21 mth DS has only about 3 recognisable words

(25 Posts)
Romilly70 Sun 29-Jul-12 21:40:23

He can Say Dada; started saying that around 1 year.
He never says "mummy / mama" sad
He goes through phases where he learns the odd word eg, "wheel", says it for a while - for any object then stops.
Also "nom / num" for something tasty (foodwise)

Everything else is just pointing to it, fetching it, physically moving you to do what he wants and either crying or saying "Hmm" instead of speaking

The paediatrician has checked his hearing and is fine, she says he just doesn't feel like talking.

He jabbers away in his own language and is a good mimic in terms of if he (or I) does something wrong and eg spills something he'll go Aargh! or "tut" Oh Ga! (God).

I would say he is very physical and advanced in his motor skillss, so his brain is probably concentrating more on that.

Just want to know why and what i can do to improve his speech?

Background we live in France. DP & I are both British, speak english at home, DS just watches in the night garden, so minimal tv and only since about a month. He probably hears french a 2/3 times a week, so doesn't really understand it, although can understand everything i say in english.

I think also because he is with me all the time, and i anticipate what he needs, he doesn't bother talking. He isn't at nursery yet - trying to get a place; hopefully from September, otherwise i will consider sending him to a childminder a couple of mornings a week, to socialize and improve his french.

I do read to him and ask him questions eg "where's the cat?" he points, we do counting (usually stairs) and he sort of counts too... also try and give him a bit of commentary when i cooking - he always pulls up a chair to stand on and look.

Am i worrying about nothing or is there anything else i can do to encourage him to speak?

AngryGnome Sun 29-Jul-12 23:01:21

I've got a 20 month DS who sounds very similar. I may be a slack parent, but I'm really not that worried about it.

His comprehension is excellent, as it sounds like your DS's is, but he only says 'no'. We occasionally get an exciting variation like 'oh no' or 'uh oh', and he occasionally says 'mam'. Never dada, or daddy.

I think it's pretty normal to not have many words at this age, and if their comprehension is good I'd say nothing to worry about.

Sparklyboots Sun 29-Jul-12 23:49:03

My 19 mo DS's vocab is quite limited, basically most things are, "Daddy!" with various inflections so that I can tell that he means, bicycle, I'm hurt, can we go home, etc. The thing is, though, I didn't speak until I was more than two; then I did a whole sentence at once. I'm now extremely verbose, natch. I'm with the don't worry brigade as a result - your DS sounds fine, and that's without accounting for the fact that he is in a (partially anyway) bilingual context.

Romilly70 Mon 30-Jul-12 13:08:35

Thanks for the reassurance, I think i will just let him develop at his own pace. It's just that i think his behaviour would improve a bit if he could better communicate what he wanted, but i think that is just all toddlers!

SomethingSuitablyWitty Mon 30-Jul-12 13:18:58

DD is nearly 21 months and says about 3 words as well. She is in a multi-lingual situation (2 languages at home and a third at nursery, though that will soon be changing), so I don't worry too much about the delay. She says 'nah' (non?) for no, Papa, and "Ba" (which is "bye", "ball", "bubbles" and "bumba" depending on context). Like your DS, we actually understand her really well (pointing and a range of noises) so she doesn't really need to talk and maybe isn't motivated for that reason. She also jabbers away in a funny babblely language and understands an awful lot of what we say (points things out in books etc). I actually don't worry about at all (perhaps the bilingualism is slightly a more obvious explanatory factor in our case) and they sound like they are very similar. FWIW, I would also consider DD rather dextrous and well-coordinated. I think you are right that we just have to let them go at their own pace. It will be great breakthrough when it comes- and it will, eventually!

My niece was like this. Then she just suddenly started talking more and more, and now she's never quiet! I think she was nearly three before she was talking, until then it was just 'ungh!' and pointing. I wouldn't worry at all at this stage, especially as you've already seen the ped. and she happy with him.

hanbee Mon 30-Jul-12 21:29:33

I have a 3.9 year old son with significant speech delay and a 22 month old who doesn't shut up. From my experience I would say don't worry for a few more months, it's not unheard of for children to hardly talk until 2 and then have a vocab explosion. If it continues after 2 it could well be that he's just a late talker but at this stage I'd probably push for a speech and language assessment anyway. They would measure receptive (understanding) and expressive language separately. Tbh it's much easier to get help if it's needed once they turn 2.

FlipFantasia Mon 30-Jul-12 22:29:23

He sounds pretty normal but I can understand your worries - DS (2.4) was similar and it seemed that all around us were children his age jabbering on in complicated sentences! I was really worried - DH wasn't - so spent a fair bit of time in this section and online generally reading up/fretting. He was a great communicator - very physical and always got his point across and could understand complicated directions - but the words were slow to come.

Two things were helpful - the book It Takes Two to Talk and regularly checking DS against the progress checkers on the Talking Point website.

It Takes Two To Talk in particular helped us in our communication with DS - we read it when he was 21 months and within a week he unleashed 4 new words (the biggest explosion he'd had by that point). It was very satisfying! He now has more words than we can be bothered to count, speaks in short sentences and constantly comes out with things that 6 months ago would have been impossible for us to even imagine.

I wouldn't worry so much about the childcare or lack thereof. DS spends a couple of days a week at the childminder and his speech really improves when he spends blocks of time with us, eg 2 week holidays etc.

Oh and he finally started saying "mumma" at just before 23 months (he had also started with dada at a year). Now he says "mummy mummy mummy" whenever he wants my attention (which is a lot!).

Romilly70 Mon 30-Jul-12 23:01:03

thanks everyone for all your replies.

Flipfantasia, I am going to order the It take Two to talk book. I also had a look at the publisher's website about the Hanen program www.hanen.org/Hanen-Programs/Programs-For-Parents/Target-Word-Parent-Program.aspx

I was reading their criteria for late talkers:
* Has an expressive vocabulary of fewer than 24 words and is between 18 and 20 months
* Has an expressive vocabulary of fewer than 40 words and is between 21 and 24 months
* Has an expressive vocabulary of fewer than 100 words and/or limited two-word combinations and is between 24 and 30 months;
* Has relatively good skills in his or her other areas of development (learning, gross and fine motor, play, social, etc.) and
* Has some risk factors, such as limited use of gestures, limited use of different speech sounds, and having a member in the extended family who has had speech or learning difficulties

It does sound like DS, as i had forgotten the last one, he has a half brother (DP's older son) who lives in the UK, so we don't see too much, hence forgetting, he needed speech therapy when he was younger. Need to ask DP the details...

Hope I am not panicking too soon. However I liked your point about your DS's word explosion, If my DS had 4 new words, that would be almost like a conversation!!

DontEatTheVolesKids Tue 31-Jul-12 12:17:36

Speak slowly, enunciating sounds in each word clearly, and narrate what he is doing during play. You are effectively telling him the words he would like to use to describe his own activities. And how to put them together meaningfully.

When possible, face him while you speak so he can see how your mouth makes the sounds.

Speech encouragement at this early age is mostly about developing good listening skills.

LaraCullen Tue 31-Jul-12 14:46:47

i'm newish here so i hope i'm allowed to post too? to reassue you with an example, apparently i didnt speak at all till i was 2.5, but made up for it by being skillfully bilingual thereafter (having moved to Europe when i was 1.5. being in two different language enviroments may have very much to do with it and your DC may need the time to absorb the language(s) fully before feeling ready to use them. i think this is quite common, well i don't find it surprising. so don't worry, he will adapt to his lingual environment at his own pace and may surprise you one day!

LaraCullen Tue 31-Jul-12 14:53:01

postscript: at the time my mother was advised by my linguistics Phd godmother to not push me into speech before i was ready, but to keep providing me with the lingual informational input and patiently await the output. not sure if the advice has changed or whether this was the best advice, but it worked for us then and is the lax one way of going about it i suppose. i think i would most likely do the same for my (also bilingual but different languages) DD unless there were any worrying factors.

SomethingSuitablyWitty Wed 01-Aug-12 10:53:21

Thanks for posting Lara. What you say makes sense to me too. It's just that there seems to be a lot of mixed info online: including claims that bilingualism should make no difference to speech acquisition (but that the words may be a mixture of both languages). This is definitely the case for some kids I think (based on what I see around me) but for others (like op's child and my DD), I think they take longer to move to 'output' and this can be normal too.

gourd Wed 01-Aug-12 13:46:23

I sympathise with this but would advise you not to worry at all unless you actually get referred to a Speech and Language therapist by your GP or HV.

My 23 MO uses very few actual words that anyone except us and CM can understands (not well articulated, or word endings missed off, but do mimic real words in sound) yet never stops talking and understands just about everything we say, follows instructions, makes connections between words (gets book on chickens off shelf when we talk about eggs or roast chicken, or book on cows when we talk about milk whilst making “mooing noises” etc). Knows colours and seems to be able to count to three adn sorts shapes easily, as well as recognising (and saying correctly) a few letters in lower case in books or if you write them down. Gets more or less full time interaction with us when we are at home and with CM and other kids plus two playgroups a week during the working week. Does not see any TV that we are aware of, so no passive overheard language, just language directed at her or others around her. However she does not say many words that i would count as real words, definitely not 50.

When I talk to actual parents I know (rather than virtual ones on MN) they say our LO is normal. They also say most parents are lying when they say they can tick off all these words on the G’ment checklist. What kids actually do is an imitation of the word or show understanding of what word means and try to say it, but to me, that is not the same thing as actually saying words clearly enough that casual passers by would recognise them so I could not check these words off. In every other way LO has passed many of the “milestones” early and according to CM who has 5 kids (3 of them now adults) and has been CM-ing for 17 years and said LO shows signs of being very intelligent and says lots of “words”. LO is good at communicating. She tells us what songs she has been singing at CMS accompanied with actions where appropriate and bits of tunes, and also what else she has been doing all day – we get sand play, painting (she shows her hands and says “paah” and “Dip dip” (dipping hands in paint) etc. Also tells us when she is about to do a poo or wee - says “Poo” for both but hand actions and tugging front as opposed to back of nappy.

Reading MN and other websites on language development would give me huge cause for concern as I do not recognise what my child is doing as saying proper words - she isn't. But, having talked to real parents I now take what I have read about “’Words’ your child should be able to say by age 2” with a big pinch of salt. It seems that what they actually mean is words your child tries to say (and I dont think they even mention understanding the meaning of the words), and that you understand, but possibly wouldn’t if you were not the main carer.

FelixCited Wed 01-Aug-12 19:15:53

I have sent you a message in your inbox

SomethingSuitablyWitty Thu 02-Aug-12 11:50:14

Felix not trying to butt in or hijack, but if you do have any particular advice or resources, I would be interested, as I am in a very simiar situation to the OP (as posted above).

catus Thu 02-Aug-12 11:59:13

DS is 24 months, and has 2 words. Maman and Papa. And that's it. I was a bit worried a few months ago, but weirdly not any more. He clearly understands everything he hears, his hearing is fine, I just think he doesn't feel the need to talk yet. It will come when it will come.
Although, maybe I should be worried? We're moving back to France in 2 weeks, after 10 years in the UK (we're in Sweden now), and maybe I should take him to a doctor then?

Lily86 Thu 02-Aug-12 12:39:36

Hi my 21month old son only says about 10 words and he has learnt 5 of them in the last two weeks and seems to be picking up more each day i think some toddlers just take a little longer i wouldnt worry too much i hear many parents saying their kids didnt talk till 2 then didnt stop smile xx

catus Thu 02-Aug-12 13:04:29

Just for reassurance, one of my nephew didn't talk until he was 3. He only said his own version of mummy until then. He's 19 now, and a very pleasant young man. His mother, my sister, obviously the queen of laid back parenting, didn't worry at all.

SomethingSuitablyWitty Thu 02-Aug-12 13:59:11

Sounds like I could learn something from your sister catus - clearly she had the right attitude. I am relaxed about it most of the time, but sometimes worry a bit. Threads like these are helpful actually.

catus Thu 02-Aug-12 14:02:30

Don't beat yourself up, please. Everybody is different. I'm pretty much the same as you: not worried in general but sometimes I wonder if something could be wrong. And it doesn't help to see every 2 yo I know talking away...

SomethingSuitablyWitty Thu 02-Aug-12 15:16:34

Ditto catus - and your language situation (two at home and a third country language in the mix?) sounds similar to ours. I long to hear "mama" though smile Our little DD has this funny way of tapping me on the chest and saying 'pa pa' and then does the same to herself. confused She does correctly and reliably use "papa" for DH though. One of only a two or three words really...

Romilly70 Thu 02-Aug-12 19:18:14

gourd your post was particularly helpful, as now that I think about it DS says a somewhat inarticulate version of a proper word.
Today, he actually said what sounded like "good-bye" and "thank you".
He tends to say the odd word once in a blue moon, eg
Pay (Plane)
Wheew (Wheel)
roun' roun' (as in the wheels on the bus!)

Then I don't hear anything for a weeks.

Although he is constantly pointing at objects that he wants me to name (which I do). DP said that boys tend to just absorb language and then come out with it all at once. (Not quite sure where he got that bit of science from, but I suspect this may be the case with our DS as he definitely understands quite complicated instructions, and there is no problem with his hearing.

SomethingSuitablyWitty I won't repeat my pm from FelixCited about her DS's situation, but one thing she said which i thought was very useful (which i hope she doesn't mind me sharing) is to keep a diary and log what words are used by your DC, so that if a speech assessment is needed at a later date, then there is information for a speech therapist to refer to.

Subarashii Thu 02-Aug-12 19:29:47

My DS (also 21 months) has a grand total of five words, on of which only appeared yesterday. His words also miss bits off and sound slightly peculiar. The words his does have are very definitely driven by interest.

His new word, 'Mow' (moon), coincides with him discovering the real one and then seeing it in his favourite book, Goodnight Moon. He's spent most of today looking up to try and spot it again grin

Took him to a drop in SLT session a few weeks ago and she sent us away with some Makaton signs to start learning and reassurance that she wouldn't be too worried at this stage. Interestingly, he is also in a bilingual situation (two languages at home).

Musomathsci Thu 02-Aug-12 19:36:47

My DS was very slow to get going with talking, and I had lots of worried comments from my DM, but like yours, he was very communicative with us, and we understood each other perfectly. I would second the comments about early versions of fully formed words. Looking back at videos of him at this age, he clearly had his own versions of a lot of words that were fine for us - we understood him, but other people didn't recognise what he was trying to say. He's all grown up now, and one of his hobbies is....public speaking!!

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