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20 month old doesn't speak - should I be worried?

(21 Posts)
Nottalotta Wed 29-Mar-17 17:48:12

Been wondering a while. He says mama. And does an uh-oh sound for just about anything. He babbles and sings a lot. But no real words.

He understands things, let's go upstairs, do you want a drink etc. He knows what things are called and will point to them when you say, eg the cats name, bike etc.

Can I encourage him in any way? We read daily, two bedtime stories plus bloody loads of others during the day. He loves books. Won't watch TV. I talk to him a lot.

Nottalotta Wed 29-Mar-17 17:51:45

I've just read a thread about a 22 month old reading which I understand is unusual but even so......!

LurkingQuietly Wed 29-Mar-17 18:10:30

Nope, my son was way over 20 months before he said a single word that could be understood by a stranger. 3yrs 2 months now and literally never stops talking. His vocabulary has overtaken all of his NCT peers who were talking way before him too. Don't worry, he will get there.

dontpokethebear Wed 29-Mar-17 18:15:40

Neither of my boys barely said a word before 2.5 (dd started about 1 and can't shut her up grin). Admittedly one had terrible glue ear, which was sorted at 3.5.
By 3.5 both boys were talking clearly.

My HV said that if they're understanding instructions etc, then there is probably nothing to worry about.

unlimiteddilutingjuice Wed 29-Mar-17 18:15:46

I think this is OK as long as he can understand speech, point to things etc..
My DS was quite slow to speak and started nursery school at 3, just about doing 2 word sentences.
At 4, he's quite chatty. You wouldn't know.

AmaDablam Wed 29-Mar-17 18:25:27

Dd also said very little at that age and I remember being a bit worried too. Then at 22 months her vocabulary just exploded and she went from about 5 to over a hundred words in the space of a month! I think if he's understanding what you say to him and vocalising plenty then he should be fine. It sounds like you're doing all the right things too. Do they do a 2 year developmental check in your area? That would be the time to bring it up, if you're worried, but until then I'd just carry on as you are.

Nottalotta Wed 29-Mar-17 18:30:28

Yes I think there is a 2 yr check. He 'talks' to himself and 'reads' his books out loud. He uses different sounds. He can point to eyes, ears, people by name etc animals, lots of understanding. Just no words!

Scotinoz Wed 29-Mar-17 19:39:39

Based on my limited experience, it sounds totally normal 😀

My 3 year old said maybe a few words but understood everything, then a week or so before her 2nd birthday began talking. It was crazy - first it was a few extra words, then by the end of the week it was paragraphs.

Youngest is shaping up to be the same. Last week she babbled with the odd word thrown in, but this week her vocabulary is pretty big. She's 2 next month.

My mum says my siblings and I were slow to talk, eldest at 2 and youngest at 4 😅

Unihorn Wed 29-Mar-17 19:42:01

Apparently I didn't speak til I was well over 2 but then didn't shut up grin I was then reading at 3. No need to worry smile

redheadbarmaid Wed 29-Mar-17 19:53:26

I could have written your post op as in exactly same position!

It is a real worry but I'm waiting till 2 year check to raise any concerns just in case he suddenly explodes into conversation one day!

Lofari Wed 29-Mar-17 19:56:43

I could have written this post too! My son is 21 months and says nothing. But he also doesn't point to things or respond.... waiting on a hospital referral at the moment as he's on his 8th ear infection of the year and my gp agrees he's got hearing problems x

CobsAhoy Wed 29-Mar-17 20:17:51

My 18month DD doesn't say anything either, but like your LO she makes loads of different 'chatty' noises and reads out loud, and she understands basic instructions/identifies objects. defibitely no discernible words though despite me reading, singing and talking to her all the time. Hoping she'll start soon and that this will ease the tantrums!

Nottalotta Wed 29-Mar-17 20:21:56

@Lofari I hope your ds gets some help once the referral goes through.

CheerfulMuddler Thu 30-Mar-17 17:37:26

I've just been reading 'Nurture Shock' which has a really interesting chapter on how to encourage speech. Worth getting a copy if you're looking for ways to get your child talking. Mine's a slow speaker too, and I've started doing some of the tricks they recommend - bit early to tell if it's making a difference or not.
Some of the things they suggest are:
Responding when he babbles, either by touching him or just saying 'yep, that's right' or similar, so he learns that he gets a reward for making sound. Don't do it absolutely every time he babbles, or he'll just keep saying nonsense, but definitely make a thing of it if he says something new or more complex.
Naming objects for him when he points at them or shows an interest. So every time he points at something say, "Yes, that's a car." Or "Clock! It's a clock!"
Motionese - wobbling the object in front of him so he pays more attention to it. But that stops working after 18 months apparently.
Make sure other adults do the same thing. Apparently a child needs to hear words said by more than one person before they can say it back. The more adults who say the words, the better.
Scaffolding. This is saying the same thing over and over in different ways. Do you want your apple! It's a lovely apple! Do you want to eat the apple? That IS a tasty apple, isn't it? Are you enjoying your apple? Helps them to pinpoint what the important word in a sentence is.

And no, I don't think there's anything wrong with him if he's not talking. All kids are different.

CheerfulMuddler Thu 30-Mar-17 17:41:48

They also said that for kids like your son who understand words but don't say them, that sometimes its a muscle control thing - they don't have the fine motor control to make the sounds necessary yet. But as soon as they learn, they're away.

squizita Thu 30-Mar-17 19:53:25

I'm fascinated by a 22 month old who can read.
I've done a lot of postgraduate level stuff on literacy and child development and never heard of it. Are they cited in a study? They would be famous to some extent if they could.

To put it into context, a child who uses "because" and understands the function of causal connectives before 2 1/2 is considered pretty darn gifted. And that's speaking not reading.

As PP have said, at this point I doubt you need to worry!

Nottalotta Thu 30-Mar-17 20:04:27

@squizita it was a post on mumsnet the same day as I started this post. The title was along the lines of 'my 22 month old can read, not a stealth boast ' I think.

I've been quite relaxed about the lack of speech but tbh that post threw me a bit. I couldn't help think bloody hell mine can't even speak! The child was reading words from.plain paper I think, no pictures, and not reciting them from a book/memory

cheerful thank you, I do much of what you suggest already. He loves to point to things and have them named. And he knows if you get it wrong (mummy's car, daddy's car etc blue car red car.)

Or if I asked him if he wanted an orange but showed him an apple.

CMamaof4 Thu 30-Mar-17 20:08:36

My son wasn't able to speak I brought him some symbols off of eBay that attached to Velcro so he could show me what he wanted to do or what he wanted to eat, he would pick up a card off of the board they are velcroed to and give it to me for example a picture of grapes then I would give him grapes and at the same time say grapes as I handed him back the card and gave him the grapes, This method is called PEC and it is AMAZING at getting your child talking, I highly recommend it, I noticed a difference in just days and a few months down the line he amazes me with new words every day it has encouraged him to try and communicate, Its like his brain was kick started into action, Just type in Pecs symbols on eBay I got the one with lots of symbols best £12 I have ever spent!
I wish I would have discovered it sooner!

helenfagain Thu 30-Mar-17 20:10:17

My 21 month old says about 6/7 words. He understands fine and reacts (unless focussed on tv!) but doesn't point, never has. He will do high fives etc on command and has just started putting 2 words together the last few days example mum up and mum cup. I have the health visitor coming out tomorrow to see whether she thinks there is an issue. He may have a slight hearing problem (failed newborn hearing screen and subsequent one) but he won't sit still long enough to do the test, we've been trying for over a year now! He definitely hears at a reasonably normal volume though.

Elvisrocks Thu 30-Mar-17 20:15:32

One of my relatives didn't speak until she was two and she has an MA and PhD from Cambridge.

squizita Thu 30-Mar-17 21:17:35

Notta I wouldn't worry. If a child under 2 could read with no guiding images whatsoever, and the parent ran to MN not the HV or nursery for a special assessment ... that is rare. Almost unheard of rare. I've heard of parents getting kids to read picture books at 3, with support and that takes an exceptional child and a lot of parental input which would concern me as to what they were missing out to put in hours of reading but words with no supporting images under the age of 2 would be "experts will want to come and study your child" rare.

I found a post from 2012 where posters claimed themselves to recall reading at 18 months which again is hilarious as hardly any adults remember anything at all from that age.

My DD is very vocally developed and has a freakish memory: two more common traits. She can remember some words as 'pictograms' but cannot sound them out. She can also repeat a story once she has heard it twice. This is not reading. The margins at approx 2 are vast as well - in one toddler group you can have 5-200 words! And all OK.

You do not have to worry about that exaggerated bullshit extreme case in relation to your child. Not at all.

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