Non Verbal 2.5 year old....

[deleted account] ( 17 moms have responded )

I have a son and he has a severe expressive language delay. He is almost 2.5 years old and says 5 words.(includes animal sounds) The rest of his vocal sounds are screaming. We started sign language and that is going ok, but I am the only one in our family who can communicate with him. We also started speech therapy about a month ago.
Anyway the reason why I'm writing is for encouragement. I don't know any other mothers who have children with developmental delays ( His main delay is in communication but it delayed in all areas, except physical) and all I ever hear is he is "beautiful" and he is "fine" and although he IS beautiful and loving and wonderful, he is not 'fine'. He has a severe developmental delay and we have no idea why. I am dealing with feelings of guilt like what did I do, or not do? MY husband tells me I'm a wonderful mother and that I did nothing wrong, but I still feel like somethingI did had to have soemthing to do with this, but WHAT? am I the only one with these feelings?
I'm sad that my son is not like other kids his age . And I wonder what his future will be like. I feel alone like I'm doing something wrong for feeling the way I do. and when it ry to talk about it with my family they say talk quietly. You don't want him to hear you. Like they don't want to hear me. I hold it in all the time and I'd like to know if other mothers feel this way ever? and will it get easier to have a deleopmentally delayed child?


[deleted account]

I know exactly what you are going through. My 3 year old Isaiah is Autistic and he was saying 2-3 words for a while now he only screams and makes "AHH" sounds. It is so hard seeing my baby struggle and watching my 1 1/2 year old already passing him up in his development. I also know what it is to try and get your family to understand what your baby is going through. I will say this...keep giving your child all the love and support you can. You are your child's best chance at a successful life.

Iridescent - posted on 04/26/2010




It's just how his brain works. It's hard to accept without guilt or blame, but it is what it is.

All 5 of our kids had language delays. Our first was by far the most severe. He had a few words at a year, then at 18 months he woke up and couldn't speak at all, only scream. He had no language at all again until after he was 4 years old. Our second was delayed to start speaking and we thought he was also autistic because if it; turns out, he was deaf. He had surgery to correct his ear canals at 2 and is now fine. Our third was just delayed, no idea why. She's still delayed, but improving. Our fourth is also autistic and is severely delayed, although much less so than our first. He's 3 and does repeat now - his language exploded in the last 2 days! We think it's directly related to pulling foods he's allergic to from his diet a week ago, following allergy testing and results. Our fifth has a lot of disorders, and they have caused brain damage and language delay as well as regression. She's doing well, although continues to be delayed.

Jennifer - posted on 05/18/2010




my son is 9 years old he didnt speek at all till 2.5 and then he had his own launguage no one new what he wanted at all. when he was 4 he started on meds for adhd and he calmed down enough to do speech therepy we were so busy teaching him to speech and learn sounds we missed teaching him his alphabet and silly songs. he was behimd in schooll because of this i did put him in spec.ed preeschool and he started mimicing the other kids actions behaviors got better and speech was going wellby the time he was five he could talk and now at 9 he is finnally on target with the rest of his class. there is hope with a lot of homework flashcards repeating words sounds and dont forget the stuff i forgot like show him shapes to have him learn to say them as well not just pics use alphabet cards\. good luck

Charlotte - posted on 05/06/2010




I know how frustrating and stressful life can be with a almost non verbal child. My daughter was diagnosed with severe verbal apraxia 2 years ago. You are not responsible for his developmental delays.

My first recommendation is to have his hearing tested. If you are participating in your states' Early Intervention program, they should be able to test him at no additional cost to you.

Secondly, find a qualified speech and language pathologist to evaluate your son for childhood apraxia of speech. I'm not sure where you're located, but I know of a wonderful clinic near Detroit, MI. Check out Also, you can check out

Thirdly, I recommend that you strongly encourage your husband to learn the signs you have taught your son. It's too much pressure for you to be the only one who can communicate with him.

I'm sorry your friends and relatives are not very understanding of your sons' delays. They probably want to ignore it because they don't understand.
Having a child with special needs can get easier and eventually it will feel "normal" to you. I have found that getting an accurate diagnosis and developing a good therapy plan helped me to feel better about my daughters' numerous diagnoses. Information is power!

I hope this has been helpful to you! Happy Mother's Day!

Joanie - posted on 05/06/2010




I know it is hard my son started with a speech delay but as he got older other developmental delays became obvious, he is now 6. I greived for a long time for the son that I had thought I'd lost - no one plans to have a child with a disability - in fact it took me several years to say that word - disabled - but I have the most beautiful loving child, with no behavioural issues, he is easy going and gentle and a delight to around. I worry constantly about his future, but not as much as I did 3 years ago because as I have travelled my journey I have learnt so much and met so many people who can help, this will be the same for you and your family. Remember it is ok to greive for what you have lost, but remember the celebrate what you have. Best of luck.


View replies by

Alisha - posted on 06/05/2012




My son is nonverbal and will be 3 end of august. Along with his communication deficit, he was diagnosed with autism. In the begining when I started him in speech as a mother you know when something is just not right. I had his fathers mom telling me ohh he is just like his dad. B/c his dad did not talk until he was 3. Call it my mother instinct I do not want my child to not have any opportunites so I stopped listening to what others said and listened to my gut. I had his hearing testedtwice to rule out that and his hearing is fine and to find out there is autism which is very scary b/c prognosis is unknown. I keep working with him how the speech and occuptational therapist say and he is going to continue to see the developmental specialist who diagnosed him. So far its not very easy and I am very sensitive about it all. But it will get better and I do believe that. Hugs to you I know how hard it is!!

User - posted on 04/26/2012




Your post was a year ago, and I am wondering how your son is doing. I am in a similar state with my daughter - but as you are a year ahead of me, might not be able to offer much advice. My daughter is almost 2.5 yrs. She has no words, and has yet to take solid foods. She does not behave like her twin brother - she is so far behind. She was low birth weight, so I have had OT, PT and Speech since birth from the best providers. I really feel for your need for encouragement. I have had a lot of intervention, but none have diagnosed her, and none would dare say anything to me about her future. It feels like they are holding a secret. I know my daughter has not reached the intellectual maturity for any definitive diagnoses, but it is clear things are not right. I go through phases, and right now - seeing her brother make these amazing leaps in development, I am seeing developmental regression in her. I watch her and am sad, too. I tell her "give the cup to mummie... give the cup to mummie". Sometimes she does, sometimes not.

As far as blaming myself - I do! I had morning sickness my whole pregnancy and hardly ate, I wish I force fed myself. That and premature delivery with preeclampsia...

In tears...gotta go...

Ann Marie - posted on 05/06/2010





We have three autistic children and each of them has speech issues. Our 17yo is still mostly non-verbal. Our 6yo has massive receptive delay and expressive apraxia. Our 4yo did not say his first words (after losing his vocabulary of 25 @ 18 months) until this past year.

I want you to read some more encouraging words from People for an Autism Cure The link to the discussion board it in the lower right hand corner.

While we have abandoned sign language and PECS for our 4yo, our 17yo uses a audio choice box to communicate. And it is never too late to learn. He has picked up more words in the last two years than he did before he was 7.

You are asking for support and started speech therapy. So, hug him up!! You are doing what is best for him.

Contact me if you need more help!
Ann Marie

Virginia - posted on 05/05/2010




Please get his hearing tested properly if you have not done so already. My daughter went undiagnosed/misdiagnosed for years. She was born hearing and could cheat on hearing tests and appeared to respond to sounds. But her language went away. By the time she was diagnosed (it took putting her under to do it) she was essentially non-lingual.

Nicola - posted on 04/28/2010




hey my son is 3 nxt week and has about 3 words,not even proper,we think he has autism,he does a lot repetive things,,he coughs,screams,pulls me around to communicate,and hes jus not willing to sit down to do speech therapy,,its a nightmare when we go shopping,,he is so hyper,he runs everywhere,when we go for a walk,he runs into every garden to tip or make a sound at all car symbols,he dsnt even call us mama r dada,some days i could be ama, or ba, or any sort of sound,,he makes progress with words,sounds even his personality,and maybe a month or 2,it will all stop,and he has regressed,this has happen a couple of times,the words i can understand from him is di is drink,, and oooo is oso,a cartoon,,,thats it,,i know how you are feeling,,im seeing a pyscologist since he was 18mth and they still havnt given him a diagnosis,so we are going to put him on the gfcf diet next week,im sure it it make a difference.,its nothing you have done,iv taught this aswell,,our families dont understand,its like if theres nothinh physical wrong well then there not as intersted or try and tell u its nothing,,,one day i will explode if they keep trying to tell me different.:)

Angela - posted on 04/27/2010




my grandson is also sp.ed and we did not know how he would do he is now 11 and did not speak till age three he is in regular school and reads 4th grade level and does maths and writing at grade 2-3 and next year they will spend a lot of time teaching him activiteies of daily living as well as everything else but he is the most loving child and it does not matter if he can never do anything we will always love him and thats what counts, its nothing you did it just happens and you make the best of it talk to my daughter Amanda she ha sgone thru a lot with him but you will get there Angela

Melanie - posted on 04/27/2010




My son has problems in his throat that stop him communicating so he too has had to learn sign language. We all learnt it to help him communicate with us. His 6 yr old sister is great at signing. I went through all the emotions after he was diagnosed as sever developmental delay. I had a mild stroke whilst i was 29 wks pregnant and had to choose invasive procedures to save mine & his life. However the side effects are now starting to become clear. I feel i made the right decision as both of us alive is better than neither. I tend to live now rather than look towards the future. Each day he improves we are so greatful but if he slips back we just take it in our stride and carry on. I know as a parent we do look forward but try to enjoy now and maybe some day he will improve like mine. Good luck xx

Jeanette - posted on 04/27/2010




first of all it was nothing you have done wrong so there is no need to feel guilty about any thing. i went through the same feelings of "what if" and what did i do wrong" when my daughter started to have developmental delays. it was nothing either of us or any other mother out there with a disabled child has done. the way i look at it was she was given to me for a purpose. second of all you shouldn't have to hold it, in why should you just because the family either have not accepted it or just dont want to talk about it. these are your feelings and your emotions and you are entitled to scream it out if you want to. (believe me i have on occasions). yes it will get easier in time. my daughter who is 9 yrs old has severe global developmental delays and is like a 1 year old. it has been hard work but with time and patience you will get there. is your son seeing a speech and langauge therapist for his speech delays? if not it might be some thing to look into. or maybe trying sign lanauge , or picture cards. there is lots of help out there that you are entitled to, and when he starts school they should be able to help as well. as for his future you just have to take it one day at a time. i also worry about what will happen to my daughter when i am no longer able to look after her and what her future will hold but that is a long way away and i dont see the point in worrying about it at the moment. iam just enjoying the here and now and the joy that she brings to us every day. good luck x

Sarah - posted on 04/27/2010





I feel your pain. My 4.5 year old has verbal apraxia, and only said about 12 words until he was close to 2.5 years old. Luckily for me, that is his only delay, and he has managed to work through it with the help of an awesome speech therapist. I also have a 14 year old with mild Autism and mood disorder NOS.My 14 year old is my child that I feel guilty about--non of his disorders were diagnosed until he was 11 years old. When he was assaulting me at 5 years old his Dad would come running in the room and tell ME that I was *out of control* because I was pinning him to the floor.

Make sure you get every benefit available to you. I assume he is in Early Intervention for his therapies...ask them if he has any funding available for things such as a PECS to use with people other than you. A PECS ( picture exchange communication system) has little pictures ( maybe on a ring) and the person presents the card to someone as a means of communicating. For example: he has a wet/dirty diaper and he wants he shows you the card with a changing table or a toilet on it. You take it and say " oh do you want changed?" Or he wants a drink...instead of pulling you to the fridge and grunting or screaming until you figure it out, he hands you a pic of a milk carton. My husband goes through these phases where he is *sure* that out 4 year old is autistic too. I heard it just about daily when he was having horrid melt-downs because we could not understand him--his behavior improved like 90% once he was able to communicate with us.

It does sound like maybe you need to also try and find a group of local Moms that have kids with delays--maybe ask his speech therapist if she knows of any. My friends with children with Autism have been so valuable to me. Sometimes you want to be able to discuss the really ugly stuff with someone who knows what you are going through. Of course, then you can take another mom under your wing--I told the mother of one of my 4 year old's classmates how to use county funding to send her twins to a speech enrichment day camp she couldn't afford...

Linn - posted on 04/26/2010




3 out of 4 of my children have had some form of speech delay. My 7 year old we don't know why, but she could noy pronounce words but seemed to understand them. My 3 year old son has expressive and receptive delays, and was recently diagnosed with Autism. He has been in speech for 2 years but is still difficult to understand. We use a lot of pictures of things he likes so he can communicate his wants/needs. We also use sign language which is helpful, but he also tends to just repeat back anything you say or sign to him (echolalia). My 2 year old has cerebral palsy and also has receptive and expressive speech delays. She has been in speech therapy for 2 years also. She does well with sign language and has recently had an explosion in her verbal language. All I can tell you is don't give up. Raising a child with special needs can be a huge challenge but it's so rewarding to. Remember things will got better with time and therapy. I also feel the guilt and blame associated with having children with special needs. I know in my heart that I didn't cause my kids problems, but my brain has to dissect everything done for/yo them.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms