Update February 2022 – The CDC has just changed baby developmental milestones for the first time since 2004. Take a look at the article in the Washington Post
Two years old and not talking – new study says not to worry
No matter if you have one kid or four, you know that each child develops differently. And because they develop differently, you don’t sweat the small stuff like developmental timelines all that much. Or maybe you do.
A recent study released by the Journal of Pediatrics has given parents a reason to relax over their 2 year old child’s lack of talking. The study found that a lack of forming words at age two has no bearing on future development. In other words, if your child isn’t speaking as much as their little buddy, you don’t need to worry that they will lag behind for the rest of their lives.
In general, the study found that:
- Toddlers who begin speaking later than their peers will not develop future behavior issues. In other words, late talking is not an indicator of how your child will be for the rest of his or her life.
- Although late talkers may exhibit emotional and behavioral problems when they are 2, the problems will dissipate when the child begins talking
- The children in the study were followed until they were 17, and 80% of them were fully talking by the time they entered school.
There are many reputable websites like BabyCenter that will provide you with timelines for development. For example, by the time your child is 18-24 months old, he or she should be (according to BabyCenter) saying somewhere in the range of 50 words. By the time they are two, they should be stringing words together. And that’s great, if your child actually sticks to the timeline.
But here are a few things that timelines won’t tell you:
- Some kids will excel at one area and then lack in another. For example, one child may be able to walk then climb on everything by the time they are 12 months, which is actually above the curve according to the timeline. In this case, their speech may be lagging behind because they are just too darn busy perfecting the climbing (aren’t you lucky) to work on the talking.
- Boys develop certain skills later in life, like talking. This doesn’t apply to all boys, but seems to be a general trend.
If you find your child is not talking by age 2, there are a few things you should immediately check for:
- Has your child had his/her hearing checked? Although it may appear that they can hear you when you are speaking to them, there are different types of hearing that apply to language. Ask your doctor to refer your child for a hearing test.
- Have your child checked for fluid in his/her ears. Frequent ear infections can cause a build up in fluid that results in everything sounding like its underwater. Your child may need tubes to alleviate the fluid.
- Take your child to a speech therapist. In your initial consultation they will look for signs of other issues that may be leading to the speech delay.
It’s stressful wondering why your child isn’t talking by age 2, but there are steps you can take to rule out issues which could be causing the delay. At the end of the day, your child could simply be a late talker.
Stop searching Google and reading Yahoo Answers. Relax, take your baby for a walk or sit down and play with them. Try to talk to them, and then listen. Chances are, your toddler is saying things that you just haven’t deciphered yet.
Further reading: My child is a late talker and he’s turned out fine.
An intersting article, but I fear you have glossed over the real context of the Journal’s article – which was an assessment of social problems connected to late language development. The article did not indicate that a failure to develop language by 2 was something parents should ignore and instead go out for a walk.
If your child is not talking by 2 years old, you should have a chat with your pediatrician. Perhaps your child is simply a late talker. Or perhaps there is something more to it. Either way, best to ensure that if there is an issue, that you address it.
Hi was wondering my son who is a month premature is not talking at 22. Months he babbles a lot he sometimes responds when we call his name if he wants something he will bring it over to us but won’t point but we get the message if my partner and I get down to his level and blow with are tongues out he will respond to this by imitating can anyone relate
I certainly can. My son is now over 2 1/2 and still babbles a lot. But the significant difference between his talking at 2 years old and now is that I can definitely hear the sentences coming through. They sound quite ‘blurred’ for the lack of a better word, but he is certainly talking in two or three word sentences.
I’ve updated the article to include a few suggestions you can try to rule out any issues. Otherwise, I believe that some children are simply late talkers.
My son just turned 24 months old the first week of Feb. And he does not talk much he says a fee words and does not really answer questions
My daughter just turned two and has been babbling and repeating sounds, I was really worried until I read this, I don’t know any other 2 year old’s who can unscrew the kitchen chairs or climb to the top of the big kids slide and jump down with no fear, her hearing is fine and she can follow directions (when she chooses to)so now I know she’s just been too busy climbing and fixing her toys to bother to speak, she’s just a late talker, ahhhh relief!!
is your baby fine now plz reply
I think this article was written for me. I am constantly worrying about my son. He is 2 (on Friday) and does not talk. He says papa, dadda and ball. That’s all. Nevertheless, he started walking when he was 10 months and running by the time he was 11.5 months. He is a climber, and a good one. His motor skills are amazing for a kid his age. When I go to the park I see older kids that can’t do half the things he can do. He can communicate very well, but non verbally. I think I should just relax.
My son will be 2 next month, and is not talking. He used to say mama and more alot, but now he doesn’t say anything. He waves bye-bye when you say bye. He will go get his ball when you say ball. But when it comes to anything else, i feel like he just isn’t getting it. This is my first child so i don’t know if i am just being paranoid or if i should really be concerned. I read to him everyday, and i always say the name of his toys when we play. He knows how to build with his blocks and turn the pages of books. He will point to objects in the books as well. Is he just really stubborn? He knows how to clap his hands and will point to his nose when you ask him where is nose is. He knows how to give kisses but will only do it if he wants to, that’s why i am kind of thinking he is just stubborn. any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
I was wondering i could have an update on your son…this is EXACTLY what I’m going through. 2 year old son used to say all sorts ofwords and now nothing! he also can build blocks and clor and wave just doesn’t talk.
My son is going to be four in June, and he’s definitely talking! He speaks in full sentences and can repeat and understand absolutely everything. The only issues we have are that he’s still pretty quiet around people he doesn’t know, and he sometimes can throw in some jibber jabber (especially when he’s talking about pirates, which is all the time) that other people can’t understand.
I noticed a real change when he was just over 3, and it’s improved so much since then. I think he’ll still need speech therapy for some of his pronunciations, but I’m really very relieved at how far he’s come.
And how about now? A year later? How is he doing? 🙂
He’s doing great.:) He finished with speech therapy and although he still has trouble with the ‘f’ sounds, there is literally nothing he can’t (or won’t!) say. He really does talk perfectly now.
Exactly same things with my son…can u give update of your son…am really worried for my son.
Did your baby speak finally ? My 22 month doesn’t say anything other than papa
Elise my son is EXACTLY the same. He has been babbling for almost a year. Can point to body parts. Follow 3 step instructions and I only need to ask once. He come when I call him. His memory is amazing. He is VERY actuve running And climbing and playing. He can say “oh no” “where’s it gone” “all gone” “tickle” “dad” “mum” and a few more things but only when he wants to. He can point to pictures in books when I ask but he hardly does these things on command. He’s very unfriendly to adults he dosent know. I freak out so much because of his constant babbling. I don’t know another child like him. But my instincts tell me he will do this on his own. He did everything else late (rolling, crawling, walking) this makes me feel better knowing there are others!!
The author has not given us link to the journal article itself; only a link to the journal. Very suspicious, or just poor journalism?
Actually it’s neither of those. The article was linked properly, but as it was written over a year ago, the link was most likely moved. Here it is: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/06/29/peds.2010-2782.abstract . As well, you can also see an article on Parenting talking about the same study with the same suggestion – Late talkers end up fine. Here’s a link to that one too: http://www.parenting.com/blogs/show-and-tell/sasha-parentingcom/study-late-talkers-end-fine
I wrote this article as a mother of a late talker, and I’m glad it has caused parents some relief when it comes to their own children. When my son was 2, his lack of talking would worry me so much I’d wake up at night and stress about it.
My son started talking a month before he turned 3, and I’m happy to say at 3 years 2 months, he’s been chattering in full sentences. Call me a poor journalist or label this ‘suspicious’ if you’d like, but I don’t think the shoe fits in this case.
I personally think this article is wonderful, I have been so worried about my son lately, he is 2 1/2 and only says about 10 words, but he imitates things, colors, plays well with his 4 yr old sister, and plays well with others. I googled what may be causing his “late talking,” and I was ready to take him to speech therapy, physical therapy, pretty much any kind of therapy their were, until I read your article. I haven’t seen any signs of a disorder, but according to milestone charts he should be saying at least 20-100 words by now, and most articles I read almost had me convinced he may have had autism, but he showed no other signs of it except the talking. I was almost sick with worry, and was going to make an appt. with his doctor, even though everyone around us,”family, friends, etc. ” was saying it was alright, and he was fine, he just didn’t have to talk a lot because his sister talked for him, or I catered to his every whim, which sounded right, but as a mother I still worried that might not be the case, until I read this!!! Sometimes you just really need another mother/’s advice/ experience to help you get a little relief! I will probably still take him to the pediatrician, just to rule out anything, and for that extra peace of mind, but I am glad I found you on here. I really needed to hear this tonight!
I’m really glad to know I’m not the only mama worried about simple things like this. Plus the internet is a scary thing, I’m in such a rush to label a delay and I feel like I don’t let my daughter just be her unique self. I love her so much that I want the best for her and want to see her excel in everything!
Is there a conspiracy theory you haven’t read?
@Shelly Interesting article
My youngest turned 2 the beginning of July. He can say a few words (yeah, no, mama, daddy, moomoo which is milk, ect). He isn’t able to put any words together yet though and he more whines like a puppy when he wants something or wants mine or his daddy’s attention. My older son was delayed due to chronic ear infections and has had tubes put in twice so I am not sure if he is behind or not… (my older son didn’t start talking until 3 after lots of speech therapy).
Please help! my son is 2 in 2 weeks time and he is so clever! he knows all the animal noises and can point to several body parts when asked where his nose or even his knee are but he will barely talk. Possibly 8 words ive counted but quite a bit of babbling say every other day. He can kick a football like a pro, climb the stairs like a rocket and points alot. Am I being paranoid? he did learn quite a few words some months ago and was trying but that has gone out the window now. he just says dee or dar when he points at things.
PLEASE help me…my son is going to be 2 years 5 months and has a very limited vocabulary (some 15 words) He babbles a lot and keeps makes all kind of noises. He does not really imitate us when we ask his to repeat a word..though sometimes he’d just pop up a word. He is is friendly and likes to play physical games more..can climb up and down stairs and even ramps without support. He knows almost all the functions of Nokia C3 including the short cut buttons for mute and all…
He can solve some puzzles too and does it quite fast as if everything is on his finger tips..
Some of the words that he learned are not used by him anymore though some words that i feel he finds interesting (like cat, makhee [which means house fly in our language]) he still repeats whenever he sees these things/animals.
He is my first son and as we live in an area where he doesnt have a lot of exposure to many children, we two are his only companions most of the time.
Is that true that children learn better from other children? If Yes, does that formula apply on physical skills or language learning as well? Do we really need to be concerned or should we give him some more time?
I think they do learn from other children, but each kid is different so it’s hard to say. I’ll tell you about my experience, and hopefully it helps you decide what to do.
I took my son to the doctor to ask about his speech delay when he was about 2 1/2. He was the exact same as your son. He had a very limited (and really garbled) vocabulary but was extremely physical. He could kick a soccer ball across the grass, jump, and run over anything. He rode his 2 wheeler through dirt jumps and could stay on ramps without falling off. It was pretty amazing for a kid that age.
The doctor referred me to a specialist to check for fluid in his ears, and sent us to a speech therapist and for a hearing check. The hearing check came up negative as did the check for fluid. The speech therapist said she wasn’t worried about autism, and that he was probably just a late talker.
He pretty much stayed the same for about 6 months. Right before he turned 3, I noticed I could ‘hear’ sentences coming through his babbling. It was hard to make out, but they were there. Then he started to say a few words really clearly. We definitely didn’t have the explosion of vocabulary I hear some people talking about with late talkers, but it slowly got better.
He’s now almost 3 1/2, and he talks in full sentences. They aren’t perfect, and he still babbles a bit, but he can definitely get his point across. He’s quieter in social settings, but that’s turning around too. I put him in preschool and after 3 weeks I’ve noticed a huge burst is talking.
So I guess my main advice is I wouldn’t be too concerned yet (easy to say, I definitely was and it made me wake up and worry some nights), but it’s not too early to see your doctor and ask for a referral to get his ears checked for fluid, just in case. Then ask about getting a hearing check and speech assessment. If you have a playgroup anywhere near you, try to get him into it. I didn’t believe it would change my little guy until I tried, but Wow! What a difference! The speech therapists said kids pick up different language by being exposed to different talkers, so it can’t hurt.
Hope that helps! Let us know how it goes!
Hi Sam, could you please update us on this. Has he started talking yet? My son is exactly like that now at 2yrs 4months.
My son is 2 and still doesn’t talk. We fear that he doesn’t hear well and are going through some tests.
The issue is that he is very, but very active and is a wis with anything that has buttons and lights. This includes operating iPads better than most adults. The problem started when we noticed that he is not saying anything, our daughter at that age was already talking non-stop. Initially we thought because we speak three languages that it is the cause of the delay but there are other issues that has to do with communication that he doesn’t do, he does not repeat and copy us either in actions or sounds and he does not point at things. In fact sometimes, he takes our hands and causes us to point at something.
He plays with games that make noises and lights but we are now not sure if he only gets stimulation from the lights. I don’t think he is deaf but I suspect he has sever earing impariment. It seemed like a few months ago he was more responsive to sounds.
I am really worried about that. Besides that he is a really happy child and he somehow gets his point across always. I love him to death and any words of support or pointing us at the right direction will help.
I’m wondering how your son is doing now, it’s been almost three years you posted this. My 23 months are going through the exact same issue with what you posted. He is not talking and we thought it maybe because he could not hear well, we are in process of doing the sedated hearing test. He is so much into ipads/iphones and he would operate them so well, better than adult just like your son. We speak three languages at home too but I was told that should not be the reason he’s not speaking or take any command. He only babbles but there’s no proper words yet. He doesn’t take any command. He will take our hand to the things he needs help with. Few month ago he could wave bye bye but not he doesn’t do that anymore. It would be so so great if you can let me know how is your son progress. Just like you I love my son to death too and it’s heartbreaking to see him struggle with getting words.
My son is doing exactly the same. He is turning 2 on Nov. 27 and he is not talking yet only babbles.He also doesn’t take any commands. He doesn’t point if he wants something otherwise he will take our hands to lead us where he wants. We did first assessment last Friday but they did not tell us anything about the result weather it’s autism or speech delay. Now I am wondering how is your baby doing now and if you did any therapy or anything to help him.
My son is doing exactly the same. He is turning 2 on Nov. 27 and he is not talking yet only babbles. He also doesn’t take any commands. He doesn’t point if he wants something otherwise he will take our hands and lead us where he wants. We did first assessment last Friday but they did not tell us about the result weather it’s autism or speech delay. Now I am wondering how your baby doing now and if you did any therapy or anything to help him.
Hi Sam, how is ur kid now?
It sounds like you are on the right track Eddie! My son is 3 now, and he was exactly the same as you describe at 2. He could work his way around my iPad better than my Mom! Plus he really wasn’t that responsive to anything I’d try to get him to do. It was almost like he was totally ignoring me.
Now at 3, he speaks in almost full sentances, but he still has a few mixed up words. If nothing turns up on the hearing test, you should take him to a speech therapist for an opinion. They told me my son was most likely a late talker, and they were right! Hang in there!
If your child is 2 years old and is not speaking or only has a handfull of single words, please do not assume he or she is a late talker. If there is a hearing problem or a developmental issue such as autism, early intervention is critical. I am a speech pathologist and a mother of a child who appeared to be a late talker but was later diagnosed with autism. I was scared that someone was going to tell me something was “wrong” so I convinced myself that he was just a “late talker”. If your gut is telling you something is not right, go see your pediatrician, ask for a referral to a speech pathologist or developmental pediatrician. If your child is simply a late talker it will put your mind at ease, if it is something more, you can start helping your child now.
i couldn’t agree with this more. my son is a late talker and is now being seriously looked at for autsim as well. not talking by two and a half is certainly something that should be discussed with the childs dr.
Thank you so much for posting your stories.
My parents have been harping and attacking me for not pushing my son to talk more and being more aggressive about it. He just turned 2 and doesn’t talk much. He says Mom, Mommy, Momma, Dad, Daddy, ookie(meaning Cookie our Dog),up, off, and oo for open. He signs close to 50 words, and signs in sentences such as more drink please mommy, more books please. Yes more food please. He has amazing abilities with understanding. He has been able to open child proof caps since 12 mths. He understands lightbulbs, power outlets, zippers, snaps, buttons, knots, keys, locks, mailboxes, cell phones, keyboards, he sings babbles, dances and follows along with his favorite tv shows. He understands complex directions, like please go get your shoes and jacket and Ok lets go put on our Pj’s, brush our teeth, and go to bed.
I have been told by his Doctor to take him to speech therapy for evaluations. I have been combing the internet for 24 hours trying to find some support and something comforting. I have been super worried that I have done something to fail my child. I just wanted to say thank you for your stories because I don’t feel so poorly now.
Hi my son will be 3yrs old next week friday and he can only say a couple of word and I’m very worried I don’t knw wat to do but I guess I’m ganna have to take hime to his doctor
I wouldn’t worry.. I have a 15 year old with autism… All the speech therapy in the world didn’t help him.. He spoke when he wanted too and now he is an honor roll student.. I have an almost 2 year old who doesn’t talk (hearing his fine) but can say all his alphabet and spells 3 words… I always reccomend seeing a doctor if your worried but the milestone charts are boogus.. My children’s never hit milestone when charts said.. Sometimes early sometimes late… People should enjoy their children and stop rushing them to grow up and/ or worry
How did u know that your kid have autism?
Of course, anyone should always check with your pediatrician, and make sure they understand what your concerns are. But here’s my story – my 1st son didn’t talk until he was 2.5. When he turned 2 he could say Mama, Dada, and Gaga (for gramma) and that was all. Our ped (who is super laid back) told us not to worry because: He could follow directions, which meant he could hear fine AND cognitively understand what we wanted; and because he knew many words (we would read him books and ask him to point to different animals on the page, etc). He told us we could go for a hearing test at 2.5 if things didn’t improve. Well, at one month shy of 2.5, we were in his office for our 2nd son anyway and I mentioned that Boy 1 still wasn’t speaking yet, so he set up a hearing test.
In the 4 week wait between making the appointment and going, guess who started talking… yep. In FULL sentences. He never did the “me do dis, me yike dat” talking that toddlers do, it was straight out, “Mama, I like that!”. LOL
Long story short when he started going to preschool 6 months later at age 3, the teachers all told us that they had to keep reminding themselves that he was only 3, because he talked like a 5 year old!
WOW!!!! That is so awesome!! My son is almost 2 1/2 and he doesn’t say as much as some other 2 year olds say but he is getting better and better and I’m doing my best NOT to worry. He had a hearing test and passed it.
Hi..My son is 27 months old and still doesn’t talk..He jabbers all the time..He responds to his name when he wants to but really nothing else..He has just now started reaching for his juice cup when he wants juice..His motor skills are wonderful,was walking before 1 year old..We have a lady coming from Early Intervention System working with him but so far Ive not really seen many results..I try not to worry but it is so hard..I just pray that he will start talking one day and blow me away!!!
I feel such a relief after reading this! This was very helpful in so many ways after having 2 boys who didnt start talking till much later my youngest is 28months old now and im so tired of people asking me about his speech now in can actually reply in a much calmer tone. One thing that I would encourage mothers, like myself to do is dont forget to look at what your kids are great at instead of being so fixated on something you expect them or others may expect them to do…. dont miss out on the lil things ?
My daughter is 2 and 4 months. She babbles a lot and has her basic words that she say’s. Banana, Daddy, Mummy, Duck, Dog etc. When she say’s “I love you” it is a bit blurred. This is a child from the age of probably 12 months (left handed) picked up a pen and spends all of her day on paper, walls and herself. Daily she is covered in pen. She loves to draw and write in her own symbols. So i decided to teach her through the pen… D for Daddy. Now she says D for daddy and she can write a D. I am still concerned but after this it makes sense. All she foceses on is the pen to paper. This will not allow me to fix my spelling mistake above sorry!
My son is 3 yrs old and he still isn’t talking or potty trained. He was born 5 weeks premature but was completely healthy. He is an only child and he only has 1 friend where we live and they don’t really get to hang out like ever. My son had a middle ear infection a few months ago. He throws fits añd hits things or us when he don’t get his way. I really would like for him to start talking so I am able to understand what he wants instead of him getting mad. What should I do to get my son to start talking?
My daughter is now 35 months. She will be 3 at the end of March As an infant she NEVER babbled and did minimal cooing sounds. By the time she was 12 months she had 2 words: “mama” and “papa”. Still not babbling. She did have some sounds, but nothing intelligible. By the time she was 18 months she went from saying 10 words to saying only 2 or 3. She was cheerful, normal, and great in any other area. Understood everything we and others said, very smart, very social and loving. Loves companionship and being kissed and hugged. She simply did not speak much. By the time she reached 32 months she started saying more single words, but still she had around 30 words or less. Still not jargon or babbling.
Then in January a friend of mine asked me to babysit her son who is the same age as my daughter but who has been talking in complete sentences since he was 2, having being an early talker. I babysit for just one month and my daughter went completely silent for that month. They played great and had no issues.
About a week after I stopped babysitting my friends boy, my daughter start speaking in sentences. No jargon. No more single words. Just sentences. And she keeps increasing her vocabulary and words. It’s as if something in her brain got “jump-started”. Now she talks non-stop. And I’d say she speaks fairly clearly, not jibberish.
Sometimes, barring any other signs of developmental concerns, children just need time to process. And they do develop at their own time.
My son is just 24m has been with EI since he is 19M . He is good with toys but not talking only babling baby sounds. 5 months in EI and still no one word. it worries me to death.I try not to stress or read_google but I am always thinking about it. very active child climbs, run he walked at 9M and run at 11Months. totally healthy, no pacifier, follow directions when he wants. I pray everyday for him . My sister in law has a son with austism_classical meaning he can not function as a normal person. very scary this autism problem. more kids every day are diagnostic. no pointing, no responding to name, playing in a repeated way, light and sounds they like, no speaking, no social skills…those are some of the problems that doctor look in a baby_infant_toddler for austism. Good luck to all
my daughter is going to be 27 months in April and she is still very clingy ONLY when we are around my parents. Just recently I asked her if she was going to play with Papa later and she started crying. My father and my daughter used to be so close and now it’s like she doesn’t want to be around my parents at all. Supposedly when I’m at work on the weekends, she is wonderful for both of them. I don’t understand why she is so clingy when I’m around with her and her grandparents. When it’s just us two, she plays nicely by herself, and is so well behaved. She turns into a monster when my parents come home. I live with them, so they see her all the time, it’s not like she only sees them a little. Another concern is that she really doesn’t speak in sentences or ask me for anything, she just points or wines or shows me. But she is learning cause I’ve been doing flashcards forever with her. She knows all her colors, and numbers except 4. She knows object flashcards and alot of animal ones too. She knows her name is Emma and if she sees herself or a pic of herself she says her name. She won’t give me or anyone kisses, but she does hug and cuddle. Just like when I say Papa she cries, if I say I love you she cries too. When my husband comes home every night, she greets him with a big HI and always wants to show off to him. I just don’t get it! She also has started randomly laughing at nothing, tip toeing even trying to in shoes as well, and saying inaudible phrases over and over especially at bedtime in like a self-soothing manner. I have felt like something is different about her for some time now, but everyone thinks i need to discipline her more, and not give in to her clinginess, even suggesting I ignore her when she is crying about being around my parents and myself. I don’t know what it normal cause this is my 1st….PLEASE HELP!
Emma does a lot of side looking and does this weird thing with her arm, where she extends her arm out to me like a zombie and in a high pitched sing song way says ahhhhh. She always side looks when she does that.
I really need to find out why she only wants to be around my husband and I. Even though we are around, if there is company or anyone is around she flips out. She is wonderful at parks and in stores around other people. It’s only when people are in her space I think. I don’t know what to do, and my pediatrician says I need to put her in her crib until she relaxes. We’ve done that and then tried to bring her down to everyone again, and it’s the same result. I feel like I can’t have anyone around her. I just don’t know what else to do anymore.
when i was a toddle, i did not talk much until i was about 3 years old. i also was tip toe walking and was shy around other kids. i just out outgrow it all!
When I was a baby I displayed every sign of what they are calling autistic today. I didn’t talk until well after two. I didn’t look people in the eyes I was shy would play by myself a lot would throw little tantrums here and there and liked to spin wheels. Today I am 30 have a very successful job and am very social. My son is now 26 months hasn’t talked yet. I recently had him evaluated just to be safe and the doctor mentioned autism because of only one thing that he does that is common aside from the not talking which was the spinning of the wheels. While I am not in agreement with her assessment I am still having my son enrolled in early intervention and am so confident that once he starts talking, everything else will fall into place. So my advice to parents is of course when you get a diagnosis like autism or anything else you may feel denial, get the help anyways. It can’t hurt. My son starts speech therapy and occupational therapy this week and I actually feel excited about it.
I agree with you completely. Im 38 years of age, and if i was a child growing up today, i would definitely have been labelled autistic, which im not. I was an EXTREMELY shy child. Painfully so, very quiet, loved playing with my friends, but tbh, preferred playing on my own (particularly as i was an only child). A book worm. I did not start speaking English until i was 5 years of age! It took me until i finished university (i have three degrees) and started working full time at 23 years of age, for me to come out of my shell. Now, i cant stop talking, and i love chit chat. My job requires me to do public speaking pretty much daily, which i love (although a huge part of me is still that shy introvert). It worries me that so many parents and doctors jump to the diagnosis of autism. It’s ridiculous to expect ALL children to develop exactly the same. We all have different socio-economic backgrounds, different IQs, different interests, different physiological makeup. 7 billion people on the planet cannot all develop at the same pace. I dont doubt autism exists and effects many, but i think too many parents are worrying and creating an industry. Like a behavioural paediatrician told us recently, “Dr Google” is her best referrer of patients.
My oldest son is now 32 months old and isn’t talking as well. And when I say that it has caused sleepless nights for me and has frustrated me ( hate to admit), it has! I feel like @ times it bothers my husband but for the most part I can see that he tries to stay positive about the whole situation, as do I (I try). We put our son in speech therapy because all he liked to do was point or grab our hand and pull us to what he wanted. He’s been going to speech therapy for about 6 months now, and is showing confidence in trying to say words. Some he has learned on his own, others through repetition from us as well as his therapist. So far, he can follow one step commands, they are working on two; and he’s good with imitation, memory, puzzle solving and he knows how to do things like work the computer. He has good eye contact, can pay attention very well and says words like “baby, go, mama, uh-oh, bubbles, bye bye” and “ninja turtle” (that’s his fave show lol + learned that one on his own). And he’ll repeat a word we say to him once (more if he feels like it), which is more than he’s ever done before speech therapy. Now the two things I taught him on my own is the alphabet and the words “roll” and “kick”. He can say most of the letters and has it memorized. He can run, jump and do basically anything a child his age can do except talk!! I am starting to relax about it now because I see that i’m not the only parent going through this and I do recognize that every child develops at their own pace. I guess it just caught me off guard when he was babbling at 6mos and just stopped a few months afterwards. He was just authorized for continued speech therapy for another 6mos until the next eval. So I will be doing what I can to help him learn but will also relax a bit on worrying. I know many are wondering what was the point of me explaining all of this but just keep in mind that everyone’s situation is a little bit different in terms of what their kids are doing besides the obvious problem of not talking. I said all of that in case there is someone who’s child is doing most of what mine is (except for the talking) so that they can not only relate but feel free to ask for an update with the chance of feeling hopeful and having something good to look forward to. Sorry so long, but I hope this helps anyone who reads! Take Care.
Hi i am so encouraged by your post, i have a 27month old son that is exactly like your son.He is not talking yet but he pulls you to what he wants, he can solve picture puzzles, understands something… like when i sing a song about duck, he goes and get his toy duck, when i sing row row row your boat he wants me to row. He also gives high 5 and kisses when you ask him to
. But am still very worried that he is not still able to say things apart from daddy and his name diddy
I stumbled across this article by accident and I just want to give so many of these parents hope. My oldest daughter is 9 years old. When she was 12 months old she started saying typical words “dada…mama…etc.” Her vocabulary never increased. At doctor appointments, the pediatrician kept telling me that she would like my daughter to talk more. I felt like screaming, “ME TOO!” When my daughter was 2 we took her to Disney World and she didn’t speak at all. She used elaborate sign language type communication. She could solve puzzles and follow all directions and she understood everything we said, however, there was no verbal communication on her end. I would google the problem and almost cry. She was social, but she also walked on her tip toes all the times. I was convinced there was a problem. At 28 months, our pediatrician told us we needed to see a speech pathologist and get a formal evaluation. Our speech pathologist told us she was very far behind and mentioned speech apraxia. I was terrified and envisioned a life full of difficulty for my daughter. She started to improve VERY SLOWLY and started to eventually say more words. The speech pathologist came every week and gave me exercises to do with my daughter. We worked on flashcards for about 30 minutes a day. The words increased into sentences. It was a very anxious year for me. I think I kept comparing her to other kids who were talking so much, that I never saw her progress. Fast forward and she will be 10 in a few weeks. She is in every gifted and talented class offered at her school. Her vocabulary is incredible and she is one of the most social kids you will ever meet. Her speech is perfect. It took about a year working a speech pathologist. She never had speech apraxia. She was just a late talker. As for the toe walking, she still does it ALOT. She is athletic and plays tennis all the time. She was just born with tight calf muscles and needs to stretch them out. I look back at all the time I worried and I would love to turn back time and tell myself to relax.
I love your article. Very helpful. Thank you for posting it 🙂
My husband and I are concerned that our 2 1/2 year old son isn’t talking. We’ve tried without success to get him to repeat the alphabet and say simple words like cup, milk, eat, etc., but he simply won’t. The interesting thing is that we know he can speak, as in the past he has clearly said words like dada, stop, and bubbles without coaxing. However, recently he will not say “any” words at all. He communicates what he wants by pointing ang grunting. He clearly understands our instructions to come, to stop doing something, and even deduces how to get things that are out of reach on the kitchen counter. He, on his own, figured out that a chair could be used to reach his favorite crackers on the counter, and one day even shocked us by opening the dishwasher, and proceeding to stand up on the dishwasher door to reach his crackers. So, we know that the he’s a thinker. He’s very high energy and loves animals, and other children. On the other hand he’s uncomfortable when we’re visiting family members/friends. My husband always says that when he’s home he’s a different child. When people (other than children) try to approach him he puts his hands out to push them away. If there’s a silver lining, he has recently started to babble, which for us is encouraging. He has a doctor’s appointment next week and I’m interested to see if our pediatrician will suggest that he get a language evaluation, as at the last visit she stressed that she would expect him to have increased his vocabulary at the next visit, which he hasn’t done. This article has reiterated what we’ve felt all along—every child develops language at his/her own pace, and lack of speech isn’t a definite characterisic of autism. We plan to keep working with him and prayerfully one day soon he’ll talk our ears off.
Thank you that made me feel a lot better. My 2yr old son is not talking but he has no other signs of autism. He is currently in speech therapy and early intervention which they come to our house once a week and work w him for an hour. I can not wait for him to say I love you mama!!!
How is your son doing???
My son is almost 9 and you’d never know he ever had an issue with talking. Most of the time I completely forget that it took him so long to start talking, because he literally never stops. He doesn’t have any other behavioral issues either.
Hi,My daughter is 2 years old .She doesnt talk much.She used to say mama but stopped saying.She knows very things to recognize like Car,Bus,Star,Leaf etc which i taught her by drawing and repeating.She only says them when she feels like not when we show the object and sk her what it is .She lately learnt the abc and can recognize the alpabhet too ….However when we call her she rarely listens .we checked her hearing and all is fine.Im however worried sick as to why she doesnt pick up words when we try so hard to keep repeating and teaching. When i sing to her shes very attentitive and actually enjoys it …help me to help my daughter start talking please
My 2.5 year old son is exactly like yours. I feel he knows to speak but does not. He does not repeat words. But, he once did tell juice,school & some such words clear enough….He does follow only my instructions, but will not follow others….now he blabbers non stop….did you visit the ped ? What did the ped say ?
Another interesting thing is, that he blabbers lot more when I am at my mother’s place & kind of stops it when we get back to my in-laws place (We stay with my in laws for the time being)
AS the author says if you have concerns contact your pediatrician, not the author of an article about late talkers. I had a similar experience, but it turns out that my physically excelling son was indeed suffering from autism. If you are worried talk to your Ped., If you are still worried about your child and the Ped. discounts your fears contact or ask for a referral to Easter Seals, they can do a full evaluation. The author is right to a point that your child MAY be a late talker, but I think it is better to be overly cautious than to find that you wasted time when you could be taking action to help your child.
My son is 22 months old and only says mama, dada, and tata (grandma). He said his first word mama at 20 months. He’s babbling more now than ever which is a good precursor to speech. He said nothing until 20 months, no babbling. He had a tongue tie and had surgery at 17 months. I did contact EI and began therapy 2 months ago but a bit discouraged with their services. They offered him 1 speech therapy session a month and made me feel that there was something seriously wrong with my son even though he did not have any other delays but speech. I’ve had many sleepless nights because a 1 hour eval for my son done by strangers unfortunately dictated my feelings about his development. My opinion: lets let our kids be kids. They will all develop at different paces. As long as your child understands, you should not be worried. I can’t wait until my baby starts really talking up a storm.
Hi I am abit worried as my daughter is 2 years n 3 months and she can’t talk in sentences. She can only say few words like mama, papa, no, n few easy words. She understands everything what we say but only talking wise is slow. When she needs something she always points it n say like pointing aaaaa……
So pls advice me.
Just wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU for writing this article. My son just turned 2 this week. My mom who watches him every day and I have worried ourselves sick over his lack of speech. He does have about 3 words that he tries to say (good, go, dadda) but I have to work pretty hard for them. Lately, he’s been jabbering more. I can’t see that he is delayed anywhere else, except that he will not wave bye. He points to almost all of his body parts, and will take you to the fridge when he wants his cup or the pantry when he wants a snack. He is social and loves to gives kisses, although he has lately developed a propensity to throw tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants. He’s excellent at working puzzles, plays with his toys the right way, and can work my iPhone better than I can. He was also a very early walker (10 months) and has been climbing tables since he was just a year old.
My older son is 11, and although I remember him being a late talker I seem to think he did use words more than my younger son. Everything I read scares me to death about my toddler’s development, even though my pediatrician assures me he is fine. It was very nice to read this article and know that others have been in similar situations and things have worked out fine. Thank you so much for the encouragement!
My boy is 28 months and he is still struggling to speak and he has ear infection, I’m planning to take him to the paediatrician
My baby age is 2 and half but he doesn’t speak properly only papa, mama, Nana, kaka, didi like simple word he speak. I am worried that whether he will be able to speak or not. Please guide me. Thank yoy
My son does not talk,he is 2 1/2 like to jump always
I have 37 mth old boy/girl twins, and they have both been late talkers. Ive spoken to GPs, a paediatrician and a behavioural paediatrician, and, about $2000 later, all have given me the same advice – relax. It is not uncommon for children to not speak until they hit four years. I figure if trained professionals aren’t worried, i no longer will be (and ive WORRIED believe me!). Once they hit 34 mths though, their talking took off, more so for my son (my daughter still lags behind). I hear “mum” a million times a day now, despite barely hearing the word prior to 4 months ago. As long as my kids are socially competent im not worried (eg. about autism). Dont just look at the fact a child is not talking. Assess them wholistically – do they understand when you speak to them (my guys do, and are bi lingual), do they follow simple direction, are they interacting with others (even if just parralel play), pointing, displaying joint interest? If so, your child is fine. My guys were late in ALL those areas (they were premmies too), but it is not uncommon for children to lag up to two years in speech compared to other children, especially boys (however, i have found my son is the more talkative, and using “i”, and two and three word sentences, not his sister). All the experts ive seen have reassured me that late speech is in no way connected to low intelligence (many of their children being very late talkers themselves), and if anything, studies apparently show the converse is true – late talkers seem to be super intelligent. Einstein is the most perfect example – did not speak a word prior to 4 years. My point is, by all means have your child assessed by a medico if youre worried. But in most cases being a late talker is nothing to worry about. We hear so much about autism, but the fact is, there are more children without it, than with it. There really will come a day when your non/late talker starts talking, and just won’t stop ;))
Thank you for writing this article for mothers such as myself. My son will be 2 in September and all he does is babble. He says a few words but not much. This article assured me that hes not the only one and maybe its just taking him some time to form words. I’m currently trying to learn a different language and its extremely hard, I can only imagine how difficult it would be for a child to do something hes never done before. I will bring it up at his 2 year appointment just to see what can get done to help him learn more. Speech therapy cant hurt, im going to give it a try after his birthday.
Once again THANK YOU!
My son turns 2 in 1 week and I have been stressing myself out because he hasn’t talked. He says ew (for poop or anything dirty) “there it is”, ha for hot, and stop.. He can sometimes say Dada. He waves bye bye, can nod no, He babbles a lot, will point and babble grunt for his needs, he understands everything we say some even complex demands like get the water from table and give to daddy in room . He points to body parts and pictures in books. He is very active always running and climbing, started walking at 10 months. Always playing with his 4 years old brother, plays pretend play, makes eye contact. He can throw mini tantrum but is controllable with distractions,i think it’s due to not being able to talk or when he can’t get what he wants.
I have been worrying myself on asd and late talking. The only thing is he is selective on when to respond to his name. If I call out his name by itself he will turn 50% of the time on the 2nd time with louder tone. But almost always will respond if say Jay and a command like “Jay it’s bath tjme” or “Jay come get a snack”. Is this a sign of asd or is he selectively ignoring me?
Your son is fine..I am 99percent sure..from what you have described it’s not ASD
Thank you for this article it is a great help my son is 30 month old and says nothing apart from three words. The nights I spent worrying is an understatement. I cannot thank you enough
My twin daughter speaks very well at 2.5 and is fully bilingual.she sings very well al, the toddlers songs but my twin son only speaks few words, doesn’t repeat much but can count till 10 and read alphabet from a to z and recognize them how ever doesn’t that much follow directions.I am worried about him.
I am so glad to read this. I have been worried a lot about my grandson. He is 22 months and doesn’t talk. He makes noises. Walked early climbs everywhere. Had to take him out of his crib before one because he could climb out. He plays and is always on the move.
A child not talking by 2 might “catch up” somewhat but I’m sure the poster of this article’s son is now experiencing learning difficulties or behavior issues. A language delay is an early sign.
I’m kind of shocked my this comment, because you can clearly tell by all of the other commenters that every kid is different and some just start talking on their own time line without further issues. My son is 6 now, he’s in Grade 1, and he has a more extensive vocabulary than most kids his age. He reads at age level, talks up a storm, and has no behavioral issues or learning difficulties to speak of. He had a great Kindergarten teacher, and trust me, she would have recommended a course of action if she saw anything amiss. If he was having learning difficulties, I would have updated this post on my site and shared that, because glossing over a detail like that to give someone false hope about their own late talker is not something I could do.
Some kids are just late talkers. Late talking doesn’t mean they are forever behind or that they have autism. My son is the perfect example of this.
Thank you for this! My son is 26 months and is used a few words but he is not communicating like his peers. I did speak to a speech therapist when he was 18 months and since he was not speaking she wanted to evaluate him. My daycare mom (with 25 yrs of experience) thought it was ridiculous. She did not see any sign that he had a disability. I did not go through with the evaluation. I have gotten to the point where I can’t be around other children his age. It kills me to hear how much they talk. Can I ask when your son started talking and at what age was he caught up with the kids his age?
He started really talking after he turned 3, but it was slow going. I started noticing more words and he was putting sentences together. I’d say he was fully caught up by the time he was almost 5. He did have some speech therapy when he started kindergarten because he was skipping the letter K, but it took two weeks and the speech therapist said it was all good. He’s been a very fluent speaker and had an amazing vocabulary since the middle of K. I hope that helps!
I’m wondering what your educational background on the matter is? As an EA I can assure you that all children move through the developmental stages at a different pace. In fact there are multiple intelligence’s and since we all learn differently his verbal skills may have been slower while he excelled in other areas. On another note I am also A close friend and can assure you this child’s verbal skills are beyond his years as his vocabulary is extensive for a child of 6. Please take into consideration that this child will grow up and possibly read this and wonder why a stranger felt they had the right to an opinion on his development. After watching the documentary Bully, you my dear are one, and you may want to consider thinking before you write something you know nothing about in future, as your words have the ability to offend.
my son is six an still can’t talk right we got him check out an everything was fine now my two yr old daughter isn’t taking as much either
As an SLP(speech language therapist) it worries me when one article gets blown up online as ‘proof’ and gives advice. Please understand that the normative data that says 50 words by 2 years old, 2 word phrases by 2, etc. is an average; and there are ranges that fall within normal limits. So no, it is not a date set in stone, but it is thoroughly researched data (not just one article). If you are concerned about your child, PLEASE go to see a speech therapist, it may just be a bit of a delay that will resolve with time, or it may be a moderate-severe delay. Delays should be addressed because, when your child gets to school, you want them to be able to interact with their peers to learn social skills and to interact during story times, group activities, etc. Learning to talk is hard work for a kiddo; learning to talk in addition to learning in preschool/kindergarten is super hard work!!! Pediatricians are getting better at it, but remember that an SLP is the one specialized and trained to identify/evaluate the difference between a delay that doesn’t need therapy, and one that does! One thing I look for is impact on the child’s life…can they use communication to get their needs/wants met, or are they stuck crying (or hitting) out of frustration because they can’t communicate. I currently work with a very bright, toddler who can do everything but use words…she screams and cries because her language delay makes it impossible for her to tell her parents what is wrong and she is 2 years 4 months. Also, keep in mind that a language delay does NOT mean autism!! Some little ones just need help getting their language started! Better safe than sorry!!
I completely agree with you, and that’s why I’ve said in this post that people should go and check with a speech therapist and I’ve also mentioned that we went and had check ins with a speech therapist when my son was 3, 4, and 5. It didn’t make a difference with his talking for us, and even our speech therapist agreed that some kids just talk when they are ready.
This post was written to ease someone’s mind at 3 am when they were stressing out about it, not to give a directive that everything is fine and don’t worry about it at all. If you google speech delays in a 2 year old, there’s a lot of horrifying stuff that comes up. It can make you clench up, literally, and how do you decide on the best course of action if you’re scared? I’m glad this post has given someone a bit of peace of mind that yes, there have been positive outcomes when your child doesn’t talk at 2. I would never say that my situation is ‘proof’ that all kids who don’t talk at 2 will follow the same path as we did, but it’s a fact that my son has an immense vocabulary, he has no learning difficulties or behavioral difficulties, and he’s exactly like any other 6 year old.
There are too many parents not giving their children needed services because they would love to stay in denial. Children who are language delayed should receive speech services immediately. Speech services will only HELP them. They should ALSO have a complete MDE (Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation). Kids on the spectrum sometimes spend a year in speech services before someone sends up smoke signals. All of the people who posted their thanks to you SCARED me. A lot of them are going to play the wait-and-see game. Some of them will deny a problem exists even after a diagnosis. Precious time is wasted. Targeted therapy can change the course of a child’s future. I’m happy your son is okay; mine is not. We waited too long. He received services at 3 years old. He needed them at age 1. Doctors told me he was okay. Everyone wanted to calm me. But, I knew! A parent’s instinct is one of the best weapons we have to fight autism. My son is severely autistic. Please have your children evaluated by your county (early intervention) or school district. If YOU still feel something is wrong, have them reevaluated by other qualified professionals (neurologists, geneticists, psychiatrists…). Autism is insidious! My son had 30 words at age 2. Then they started to DISAPPEAR and he REGRESSED. Therapy, during that time, would have slowed the autism’s progression. What I now have is REGRET.
I don’t think a lot of them are playing the wait and see game. From what I can tell, the majority of them realize they should get intervention to make sure. That’s exactly what I did. I didn’t wait very long past two years old and I took him through every test they could do just to make sure. To me that wasn’t playing a waiting game, it was watching him develop and realizing there was a problem that needed dealing with by 2 years old. If you see something develop earlier, by all means get it checked out, but speech therapy wouldn’t have helped us at 1 year. Sending huge hugs to both you and your son. I hope everything works out well.
I stumbled upon your article accidentally, and boy am I glad that I did! My son is going to be 2 in a month and the last month has just been agonizing, spending all night reading through millions of articles about “speech delay hint hint autism” etc etc….I felt like I reached the lowest point in my life. The anxiety and depression is truly debilitating. You stop even enjoying the time with your child, instead I’ve been constantly observing him like a lab mouse and losing hair. I’ve already signed him up to Speech Therapy and also booked an appointment for Autism screening with a Child Psychologist just in case. Those are a result of my paranoia but I still feel it is the right thing to do, it can’t hurt. But I am also really relieved to happen by an article like yours and also reading through the comments section to learn that I’m not alone in this rough trek. Obviously every child will go through a different scenario and will have different turn outs but most of the commenters seem to have had positive experiences in the end. This gave me much needed hope. Thank you very much for this.
Seeing that it has been like 7 years since the first comment I wonder how your son is doing now? Indeed I would love to know how the progress is for the others who commented here.
Hopefully some others will come out and give you an update on their own kids too, but as for my son, he’s 8 (almost 9) now and I would honestly never know he had an issue with talking. I actually brought it up with his teacher recently and we both thought it was kind of funny because he never stops talking now. He’s in Grade 3 now and doing really well in school.
I hope you find answers soon! Hang in there. I remember not sleeping for a year because I was so stressed about it, and it’s strange to look back on it so long ago and know how it all turned out.
Thanks for the reply! That’s great to hear that your son is doing well. I can imagine it must’ve been a journey for you as I wonder if it’ll be for me. I managed to get my son to learn a new word yesterday through a 5 second waiting game that a speech therapist taught me. Just one word but if I can repeat this progress today or even next week I think we’ll be up to speed in a few months. For anyone else reading this I gotta stress about seeing a speech therapist. They have all sorts of tricks that you and I just haven’t thought of. I’m hopeful it’ll help my son.
I’m in the same boat but now only 2 weeks until my daughter is two. Just wondering. How’s it going. Any more new words yet ! Xx
Same here, only a week to go until my son gets to 2. Progress is slow, sometimes I feel like its two steps forward and then 3 steps back again. He has begun going to daycare on a part time basis a month ago and he has picked up a few phrases like Oh No, and Oh Yeah, he even says them in different tones depending on the situation. Despite all the tricks that I learned from the speech therapist I feel like its a hit and miss. He sometimes says the word I want him to say immediately and then its never heard again. Although rarely he does out of the blue say the correct word and also in the correct context. So I feel there is definitely some absorption going on in his mind. In general my son is quite physically active, he just doesn’t stop moving and causing mischief throughout my place. I have hope that his speech delay is simply because his mind is just too busy being physical. When he wants something or wants to do something he mostly makes me do it by pointing or pulling my hand and drags me there. I would say its important to look for executive functioning, is he figuring out how to do what he wants? Ex if he wants to get something off a table is he bringing his potty close to it and climbs it to get what he wants?
My daughter now 26 months old. But she does not respond to her name. I am curious to know weather your son had the same problem? If yes when did he start responding to his name.
My son did respond to his name at that age, he just wouldn’t talk in the same way other kids his age would. He actually was pretty good at responding to all requests and instructions from about age one and on, but he just didn’t have the words to communicate.
My first step was getting his hearing checked, and once I did that we moved onto the speech therapist. If you haven’t done that yet, I’d start there.
Thanks for your speedy response! I think hearing should be okay. She immediately responds to child rhymes, even when we play very very low sound..and check where the sound comes from. She also say few words from rhymes, e.g. jump (while saying she jumps, 5 little monkey jumping on bed rhyme), Any way I will sure check her hearing, and pediatrics or child doctor.
Actually she shows some autistic behavior (but it is very rare)…we are scared..
I remember that feeling so well! Hang in there. Sending you best wishes, and I’m sure you’ll have answers soon.
I have struggled with my Two year old Son not talking. He is two years and four months old. He only says daddy, aunty, tea, no, yeah and sometimes mommy. He calls me aunty most of the time. He does a lot of babbling as if he is talking to you about something concerning him. It is not clear. He points to whatever he needs ( that is if he cannot reach it himself). He respond to his name most times ( not when he is playing with his toys thou). At school he gets along with peers and plays a lot. He follows instructions when he pleases. He understand when adults are talking and giving jokes he laughs also. I see where he tries to repeat words like thank you. I am just worried that he may have a speech problem even though older experience mothers told me to relax and not worry he is fine.
My son is the same as you are describing your son. A handful of words (Thanks, Bye Bye, Milk, No, Yay, Uh oh), lot of babbling. He points and grabs our hand and pulls us toward whatever he wants to get or do. Responding to name is hit or miss depending on what he’s doing. Understands commands and performs them half the time. Overall I have started to worry less because other than his lack of talking he has good executive function and is displays affection to us and people. I’ve then learned that a few people in my family spoke very late themselves, my father in fact was said to have no spoken until 4 years old. You son from the sounds of it seems quite similar. I wouldnt worry too much but like others have suggested it does not hurt to see a Speech therapist.
Lots of people struggling with this issue. This is a great article!