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What should a 23 month old understand?

(31 Posts)
jenduck Wed 13-Mar-13 17:50:47

I'm just wondering what my DS should be able to understand. He is just 23 months old. He can understand instructions such as sit down, eat up etc. He can also understand more complex instructions, without visual cues eg if we are sitting & I say let's go upstairs, he'll head over to the stairs or if I say shall we change your nappy or have you got a dirty nappy, he'll stop what he's doing & fetch a nappy & wipes. If I say can you get your shoes & bring them to Mummy he will do that.

However, he cannot point out any named objects in books etc. So if we are looking at a book & I ask where the train is, he will just have no idea & carry on lifting flaps/turning pages. But he would fetch a toy train if asked, so I think he knows the word. He can point to his own ears, and to my eyes, nose & mouth but not his own.

He does not really understand any questions & will not shake his head no or nod yes, unless to imitate. It surprised me today to see a 17-month old nodding when asked if his brother goes to school, did Peppa have a zebra friend etc.

He can say about 10 words or approximations of words, knows about 2/3 animal sounds & waves goodbye/goodnight. If you say good boy/well done/clever boy he will also clap.

I think that by this age DS1 knew colours, numbers & all sorts of other stuff and was having conversations, so DS2 seems very behind in comparison!

Other than this, DS2 is a happy little boy, prone to the odd toddler tantrum if you take something he wants away, loves playing with cars, trains, building, drawing & whatever his brother is playing with! He does 'squeak' quite a lot & kind of grunt, but I'm thinking this is related to him not having many words.

I am looking forward to his 2-year check next month & will ask about referring him for a hearing test, to check nothing is wrong in that area.

jenduck Thu 11-Apr-13 15:37:04

Well, have just had a phone call from our local children's centre. DS (who turned 2 on Monday) has been given a place on a group speech skills course, starting from Wednesday!

I am pleased, because I think he needs help with his speaking, but I also feel guilty in admitting that he is behind confused I am certainly very nervous about it, I feel like I will be putting my baby up to be judged sad

MoelFammau Sun 17-Mar-13 21:35:55

My 22mo DD has glue ear in both ears and the consultant suspects additional hearing loss too. Her consultant told me her speech was a concern for a girl but not for a boy, that he didn't worry about boys until they reached 3.

That said, she can point to her eyes, ears, nose, mouth, teeth, tongue, bottom, knees, tummy, feet, thighs, elbows, face, hair, thumbs, fingers and hands, and loves pointing out things in picture books...

I do talk to DD a lot and ask her questions all the time, things that need a response. Stuff like 'do you want milk or water?' or 'where's the red car / what colour is that car?'. I tend to back it up with a bit of mime to help with her hearing problem.

The consultant also told me that hearing-impaired children can learn to lip-read in 3 months. My DD certainly can do it. Have you tried mouthing the same requests (fetch your train) and seeing if he's lip-reading you or listening?

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Sun 17-Mar-13 19:46:07

That sounds like progress for certain Jen, my 22 month old endlessly informs me "Der's a car/train/ cat/ space rocket/ plane/ bus/ tractor" etc. as we drive or walk anywhere (there are a lot of space rockets in the Bavarian countryside you know - other people would say they are grain silos and water towers... grin If we're driving "Der's a space rocket!" in an excited voice is rapidly followed by "Oh no! Space rocket's gone! Where's a space rocket!" in an absolutely distraught tone! grin I guess reporting their surroundings is in their hard coding for this stage, even if the things they are pointing out are totally banal to anyone over 3 smile

Yes the kids are all bilingual - my toddler has a lot less German than English atm but still understands everything and has a reasonable vocabulary. If the older 2 are anything to go by it will even out when he starts Kindergarten at age 3, but I am confident he already understands as much as his monolingual peers. My husband is German and the extended family only speak German, and we live in the countryside where people are a lot less willing to speak English, so most of the childrens' life is lived in German and all their good friends are German. My 5 year old son refers to himself as Bavarian and probably speaks slightly better German than English, at least he thinks he does. Luckily my daughter does really well in German at school (she's the only one at school) and people generally can't tell she is bilingual if they don't meet her with me! I don't think her school stresses have anything to do with being bilingual, maths wouldn't be her strong subject in any language, it's just that here she gets "What's wrong with you? You can do the sums, you must work faster!" written on her maths tests if she misses out questions, and has to bring classwork home because she is working slower than the speed the teacher sets.

jenduck Sun 17-Mar-13 17:01:01

Are your DC bilingual? Are you in Germany permanently? My experience if it is having Au paired there (Black Forest) when I was 18. It was a great time to go as schools finishing a year later than in UK meant I had lots of friends who wanted to practise English & let me use my (heavily dialected) German. Ah, good times indeed smile I would love to live there again, possibly with DC.

Have noticed an encouraging development with ds2's speech. Rather than repeating words, he will now say eg car when he sees a car trying, I think, to draw my attention to it. He is also trying to repeat loads of new words but they all sound the same!

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Sun 17-Mar-13 10:11:01

Its too late now Jen, she'D have to fail to be held back, and she isn't failing, just finding some things (especially maths and the emphasis on technical perfection rather than creativity, hard and more stressful than school really should be at age 7). We are in Bavaria, which does seem to have the most demanding school system in Germany - and was always top of the league tables for standards when they still measured the states against one another, which no longer happens, but at a price, and children do fall through the net... As you say every system has its faults, and looking in at the UK system from outside, plus having taught there years ago, I can see lots of those too! Its more warm and fuzzy at infant level in the UK though, which I sometimes think of wistfully for all that has its flip side of babying DC who are actually capable of more independence!

jenduck Sun 17-Mar-13 09:59:19

It does sound tough on your DD. Is there any way you can keep her back for a year now, or would it be too late? I think there are flaws to the system wherever you are.

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Sat 16-Mar-13 19:00:50


I love the Kindergarten system (and we seem by pure luck to have an especially good one as our default local village one) but now my eldest is in Year 2 I have some quite serious reservations about school to be honest. It is so radically different to the UK, so strict and so inflexible - it is not the place to be if you are anything other than quiet, motivated, industrious, and just slightly above average - not to startlingly unnervingly bright, but definitely no mild problems - there is no individualised learning what so ever, and that isn't a failing of DD's teacher, who is pretty good and fair, it is a deeply entrenched and unquestioned aspect of the system - if a child does the work fast they can read or draw until the next task is set, if they are struggling or simply work more slowly they just end up taking huge amounts of work home so as to be at the same point as the rest of the class by the next day... My DD will only be 9 when they categorise the children by ability and send them off to the 3 different tiers of secondary school too, which also worries me - some of her class mates are up to 18 months older than her (we're doing all we can to keep our middle one back a year, as like DD he would be the very youngest in his class if he started in his default year, and this seems to have an even bigger negative impact on boys than girls - there are no summer born boys in DD's class, they have all been held back by parents to the year below, as have a few girls, meaning loads of the class below DD are older than her!)

jenduck Sat 16-Mar-13 16:52:55

Yes I thought the pointing was good, too. He wasn't pointing when I said 'Where's the train?' or anything, more that I was going through the book saying 'Train' & pointing to the picture then he pointed to it, too. It's a start, though!

We do sometimes have playdates for 4yo, but they're not really at the stage of going up to bedrooms on their own yet. And DS2 just wants to do whatever his big brother is doing, which is really cute but not always practical!

Am quite envy of you being in Germany. I think they are generally a lot more rigid over there, but it works well. I found everything so organised when I lived there!

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Sat 16-Mar-13 06:59:06

Sounds like progress then Jen smile Good that he's pointing too, sounds as if he's quite likely just a later starter maybe partly due to less need to talk than some children have.

Could you invite one of your 4 year old's friends over to play to give you more 1:1 with DS2, or doesn't he just disappear up to his room to play with friends yet?

I don't mind the early finish with the German school system really, gives them plenty of afternoon to play with their friends after a very formal and quite intense few hours at school; she comes home on the bus, so no school run, and has a key to let herself in and then phone me on my mobile (hands free in the car) if I'm ever stuck in traffic and get in 5 mins later than her (which occasionally happens getting home from toddlers group) and she's happy to do that - all the school kids do similar. What I mind is the huge amount of homework she often has and the fact the schools are very rigid, in expecting all children to be exactly the same, work at the same speed at all times etc. but that's all very off topic here!

jenduck Fri 15-Mar-13 19:40:08

Ah, the delightful German school system! hmm Actually, an excellent system, but not easy on parents in terms of arranging childcare!

You are right, but I do find it trickier to talk to him when we are in the car or he is in the pushchair - I feel better if I can look at him while I talk. Spent a good 20 minutes with him looking at books today & he was pointing at the pictures, after I did, so that was nice. We also played with his shape sorter, and he knew where to put most of the shapes.

I tried to get DS1 involved, by singing songs with DS1 suggesting what we sing & holding up the animals for Old McDonald etc. He does chatter to him but I think is desperate for a playmate so frustrated when he won't answer back.

I also noticed at dinner that when I asked him if he wanted some water, yes or no, he said his sound for water 'ah-ha' then clapped.

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Fri 15-Mar-13 15:57:52

Jen I am only technically alone with my Ds2 for 3-4 hours at a time too (where we live school finishes at 11.20am) and do the same as you regarding errands, for the same reasons. You can talk to him the whole time you are out too wink and the 1:1 over a book or something need only take up 5-10 mins, they have short little attention spans anyway smile

My older kids are that little tiny bit older though (5 and 7) and we seem to have avoided the jealousy luckily - at least it is only the youngest who gets jealous - and the older 2 understand about needing to let DS2 talk so he can "get the hang of it" so they ask him lots of questions too wink They don't answer for him but they used to "translate" when his speech was less clear - they could understand him long before DH (who works quite long hours) could! Maybe you could make your 4 year old feel important as your younger DS's teacher and get him to be the one showing the books and asking DS2 questions? Bit of reverse psychology smile

Like I said though as long as his hearing is OK it is very likely to even out if its just down to having his needs anticipated now, it just might take longer.

jenduck Thu 14-Mar-13 18:41:44

Ah yes thanks MrT's (no idea what to abbreviate your name to!) The HV did say that I might not be giving DS enough opportunity to talk - so, in your breakfast example, he just always has weetabix, so I ought to try showing & asking him toast & weetabix & asking which one he wants. Also, his big brother (4.2) gets quite jealous if I try to ask DS2 anything or encourage him to talk - so trying to get DS2 to point at pictures in book earlier & along comes DS1 & does it for him! Or he will say 'Oh, I think DS2 wants a drink' etc.

I am only alone with DS2 for 3 hours, 4 times per week & then I often nip into town to do banking etc as it's easier than doing it with 2 kids in tow, so perhaps I should stop doing that & up interactive activities with him.

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Thu 14-Mar-13 18:27:19

jenduck I think you are right to look into hearing first. Also I think some children don't talk much if they don't need to - try giving him more choices and insisting he asks for things rather than anticipating his needs ahead of time (within sensible bounds of course smile ). I remember staying with a friend when our eldest kids were both about 18 months, and I got up with the toddlers and got their breakfast, and looked up and saw her gaping at me from the door like I was a loon - it turned out because I had asked her toddler what he wanted for breakfast, it didn't occur to me not to because I have verbal diarrhoea and it didn't occur to her as something anyone would ever do, she always just chose for him, and I always asked my daughter. Her son did chose (by pointing) when offered the chance. At that point her son barely spoke, nothing anyone outside his family understood at all, where my daughter was speaking in 3-4 word sentences. It must have been mainly nature but I think nurture, and the fact I talked non stop to my daughter, including giving her choices and expecting her to reply, was also part of it.

On the other hand by the time both children were 4 there was no difference whatsoever in their language skills and you couldn't tell which had been the early and which the late talker - so it seems pretty likely that only affects how early children talk, not really how well they talk in the long run grin

jenduck Thu 14-Mar-13 17:59:33

Yes, but along with the opinions of 2 health professionals & various friends & family, one of whom has a DS with severe autism, it's all I have to go on wink

Like I said, it is only consulting Dr. Google that has got me worried about this aspect of things. Apart from not pointing, he is friendly & engaged & communicates somewhat & does not have any repetitive behaviours. Otherwise, I feel the lack of speech & understanding could well be due to hearing issues, but I will obviously find this out when he is tested. I really just wanted to see, with this thread, where his understanding was at compared with others his age

chocjunkie Thu 14-Mar-13 17:40:37

it is only a screening tool though ;-)

jenduck Thu 14-Mar-13 17:39:28

Forgot to say, the MChat said low risk for autism & no current cause for concern

jenduck Thu 14-Mar-13 16:33:27

DIY your DD sounds really similar to my DS, perhaps a month or so ahead, so that is reassuring!

jenduck Thu 14-Mar-13 16:31:56

I have just done the Mchat test & the only thing he fails on is pointing, with further questions on understanding which he 'passed' as it said eg will he bring a book when asked, which he will, or follow an instruction in context, which he will. As I said before, he doesn't have any repetitive behaviours etc. He does communicate a little as he has a few words & can make clear what he wants or what he is interested in, but I personally think he doesn't have as much communication as he should.

I have spoken to a HV about this when he was just short of 18m & not talking, pointing or waving, but she was happy to leave him until he was 2 as he was clapping & happy around her, didn't seem vacant etc. Then when he was about 21.5m I spoke to a Nursery Nurse who said the same thing, to see how he goes at his 2-year check, but that there is a group we can go to each week which is for speech-delayed children (which there is no doubt in my mind that he is). She was encouraged when I rang her a few weeks later to report he had a few words & said to just encourage their proper pronunciation by repeating them.

DIYandEatCake Thu 14-Mar-13 16:25:15

My dd is 23m and has only very recently started using yes and no, or nodding/shaking head, and even then only after a reminder sometimes ('say yes if you want it, say no if you don't'!). Before that, repeating what I said meant yes and an indignant grunt/pushing it away was no. She used words like purple, udder, digger, upside down, before no, I thought it was because she didn't hear us saying yes and no much.

She does like pointing to things in books, and has a lot of words though many are made-up ones or hard to understand approximations. If he's not a big fan of books, you could try asking him to pick up flash cards, as it's a bit more physical. There seems to be a big range of normal, I sometimes worry about dd's strange speech but I am noticing it improving.

chocjunkie Thu 14-Mar-13 16:15:04

its great that he wants to share but i would want him seen by a salt asap and get the hearing checked.

if you are worried about autism (and the lack of understanding, the lack in communicating, no pointing would concern me) then the Mchat is a good screening tool. you can do it online

Bumpsadaisie Thu 14-Mar-13 16:09:50

For comparison, my DS is 16.5 mths and would nod or shake his head to simple questions e.g. do you want a drink, have you done a poo, do you want a biscuit, shall we watch Iggle Piggle?

I think he does understand the question (rather than merely nodding because I am using "question intonation") as he will point to his cup or the snack box or waggle his hand in front of his nose (for a poo).

He wouldn't know what you were talking about if you asked him if his sister went to pre-school though - much too abstract.

jenduck Thu 14-Mar-13 15:46:17

choc he wouldn't really be able to respond verbally to that question, but he might reach out for the apple if he wanted it & push it away if he didn't. I guess, in a way, I don't ask these questions much, just present him with a snack & he'll eat it or not. If he wants a drink he will go to the kitchen & make his sound for water ('ah ha'). And he is always bringing me things - both to open/ do or just to admire!

chocjunkie Thu 14-Mar-13 15:21:54

just read that your ds does not point either. how does he communicate with you (e.g telling you he wants a drink)?.

does he ever bring you things to show them to you?

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Thu 14-Mar-13 15:19:47

I think you are right to get his hearing tested. Not being able to respond to yes/ no questions in any way (including non verbally with head shaking or nodding) does sound a little bit of a concern.

I ask my 22 month old DC3 questions like "Do you want to stay in the garden or come inside?" and he will tell me, but this is possibly ahead of average. The 17 month old may nod in answer to everything don't forget wink An old lady was speaking in dialect to my DC3 this morning, and if he understood her I'd be very surprised, as I certainly didn't smile but he clearly recognised from her intonation when she was asking a question, and smiled and nodded each time! I think that's a social as well as a language skill, so I would perhaps specifically raise that with a HV, and also with anyone considering testing his hearing, as maybe he isn't hearing the rising intonation indicating a question?

chocjunkie Thu 14-Mar-13 15:07:52

just to clarify - would he not be able to respond to a question like "do you want an apple?" with yes/no (or nodding/shaking his head)?

tbh, from what you describe it sounds to me as if his understanding of language is a bit behind (i have a severely speech delayed child and a couple if things such as the yes/no thing ring a bell). and it seems you are worried. just listen to your gut. if he was m DS i would want him assessed by a Salt. in most areas you xan self refer.
and talk to Gp or Hv to get a hearing test sorted to rule out any hearing issues.

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