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Is there an age when you can tell whether a child with ASD will have speech?

(26 Posts)
runikka Thu 16-Aug-07 18:19:16

I know it is the million dollar question but I wonder sometimes if we'll ever have an indication whether Daniel will go on to have speech of some description.

He is 2yrs 9 months now and randomly sings/babbles bits of nursery rhymes. He can clearly get the tune and the odd random word ie: twinkle twinkle "random babble" up above "randome babble". He also can sing the balamory word from the theme tune. There are just random words as well such as mumma dadda but not said to us in particular. He mainly just babbles, moans, hums and occasionally squeals with excitement but is the limited vocab a promising sign?

Sorry for the ramble

Many thanks

coppertop Thu 16-Aug-07 18:35:57

Obviously there are no definite answers but certainly 2yrs 9mths is way too young to say that a child will never talk. My ds1 didn't really say anything until 3ish and for a while even that was just copying the last word(s) of other people's sentences, including mimicking their accent. Some were more symbolic, eg "Guk" was milk. By the time he started Reception not long after his 4th birthday he had caught up enough to only need SALT assessments once a year rather than actual therapy. He was discharged fully from the SALT list at 6yrs as his language was actually ahead of the level expected for his age.

There are also lots of stories out there about children who didn't start speaking until they were much older, eg 5yrs, 10yrs, and older still.

Strangely enough ds1's favourite song was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star too. Lots of "Up buv wor eye" when he first started to speak.

sphil Thu 16-Aug-07 18:40:41

I don't know if there's any real predictability to it, but DS2 was very similar to your son in his vocalising when he was 2.9 - sort of meaningful babble with the odd word but not used functionally. He's never been able to sing in tune though! He now (at 4.9) has about 40 single words that he uses to request stuff he wants, with a very few phrases. He probably only uses about 20 of these on a daily basis though. The big breakthrough with his speech was PECS (at about 3.8) and more recently his ABA/VB programme has really increased his ability to request.

I think that any kind of vocab is a promising sign . Echoic language is also supposed to be a good sign - DS2 only started doing that fairly recently.

gess Thu 16-Aug-07 18:49:00

No I don't think you can tell, although being able to imitate (motor stuff like clapping hands etc) is a good sign that a child has an opportunity to develop speech. I've never come across a child who had speech who couldn't imitate.

Although having said that I read a paper a few nights ago about the stage a child reaches (in terms of shared attention etc) which is just before they speak- and ds1 fitted the bill- still no speech though.

What I do now know isn;t true is that for ASD in particular there's no cut off- I used to hear if a child isn't speaking by 5 they won't talk at all- rubbish- met a number now who developed speech in their teens.

DS1 is 8 and although I suspect its unlikely he'll speak he keeps on looking like he might so we haven't given up. I think his problems are now dyspraxia/motor co-ordination rather than language or cognitive.

sphil Thu 16-Aug-07 21:17:58

Although I've never met your DS Gess, I've always got the impression that he IS speaking - it's just that he's not articulating, if that makes sense. Certainly when you showed that video of him at the Growing Minds course (the bit where he was teasing you and asking for a biscuit) it was clear that he was speaking. So do you think it's verbal dyspraxia that's making it difficult for him to say words clearly?

DS2 is weird in that he learnt to request verbally before he could imitate motor actions. He has always been able to fill in words in songs/rhymes though - even if just the initial sound of the word - which Growing Minds tell me is an intraverbal skill which should come later! And I guess what that proves is the complete unpredictability of the whole speech process.

Kirsty - is your DS using PECS?

gess Thu 16-Aug-07 21:22:20

yes - ds1 could do that- more so when younger but intonate whole books.

You are right he does vocalise- and he vocalises meaningfully (if you have the shared knowledge to understand it). He has very very few speech sounds. I don't think he would speak in sentences if it was clear- but probably words, iykwim.

Blossomhill Thu 16-Aug-07 21:25:29

My dd with AS couldn't speak at all until she was about 3. She had the odd word and like your ds sang a few tunes and babbled a bit. At this stage she had a dx of a severe language disorder. She will be 8 in 2 weeks and her vocab is now vast and she has more or less been signed off from SALT (although goes in for lots of group/social skill type things). So things can improve a lot. Dd still finds it very hard to have a 2 way conversation though. She just doesn't understand that I say something, she answers etc etc but I am hoping that in time she may learn to do this a bit easier HTH

RnBee Thu 16-Aug-07 21:31:46

We were told by Gilly Baird that because DS1 was babbling at 2.5 months this was a good sign that he would have speech. At the same time we were told by a SALT that he would never speak.

we ran an ABA programme for 3 yrs and he does speak now. But he makes grammatical errors (eg saying 'they' instead of 'we')but we are amazed by the progress he has made.

sphil Thu 16-Aug-07 21:35:40

Gess - have you tried the verbal imitation stuff for ABLSS with him (Section E)?

sphil Thu 16-Aug-07 21:36:22

from ABLSS, I mean..

gess Thu 16-Aug-07 21:40:07

yep- and for a while he could imitate 'ba ba ba' but now it's just ay ya ya. Everything is ya or ee. Did quitea bit with SW on it, but tbh it just hasn't worked (needed a session with KW on that! )

sphil Thu 16-Aug-07 21:58:24

Are there any sounds he really really likes? Would he imitate those? I know you've probably tried everything so feel free to blow a large raspberry in my direction..

gess Fri 17-Aug-07 08:42:02

He'll happily try to imitate sounds - he just can't do it. For example I was pondering the other day on all the sounds he had pre-regression- used to have the full range of animal noises for example which he would produce either in imitation or in response to for eg. 'waht does a snake say' or to seeing a piccy of a snake . Now a snake - he can't 'sss' at all and doesn't respond to the questions. If I get him to try and imitate me (hoorah new since last autumn) he just kind of blows through his lips as if he's blowing out a candle. "hidden' sounds - k, g, etc - no chance - I can't even try and demonstrate them. I have video of him at a year old playing with a dug "qua, qua quack" - if I try and get him to 'qua' now we just get 'eh'- and you can't demonstrate a 'qua' iyswim.

It's the reason I don't think he'll talk tbh. I just don't think he can produce the sounds. I have come across adults very like him who can't talk - and they describe the same sort of problems (hence I'm lookiing into literacy etc). Thier behaviour is often very like his as well (extremely impulsive/compulsive). Sort of think aiming on speech is flogging a bit of a dead horse and we're better experimenting to see if we can get him typing.

sphil Fri 17-Aug-07 09:45:19

DS2 couldn't do anything like that pre-regression. When we first started the vocal imitation stuff he was pretty approximate, but the process does seem to be gradually shaping his articulation.

Mind you, he didin't really regress in language - just stopped developing. It sounds as if DS1 had a much more dramatic language regression.

God, I don't know how you must feel. I'm desperate for him to speak and I haven't even met him! It just seems as if most of the puzzle pieces are there - and he's so far advanced of DS2 in terms of his understanding, reasoning etc - but there's just something that's not quite working in terms of the speech process.

gess Fri 17-Aug-07 10:52:40

ah- but its makng peace with that isn't it? the GM/KW stuff of 'you don't know he won't speak' is helpful. Bu also reading things like 'autism and the myth of the person alone' and 'Lucy's story' have helped me realise that its not all about speech as such. I want his language to develop and I would rather he could type in sentences than speak in single words iyswim. Although I'd settle for either

2mum Fri 17-Aug-07 12:50:26

Hi my sons 4 and has said a few words but it can be weeks in between. The 2 he would use the most but not every day would be no and bye. I would class him as non verbal as he does babble a lot of noises hes use actually speaking. But im just happy hes making any noise so i cant complain! i think if your child is saying any words or making noises its a good sign for the future that he/she may be talking.

2mum Fri 17-Aug-07 12:51:31

I meant to say he babbles a lot of noises but hes not actually speaking.

runikka Fri 17-Aug-07 19:02:29


many thanks for all the replies we are due to start on the earlybird course in Sept and I hope it will help us learn how to encourage Daniel!

just adding on to my original message. what age do you consider it best to start things such as PECS, ABA etc Is it really dependent on the individual child? I am kinda torn between wanting Daniel to have a regular play filled toddler hood and wanting to spend more structured time helping his overcome his delays. I know that learning is accomplished through play at this age but...arggh rambling again..cant explain what I mean. I guess I dont want to feel like he is attending school before his time if that makes sense!


gess Fri 17-Aug-07 19:09:08

can he play? Ds1 has only just learned (as little) aged 8 so learning through play was never appropriate for him. I wishe we'd started ABA earlier. Things like Floortime can be more playbased, so have a look at that as well.

runikka Fri 17-Aug-07 19:35:00

Hi Gess

I guess it is loosely termed as play. He has no imaginative play but he can occupy himself looking at books and trying to figure out how toys work. He loves his cuddly toys and we have been advised to use them to help him understand social situations but to be honest he just likes to cuddle or chew them. We play peekaboo with his favourite toys. He loves trains (real ones) and studies his toy ones. He will move trains/cars round a track but I doubt it is in anyway to imitate real ones.

Play with us is very much tickle/cuddle/read book/work toy! at this stage but encouraging as he does get more involved.

bullet123 Fri 17-Aug-07 19:42:39

Ds1 is verbal, but his speech is very delayed and disordered for his age (four):
This below is him with a very very familiar routine, on a very good day, giving us as much attention as possible:

DS1 enjoys helping with things, but needs very close supervision and step by step instructions. Eg this is him helping to make a sandwich this dinner time.

Me: "T, open the cupboard door."
Ds1: "AAH Open cutup DOOR!"
Me: (pointing to cupboard next to us): Open cupboard door.
Ds1 opens the fridge door.
Me: "Open the cupboard door", gently guiding his hands to it.
Ds1 opens the door.
Me: "Pass me the peanut butter."
Ds1 gets the peanut butter jar and holds onto it.
Me: "Peanut butter, yes. For peanut butter sandwiches. Give it to mummy."
Ds1 doesn't hand it over. I hold out my hand. He passes it over.
Me: "Thank you. Now open fridge."
Ds1 does so.
Me: "Get bread and butter."
Ds1 gets the bread out and puts it on the side. Leaves the butter and shuts the fridge door.
Me: "Pass me the butter".
Ds1 goes to get the cooking marge.
Me: "Not that butter. THIS butter."
Ds1 passes me the cooking marge.
Me: "Not that butter. Get the butter in the fridge."
Ds1 realises and passes me the correct butter. I move to put the cooking marge back and he gets upset, thinking it's needed for his sandwich.
Me(after all is well): "I'm buttering the bread now."
Ds1: "A butter a BREAD!"
Me: Shall I put the peanut butter on now?"
Ds1: No reply.
Me: "Do you want to help?"
No reply from Ds1. I sign "help" and he signs "help" back.
Me: "Come on, time to help make the sandwich."
Ds1: Come on, it's time for a NAPPY CHANGE!"
Me: "Not yet. Now it's time for a sandwich."
Me: "A tasty peanut butter sandwich. Help me spread the peanut butter on."
He gets hold of the knife and helps put some on. He can't cut with the knife so I cut his sandwich up.
Me: "Does that look yummy?"
Ds1: "A TOM, A JACOB, A MUMMY, A DADDY, A FAMILY!!" (complete with Makaton signs.
Me: Mummy and Tom and Jacob are here. Daddy is at work.
DS1 repeats his last sentence and then shrieks loudly.
Me: "You know your family. Take your sandwich through to the living room now."
Ds1 does so and starts eating.

bullet123 Fri 17-Aug-07 19:43:39

I should add that was about a month ago, I've copied it from a post I did on another forum, but he;s no different today.

sphil Sat 18-Aug-07 23:04:50

Aah Bullet, that's great! I have hopes that I'll eventually be able to have a conversation like this with DS2 but we're not there yet. My transcript would go something like this.

In the car tonight coming back from my mums house.

DS2: Cracker!
Me: I've got some here but they're dry. Look, no butter. Do you want one?
DS2: Yes
I give him the cracker. He looks at it, sniffs it and throws it down.
DS2: Toast!
Me: No toast in the car. Do you want this cracker?
DS2: Yes! No! (has only just learnt these and still gets muddled)
Me: No? OK then.(takes cracker back)
DS2: Nana!
Me: No bananas. You can have one when we get home.
DS2: Home? Timegohome.
Me: Yes. We're going home.

gess Sat 18-Aug-07 23:07:01

I have some transcripts sphil And they're wonderful.

sphil Sat 18-Aug-07 23:21:25

Do you mean transcripts of DS2? From the video? Ooh, would like to see those...

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