My 18-month-old is completely nonverbal. Please help me help him.
August 3, 2017 9:48 AM   Subscribe

My toddler has been diagnosed with expressive speech delay - his receptive communication is advanced for his age. We are quite worried and want to get him help as early as possible.

I've waited a while to write this because I've been quite worried and upset and needed to calm down.
My son turns 18 months in a week. He was born at 37 weeks, so that's the adjusted date.
Right now he has no words, except for 'dada" (of course!) Despite knowing he should have more words at this age, I was instinctively not too worried, as he babbles incessantly (consonants as well as sounds that seem like real words but are gibberish), has met all his other social and physical milestones (albeit a couple weeks late than 'normal', which his pediatrician and we have attributed to prematurity.) His receptive language understanding is impressive - he can understand fairly complex phrases, and can carry out related tasks, such as, "give daddy the ball", "could you please put this in the hamper?", and "shall we go on a walk" (runs to get his shoes), etc. Despite being nonverbal, he's figured out how to communicate with us, and will often hold our hands and bring us to what he wants, or point - like holding my hand and walking me to the refrigerator when he's hungry.
At a pediatrician visit last week, the doctor was concerned about his expressive speech delay and wanted to rule out autism. We have been referred to a speech therapist, and will be seeing one in the next month. We've also called EI services here in California. In addition, the doctor recommended enrolling him in daycare ASAP to maximize his exposure to other kids. This will not happen for a few months at least, because waiting lists - we had originally planned to wait until he was at least two (February) to start daycare. My boyfriend and I work full time, so during the week we maybe spend about two hours with him at the end of the day. On weekends we do lots of things as a family - zoo, museums, parks, the beach, reading, naming things, painting, etc. The nanny is lovely when it comes to his physical care as well as with affection and hugs and all that, but... she seems unwilling to expose him to a lot of different things. This may be because of her own language limitations (her native tongue is Portuguese, and her English is very limited.) So she will take him on walks, or to the park, but will not take him to the library for story time and other activities (we've asked her to, but it will happen once and then nothing.) She also won't read English books to him, but will point to things and name them in Portuguese. The result is that his main interactions are with three adults at home, and zero to little interaction with kids of any age. We have no family or friends with kids close by. Also, from what the doctor and a therapist friend who works with autistic kids say, he doesn't show any sign of social underdevelopment or of being on the spectrum, although it's still very early.
1. How concerned should I be? We are getting him in with a speech therapist, as well as a developmental evaluation (we live in California and will be using C3.)
2. Has anyone experienced similar issues? What help did you get your toddler, and what has the outcome been?
3. Is there anything else we should be doing to help him?
I'm trying to stay calm and not feel like we've somehow failed him in not providing him with more opportunities for development (more play with other kids, a nanny who's able to do more with him). He's a super happy, mischievous little guy who loves facetiming with his grandmothers and showing off for them, pointing out his belly button and nose (the only body parts he's interested in!), and attempting tumbles (unfortunately, none of this is exhibited at the doctor's office, because he is a rather shy kid around people he isn't familiar with, although he will smile and wave hi/bye.)
Thank you so much for any advice, personal experience and observations. This motherhood thing is HARD, and I love him so!
posted by Everydayville to Human Relations (30 answers total)
I can't contribute to the clinical stuff in here, but wanted to chime in and say that your Portugese-speaking nanny can really help here by just talking to your son in her native language. Don't even worry about the English, tell her to go wild in talking to him, reading him books in Portugese, talking one-sided to him in Portugese. All language is good language. You can offer to pick up books in Portugese if she's willing to read them.
posted by juniperesque at 10:00 AM on August 3, 2017 [27 favorites]

Absolute anecdata and not actually helpful, but in the hopes of helping you feel better until someone with actual knowledge or advice shows up:

1. My mother swears that I was basically mute until after 18 months. Not even so much as "mama" or "dada." No babbling. She was super freaked out because all of her cousins/friend's kids were chatting away, but there I was, silent. But once I started talking, I moved to full sentences very quickly. Apparently, within a couple months, when a visitor gave me a present of a set of toy pots and pans, my response was to take it in both hands, and solemnly say, in Cantonese, "My word! I have never seen such a magnificent cookset!"

2. Our kid is in the 15 month range, came back clean from informal autism screenings with professionals (see 3 below) as not displaying autistic traits. He is home with his English-speaking dad all day, and spends time on the weekends with my parents who only speak to him in Cantonese. He is similarly very good at responses, but only says "Dada" consistently.

3. I've been told by my mother-in-law, who was a developmental psychologist doing autism evaluations, IED's, and similar work in schools for 30 years, that bilingual kids (like yours and mine) tend to talk a little later.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:06 AM on August 3, 2017 [10 favorites]

You are essentially a dual language household. Take a quick Google around and see how common it is to have delayed speech in a home where two languages are spoken. And though I'm not a clinician, it does seem from your description that he hears, understands and interacts with you. Some kids just speak later than others. My totally normal sister did not give a shit about talking until she was almost four- we all just did what she wanted without her having to speak. Deep breaths mama.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 10:08 AM on August 3, 2017 [11 favorites]

All of this is anecdotal/ my opinion. I have family members who are in speech therapy and elementary ed.
1. Kid sounds pretty normal, including the shyness and speech delays are common in boys. The professionals will do all the testing, but it sounds like his hearing and processing are fine.
2. My nephew was shy until he went to daycare with other kids. It was night and day from him staring at strangers and not saying a word to him talking to everyone. I think it was both a little maturity and the exposure to more kids.
3. You have a good variety of activities and levels of interaction for him. The therapist will be able to give you more suggestions and possibly even some exercises to do with him when they aren't there. Make sure at least one, if not both, of you are there for the first session. Write down all of your questions
posted by soelo at 10:09 AM on August 3, 2017

As someone with a non-English-speaking (at least not well) nanny, I would be extremely not OK with her not taking my kid to storytime, etc. when asked directly. This is a health priority for your kid, and she's just going to... not do it? Because it makes her a little uncomfortable? That's not acceptable. The nanny can definitely help by talking to him more, but I would be looking very seriously into how to at least get my kid into a nanny share so there's another kid around, and/or getting a new nanny that will do really straightforward and simple things you ask of her.

That said, 18 months is quite early! His doctor is being conscientious and careful in getting testing and treatment now, just in case there is a problem, but there are a lot of kids who aren't talking by 18 months with absolutely no problems, and just do it a little later. So at this point you're at a doing due diligence phase, not a panicking phase.

(p.s. if you're in the Bay Area, especially but not limited to the East Bay, get on the Berkeley Parents Network emails for stuff about daycares, nannies, and available weekday and weekend activities you could be taking him to).
posted by brainmouse at 10:09 AM on August 3, 2017 [9 favorites]

Did you tell the doc that your nanny speaks Portuguese, not English, and that your son is getting limited exposure to English speaking?
It seems really huge to me (as an amateur and parent - NOT a medical professional) that your son is only getting 2 hours of English language exposure at the end of the day. If I were in your position, I would probably get very firm with the nanny about taking him to play groups and libraries for him to start experiencing parallel play with other kids and hear more English language.
posted by dotparker at 10:11 AM on August 3, 2017 [8 favorites]

This is just anecdata--and early intervention can only help, so there's not reason not to do it--but mine had similar issues and everything turned out fine with no intervention. She only had 5-10 words until she was 27 months old, then went from almost no speech to complete, complex sentences in about two weeks. She's 34 months now and her verbal skills (expressive and receptive) are much better than average. The rapid increase in speech happened concurrently with her getting ear tubes after many ear infections, so it is possible that hearing loss played a role, but her receptive language skills were excellent pre-tubes and the ENT said that her hearing pre-tubes was likely muffled but definitely good enough for her to understand people in a quiet room. I guess she just listened for a really long time, then talked once she understood how the whole language thing worked.
posted by xylothek at 10:12 AM on August 3, 2017

Yes, dual language kids do speak later than other kids, and if she isn't talking to him all day and isn't taking him places where people do talk to/around him, that would also explain a delay.

And my personal anecdata, my son didn't speak at all until 18 months -- then suddenly he had an absolute speech explosion at 19 months and had 40 or 50 words at 20 months. Speech might be just around the corner.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:13 AM on August 3, 2017

You haven't failed anywhere. Speech delay is very common, and you've done wonderfully introducing him to language and literature and in getting extra medical assistance.

I was speech delayed and didn't speak more than a handful of simple words until I was 2 and a half. One of the things that helped me and my parents was using ASL to communicate. My father is HoH so this was easy to incorporate, but you can get a "baby ASL" book at the library or for home with clear illustrations and solid vocabulary. For example, you can ask "do you want something to eat?" and sign "eat" with it. Some repetition and he'll soak it up and then be able to sign for it himself!

(I am not saying you'll have full conversations - ASL is a whole, complex language - but it'll make basic communication available.)

I am not a speech pathologist and this isn't medical advice, but it did make an enormous difference in our lives. For me, it wasn't understanding communication, it was making the words come out. With your child's ability to grasp complex sentences and eagerness to interact with you it sounds like he and I might be in the same boat. :)

Best of luck. He is okay and you are a good mom.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 10:16 AM on August 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

Just spent a month with my 2.5 year old nephew, who has a limited spoken word vocabulary, an extensive "gesture" vocabulary, and excellent understanding. His parents are worried too.

Together we (the adults) read It Takes Two at the advice of their pediatrician. It was really helpful and we saw his communication skills improve over the month. Here are some of my main take-aways:

- You are teaching your child that conversation is fun, so focus on discussing things with him that he likes. Games that incorporate the same steps over and over again are a great chance to incorporate play with language. (Stop & Go games, Up & Down games)
- You are teaching your child to take turns in conversation, so you need to pay attention to what he is expressing (verbally, gestures, or facial expressions), make a short, simple response using words you know he understands, and then wait for a response. You are going to have to wait much much longer than you would with an adult. (I tried counting to 15 slowly before I piled on more words.)
- For me the most important take-away was that gestures, including pointing at things, count as language development & communication. We had been so focus on making him use words, that we weren't recognizing that he was communicating with us (a lot) with gestures. It wasn't fun for him or us when we insisted he communicate our way.

One more thing that we just stumbled upon (it wasn't in the book): All of the adults were enjoying themselves laughing over his other Aunt repeatedly saying the word "rude" (a punchline to a family joke), when my nephew piped up and said quite clearly "RUDE." It was a great moment and really re-emphasized the "conversation is fun" point. He wanted to join in on the fun.

Best of luck!
posted by CMcG at 10:18 AM on August 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Does he have any issues with snoring, mouth breathing, frequent ear infections, etc.?

A friend of mine has a preschooler with speech delays and he eventually saw an ENT and got ear tubes placed and his oversized adenoids removed. His speech really took off after those procedures -especially the adenoids- although he still meets with a speech therapist for improvement.

My 2-year-old is in Spanish immersion daycare, although he only started at 16 months. Like you, we have about 2 hours with him in the evening + all day weekends. He doesn't appear to have had a delay from the dual language exposure. I wouldn't worry too much about the Portuguese language causing any problems, but the nanny should be making an effort to talk to him often, even if it's in Portuguese.
posted by castlebravo at 10:21 AM on August 3, 2017

The nanny needs to do two things: speak and read to the child all day at home in Portuguese (you can get the books); and take him to story time per your instructions every day, or be fired.

That's not because he won't develop normally otherwise: it is just because she needs to do what she is told, including getting your kid more fluently spoken language exposure. In both languages.

You should get her the story time schedule and the specific instructions on where to go, etc.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:25 AM on August 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

Is there any way to get him into part time daycare or preschool? My sister was recommended to do that for her child b/c for some kids that can really help. (Especially if a child is comfortable and getting all thier needs met without needing more words at home!)
Edit: jut saw the preschool note. They had the experience of a much shorter wait time for the daycare at the YMCA if that or another drop in option exists for you.)
posted by mercredi at 10:52 AM on August 3, 2017

Take a quick Google around and see how common it is to have delayed speech in a home where two languages are spoken

Came to say this. I am audiologist but work with a lot of SLPs and this is very common. Your child will catch up and then some. I personally would do exactly what you're doing - get the EI and SLP services - but would not be very worried at this point.

The audiologist in me also strongly recommends getting a hearing test if he didn't get one as part of his eval (he should have, but...sometimes...), just to rule that out.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:57 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yep, my family is multi-lingual and this is pretty common. My parents were freaked by my older siblings speech delays so they only talked to me in English and tales are still told of me miraculous early speaking abilities compared to all the other kids- ie I could talk by 18 months. Downside for me is I only speak one language well whereas all my siblings and cousins speak 3-5 fluently.

Talking and reading in any language will help and if there is a physical problem the speech therapist will catch it. Speech therapists are pretty amazing.
posted by fshgrl at 11:33 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

We've had kind of a similar experience although our son is just a year. We had 2 boys just 11 months apart, our first went to daycare at 7 months old. Our second didn't get a spot and has been at home with an older Croatian babysitter for this year. Our child who went to the daycare at 7 months has been much more advanced in every way... (But not language so much- his daycare is in a different language than we speak at home but he was definitely fluent in gibberish by this time and younger brother only just started babbling more) the second child has seemed much more baby like, I believe because our babysitter didn't take him out much and he didn't see other kids talking etc.. we've recently enrolled both of them in English speaking daycare for the summer and both have taken big steps- our first took a long time to try speaking and it's only this summer- at 2 years old- that he's speaking more and talking about things etc. so basically- they seem to come along slower with speaking in general if they are multi lingual but for us the Croatian babysitter on top of it all really has made things lag.
posted by catspajammies at 12:15 PM on August 3, 2017

Our kid almost exactly - not two languages, but different accents at home and several different accents at daycare too. My mom visited when he was about 15mo and was convinced he was autistic because all he said was "eeee!". We had a handful of speech therapy appointments and he started talking at 31mo. He's 34mo and he's all caught up and then some.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:23 PM on August 3, 2017

You are doing all the right things and you should continue to explore speech therapy and developmental options, but chiming in to be yet another voice saying that children who are exposed to more than one language start speaking later than other children. Once they start speaking, however, they typically use more complex grammatical structures than other kids their age! (Source: bachelor's degree in linguistics, for whatever that's worth.)
posted by capricorn at 1:42 PM on August 3, 2017

Are you sure the sounds you describe as "gibberish" aren't his attempts to use some Portuguese words? (Or even English - my eldest was very verbal from an early age on, but to everyone except me and my spouse, her bilingual babbling sounded like random baby noises.)

In any case, at his age, considering he is exposed to two languages in his daily life, this doesn't sound alarming to me at all. Some (occasionally even considerable) delay in verbal expression is very common among kids brought up in a bilingual environment. It's not a bad idea to see a speech therapist, but my bet is they'll tell you not to worry.

Personally, I would encourage the nanny to speak and read to him in Portuguese, even though he won't have time to fully learn that language before starting daycare. Verbal development is not just about learning a specific language.

And anecdotally, my little brother had a vocabulary of 4 recognizable words until he turned 3. He now has a postgraduate degree in neuropsychology.
posted by sively at 1:51 PM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

You're doing the right things. I have 2 sets of anecdata

1. I have a friend whose child had a similar issue and had speech therapy and it was that his actual speaking muscles were underdeveloped. He did a lot of straw/bubble/etc exercises.

2. I taught my kids baby signs which was rad but my youngest never latched on to them...he ended up having a vision impairment. I think baby signs are great, lesson 1. Lesson 2 is it's worth looking at hearing, etc. Too.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:00 PM on August 3, 2017

Multilingual family here. Both my kids had about 5 words at 18 months - little enough that the older one got red-flagged at 18 months for "reassess at 2" on speech. By his 2 year old checkup he had hundreds of words. His little sister was the same, we worried much less, and she was also a chatterbox by 2.

I encourage you to proceed full steam ahead with Early Intervention - this is what they're there for! We never had services through EI, but we did have an evaluation (for something very different) for our daughter, and though the initial paperwork was a pain, our daughter had a lovely time playing with the nice ladies who arrived at our house with smiles and a bag of toys. It was really reassuring to me to have someone say, yep, your kid's development is right on track in $list of areas.

EI and therapy aren't just for kids who have autism and severe developmental delays. Don't angst about calling them. It doesn't mean you've broken your kid, or that something must be terribly "wrong". (I struggled hard with this before starting the process of evaluations and therapy services for my son. Learn from my fail.) Maybe your kid will have a speech explosion right before the evaluation and you'll feel silly for having called them. You won't be the first and they won't be annoyed. Maybe your kid will qualify for some extra help, they'll get him on the right track, and everything will be fine (IMO the most likely scenario by far). Maybe your kid does have some long-term special needs - if so, you'll be on top of things.

Therapy for young kids is generally fun! A friendly adult comes to play with them. My kid still doesn't know he goes to occupational therapy. He just knows that once a week we go visit our friend Miss L at this place with giant ball pits and trapezes and every type of swing and every type of game you could imagine. He also knows that she "teaches kids to do hard things" and that she "teaches kids how to use their bodies in new ways". Incidentally, he's made astounding gains regarding the challenges that led us there.

With regards to what you can do to support your son's language development: It does sound like you need to change up his childcare situation, which isn't a failure on your part, it's just that childcare needs evolve. Keep working on the receptive language, and keep trying to encourage expressive language. Overenunciate the key word. So - "Where's the ball? Can you show me the BAAALLLLL?" [kid points] "Yes! That's the BAAALLLLL. Can you say BALLLLL?" [kid makes random noise that sounds nothing like ball] "You're right! It's a BAAALLLLL!" Ham it up and be way too perky. Provide encouragement for any *attempt* to respond verbally, regardless of whether he's in the right neighborhood of the word.

Also, animal noises are easier to say than most words, but they totally count when you're assessing vocabulary. So do lots of mooing and baaing and so on.

Finally, let me encourage you again to take a deep breath. You're doing the right things. Waiting is hard, and as I said above, I had internalized a stigma towards therapy that made me really angsty and wonder if he REALLY needed it, and if I was just a better parent maybe he wouldn't have needed it, and so on. It's hard to get perspective when you're in the weeds. Someone here, I think, told me that I would never regret seeking outside help. Time and again they have been correct. I have spent a lot of time second guessing myself in the leadup to those first appointments, but I do not regret a single intervention we've pursued.*

* And I will probably never learn. I'm sitting here right now worrying and second guessing whether we REALLY need the full educational team meeting I've set up with the new elementary school. What if my kid just goes and does fine and I look silly? Well then, I guess I'll have a kid who's doing great in school! The horror!
posted by telepanda at 2:18 PM on August 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

I would not be worried. Yes, get the eval, but this is a very common 18-month-old boy presentation. He probably has words you're not recognizing. If the language delay is the only risk factor for autism, I wouldn't worry about that either.

I'm not saying don't get screened, but I would assume everything is completely fine given what you've written here.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:38 PM on August 3, 2017

My daughter was only speaking gibberish at 18 months. Had her evaluated and found out she had delayed speech, plus some learning disorders. I was absolutely devastated, second guessed everything I'd done while I was pregnant, blamed her father, the whole nine yards.

She's 12 now. Her speech isn't 100% clear, but aside from a word here or there, even strangers can understand what she's saying. She still has some learning issues and is on an IEP at school. But her understanding has always outstripped her expression. For example, in math, she knows the answers. She just can't quite figure out how to show her work. She can't spell if her life depended on it. But when it comes to writing papers, if she can dictate to someone else who writes them down, she does pretty well.

She starts 7th grade on Monday, at a new school, where my understanding is she'll have a full-time aide. (I say it's my understanding because she and her brother live with my parents because Reasons.) She's been nervous about it since the last day of 6th grade, not because of any academics, but because she's nervous about making new friends. I just keep reminding her that she's kind and sweet and funny and helpful and sassy and awesome. And she says "You're right, Mommy." And of course I am. So I don't worry any more about what I did while I was pregnant, what her father did, or any of that.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 2:43 PM on August 3, 2017

Also honestly I'd find another pediatrician. It's weird and inappropriate for them to say that a normally social kid without a diagnosed speech delay has to go to daycare. That doesn't seem evidence-based in the slightest. You might want a different nanny (or not) but a nanny who chats with a kid and takes them places in a reasonable way is a completely fine option for a child with a speech delay. Maybe even better than a daycare, depending on the specifics.

Let's say your son is on the spectrum (I see no evidence of that here). You would want therapy, and depending how things go, possibly a specialized preschool placement. It makes no sense to put a kid on the spectrum in a brand new environment that is not specialized and that he might have to leave in a few months. Plus putting a preemie in the germ-fest of daycare guarantees colds, ear infections, and more.

So yeah my advice would be to reconsider your pediatrician because IMO this is really inappropriate advice.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:52 PM on August 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

My 25-year-old daughter had 4 "words" at 2.5 years, but I was not worried because she so clearly understood pretty much whatever I said to her. (I put "words" in quotes because one word was her own made-up word for "dog" -- she called every dog she saw "abba." And two of the other words were really names -- Mama and Wob, for her brother Rob. She did not even say Dada.)

Even though I wasn't worried, our pediatrician recommended that we have our daughter seen by a speech therapist, just to be on the safe side.

Well, our daughter started adding words immediately after seeing the therapist for the first time. Really, she added like ten words to her vocabulary the first week. Within a few months, she had a 700-word vocabulary. (It was as if she thought, "Hey, if you were worried about my speech, you should has said something!) She has not stopped talking since! (She is also an amazing writer.)

So really, I would not worry one bit. It can't hurt to see the speech therapist, but in the meantime, don't worry.

Oh, also, our daughter was born 10 weeks premature, because I had a ruptured appendix that sent me into labor. I don't age-adjust her age; I'm not even sure what that means. So when I say she had only four words at 2 1/2 years, I am counting from her actual birthdate, which was ten weeks earlier than expected.

One more thing! Our other child had only six words at 18 months, and I was a little worried about that. Well, many years later, he got an almost-perfect score on his SAT (800 Critical Reading, 800 Writing, 780 Writing), went to Johns Hopkins and majored in Biomedical Engineering, and was on the Honor Roll at JHU every semester but one. (Sorry if that comes off as bragging, but it is all true.)

So yeah, don't worry! (I am actually kind of appalled that your doctor brought up autism, if the only basis for his concern is your son's expressive speech.)
posted by merejane at 3:13 PM on August 3, 2017

I just saw the results of a new study on this very topic a couple days ago. The gist: at age 2, 19% of kids are late talkers, 81% are typical talkers. When you look at the same cohort of kids at age 4, there are 11% with a language impairment, but actually slightly more than half of them were typical talkers at age two. In other words, your kid is not at increased risk of having language problems down the road.

IAALinguist, IANYL.
posted by karbonokapi at 7:39 PM on August 3, 2017

When he was nine months old my son stood up and ran across a room because a burning log rolled out of the fireplace. Then he didn't walk again for a long time.

My son was a late talker and I got the "I'm sure you are worried about autism" speech from his doctor. When he decided to start talking it was in the local accent with complete sentences and his vocabulary blew people away. He'd obviously been paying attention. And he could read too and obviously had been for a while. Spooky.

Just because your kid is not doing something doesn't mean they can't or won't.

He also demonstrated that he could drive my mom's outback when he was five. The seat was adjustable enough. It was an emergency and he did fine but frightening.

You may have something pretty special going on in that little head. Relax.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:31 AM on August 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Have you asked your nanny of her assessment of his language (i.e. if she thinks he has any words)? We thought our son didn't have any words until his Spanish-speaking daycare provider pointed out that his "gibberish" was actually the toddler version of four or five distinct Spanish words. Does she think he's saying anything in Portuguese?
posted by whitewall at 10:03 AM on August 4, 2017

Anecdotal. Mini Murray didn't say one word...not mama, not dada, nothing! At a 20 month appointment to discuss his lack of speech, the pediatrician said that there appeared to be no signs of developmental problems so we should just wait and revisit if he still hasn't said a word at 27 months. Mini Murray said his first word ("Apple" when pointing at my laptop cover) at 26.99999 months. At 8 years, we have learned he is "gifted" (whatever that means) and his speech and vocabulary are perfectly normal. They always has been, but he was definitely slower on that milestone.

Despite being perfectly normal to not talk so long,one thing we did as parents likely slowed down his speech development: We anticipated his every want and need and created an environment where he did not have to use words to get what he wanted. I am convinced this contributed to a small part of the delay.
posted by murrey at 3:35 PM on August 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't worry. He is bilingual and has good receptive language. The words will come. His babbling may even actually be Portuguese.

My son has less understanding than yours and about 30 words, most of which are jargon or extremely poorly pronounced because he has oral dyspraxia. He has autism. He was flagged at 26 months because he only had 2 words then (baba (breastfeed) and dee(train)). He also couldn't point or follow a gaze and didn't demonstrate much receptive language. To this day he cannot reliably respond to his own name. He's 4.5.

At 18 months he was completely nonverbal, had no receptive understanding and was totally in his own world. I breastfed him until he was nearly 4 and he was 20 months old before he even looked at my face with any sort of interaction while at the breast.

It really sounds to me like your kid is okay.
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 4:15 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

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