Getting worried about one of my twins speech!

Khadijah - posted on 09/20/2010 ( 29 moms have responded )

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I have 19 1/2 month old g/g twins. I am starting to get worried about one of their speech. She makes the usual baby sounds (babbling to her twin) and she says some single words like: baby, mama, dada, pop pop (her GrandDad), this, shoe, yes, no, cup and a few other words. At her 18 month appt her Pedi even said that she was on target. She does understand everything that I ask her to do and follows directions very well. However, I was reading my weekly update on Babycenter.com and it said that she should be using two word phrases by now, and that if your child drops consenants from words its a red flag that a speech delay could be present.

I wouldn't say that she drops the consenant but a lot of times she will leave out letters and it doesn't come out clearly. For example: If she says the word "shoe" it sounds like "sue". I taught both my girls Signing when they were about 13 months which helped cut down on frustration in relaying what they were trying to tell me. I started wondering if the signing is hendering her from speaking as much as she should. She's not very chatty at all. In fact if I see that she wants something I'll have to ask her. She'll either respond with a yes, or no, or she'll repeat the word I said to let me know that is in fact what she wants.

I go over the alphabet with them everyday. I have read a book to them everyday since they were born. We go over shapes and colors, etc. Is there anything else I should be doing to develope her speech? Does anyone else have 19 month olds with a similar issue?

Maybe I am making something out of nothing but I would rather be on the safe side. Also I think because my sister in law (who is way too out spoken) decided to suggest her theories on why they might not be talking. I just feel like a child will talk in their own time and as long as she isn't 4 years+ and not mouthing a word then she is ok.

What do you think?

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Annabel - posted on 09/22/2010

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I'm a speech-language pathologist with 3-year-old twin girls. I've worked with kids age 18 months all the way through 6th grade. When my girls hit their first birthday, they could understand a few words, but were somewhat inconsistent in responding appropriately. But expressively, neither of them had a single word or sign. Like a few of you who responded, we did sign language and talked to them constantly since they were born. Being an SLP, you can imagine how nervous I was when my own kids had yet to say their first true words. But just like so many other kids, by 15 months, suddenly they had about 20 words. By 18 months this had exploded to well over 100 words (I know, I recorded every new word they used. We SLPs are very anal about things like this!), and maybe 30 two-word phrases. By 2 years, they had 350 words and many phrases. And now, at age 3, they have some serious complex sentences and thought processes and definite higher order thinking skills. Okay, now I'm bragging! I do want to mention that one of my girls still uses what I call skinny SH, CH, and J sounds. She says instead: S, TS, and DZ. So it's sooz, tsairs, and dzoos instead of shoes, chairs and juice. Hm--these are the least of my concerns. She's got an amazing final R, and if you have R's, the SH, CH, and J will not be a problem for long.

Here's a rule of thumb for language development: At age one, it is typical to be using 1 or 2 words. By age 18 months, many kids use around 50 words. At age two, the average length of an utterance is 2 words. That means there are a lot of single-word utterances, but also some two and 3-word utterances. At age 3, average length of utterance is around 3 words. Age 4, mlu (mean length of utterance) is 4 words, and etc. Key to this is the fact that: Understanding language almost always develops more quickly than producing it. Your daughter uses quite a few words, and appears to understand a lot more. If I were you, and in order to ease your concerns, write down every new word or phrase that she responds correctly to. You will note that she probably has quite an impressive list of receptive vocabulary. Keep on recording her use of expressive words too. Just wait, as she approaches age 2, this vocabulary expansion will just explode. You just won't be able to write them all down.

Here are a few more ideas for you to help her language along even more. This is probably what your speech therapist might suggest for you too: 1. Do more than just read--play with your child 2. Get face to face with them. When my girls were younger, I used to love carrying them around, one of them at a time (when they were a bit lighter), and just talk to them about anything and everything. When they play on the floor, you might even have to get down on your elbows so you are face to face with them. This helps them see your face when you talk. 2. Follow their lead. Forget about having your own agenda. Kids learn language the best when they are playing with what interests them and what catches their attention. Imitate what they are doing and saying, and pretty soon you will be having a blast interacting with your children. 3. Observe Wait & Listen (we call this OWL-ing). It's okay for things to be silent. We don't have to be talking constantly. 4. When they do attempt to communicate with a word, sound, gesture, or what not, imitate what they do or say. Then expand this from one word to two words, from two words to four words. Elaborate on what they did or said using correct grammar. 5. Try to balance your conversation turns & their conversation turns so it's like you're equal partners. 6. Comment more than ask questions. 7. When you are elaborating or describing what you are doing or seeing, make sure you include more than just nouns. There are verbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, question words (who what where), etc. Use them and make your language rich! 8. Pretend that your child is like a miniature foreigner trying to learn your language. So exaggerate important words that give meaning, use lots of gestures, say things much more slowly. Then repeat what you are teaching over and over and over! 9. Even when you use books and music, let your child lead. Let them turn the pages. Let them point to the pictures. You don't have to complete the book from cover to cover.

When I worked in a preschool language center, we took kids in at 18-months, when they were basically non-verbal. Based on your description of your child, I just want you to know that I would not take your child in as a client at this point. She's still within the normal range of development. You're a great mom. Have faith in your ability to teach your child everything she needs as a toddler and pre-schooler. This is your God-given talent, and the fact that you are worried about her means you really care about her and love her deeply. She's going to be fine!

Tina - posted on 09/20/2010

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She sounds like she is doing just fine. Sometimes when a baby isn't speaking as much or as well it is because their focus is on other things like learning how to climb on things or how to put smaller objects into a basket. My son was slow to talk but he was very busy and was a climber, as soon as he had all those things mastered( and got tubes in his ears) his speech took off.

Tatjana - posted on 09/21/2010

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Are they at daycare as yet? do you speek normaly to them? my twin girls are 2 and a half, born at 32 weeks.Dr said that they would be slower up until around 4 or 5, bit your wouldnt say that now! they have plenty to say, but also started very slow.dont worry about it, they learn from one another and parrot what we say, so let them learn and help them with books and DVD's, you will be amazed at how fast they can learn a song! your twins are just where God intends them to be.

Amanda - posted on 09/22/2010

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I have 20 month g/g twins. One is very talkative and picks up on words very quickly. The other one talks and says words, and can put a couple of words together (night night, bye bye, i know...). At their 18 mo appointment the doctor said they were saying more words than they needed to be for their age - both of them at that time could say just shy of 24 words. (the target is about 10). So as long as the doctor thinks your daughter is on track, I wouldn't worry about it. I think you have it right with kids will talk at their own pace and time. Dont try to force or rush her. I read to my kids every day (sometimes it seems like all we do is read), and I think that helps, plus they watch seseame street (not sure if it helps, but they do say elmo and cookie, and love reading books with seseame street characters in it). If you really think there is a problem, talk to your doctor again. Your twins are two different people and will not do things at the same time all the time. I have to remind myself and my husband of that sometimes when we start to compare our girls. I think that babycenter is a good reference, but nothing is better than your kids doctor - they have known your kids since birth and every kid is different. My doctor told me they aren't supposed to be putting words together until around the age of 2. and milestones have a wide range of what is considered normal. I hope this helps, and good luck!

Denice - posted on 09/22/2010

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I have twins girls who were in speech since they were three. There were actually three sets of twins in their sppech class. I was told that it is very common with twins . Some people actually refer to it as "twin talk" . My twins would have conversations with each other in their own jibberish language. they are seven now, and speech is just fine. I think what you're doing is exactly what you're supposed to do. keep reading to them, and make sure that people aren't talking baby talk to them. my three older children tended to do that, no matter how matter how many times i asked them not to. good luck !

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Debbie - posted on 10/08/2010

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My 3 1/2 year old twins have always displayed differences in when they learn things. The same twin (we'll call her the older twin) would always be the first to do anything, crawl, walk, climb, speak etc. The younger twin has always been a few months behind her older sister. However, I have noticed that the younger twin didn't have the same period of trying to achieve crawling, walking, speaking etc. It was a lot shorter and I have come to the conclusion that she is just watching her older sister try new things until she masters whatever she is doing and then she copies her older sister's final result. This means that she actually ends up developing at the same speed. I also noted that their speech was taking longer than my older son when he was their age but I put that down to the fact that they speak to each other and totally know what they are saying, they comprehended what we said so we weren't too concerned and now I can't stop their incessant chattering so be thankful for the quiet before the noise level goes up in your house!! Good luck

Marjory - posted on 10/08/2010

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My twins are now 3 and I understand your concern. My daughter speaks very clearly and about 95 % of her words can be understood. My son on the other hand can only be understood probably about 50% if you dont interact with him on a daily basis. I jsut spoke to their Dr about it and they scheduled us for a hearing and speech evaluation. Honesltly I dont think their is anything wrong or any sort of delay but I would like to be certain. What I do with them is I point out everything. When wer are in the car we point out the colors in the light all the street signs, different kind of vehicles, store names. You name it we point it out. What I have realized with twins is that they have their own time line, my twins have never reached a milestone together... Always one first then the other a couple weeks later. Keep up the good work your doing a good job.

[deleted account]

Hi there,

Just want to reiterate what others have said and give you some information you might want to share with you sister in-law! Recently I bought a twin psychology book for the chapter on Speech delay. Although speech delay in twins is not inevitable twins are at greater risk for speech delay. In fact it is so common in twins that some professionals refer to it as "speech difference" not "speech delay". With interventions (like reading, talking to baby, signing, repeating what they say but slightly expand it-with proper grammar, etc.) these differences are usually gone by age 4-5. From what I hear it sounds like you are doing everything right so keep it up! Good job. By grade one you shouldn't even be able to notice a difference at all.



If you wan to find out more the book is called "Twin and Triplet Psychology". Should warn you that it is an academic book (i.e. they site research studies) and it is geared toward professional who work with multiples. I did find the "theories" on why speech delay is so common in twins very interesting though... and signing does NOT cause speech delay. In fact the opposite just might be true.



A quick side note on second languages- speech often progresses slower than average (both singletons and multiples) but by 4 or 5 they are often more advances then average.

Jannine - posted on 09/27/2010

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stacy the smaller twin had to atend speach therapy for they have a big sister at 8 who spoke for her. her twin rebecca is a chatter box they have just started nursery and it seems to have helped stacy to come out off herself. story time helps at night.

Annabel - posted on 09/26/2010

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Responding to the posts regarding seeking early intervention, I have an important piece of information. All individuals from age 0 to 21 who have communication needs can find free services if they qualify. This is from the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) law of way back when. For example, all newborns are screened for hearing, and if this is compromised, they qualify immediately for speech and language therapy. From age 0 to three, look up your local county regional center. This is usually in the government pages of your phone book. Or, of course you can google it. From ages 3-21, local public school districts are responsible for servicing you, regardless of income levels. For a while, the school system provided very limited services to kids who opted to attend private schools (speech therapy and other types of services too like occupational therapy and other therapy types). But recently, they are again offering more and more therapy opportunities to kids in private school. Of course if you are in the public school system, you won't have a problem. If your child is age 3-5, you automatically get free services through your local school district, if they do indeed qualify, even if you attend private preschools. If you're at all worried, you need to contact your local school district or regional center ASAP! Hey, in this case, peace of mind is FREE! We live in a great country--take full advantage of our amazing opportunities! Remember that parents have amazing power. Even when districts may say that your child is borderline and probably does not qualify (their disability or delay is not severe enough), I've seen parents who are extremely insistent, and their mild or moderately involved kids, end up getting more and more treatment. Therapists of course vary widely, but I don't think I've met or heard of too many therapists who have made zero difference, and they certainly will not hurt your child's development.

Networkingwahm - posted on 09/26/2010

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I totally agree with you, go for it and check it out! I did and it was well worth the peace of mind :)

Tami - posted on 09/26/2010

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If you are really concerned, just google your state's Early Intervention program. Have them tested. (It's FREE!) The worst that happens is that they find a delay. If they qualify for help, they will get it. The therapist comes right to your house. Depending on your family income, the therapist may be free. We qualified for free speech therapy for one of my boys even though we are middle class. If your kids don't qualify, at least you'll have peace of mind and can stop worrying. My son, who was delayed at 24 mos, is doing great now in preschool (3.3 yrs) and still getting speech therapy. But now his twin has an articulation issue as well! It's so hard to understand what he says! Of course, now they're too old for early intervention, so we have to pay for his private speech therapy.



The earlier you get them tested, the better. And if you still have a concern a few months later (if they don't qualify), you can have them tested again.



As an early childhood teacher I can tell you that it doesn't sound like anything is wrong. The 's' sound and 'sh' sound are later developing sounds, as are most 2 letter combinations. My kids STILL can't say those! Good luck!

Jennifer - posted on 09/24/2010

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My identical twin girls have just turned 3 in sept. I have had the same problem as you in the past as far as speech. I wouldn't worry so much until they turn 2 or after because I started noticing that the one I had speech problems with was actually learning alot more then the other. continue to talke normal, playing learning games, and I think she will do just fine. now I do still have some speach problems and I talk to them normal. I get instead of fingers they are hangers. so that is something that we are working on and you should pronounce sounds to each letter so they will recognze. teaching your kids to learn sign is not a bad thing it is actually very good thing. I wish I new sign.

Heather - posted on 09/23/2010

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My twins aren't learning to speak at the same rate either. I'm not concerned. I know they will learn to talk eventually. We read books, sing songs, and they can understand me (they also have their own twin language and have had conversations with each other basically since birth) so I'm not sweating it. When they are ready they will speak our language!

Sarah - posted on 09/23/2010

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Hi hun!
No worries! Twin speech is delayed and the same thing happened with my boys. Now they are six and both speak perfectly well.
Hang in there and just keep doing what you're doing. Your little girl is gonna catch up in her own time. =)

~Sarah

[deleted account]

There is such a wide variey of speech abilities in toddlers that, honestly, as long as she understands you and is somewhat verbal (as she is)... I would not worry about it at this stage. Keep an eye (ear) on it, sure, but just continue to engage her verbally and read to her.

My son is 2.5 and talks a LOT, but can't pronounce about half of his alphabet. I'm curious (a step down from concerned) about it, but in just the 2 weeks that his sisters and I have been 'working' w/ him he's already learned to say 2 new letters. :)

Donna - posted on 09/22/2010

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I went throught the same thing you did. My twins really didnt start saying much untill they turned 2. They would get kinda frusterated at times and look toward me to help fill in the word. I thought about some speach therapy but seriously it just seemed pointless. Eventually at about 3 just out of nowhere their speech improved. So dont worry, I'm sure yur daughter will be just fine.

Ciera - posted on 09/21/2010

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babycenter actually is a little off on their time-frame. i had similar concerns for the same reason and their pediatrician said that it wasnt completely accurate. she gave me a speech pamphlet that charts speech development. my twins were very advanced beyond their age for a long time speaking clearly before 4 of their cousins all within 2 months of their age and even able to say 7 different animal sounds on queue at 10 months old. then, at about 15 months i noticed hat they really weren't learning many new words since about 12 months old even though i was still trying to teach them as much. it was like all of a sudden they decided they didnt want to say anything new and they reverted back to more of a babbling. (they would still say the words they had been saying for months, it's just that no new words were relly being added to their vocabulary) when i talked to their pediatrician, she gave me a pamphlet which said that most children are not able to properly pronounce certain letters up to 36 months. it doesn't mean that they are behind or anything it is just that some letters they have to learn to HEAR and then learn to PRONOUNCE. the hearing as well as their speech is still developing for the first 36 months of life (for some even longer) but it is completely normal for them to "replace"certain letters. For instance, the "R" sound is one of the last to develop so it is normal for them to replace the "R" sound with a different sound like the "W" sound. Sometimes the "L" sound will be replaced by another sound as well. This is completely normal. When your daughter says "sue" instead of "shoe", it is just a sound replacement because she has just not figured out how to replicate the "sh" sound. It is totally normal. If she is 36 months and still cannot say it right, then you may be referred to a speech specialist but you still have a lot of time. My twins are also 19 1/2 months (they will be 20 months on oct. 10th) and my daughter calls her cousin Eli, "Li-Li". As far as 2-word phrases, she should be able to understand the concept that words can be put together to mean something but it doesn't mean that she will always use multiple words. Are there any 2 words that she DOES use together? Even if it is just one phrase then you will know that she understands the concept to some extent. For example, my boy will say "what's that?" but that is the only multiple-word phrase I think i've ever heard him use. everything else is just single words. even if not, it says here in my pamphlet that they should be using 2-word phrases by 24 months. you still have some time for that too and I'm sure you've noticed how quickly they learn things by now. 4 1/2 months is a long time for them to learn. I am sure everything is fine. Maybe see if your pedi has a pamphlet like this one.

Marie - posted on 09/21/2010

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i think it's perfectly normal, my daughter is 5 and instead of saying ambulance she says ambliance, but so does her 3 year old brother, it's a phase, they're learning new words AND learning how to say them...i don't think there will be anything wrong, my b/b twins are very different in the words they use, they are also 19 1/2 months and one says complete sentences (mind you, sometimes only i am the one who knows what he is saying) and the other is still trying to put the words together...one of his favorites though is 'CALM DOWN!!' hehe, the one (Benjamin) who talks alot also babbles alot, which i love, and Kasey likes to scream things...like 'MOM' or 'BYE BYE!'
they both understand completely what i ask..
i just keep repeating words we use often, and they've picked up pretty much everything, but Benjamin likes to test himself and take it to the next level and make short sentences, i have no fears that Kasey will be behind at all by the time they're in school, plus they have a wonderful brother and sister who will be helping me/them on their way!

i wouldn't worry about it :) don't let them grow up too fast!!

Networkingwahm - posted on 09/21/2010

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I would say not to worry and don't freak out. Often one twin is more dominant and does more of the talking. That being said, always do the right thing if you have a concern. Always listen to you gut feeling as a parent. You know your child better than any specialist! In most states you can have free screening tests done on preschoolers, ask your ped.

Danielle - posted on 09/21/2010

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My 23 month old boys were tongue tied at birth and did not get the surgery to release them until they were 16 months old! I have also been quite concerned about their speach and like yours they both have displayed definite comprehension and have been able to communicate their needs and wants. In the past month one of the boys has significantly improved his speach and vocabulary. I am thinking that it is mostly due to the VERY different personalities they have. It is very important to remember that no two children will advance alike... although it is hard to remember that with twins. I agree with you that they are making progress and are comprehending and attempting speach so dont sweat it yet!

Emily - posted on 09/21/2010

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I wouldn't worry much about it right now - but keep an eye on it just so if she does start falling behind you can jump on trying to get her evaluated for speech therapy. My twin boys are 3 now and they've both got slight speech delays. One is more delayed than the other and has also had other developmental delays due to health issues. We've worked with a variety of developmental specialists due to the health issues with ours since birth. The one thing they all say is that it is very common for twins have a bit of a speech delay. The other thing they say is that babies work on one skill set at a time, speech or motor skill development - so if she's all the sudden starting to develop new gross or fine motor skills she will not be focusing on new speech skills at the same time.

We're currently in speech therapy for one of the boys and the other is being monitored to see if he needs it, but I can tell you that my boys were both much more delayed than your girls. It sounds like you are on top of things with all the reading etc - that is exactly what you should be doing! And as they get older if you are still concerned, check with your local school system and/or your pediatrician to see if she should be referred for speech and language testing. The fact that she understands what you are asking her to do and follows directions says that she's got the receptive language skills - she might just be holding back a bit on the expressive language! Sounds like she might just end up being the quieter of the twins. =)

[deleted account]

Has she had a lot of ear infections or does she get them now? That can delay speech. How does she compare personality wise with her sister? For example, is one more outgoing? My girls are almost 13 now, they are identical, but one is much more reserved socially, she tends to be my "physical" one she likes to do stuff but not talk as much. The other twin is more my thinker and talker. It could be a simple personality difference. My thought is to give them all kinds of opportunities as you would anyway, picture books, etc. and individual time and wait and see how she is doing at 2. Most doctors won't even consider speech or hearing evaluations until 2.

Crystal - posted on 09/21/2010

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I have b/g twins. I was always worried about a speech delay also. Everytime I asked their therapist (they had a problem with their neck) she said they were doing fine, since they are twins that they would probably have a speech delay. They did, and I tried everything, reading books, shapes and colors. As soon as they started preschool when they were 3 their speech improved SO much!! Just keep working with them and don't worry about it to much.

Stephanie - posted on 09/21/2010

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Dont worry about it they are still young and finding their own way. My twins are 11 years old now and sometimes I wish they werent as talkative as they are now. Just wait. They will talk at their own speed. You could try singing songs with them. Look into Raffi songs kids love him and I bet you will see a BIG difference. Tell your sister in law if she doesnt have twins then she doesnt really know the twin world because it is really a different world.



The problem with having twins is you always compare them to each other treat them as two and would you be so worried if you only had one child? I be not.

Khadijah - posted on 09/21/2010

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Thanks so much everyone for the advice. Melissa, I plan to go out today and get a few of those picture books!! When I read books to them now I always say Exp: "Can you show me where the bird is? Or show me where the sun is?" They always get it right. They even know what a skunk or even a mole looks like. But I think the picture books woud focus more on the word itself instead of the story. Great idea! Thanks!



Tatjana - No my girls are home with me. I started being a stay-at-home Mom when they were about 7 months old. I do think that you are right...that she will start to speak in her own time.



Tina - She is beyond busy! Much more busier than her sister. She's always moving things around and dropping things down the stairs, climbing up on things, and dropping things into baskets. She a super kid!



I have word flash cards too that I am starting to use but I think them seeing the picture would be more benefitial.



Thanks again for all of your advice.

[deleted account]

This is where ther babyCentre and similar are not helpful. Children are vastly different. Arlo speaks in small sentences and the occasional long one. Niah prefers to sign and speak and will sign two wqord sentences but rarely speaks in sentences. (they are 20 months). I have many mom friends whose babies are barely speaking at all. You say your baby understands and that is what is important - the paed says he is on target and that is all that matters along with your instinct. Take these 'bulletins' with a pinch of salt.

Tracie - posted on 09/20/2010

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My twin sons were 16 months old when they were evaluated for, and began receiving, speech therapy. However, they had less than 5 words each at that point. They had developed their own language (commonly called twinspeak) and could not have cared less about learning to speak english. I had also used sign language with them, which I highly recommend to anyone. One of my boys also had chronic ear infections, and the fluid in his ears had resulted in low-pitch hearing loss, furthering his speech delay. After ear tubes and 10 months of speech therapy, they were all caught up. Early intervention is key in speech delays, but I'm not sure your daughter has a delay. She's repeating words you say, and has quite a few words. Some personalities are just not as chatty as others. And comparing the twins to each other, although tempting, is really not a good idea. They are still individuals who will develop at their own pace. Also, many kids stall in one area when they are beginning to master another. Maybe she's getting ready to develop a gross motor skill, or even potty train! :) One thing is for sure though. You are a terrific, dedicated mother, and your kids are very lucky. Don't stress yourself out too much over this. and take the advice of your pediatrician over meddling family members. A lot of well meaning people just don't know the facts as well as your child's doctor.

Melissa - posted on 09/20/2010

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I had similar concerns and fears with my twins, who will be 2 years old in October. I bought picture books that are just for naming objects, and all summer we looked at these books and named EVERYTHING. They loved it, and after about six weeks I started seeing their language skills increase by leaps and bounds. Their pediatrician said my boys were behind, but asked that I get these books and name objects all day long. He said if we don't see an improvement by their 2 year check-up, we could look into a speech evaluation.



I recommend the same to you, and it really helped my boys. I thought that naming objects in the books we had would work, but they would quickly flip through the pages and be done. Once I found the books with pictures and labels, that's when I saw the big impact. They went from 5 words apiece at 18 months to over 100 words and two word sentences at 23 months.



You do not want to wait too much longer. As an educator, I know the value of helping children as early as you can. Waiting until 4+ years isn't good (although I know this was just used as an example).



Good luck!

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