My 2 1/2-Year-Old Son Doesn't Speak

Wendee - posted on 01/14/2014 ( 26 moms have responded )

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Would love to hear from moms about my worries about my son. He doesn't speak for any complete word, he can just say "dada- daddy, mom"...sometimes he talk like a baby talk that we couldnt understand. He stand and walk at a very early age, when he's 4-6mos old he interact with us, he laugh, smile, giggles. but until now he haven't speak. He love to spin wheels but if you stop him he would stop doing it. Last time he was fascinated with ceiling fans but now he overcome it. When I call him, he would turn his head and rushing to go with me and will open his arms so i would carry him. Even I would not call him if he see me, he will run and hug me. If you ask him to kiss me, he will kiss me. We trained him alos throwing plastic, his diapers, etc to the trash can and he know where to. But when we are outside, he is busy looking around, it seems he ignored us when you call him. At first when u call him he will come but when everytime u call him he wont come anymore, he will continue playing in the playground. He climb, he slide, he jump, swing, etc. But when u ask him for something, he keeps ignoring and not focus on what you're asking. He's favorite game is hide-and-seek. He will play and play and play, searching for u and will laugh loud and continue seeking you. When he want to eat peanut butter, he will get it and bring to you so u can open and he would eat. the same thing with some snack, crackers, etc. After he drink his milk, he will get my hands and will pass his bottles. If he want to open the door, he will grab me and show the door knob for me to open it. He know how to use gadgets, ipad, iphone..If he wana see the dish that i am cooking, he will grab the chair and will go up and stand to see what am i doing. But he is very active, he loves to run and jump! he love any kind of circle things. he love cuddling pillow esp. the hard part in the corner, he hold it and rub it. but if you will stop him, he will just go and find something to do. sometimes, when i ask him not to go inside the bathroom he will not enter. Just worried still although i know he always respond when i called him. appreciate your reply. thank you mommies!

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Claire - posted on 01/19/2014

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My son is exactly the same. My eldest is 6 years old and spoke very early … he had whole sentences by two years old. My youngest is 2.5 years old and still doesn't speak. I did speak to the pediatrician about it. She said that there was no cause for concern at the moment. This is how she summarized it for me …. she said that all pediatricians have a check list for every development stage (6months, a year, 18 months, 2 yrs, etc ..). There are a variety of boxes that need to be ticked by the pediatrician to confirm the child's development. e.g. … walking, talking, fine motor skills (ability to stack blocks, etc) … the list is huge. It is unusual for a child to have all boxes ticked at each stage …. and she was only concerned if there were three or more boxes not ticked at each stage. So where my son doesn't yet speak properly, he is very good at other skills that other children might not be so good at yet. Unfortunately, the speech/talking is one of those skills that is very noticeable when it has not been achieved compared to a child that can't catch a ball or stack blocks, etc … which is less obvious. The pediatrician also pointed out that it was very apparent that he could understand everything that was said to him … like if i told him to stand up, sit, put something in the trash, etc … so don't let anybody scare you into thinking that there is anything wrong with your child. You as a mother will just know if your child is lacking in several skills …. I have several friends who are doctors … two of which said that they apparently didn't talk until they were three or older. My son was also three weeks preemie, which wasn't dangerously early but has seemed to push his skill targets back somewhat. i had another friend who took her daughter to speech therapy and she said that it didn't seem to make any difference, her child just didn't want to speak … but then … months later .. in her own time … she started babbling away …. you shouldn't assume that all babes will speak at the same stage …

Debbie - posted on 01/16/2014

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Here are a few tips:
1. Slow down and get to his eye level when speaking with him and playing games
2. Play, play, play is so beneficial to helping you find ways to share simple single words and help you build on them.
3. Encourage him to look at your lips so that he will mimic them (even if you have to direct him view them by making silly sounds or place the object by your lips)
4. Check out Youtub for speech development tips and games
5. do not react to the sounds/gestures, force him to say words or the sounds and reward him with the desired object as he gets closer to the word (i.e. when he gestures for milk, respond Milk? if he nods then encourage him to say the word or at least one of the letter sounds)
6. Get his hearing and vision test done- to endure all is well

User - posted on 02/06/2014

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We had the same situation with my son who is now 16. (He speaks very well, now BTW;) But, I was very worried as well. Here are a few things we did:

Talk to a pediatrician (MD)

Get a hearing test

Have your child evaluated by an early childhood outreach program. They will test specifically for autism, Aspergers, different types of speech delays, fine and gross motor skills, among other things. They will recommend and offer speech or occupational therapies, if needed.

Try to slow down. Gently encourage your child to look at you when you are speaking, and watch his face as he speaks to you. Talk about everything that you are doing all the time.

Using a sing-song voice encourages attention and speech

Talk in the car or listen to children's songs/music and sing along

If your child sucks his thumb or uses a pacifier, this can delay speech, try to limit this or gently remove this from his life.

Put your child in a preschool or structured play group with other children a few days a week to hear other kids talk and to encourage social skills

There can be a lot of reasons for delayed speech.... ranging from an analytical personality type where speech is put on delay (was there delayed speech in the family tree?). Also, attention issues, autism, Aspergers, hearing problems, or simply a developmental delay.

My son checked out fine and his speech finally came in at three. At four he had a better vocabulary than all of his peers. While he wasn't talking to us, we were talking to him and he was picking up on all of it. Keep smiling at him. Keep loving him. Kids pick up on our negative feelings.

Sarah - posted on 01/15/2014

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I would suggest talking to your doctor. He/she would be the first person to voice your concerns to as they would be better able to judge if your son is meeting the developmental milestones or if he is delayed and needing some speech therapy or hearing test or other forms of resources to help him meet the developmental milestones. Each child is going to be different and develops differently. Sometimes there is reason for concern and other times not. The doctor will also look at his normal day. Do you say the words for the things he is wanting when he wants them? Are you encouraging him to say his words....instead of picking him up when he motions waiting to see if he will say the word "up". I did notice that you stated that he will pass his bottles....if he is still on the bottle that is something that should be changed. At his age he should be on a sippy cup and working towards drinking out of an open cup. This will also help with speech as it works the muscles he needs to speak the words.

Jill - posted on 01/16/2014

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Talk to a pediatrician about your concerns. It could be hearing (different frequency loss, or fluid in the ear making it sound like he's under water). Or perhaps a just a speech delay. You can call your local MR/DD provider or maybe the health dept to ask for a free developmental screening. Autism is a hot topic now, like ADHD was back in the 90s, but a screening does seem inappropriate given the information you have provided. I am a mental health provider licensed in one state, and evaluate for Autism routinely. I like to see other things (like physical conditions) ruled out before a child comes to me for the evaluation process. Some of the things you described above are definitely age appropriate, like ignoring you, being a little stubborn, playing with toys in ways that are not the norm, activity. But some of it can be indicative of repetitive and/or stereotypical behaviors...spinning wheels, watching fans, rubbing/hugging the pillows. Basically, talk to a pediatrician, they can guide you and refer you to the best resources for your son and your family. :)

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26 Comments

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Heidi - posted on 04/04/2014

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My son is 26 months old and is the same way. We have him in in school now and he will be starting speech therapy soon. He is very active and never was a babbler when he was a baby. I'm a stay at home mom so he doesn't have much interaction with kids during the week. I'm happy to follow this post makes me feel like I'm not alone

Eliazbeth - posted on 02/11/2014

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my daughter is 30 months and only has the most basic words she can repeat without being prompted...mom dad juice kitty eat...that's it. She can mimick words and phrases but cant repeat them by herself. I m ready to call eval dr but they all say wait until 3 yrears....im not sure I can wait. she is underadvanced to all of her playmates, dancemates. she wont even say her own name...im devastated right now...help!!!!

GOKSEL - posted on 02/07/2014

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He should see speech therapist, my son was like him when he was 2 years old , he still sees therapy , but we are bilingual too .He is in kindergarden since he started to school his English better than Turkish now.It is always good see help.My son loved his therapist when he was 2 years old :)Good luck.

Rachel - posted on 01/29/2014

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I wouldn't worry too much, Wendee. I recently read a great article you should check out about the innate fear all us parents have when it seems our kids aren't reaching certain milestones "on time." The author talks about his own struggles with a kid that seems a little smaller and less able than other ones on the playground. Check it out: http://www.familygroups.org/blog

But really, not talking at 2.5 does not sound too strange. I have a friend who didn't talk till he was three, and now he is studying mathematics at Columbia!

Neima - posted on 01/26/2014

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Wendee, it sounds like you have a smart and sweet son. But - although there are many cases where children don't really speak until past 3 years, it is still important that you take your son to be checked by a good pediatrician. That is the person who will be able to give you the best and most reliable opinion.

Tracie - posted on 01/22/2014

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I live in IL and we have early intervention. When my son wasn't hitting his milestones (he was a preemie (3 lbs 6 oz at birth)), he was evaluated by a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist and a developmental therapist. He has been receiving ST, OT and DT since he was 18 months old and now he is 3 and continues to receive services in preschool. He is super smart and totally understood what we were saying to him but he just couldn't respond. I started signing with him and that helped greatly. He has come a LONG way although some things are still hard to understand. Check with his doctor or your State.

Karen - posted on 01/21/2014

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My 2 and a half year old is doing the same thing. The only words that he says are mama, dada, nana, bye-bye, He also gives kisses and when i have to go to the restroom he always wants to go with me. He knows what things are but doesn't say the names. He knows the motions to patty cake but like i said wont say the words. I have tried pronouncing words to him but he wont say them back. I at first thought he was autistic but a counselor told me she didnt think he was because he interacts with me and my husband. Our pediatrician is sending us to a infant and toddler specialist to see if there is anything i can do to help him.

Jane - posted on 01/21/2014

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Hi there,

Reading your post I was thinking about my daughter who is 15 months old. I learned that she had mild hearing loss when she was born and I have done a lot of research since about infants born with hearing loss. This might be something to ask your pediatrician about but an autism spectrum disorder could also be a possibility.

AnotherAnnieTX - posted on 01/21/2014

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Some of what you describe may indicate autism, and maybe you could have him evaluated for that. However, in most of your description, you son is happy, healthy, and intelligent. So maybe he just doesn't feel like speaking. When I was a child, I could understand my mother, shake and nod my head, and point to things I wanted. But I didn't use words. By the age of 3, my parents were taking me to the doctor, having my hearing checked, and trying to figure out if I was disabled. They couldn't find anything wrong with me. According to my mom, the first words she ever heard me speak were, "Mommy, can I have a glass of milk?" So apparently, when I did finally speak (which was close to my 4th birthday) it was in complete sentences. Even then, I was not really chatty or talkative. I would sit quietly for hours. If my parents had company, I would sit and listen to them talk, but never say a word. Other youngsters would be chased out of the room immediately, but mostly everyone just forgot I was even there becuse I was so quiet. I've heard stories like that from other people, though it's not common. Maybe it's just that he's taking it all in just now. It's hard to tell.

Nicole - posted on 01/21/2014

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I had a friend go thru the same thing. You need to have him evaluated and a quick call to your pediatrician and they should give you some numbers to call.

Jasmine - posted on 01/20/2014

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Claire,
If your child was a premee then it would be normal for him to hit his milestones later too, like for instance if he was born 2 months early then it would be normal for him to hit his milestones 2 months late. You are so lucky to have some friends who happen to be doctors! It must help put your mind at ease somewhat not only to get your Pediatritian's opinion but your friends as well! Good luck to you! I was told similar advice, that sometimes children advance so much in some areas that others sort of fall back just because the child is spending so much time learning how to do other things. Still, I can't wait until my son really starts talking! :)

Andrea - posted on 01/20/2014

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It Sounds like you got lots of good advice here. I won't add too much, except to say that if he is your only child at home, make sure you are talking to him plenty, with clear words. I have known plenty of people whose children did not speak much at 2, and they came out fine. One thing that I noticed in your post was that you mentioned he still uses bottles. I don't think a 2 1/2 year old should still be using bottles, as persistent bottle use can actually cause the teeth and mouth to grow a bit deformed and could possibly cause speech problems! So weaning from the bottle to a regular cup could be beneficial. Again, that would be something to ask your pediatrician about.

Roni - posted on 01/19/2014

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Lots of good advice. Relax, a few calls to early preschool (Headstart/ECEAP) and get your child evaluated. Pediatrician can refer to a specialist for testing speech, hearing, and cognitive stuff. They do motor skills also. Remember when talking to him, or directing gestures or responses at him do not ever act like he needs to respond. It's his choice, otherwise it becomes harder. Right now I'd recommend doing some hearing and vision tests at home. Talk behind his back and hold things at a distance and ask vision questions. That way you get past the only two things that will actually make you feel guilty if it went undetected. It's surprising how far a kid can get with vision and/or hearing issues. My son had a speech disability; diagnosed at 4. My daughter's vision was bad, very bad and diagnosed at 4. I felt guilty about the vision issues because she was walking into white walls and we thought she was clumsy. So no matter what, just know that when something is figured out it's not your fault. We do the best we can and we take care of our children.

Sue - posted on 01/19/2014

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Wendee - My son is now 13, but wasn't talking at 2 1/2 years either. He has had a series of developmental delays, so be on the look out for others as your son gets older. I would suggest like some other moms have to have your son's hearing tested. You may also want to reach out to your county. They should have an early intervention program for children under three, where he can be evaluated for this and any other developmental delays. Some of what you are describe could also indicate autism. These are things that should be looked into. When your son turns three, he could qualify for services through your local school district. Again, he'll have to be evaluated, but these assessments can provide valuable information about what is going on. Don't be afraid to reach out for help. The sooner you know what is going on, the sooner you can get him the right kind of help. And, your pediatrician is only a generalist. If you believe there may be some things going on that can't be explained, then don't be afraid to get a second opinion. You need to advocate for your child. No one else will.

Daria - posted on 01/18/2014

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In Russia the doctors say that it's okay if a boy or a girl doesn't speak until 3 years old. Some children do it earlier but only separated words, other do it later but they speak by the full sentences.

Rhianna - posted on 01/17/2014

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My little guy was doing all the same things. Finally, we started speech therapy and he is doing so much better at speaking. The speech therapist said that we had to build his word bank and talk to him in small 2-3 word phrases so he could understand the chunks and not get confused with all the words coming from our mouths. She also suggested we put things next to our mouths while talking so he could see what our mouth was doing. We read more now but not read read, but look at the pictures and say small phrases to correlate the pictures. We don't interact with a lot of children his age and that is part of the reason he isn't talking much our dr. said. We are searching for other ways to get him out to play. Hope you find what works for you!

Jasmine - posted on 01/16/2014

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Hi Debbie R



You posted not to react to sounds/gestures until he trys to say the word or nods but my sons Speach pathologist said that gestures and sounds were good, to encourage them and even try some sign language. To be honest so far responding to his sounds by making similar ones closer to what he wants seems to be working, he is saying more distinguishable words now and where his baby babble was mostly eee and aa sounds he now is adding some consonants in there as well and saying two syllable words besides momma and dadda :) it's very encouraging. But I know every child is different and they do give the advice based on each individual child. But I definitely agree with lots of play time and getting down to their level! :)

Jen - posted on 01/16/2014

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Hi Wendee!
Don't worry! It sounds like he is being a typical 2 1/2 year old! My son is almost 4, didn't really start talking til about 3 or a little after other than a handful of things. He walked at 10 months and is very agile!
Is he around other children much?
My guy is in speech now, I had him tested through the school district when I realized that not many people could understand him and it was affecting his self confidence. The school district here(in CA) is a free program and they have been so super good for him! He goes just once a week for 30 minutes one on one.
Good Luck!

Jasmine - posted on 01/15/2014

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Hi Wendee,
Does your son mimic you? Or do you repeat words back and forth, even if he doesn't say them quite clearly? Does he use a lot of gesturing, so you know what he wants? My son turned two in October and is also slow to talk. He will mimic some words or sounds but uses a lot of gesturing. The Speach pathologist told me if he says less than 20 words he will likely drop some. What's been working for my son is a lot of repeating the words he does say, followed by a lot of praise. When he makes his baby noises i try to Change them so if he says "eee" I'll say aye ect and it does seem to be helping. So basically for us a lot of repetition, Changing the vowels to see if he'll copy me and a whole lot of encouragement has been helping. It's also just him and I the majority of the time so starting him with play groups with other kids his age with the same issue was something I was told should help as well. I got all that info from the Speach pathologist. He's also getting his hearing tested again as well. But I have to say even since we just went to his play group assessment he's showing progress. Good luck!!

Kayla - posted on 01/15/2014

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My son is the same way. He will say "ma" for mom and "da" for dad. He used to say a couple words like cup, baba and ball, but he doesn't say those anymore. I was worried so I talked to his doctor. I would suggest for you, to talk to your sons doctor as well. We are on the right track now in figuring out what we need to do to help my son. Your doctor may suggest getting your sons hearing checked first. My son got his checked, and found out that he can hear fine, so now he is seeing a speech pathologist. He is also getting tested for Autism.
I have had a lot of people tell me it's nothing, and that he will talk eventually. The main thing I have learned is that I know him best, and if I think something is off, I will not stop until I figure it out! Good luck :)

Shalini - posted on 01/15/2014

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hi wendee,

Does he go to daycare or interact with other kid?
because my 2 1/2 year old son, 4 months ago he just use to talk mom dad just few words. Last September we join him in Montessori school in one month he started speaking sentences with thank you and please.
Each kid is different. But it could be one reason.
So in my opinion Kids needs to interact with other kids. That it

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