost 4 and still walking on her tip toes and she was a very early talker and she is completely normal. besides i was told my dad had also this kind of behavior I don’t know why they behave like this.
    -sometimes he follow directions but not always. i feel like he doesn’t understand always what i want.
    when i tell him let’s go upstairs he understand, or give the food to daddy he will feed you he does that.
    but when i tell him give me that toy he doesn’t unless i use my hands to show him i need it.
    -he is not picky eater, he eats everything.
    -overall he is a happy toddler but the obsession to wheels and the delay maybe in comprehension adding the fact that sometime he ignores me , this is all leading me to suspect he has a problem.

    I am sorry for the long email, I am desperate and need help 🙁


  62. Jaime on October 16, 2015 at 4:36 am

    Question for Laura

    My son is 34 months old. He has always hit his milestones at a fairly early age such as walking at 10.5 months and doing puzzles and stacking at a very early age.

    Until about a month ago, he had a limited amount of words (about 50) and only says a few short sentences such as “I go” or “where mommy go?”

    Over the past month, his vocabulary has really increased. He spontaneously says new words without any prompting. For example, he grabbed his stuffed toy and handed it to me and said, “mommy, animal” it came out “ammamal” but it was the first time I’ve ever heard him say it and I was shocked. He has been doing these spontaneous words out of nowhere the past week or 2.

    A major issue is when I ask him to imitate a multiple syllable word. He has a rough time doing so. I’m not sure if it’s because of his immature speech or a bigger issue. The other big issue is that he is still dropping consonants at the end of a word. Cup is still “cuh”.

    We brought him to an SLP yesterday and after only a 25 minute meet with him, she told me that he has CAS and needs to start therapy next week. I never heard of CAS and so I just took the diagnosis and let her explain what it means. After going home and reading up on this, I’m concerned that she is jumping the gun, but I also don’t want to be a naive mom who is in denial either. The thing that sticks out with the difference ls between phonological processes or CAS with my son is that his vowels are spot on. Also, he has never lost a word. He can imitate tongue movements that I show him. His errors are consistent. He says “oww” for house and “oww” for mouse…this seems like an articulation issue to me, but again I’m not a professional bUT a concerned mommy. Lastly, he is consistent in errors I’d I ask him to say a word 3 timea and he says it incorrectly, he will use the same incorrect word for it 3 times without changing.

    Any advice? Thank you!!!

    • Laura on October 18, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      Hi Jaime. You’re on the right track by taking him to therapy. Without seeing him myself, I have no way of knowing if it’s apraxia or a phonological disorder, but your SLP will be able to sort it out as she goes. The important thing is, he does need to be in treatment. Try not to get hung up on the diagnosis part IF he begins making progress adding new words and using phrases. If not, then revisit the diagnosis piece with your SLP so she can be sure she’s focusing her efforts correctly. Anyone can be wrong in a brief 25 minute initial visit, (a pediatrician, an SLP, a hair dresser, a car mechanic, etc…) but I doubt she’ll continue to miss important diagnostic differences after she works with him. His biggest goals should be adding more words to his vocabulary and then using more and more phrases, regardless of his diagnosis, but I think you already know that!! You sound like a great mom! Keep doing your investigative work and helping him at home. Good luck to you!! Laura

  63. Mom on October 28, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Laura,

    My child is 19 month old and he said many words so far but most of them only once, his talking is mainly jargon but once a day he says one word and it’s always new or different word he is not consistent..
    I am trying to encourage him to talk, i watched your videos and got all puzzles and the books that you recommended, i tried the techniques.. but i feel like my son is loosing interest very quickly, For example we start with the book “brown bear” and after 3-4 pages he grabs it from my hand. if we do a puzzle he will match 2-3 shapes and then will move to another activity.
    I tried your technique to teach him body parts during bath time but he is very interested in playing with the water so he doesn’t look at me.
    At the daycare the teacher says he is able to concentrate when the teacher reads a book and he is even pointing to picture he likes, which is not happening with me at home.
    Can you give me tips on how to work with a toddler that loose interest very quickly?
    is it too much toys around or the presence of the other 2 kids? Do I need to be with him alone in the room? Do i need to read different book everyday? so far I am reading him brown bear everyday hopefully the repetition will help..
    I ordered your DVDs “teach me how to listen and obey” can’t wait to get them but I am afraid i will fail to apply it at home because of things am not aware of.

    Good things i have to mention, when playing with the farm puzzle that you recommended I knocked the door and he started imitating me after few times. for the brown bear book I showed him how to kiss the bear and when i bring the book close to him he kiss the bear, but whenever i ask him kiss mommy he still doesn’t do that 🙁

    any advise is appreciated.

    • Laura on October 29, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      Hi Mom – Very short attention spans are common for 19 month olds, so don’t be too upset about that. Just focus on what he likes and responds to and slowly build on that expecting gradual progress. You’re doing better than you think you are, I promise! Try Brown Bear and another new book every day, but probably don’t read both at the same time. You can try being alone with him to see if that helps. I also recommend reading when he is more settled so that he’s more likely to stay than try to leave.

      The other thing I’d recommend is to be as fun and bubbly as you can possibly be. You’ll see examples of that on the DVDs. Your increased “affect” or emotion will be very enticing for him. Many times that one piece of advice is what changes it for moms who aren’t getting the results they want.

      Also look at when he’s more engaged with you and “sneak” your language work in to that time. If he likes for you to snuggle him, hold him while you’re playing and that may help too. If he’s more active, do more things to target words during play – like “Ring Around the Rosies” or a game of chase or bounce him on your lap and sing “Ride a Little Horsie.” (If you need more ideas for those games, there are lots of step by step instructions in my book Teach Me To Play WITH You.)

      For kissing, turn it into more of a game by making a big deal about getting one of your other kids to kiss you on request a few times while you are laughing and having the time of your life and then ask him to do it. Keep at it too. Sometimes toddlers take a while to “get it.”

      Keep reading through other posts in the blog section for specific activities. Have you listened to my podcasts? Scroll through the shows to find a topic that interests you. You’ll get some new ideas there too. Good luck to you!! Laura

  64. MUM in desperation !!! on November 3, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Hi Laura, I have two questions for you.

    I have a 5 year old who is nearing six. He has severe oral motor dyspraxia ( can only say 30 words) and has problems with social communication, but has excellent social interaction skills.

    He goes to a specialist speech and language school and he gets intensive speech and language therapy there. When I read one of your manuals, you say along the lines of “….whether your child goes to a regular school or a special school, parents have to do the speech/communication work in the home too”.

    I totally agree with this, but when I tell many parents and even therapists, that I spend two hours a day with him after school to work on his speech/communication skills, they tell me that it would be too much for him to process as he has already been submersed in language at his special school , and that I should allow him to relax at home and leave it up the school.

    Are they right? Am I doing too much? Should I just leave it up to the school? It’s just that, for some odd reason, I see..I shouldn’t say better….but when I work on his speech/communication skills at home, there are faster results I should say… but I don’t know maybe I should slow down.

    Second question: My son also cannot say “mum”, funny enough, if I ask him “Where’s mummy?”…”Grandma..?” etc, he answers this correctly, but does not call out to me. He instead taps on my hip and points to whatever he wants. Is this a social communication difficulty? I have looked at your suggestion about the “mummy” game, but this is difficult as there is only my son and I in the home( and no other third person), and all my family members live very far away from me. Is there another suggestion you can suggest to help him say “mummy”.

    Thanks very much.

  65. Courtney on November 3, 2015 at 7:02 pm


    Hello Laura,
    My daughter is 22 months and I am concerned that she is not saying many words. She is very social and loves to play with other children. The words she says consistently are hi, wawa for water, papa, Siti her grandma’s name, Ow when she hits her head, bye bye ( she used to say and then stopped and now she started saying again), der for there, boo when she jumps out and scares us, wee, and booboo. She says mama and dada but not very often. There are several other words that she has said once or twice and has never said again. She used to say ball a lot, but has not said it in a long time. She understands almost everything we say to her and she follows directions very well. We sing songs, read books, repeat words over and over without much success. She was a little delayed in her gross motor skills and did not roll until about 6 months and walk until 15 months. She did not babble much as an infant but did make a lot of noises such as “ahhhhhhh”, squeals and blows raspberries. She imitates some sounds and gestures but is not imitating many words. She points and grunts for everything and is having temper tantrums when she does not get what she wants. When she points at things she usually calls almost everything da or di. She does babble a lot now and it sounds as though she is having a conversation. She was recently evaluated by a speech therapist and she did qualify for 6 sessions per month for an expressive language delay. The therapist mentioned that she was somewhat concerned about apraxia but she said it was too early to diagnose. I have been reading up on apraxia and there are some signs that concern me.

    Any advise is greatly appreciated!

    Thank you,

  66. K on November 20, 2015 at 3:34 pm


    Hi Laura~

    I have a child who is 32 months old. His receptive and expressive language are both great. But his intelligibility is very low. Maybe 20% to a familiar listener. He talks fast and many of his words come out as partial words, or as strings of unintelligible babbling, with maybe one word at the end I can understand (e.g. “no—babbling-okay?”). We have tried working on simple sound combinations, such as CVCV– animal noises, choo choo, bye bye, etc. He can say these words, but often will not imitate them, or will babble longer utterances that are again, unintelligible. I feel like I may be going backwards–but I am trying to model only simple sounds or two to three word utterances. His MLU is already long, just unintelligible, which is my reasoning for this. Am I on the right track? Do you have any other suggestions to help this kiddo along? I have only been seeing him about 2 months, but he has been in early intervention for much longer, and there has not been much progress. Thank you!

    • Laura on February 9, 2016 at 1:04 pm

      I agree with what you’re doing and would take it even a step further… I would back up to single words and target intelligibility at that EASY level before moving to phrases. You should still set it up to be play-based since he’s under 3, rather than drill, drill, drill (UGH!), but he does need less complexity in order to have a shot at becoming more intelligible. Take a close look at his vowels and work on those too – not just the consonants! Good luck to you! Laura

  67. Jamie on December 1, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Hi Laura! I love your site and all the resources you provide to us readers!!
    I had a question about toddler jargon. My 18 month does it some, but not often at all (usually only when his sibling takes something from him-he will jargon like he’s yelling. But truthfully that’s about it. He will also occasionally do it if he’s playing by himself-& by occasionally, it’s not even every day).. He has about 70 words and two word combinations are emerging (mama, up & mama, please bring the most common).
    Is this a big deal? I see it listed as a red flag, but it seems like my guy has a lot of communicative intent, has great joint attention, age appropriate receptive language. I’m wondering if little to no jargon is a concern, or if it “means” something. Do some children just skip this?

  68. Sabrina on December 13, 2015 at 5:53 pm


    Hi Laura,

    I have a 21 month old daughter who is still in the diagnostic process (doctors think she has a neurogenetic disorder). She is globally delayed in all areas, though she does really well with her gross motor skills.

    I saw one of your videos that talks about imitation and if your child is not doing that, they are not ready to talk . You mentioned sensory processing, and I definitely think she blocks things out when it’s just too much.

    We’ve played your peek-a-boo game and she’ll smile and remove the scarf from her head. Sometimes she’ll pull it off mine. If I put an object under a cup, she’ll push the cup over to get the object. This all comes and goes though, Sometimes she’s really aware of what’s going on, has great eye contact and is fully engaged. Some days she’s not. She tends to regress after a sickness, but her skills come back after weeks.

    She didn’t start babbling until she was about 18 months old (mamama, dadada, babababa) but it all disappeared. A few weeks ago she was saying baby. It disappeared, but occasionally I can hear her almost whisper it.

    She is in early intervention, but we’re not getting anywhere. I think we are going to start private therapy in the new year. I just don’t know where to start.


  69. Mash on December 27, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Question for Laura

    Hi Laura
    I have 16.5month old twins (boys) who were born 5 weeks early. I started seeing many red flags for boy 1 ( not responding to name , lack of joint attention, no pointing or showing etc) at 12 months. I am a special educator and a BCBA. I started extensive floor time with him and followed the ESDM model, and it takes two to talk. So far we have built social interaction, joint attention and some receptive skills ( pointing to objects in the house when asked) and pointing to request. Still no words? Just babbling! Boy 2 also has no words but does not babble a lot too. Just baba mama gaga ooaa. Boy 2 has good receptive language , cal follow basic commands and good response to name. No words yet. Both boys say mama ( for me)however boy 1 just started doing that.
    Do you have any suggestions for me? I feel like I am not being able to do justice to both as both have significant needs it terms of language. We do play social games like ring a round, row row etc. What else can I do? I am fully committed to helping them and interact/ play with them all day ( as I have taken time off from work) however we are in a different country currently because of hubby’s work so I don’t have access to any other services or interventions here. I am planning to move back to Boston if need be. Do you have any suggestions for an slp in Boston who follows your approach. I am desperately seeking the right help.
    Thanks in advance

  70. Rhythm on January 3, 2016 at 12:29 pm


    Hi Laura

    This website is tremendous and it has given me many ideas on how to teach my daughter. Thank you!
    My daughter is 3 years old and her speech is delayed. I live in India and do not have access to any good speech therapists, so was looking for some advice.
    We have a multi lingual environment (5 languages!) And I feel this is probably the reason for my daughters speech delay. But we really feel that she understands everything well. She really follows what we say in any language. Since the past 1 year we have been mostly talking to her and amongst ourselves in English. She has also started preschool in the past 6 months where they speak English as well. She has suddenly progressed. Now she has a vocabulary of 100 odd words and increasing, repeats words well. However she drops the initial consonant of words – ish for fish, up for cup, onkey for monkey etc. I notice that she does have the sounds like m, k, p etc for she would say amma(mom in our language) or appa(dad), lock for clock etc. She is also starting two word phrases by herself, like the other day she said -appa icyle( dad has gone on a bicycle) while saying goodbye to her dad in the morning, but these are few.
    How is she doing? Should I be worried?
    I am trying my best to teach her systematically at home with the sound words different positions etc. What is your advice? How should I teach her better? I am making a few mistakes like correcting her often with exaggerated initial sound.
    I just don’t want her to fall behind. Specially since we live in such a multi lingual environment. Would she catch up on the other languages?
    I would appreciate any help. Thank you!

  71. Rachael on January 5, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Question for Laura-
    Hi Laura, I am a work from home mother of a 14 month old boy. As much as I hate to admit it, when I’m working, it is very easy for me to turn the TV on to keep him occupied. I struggle with guilt that maybe he would be better off in day care, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’m afraid that the TV exposure will cause a delay in speech. He babbles alot, but doesn’t say many words yet. He makes animal sounds quite well, but doesn’t say WORDS. The only thing that keeps his attention is sesame street, he just loves it. But I want him to get more out of this “TV time”. I just found your videos and I am super excited about it!!!! Thank you for offering something like this. My question is, what other suggestions do you have for someone like me, struggling with the idea that just because I work from home, I’m neglecting my child and hindering his development?

  72. Vannary on May 4, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    Hi Laura

    I am a mother of 2 sons, 4 year-old and 9 months. I’m glade to read your book “A Parents’ Guide to Understanding Speech Language Development”.

    I am a Cambodian living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. My husband and I both worked so we hired a person to look after my first son at home. Then, when I have my 2nd son, I hire another person (totally 2 persons) to look after both of my sons.

    I think my 4 year-old son is facing a lot of problems now:

    – He can’t talk much, only some words that he is familiar with, but with clear pronunciation. He sometimes repeat what we talk, sometimes not. When he knows new word, he repeat that word through out the day. He can sing a lot of songs with different languages like local Khmer Language, English and Chinese. He knows English alphabets, numbers, colors, shapes, fruits, vegetables, body parts, etc. duo to watching English nursery rhymes. He don’t know Local Khmer alphabets because we never teach him. We mainly talk in Khmer at home and some simple words in English. However, I find that he could talk only English words, very few Khmer words. Anyway, he shows a significant progress in the last 6 months that he try to talk more and more.

    – He doesn’t play with other kids. I don’t know whether he doesn’t want or he doesn’t know how to communicate with other kids. He has poor eye contact. He doesn’t want to look at people who are unfamiliar when we ask him to great them. I enroll him to a nearby kindergarten 2 weeks ago. He doesn’t play with his classmates, but he loves his teachers. Few days ago, the school changed him to another class with American male teacher, he cries and doesn’t want to go to school. I think he wants to be with previous Filipino female teacher.

    – He doesn’t eat rice. In Cambodia, main food for lunch and dinner is rice. He only drink formula milk and eat some snack, bread, noodle, etc. We try very hard since he was young to encourage and sometimes force him to eat but he didn’t. He is now only 15kg and 102cm.

    I’m afraid he is autism. I could not find autism specialist or speech specialist in Cambodia. I hope my son is not autism as he is very active. He plays, jumps, climbs, etc.

    I read some documents about autism and find out that the above are sign of ASD.

    Could you please advice what should l do?

  73. Parent on May 13, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Hi Laura, my daughter is 13 months old and doesn’t often imitate sounds. She understands a great deal of words, and will point to objects when I ask her where they are (such as ball, duck, banana, etc.) However I’m concerned about her expressive language development. She will say “mama,” “dada,” “nana” (banana), but will say “bah” for ball and “dah” for duck or dog. She doesn’t articulate the endings clearly. I also read that at this age children should be imitating sounds a great deal, but she doesn’t do this very often. Should I be concerned about her lack of imitation and her articulation? What can I do to help her? Thanks.

  74. nat on June 7, 2016 at 6:36 am

    Hi Laura ,

    My son will turn three next week , from 4 months he was talking only 10 words I took him to a development pediatrican and she said he is not autistic he is late talker .From that date I start spending more time with him , playing ,repeating words,songs… repeating single words .I used your tips to get him to talk more .Now after 4 months he talks arround 60 words and he uses them, for example: if he wants cake he says cake … and now he follows instruction ( he didn’t used to do that ) he is starting to use 2 words together such as open gate , close gate , ready set go..
    Thank you very much for all your tips .
    I just want to know if this improvment is considered good ? and if he will be able at a stage to catch up with other kids from his age ? and if there is any tips to get him to answer questions?

    Thank you very much again

  75. Rose on August 1, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Hello Laura,I am getting so nervous and cry every night over this. My son was evaluated by a regional center at 18 months and said to have needed a speech therapist. Well 3months later his speech therapist did not speak correct english and spent most of the time chasing after him. I now have a great teacher that comes 2x week for an hour each time. This just started 3 weeks ago and he is almost now 22 months. I have also had him evaluated for Autism and they said he is mild/borderline but cant give an accurate diagnosis. Anyhow she gave me the letter to get ABA therapy for him

    Today is is 6 days short of his 22month birthday, he doesnt talk, he growls and talks what we call “minion” language. when i ask him to bring me things he wont. He occassionally walks on his tippy toes when he has no shoes and will flap his hands when excited watching tv. he will occasionally mimic us but at his own time, he will wave bye bye when he wants to, he says ba, ma, da, but will not reference me or his dad or bring us what we ask. he will pull us when he wants something or bring me a dvd or fruit cup when he wants something.

    One of the other things that i think is a big factor of him not talking is that his nanny from 3months to 1 year was young, she didnt talk to him and mostly spent the time watching minion movies with him. now we have a nanny that has been with him for 7months and i think she talks to much and too fast to him. I am also planning to enroll him in a montessori when he turns 2 to see if that helps. As far as interaction with kids he isnt shy he plays with them.

    The other concern that i read was that he always wants to be with mom looks for me and wants me to do things with him, if i am in the room that is who he prefers ,but if i am not in teh room he is ok with playing with others.

    I am just really worried and not sure what else i can do to help him besides the exercises they tell us to do at home from the speech therapist. I am just wondering based on the little that i have said do you think its a long road for recovery or do you think with therapy he will eventually snap out of it and catch up. My worry is that i will have to put him in special classes for the rest of school life..

    Thank you so much for your feedback, i am just worried sick and think what did i do wrong..

Leave a Comment