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Toddler behind on verbal skills but he won't sit or focus enough for us to try to develop them

(193 Posts)
mamma536 Fri 03-Jan-20 01:45:56

DS is 2.5. His gross motor skills are brilliant fine motor skills are ok. Communication wise I think he has actually regressed. He used to try to repeat words when we asked, but doesn't anymore. He's stopped using words he used to know. His spoken vocab is probably down to milk, please, no and asking for screens (we are limiting).

We know he understands more (he'll carry out a few instructions and will occasionally fetch something for us) but he won't focus on us to even listen much less carry out any instruction. We try to praise as much as possible, but he doesn't seem to have any interest in pleasing us, which I thought most kids would have, just himself.

We try endlessly with animals, colours, instructions, books, but he has no interest. He almost never sits down for a book. I took him to a playgroup once and tried to sit down to read with him. He ran off as usual, but a little group of other kids had also sat down with me to listen to the whole story - I've never experienced that before and it makes me want to cry.

He adores pouring water and beads, and loves trains. We indulge him with a homemade pouring station and try to encourage him with trains, but it's a bit hit and miss.

We had his 2yo assessment already and were given some games and exercises to try with him to encourage his communication skills. But he has no interest, just wants to run and jump around.

It bothers me that he won't look at me much of the time and I can't get his attention, mainly because he's zeroed in on something else. That said he does look at me when he wants to and have cuddles.

I'm just frustrated that we can't do all the things your supposed to do to help them develop. We can't read with him and end up reading at him which can't be much good. So we're left with lots of physical activities which are exhausting.

Do we need to worry and look for more help? Or should just keep trying and see how it goes? His dad didn't talk until 3yo and his aunt (DH's sister) was also hyper at his age and they're obviously fine now. I thought there would be this massive leap in communication between 2-2.5 that I was really looking forward to, but he seems to be going backwards in some ways.

YouCantBeSadHoldingACupcake Fri 03-Jan-20 02:19:12

I would look into getting him assessed for autism. The speech regression and inability to focus could be a sign

Nuttyaboutnutella Fri 03-Jan-20 02:24:41

Was anything flagged at the 2 year assessment?
Honestly, he sounds similar to my son who's nearly 3. We're currently undergoing an ASD diagnosis. My son doesn't talk, difficult to 'engage' him, regressed in some areas (used to say a few words), the lack of eye contact, loves sensory play etc.

Not saying your little boy has but it might be worth speaking to your GP or HV.

Nuttyaboutnutella Fri 03-Jan-20 02:25:41

Also, is he under SALT?

mamma536 Fri 03-Jan-20 04:09:41

He had his 2 year assessment at 2yo - we were about to move abroad and wanted to squeeze it in, and the HV said that normally they'd actually wait until 2.5yo. She talked us through our concerns - I think where we'd said "no he doesn't do that" like roleplay, but she'd tease out a singular example like "ok, he put a box on his head once" and then correct the assessment. So overall he's borderline on verbal so she gave us the exercises but I've not seen much improvement. I brought up the lack of eye contact and autism worry but there is enough eye contact, just not when I'm asking for it I guess. It's all on his terms. So last night he wanted me to lie on the bed with my head on the pillow, then he lay next to me and we stared into each others eyes. When he had enough and wanted to play and jump around, I couldn't move from the bed, he kept dragging me back to lie down. So he's very particular. He still breastfeeds and he looks into my eyes then. But when I am trying to get his attention, he is not interested.

So I don't know - is that enough?

mamma536 Fri 03-Jan-20 04:10:28

Not under SALT but I am looking for another assessment in our new country.

whinetime89 Fri 03-Jan-20 04:28:47

I am a Speech Pathologist and highly reccomend taking him to see a speech Pathologist and also getting an appointment with a Paediatrician ASAP especially considering the regression.

twinnywinny14 Fri 03-Jan-20 04:36:03

I have worked with toddlers for 10yrs plus pre school aged before then. Any type of regression is a concern esp over time and even more when it’s communication or interaction skills that are disappearing. Coupled with the social communication skills issues you describe (lack of eye contact, doing things his way and on his terms) I would agree that you need to look for further assessment from SALT or paediatrician really. Try to encourage his use of language by modelling what he needs to say (if there are words he used to use but has stopped then you need to push for him to use those words again) and try not to force him to look at you as this is something he isn’t comfortable with doing

twinnywinny14 Fri 03-Jan-20 04:37:58

I would also say that mothers have a very good instinct about their child and if you have thought about ASD then you have reasons for that and should follow your instinct to at least explore that

mamma536 Fri 03-Jan-20 05:19:16

Thanks. I've had these concerns for a while - the limited eye contact since he was a newborn, but I wasn't sure if this was normal.

He bats us away if we go on for a hug or kiss. Sometimes he'll give a hug when we ask for one. He used to give kisses on request, but doesn't do that now. He does offer more cuddles now so they are all on his terms.

mamma536 Fri 03-Jan-20 05:21:42

Try to encourage his use of language by modelling what he needs to say (if there are words he used to use but has stopped then you need to push for him to use those words again)

We definitely try. We try to at least get out the words that we know he still says like "milk please" when we know he wants some, but he refuses to try, just points at the milk and gets more distressed, so we give in.

mamma536 Fri 03-Jan-20 05:27:51

I thought when he was 2ish, I would start to explain that mummy's milk was going away, so I could wean off slowly.

But I've not bothered to do this because he's never given me any indication that he understands.

We used to do baby signs, and he could do "milk", "more", "please" but he's almost stopped doing those too.

Sometimes he'll throw in a word or sign that makes us feel like he's not forgotten and boosts his 2y assessment score. But it's so occasional I can barely remember any examples now.

mamma536 Fri 03-Jan-20 05:30:14

My heart's breaking a bit reading the comments. I haven't felt like this since he was a newborn and had a few medical issues.

My husband tries to put a positive spin on things and point out how far he's coming along in other ways. But I feel we're doing him a disservice by glossing over the verbal communication.

mamma536 Fri 03-Jan-20 05:50:05

Thanks for the replies. I've made some enquiries about seeing a GP in the hope of getting a referral in the country we are in.

flounderfish Fri 03-Jan-20 06:15:29

I can highly recommend a Hanen book called More than words to get you started as you wait for referrals to come through.

mamma536 Fri 03-Jan-20 06:32:42

Thank you so much

Ambrose2 Fri 03-Jan-20 06:33:51

Does he have much time with other children?

Mummyeyes Fri 03-Jan-20 06:53:11

Mamma536 you talk about trying hard. There may be an element of him pushing back. For instance you say you try endlessly with animals, colours, instructions, books but he has no interest. You might find if you go with what he is interested in that he responds (on his own terms in his own way). Have a look at the book "Babytalk" by Sally Ward which describes a method intended to treat speech delay. Basically you spend 30 minutes every day following your child's lead talking about what they are interested in. Autistic people are often listening but don't think of letting you know they are. Oh also get his eyes tested. If he is seeing a blur then he won't have a clue what you are talking about, and faces could just be blurry so he can't tell the difference between expressions.

Nuttyaboutnutella Fri 03-Jan-20 06:55:40

It's freaky you saying about the lying in bed thing. My boy does exactly the same thing, even to the thing if pushing me back down 😂 I absolutely love it when he cuddles in bed. As for eye contact, my son does but as you said, on his terms. When he wants to, he gives great eye contact. They can, it's just not always consistent.

Please don't be heartbroken. It's not always easy but my son is beautiful. I absolutely adore him. The simple things make him happy and I've actually learnt a lot from him.

Definitely try and get some GP input. Pm me if you need anything

mathanxiety Fri 03-Jan-20 07:01:15

Do you sing songs or play any music together? Dance?

Does he respond to music at all?

SinkGirl Fri 03-Jan-20 07:08:22

Sending unMNy hugs. This is so familiar to me.

I have twins who are 3 and both diagnosed with ASD. One of them had a huge regression about 18 months - stopped mimicking, stopped playing, no attention to focus at all, stopped using the sounds he had done etc. The other was really advanced in many areas but just never developed the language or social skills.

If you were in the U.K. I’d contact your HV for a reassessment, but I’m not sure of the process where you are. Definitely get a SALT assessment done.

In the meantime, i would get two books:
- An Early Start For Your Child With Autism (doesn’t matter if it’s not ASD, it’s all early intervention exercises to do with your child to work on these areas)

- More Than Words by Fern Sussman (this book is expensive but worth every penny, and will help you get started with SALT work while you get proper stuff in place).

How’s his understanding of language? This was the biggest red flag for us - they understand things from context but they don’t understand any words at all. They’re not going to talk unless they understand language (Not just words but the transactional nature - their action / word prompts a reaction from you etc). That’s what we are still working on, using other things (PECS, and DT1 will now do one sign, which has helped him understand that his actions affect us, and encouraged him with the PECS).

Hang in there - sending flowers

Winifredgoose Fri 03-Jan-20 07:10:02

I would absolutely not be reassured by a health visitor regarding autism. My son was diagnosed aged 8. I was reassured by so many people including health visitors, teachers and family members/friends when I expressed concerns.
Due to this it was shock when school finally said they had concerns and very quickly he was diagnosed.
He may be a late/uneven developer, but there is enough in your description that would definitely lead me to put him in the system and investigate further. Even if he doesn't have autism(or another specific delay/disability), you will gain a more detailed understanding of your child and how you can help him.
Good luck, it is so difficult worrying about your child.

doradoo Fri 03-Jan-20 07:14:06

You say you've moved overseas — is there now another language in the mix? DS2 was very slow to talk, but is pretty much bilingual now, we live in another EU country, his understanding came through way before speech, and he could communicate / get what he wanted without having to verbalize, so there was no incentive to speak. You mention family examples of later speech development, tbh I'd let it go for a. It and take the pressure off, but yes as a pp said do get eyes/ears checked just to make sure all's ok there.

SinkGirl Fri 03-Jan-20 07:16:50

My husband tries to put a positive spin on things and point out how far he's coming along in other ways. But I feel we're doing him a disservice by glossing over the verbal communication.

This was exactly us, especially DT1 - we didn’t want to believe there was a problem because look at all the things he can do, he’s so smart. He’d sit and match a pack of letter and number cards (so 36 different cards on the table) from when he turned 2, but couldn’t even recognise his own name. Luckily because his twin was already in the system we got referred for help really quickly.

The other thing that’s really helped us is portage - I don’t know if there’s anything like it where you are, it’s essentially developmental play therapy. Taught us lots of ways to engage them and they have both made some progress but they still have the language and social skills of infants. It’s really hard.

We are now looking to start something called Waldon therapy / functional learning which is similar to portage in some ways but much more focussed on building specific play skills which facilitate their development. You can do the exercises yourself even if you can’t find a therapist to work with you - have a google. It’s all done at a table and works on specific tasks like piling, stacking, matching, sorting, banging, even starting from a very low level. It sounds very interesting, we’ve stumbled across it by chance really but I can see how it can work.

SushiGo Fri 03-Jan-20 07:22:51

Just to echo what has been said up thread get an eye test and a hearing test. Kids with sensory problems can also regress, and getting these tests is generally pretty quick and easy so a good place to start.

Otherwise, lots of good advice here.

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