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No words at 23 months, and not sure about the pointing either

(23 Posts)
Homsa Fri 13-May-05 08:55:39

Hi, my DS will be 23 months next week and still has no recognisable words whatsoever. We speak two languages at home, but I no longer believe that this alone can account for such a significant delay. From the research I've read, there's now only a 50% chance that he will catch up without intervention within the next year. I'm particularly worried about the fact that he doesn't imitate sounds (not even animal noises), and that his pointing is not very clear. Unlike other kids, he doesn't use his index finger to point, but points with the whole hand, all fingers outstretched. He will only point if he wants something, but wouldn't point out an object of interest. I'm not sure how significant this is - the CHAT test for autism does seem to put a lot of emphasism on pointing with the index finger.

Otherwise, he seems fine - he met all his other milestones, seems very bright, also seems to understand quite a lot and can follow simple instructions. We've had his hearing tested, but he lost interest towards the end, so we're going back in a couple of weeks' time to complete the test. But what they were able to test was all fine.

Any opinions/experience from other mums of late talkers would be much appreciated!

Nemo1977 Fri 13-May-05 09:03:31

my ds is 19mths and hardly talks at all or he will say something but then will not say it again. He prefers to

fastasleep Fri 13-May-05 09:04:11

Just bumping it for you, my Mum had a bi-lingual friend who's child didn't start talking until she was 3... I'm totally unsure about the pointing/animal sounds though.... hope there's someone out there!

fastasleep Fri 13-May-05 09:04:26

Oops x posted!

mckenzie Fri 13-May-05 09:04:43

my friend's daughter was a very late talker but once she started, boy there was no stopping her and is hasn't harmed her in anyway. She was very expressive though with her face and managed to make herself understood that way. Is your son able to make himself understood in other ways?

Davros Fri 13-May-05 09:15:55

I think the bi-lingual thing is a red herring and something people "feel" is true. I wouldn't be worried about him not saying clear words yet but much more concerned about general communication, including pointing. When you say he's bright etc, does he interact with you spontaneously, bring you things, play with toys (not necessarily imaginative just yet)??? It could be that bunged up ears are making it hard for him to produce clear words. If the hearing is OK and/or the communication is questionable I would go to see GP anyway.

geekgrrl Fri 13-May-05 09:30:39

I don't think the bilingual thing really comes into it, my children are bilingual and their speech development is the same as that of their monolingual peers. If you do go and see someone about any concerns you shouldn't let them fob you off with the bilingualism excuse.
I agree with Davros - communication, including gestures and facial expressions, rather than just clear words, is the key.
Also, even if the utterance doesn't resemble the actual word as we know it at all, as long as it's always the same sounds it counts as a word.

coppertop Fri 13-May-05 09:30:40

I think it's worth getting the lack of pointing checked out. Do you still have development checks for 2yr-olds in your area?

Both of my boys were late talkers. Ds1 was still pretty much silent at 23mths with no babbling either. Ds2 had some single words but didn't/doesn't understand simple instructions unless phrased very carefully. Both are on the autistic spectrum though so probably not much reassurance there.

Homsa Fri 13-May-05 09:34:56

Yes, he does manage to make himself understood. For example, if he wants milk, he will drag me to the kitchen by my hand, open the fridge door, touch the milk bottle and go "eh-eh". He is very physical, likes to run around in circles or play hide and seek. Also likes building things and taking them apart. His imaginative play is a bit limited, but he will brush a teddy's teeth or give him milk when prompted. He also offers me his food and drink spontaneously and gives me hugs. Doesn't sound too bad, does it? Actually, just writing this has made me feel a bit better

Homsa Fri 13-May-05 09:43:06

Coppertop, an ASD is my big worry. I will definitely insist that DS be referred to a specialist once we have got the hearing test done. How old are your boys and how are they doing now?

pinotgrigio Fri 13-May-05 09:50:48

Hello. This is such a worry isn't it. My DD didn't talk at all until she was 27 months. I was very worried about it and had just got to the point of finding a speech therapist when she suddenly started to talk. It's just as people said - one day nothing, the next day she started talking. Now she doesn't stop.

My HV and doctor were completely unphased by her not talking at 24 months - my doctor said that she just didn't want to. They both said that comprehension was more important, and it was clear that she did understand. My doctor said his daughter didn't talk until she was 3 and was as unconcerned as you could possibly be when I mentioned DDs lack of speech.

DD was also exposed to a number of different languages between the ages of 1 and 2.

We're in Germany now so I hope this doesn't confuse her any more, as she's only been talking for 2 months!

If you are still concerned I would definitely ask your HV for an assessment, I was also worried about autism, but DD did point and had a small range of animal noises too.

Please let us know how you get on.

Homsa Fri 13-May-05 11:23:24

Yes, I'm worried sick at the moment. I used to take a lot of comfort from anecdotes about kids like yours pinotgrigio - and still do! thank you! - but since I started doing some research on the internet, I've come to realise that the odds of him catching up are not all that good. There's also the question of whether to continue with the bilingual upbringing or not - did you consider using just one language? I haven't found any conclusive evidence as to whether or not bilingualism might harm a child with speech delay.

baka Fri 13-May-05 11:33:29

The not pointing is important (far more important than lack of speech). It's good that when he wants smoething he uses his hand rather than your though. Does he ever indicate to you things that interest him?

Lonelymum Fri 13-May-05 11:38:29

Homsa, my ds1 didn't say an intelliigble word until he was 26 months old. He was always behind in his speech until he went to school - even words he did say were frequently said wrong, often backwards (kind of, eg spot would be bots). However, he is now 8 and very inteeligent. He is young in his class (June baby) and had only been talking 2 years whe he started school. It took him near the top of the class, and in Maths (his best subject) he is a good year ahead of his age now.

Don't panic. It will come.

Lonelymum Fri 13-May-05 11:40:02

Sorry, parts of my post got deleted there. I meant to say, it took him about 2 years to move to near the top of the class in his academic work.

baka Fri 13-May-05 11:55:57

homsa- being bilingual can slow down initial speech, but not non-verbal communication. Which is why thing like pointing is so important (and a much better indicator of whether there is a problem or not)

haven Fri 13-May-05 13:57:50

does your child attend day care or any outside the home care...?

ds was way behind...pragmatics mainly...but, sometimes i wonder (stay at home mom w/1 child)+ 8 year old if maybe he didn't receive enough mental stimuli to get the sparks sparking....also i have read that bi-lingual home children may talk really really late, learning one language is hard for some children already...( my son for example ) but your child hasn't thrown other "red flags" to you yet....don't stress...if he is getting what you are telling him, and he can "problem solve" and you don't have that wrenching gut feeling...just
talk to other moms, doctors tend to just brush off moms anyway...and read ( not to much into things though) just incase that way you are on top of things....

coppertop Fri 13-May-05 14:08:59

Sorry, Homsa. I've been out all morning and have only just had chance to log on.

Ds1 first started to speak at around 3yrs old. He had one session of speech therapy each month. He started at a mainstream primary last school last September and will be 5 next month. He's doing really well. Although he's one of the youngest in the class he is actually academically ahead of most of them. His speech is still a bit quirky but he stopped needing speech therapy just after his 4th birthday. He has a few hours of help each week at school but likes his independence. Basically he's doing all the things that I never would have thought possible way back when he was 2.

Ds2 is 2.3yrs and has speech therapy once a month. He still doesn't understand a lot unless you speak to him in very simple sentences but his language is really improving. He needs to be taught most things but picks them up very quickly. He's not the easiest child to deal with but I'm pretty certain that he will do at least as well as his older brother.

bigdonna Fri 13-May-05 14:52:47

My daughter babbled alot but did not speak properly until she was 3 then she had speech therapy this did help,but other people seemed to think because they could not understand her she could not understand them! She is now in year 1 and on top tables for literacy and numeracy and is a brilliant reader so in the end they all catch up.yes you should get him checked, but dont worry so.We still find she speaks so quick we lose track of what she is saying.some kids are just lazy its easier letting someone else do all the work. just wanted to say its very common.

YAH Fri 13-May-05 14:56:41

If your child is not putting two words together by 24 months, then this is a red flag, and should be refered to a speech therapist. It could be an indication of Autism, especially with the non pointing. My son did have a few words, but did not put two words together. He too would drag an adult to something he wants, (to the fridge etc.) However, it is possible that he is just delayed. My daugher also did not put two words together by 24 months (we were worried she too had autism like her brother). Her language has improved in the last 6 months and is almost age appropriate.

Best have your son checked out, so if there is a problem he can get the support he needs, and if there is not a problem, you need then not worry.

Good luck

ambrosia Fri 13-May-05 15:03:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pinotgrigio Fri 13-May-05 16:00:37

Homsa, we only speak English at home, but between 12 and 24 months we lived in Italy and Thailand, so DDs exposure to other languages was through living there rather than us talking at home. I have heard though that it takes bi-lingual children longer to talk, as of course, they are having to assimilate 2 languages.

Let us know what your GP/HV says. If you've got some spare cash you could also arrange for a private speech therapist to visit and assess your son too.

Homsa Fri 13-May-05 16:58:14

Many thanks for your posts! Coppertop, I'm so glad your sons are doing so well! Gives me hope. I think I have been kidding myself about the pointing - I used to think that if he stretched his hand out for something and went "eh-eh", that was as good as pointing. Obviously not. I still hope he may be a bit of a borderline case; for example, he does sometimes point to pictures in books when asked, and his index finger will "lead the way" (all other fingers outstretched though) IYSWIM.
Anyway, I will push for him to get seen by a specialist - have just left a message on my HV's answerphone - but she's probably off for the weekend already.
To answer the other questions, yes, he goes to nursery (English-speaking) 5 mornings a week. When he's interested in something, he usually just stops and looks at it. When we're out on a walk, he will stop and look at cars, cats, diggers, whatever, but never points them out to me. However, he does point into direction he wants me to push the buggy to - typical male, always knows the way!

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