14 month old not talking, other issues

grizzylemonFebruary 8, 2005

Excuse if this comes out as a double post, I posted it about half an hour ago, but don't see it.

My son is nearly 14 months and although he can understand words and follow simple commands "bring me the ball", he does not say any words, not even 'mama' or 'dada'. He can make those sounds, because I have heard him say them or make the sounds on other occasions. He has been to a developmental screening and the screener was concerned over this issue and also he failed the test where they have him throw a ball at you, he didn't throw it, he just let it drop. He is not an imitator at all. He will not try to do what you are doing. We try to label everything when we are with him. We do not use baby talk and we read to him often and speak to him. He does babble, and we answer his babbles as if he is speaking. He goes back to the developmental specialist in a few weeks to see if he has made any improvements. (He seems to be trying with the ball, but the words are just not coming). Another thing, he is raised in a bilingual household and he has a heart condition which will require surgery as soon as he grows some more. He is not even on the charts for height/weight. (This is due to his heart problem) He is 13 1/2 months and weighs 19 pounds and is 28 inches tall. He has been walking since he was 9 months and likes to put lids on pots, and seems otherwise normal. How concerned should I be about his speech? Is there a way to get him to start imitating? He will probably qualify for the children's first program.

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I am by no means a professional, I just have anecdotal information.

My stepmom's nephew is autistic. He didn't start speaking until 18 months or so. But he also exhibited other signs of autism as well.

The child of family friends started to speak later than "normal" but began speaking in nearly complete sentences! We always attributed it to his perfectionism. He didn't want to try anything until he could do it well.

Perhaps for your son the bilingual part is a making things a little more complicated? Every child is different and processes information in various ways.

I wouldn't worry too much, it seems as though you are doing everything you can to evaluate what is going on.

Maybe the physical challenges your son has faced has delayed him in some other childhood milestones as well.

Good Luck!


    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 10:42PM
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I have a high functioning autistic grandson....and the pervasive symptom was lack of speach....he walked early, was toilet trained by 2 etc....but didn't talk.
Autism is a "scale"...there are many degrees of the problem....from very low often called Auspergers Syndrom to very severe forms of the disease.
Because my grandson was outgoing and friendly and allowed himself to be cuddled and held, he was a couple of years before he was diagnosed and could begin therapy.
I say get him to a pediatric neurologist as soon as you can. Many perfectly normal and some very high functioning kids don't talk until later....but it's a good idea to rule out any problems that could be helped by therapy early on.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 1:52PM
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This is my concern, that he might be autistic or something.
He goes back to the developmental specialist on the 23rd of this month, so I hope that she will be able to reassure me.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 9:33AM
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If you even have a slight inkling that something is not right....scream and holller ( figurativly of course!) and be a squeaky wheel until you get something done or tested etc.
The "developmental specialist" said not to worry about my grandson....he had a new sister who was 20 months younger.....the family moved when he was 10 months old, he had an older brother who anticipated his every whish and he didn't NEED to talk.
Anyhow, he was 3 1/2 before he was diagnosed and given the therapy and schooling he needed. My daughter insisted! By then he was saying a few words...but not like he should have been. By the way as a teen ager....he now won't shut up!
Most likely....by a huge margin....your son is NOT autistic. But you need to find out.
Are there any other symptoms? Does he look you in the eye? Does he resist being cuddled? Is he quite happy being alone in his room, or does he need to see you?
I know how uneasy you are.....keep us posted.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 11:36AM
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He does look me in the eye, does want to be held and doesn't like to be alone. I will let you know what else I find out. Wish this forum was a little more populous. I signed up the other day and didn't think to check and see how old the posts were. I know there are more parents out there!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 1:55PM
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Below is a link for an old posting (middle to bottom of first page) regarding speech. I posted twice on that thread - didn't want to re-type what I had already posted regarding my son. Mainly, though, he dropped words - would say something once or twice, then never say them again. Autism was brought up a lot in his assessments.
Son just turned three this past Christmas and, in the weeks leading up to his birthday, he started talking! He would say things here and there and we knew he understood every word he heard - but he just wouldn't talk. Our neighbor calls him 'An Observer.' He wants to wait, watch, see everything. Only then will he say something. Now that he is talking, he talks non-stop. Like my grandma always said, "You spend the first few years teaching them to walk and talk and the next 16 trying to get them to sit down and shut up." When our DS started talking, it was in huge sentences - 20 or more words at a time. When we were in at our pediatrician's office for three year well-child visit, she said he is now talking at a 5 year old level. He still does say "me" instead of "I," but otherwise he does talk very advanced for his age - like, he will say, "Mom, me want ketchup, please." or "Me no take nap; the sun is up, mom is up, dad is up and me stay up, too."
I would say - follow your gut feelings. But also look for little signs that he is on track - like you said he is putting lids on pots. My DS would never stack blocks and that was a huge issue with the doctor and the specialists that tested him. Then one day I realized - yeah, he never stacked blocks, had no interest in blocks - but he liked to take my plastic containers out of the pantry and would stack and restack and restack them. So he would never stack blocks for the specialists when they tested him... But he was stacking.
When we were going through testing with our son, I just kept thinking - I will never regret testing and speech therapy - but I would always regret it if we didn't get it and later realized that he did need it.
Is this your first? (Sorry if you said that and I missed it.) I just have the one son. I find parenting to be so crazy. Most days I don't have a clue what I am doing! I don't have any experience with children but all my friends have degrees in early childhood development or were teachers before motherhood. It is easy to try to compare your child. Or get hung up in what the books say they should be doing when. And, in my case, my friends will say things like, "Well, you know..." And I would listen to them because I felt like they knew better since they had a college degree in a child-oriented field. I have finally had to learn to block out a lot of what they say to me, as they are only comparing my son to their child. In my son's case, he has done what he wanted, when he was good and ready to. Talking included. (We are trying to potty train right now and I am realizing, once again, that the child sets the clock!)
I don't know anything about speech development in a bilingual family. But I have two friends from foreign countries and the families have taken radically different approaches to making sure their children speak both languages - neither one spoke bilingual from the start. One is teaching in their native language and plan to teach English later (which is so odd, since our children are the same age and play together) and the other family taught English, then sent their young daughter to their native country for the summer. Like everything else with parenting - not a right or wrong way, just different.
Best wishes! ~ Suzie

Here is a link that might be useful: Another posting on children talking

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 5:09PM
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Thanks so much for your insight. It is encouraging to hear that your child now speaks so much!! Yes, he is my first child (and since I am an older mother, he will probably be my last, but hope not). I should probably stop reading the parents magazine I get in the mail, it is making me more and more paranoid. I saw in one issue it said that by this age, he should be able to point to body parts when asked. He is nowhere close to doing that.
He just a few days ago starting trying to clap.
Hopefully, he will progress soon.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 11:08PM
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I think your son is probably fine! I am a pediatrician, and I have a 13 month old son. He says only 2 words so far, "mama" and "nana" (banana). He can sign "more". He does not walk yet, justs crawls and cruises. He just learned to throw a ball. He is shy and he does not like new people, so I am sure that he would not perform for a stranger. I think my son is doing just fine.

I think that you are doing all the right things: labeling things, reading to him, speaking to him. A bilingual environment is a great thing so keep it up! I think it is good to follow up with the developmental specialist, but do not worry too much.

Development is a broad continuum. Some kids will do things faster than others. By the way, I would not expect a child to point to body parts until 18 months!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 10:51PM
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Thanks Kathy, that is great to know!
He goes in tomorrow, so I will let you know. The closest to a word we've gotten lately is 'dis' (this) when he points at something. And he is finally clapping and waving. As a pediatrician, do you have any suggestions on foods to make him gain weigh? He is 14 months and weighs just under 20 pounds and is 28 inches long. We have tried adding butter to cereal (oatmeal), cheeses, yogurt, etc, but he just doesn't have an appetite.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2005 at 2:45PM
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Boo hoo!! :(
Well, he is doing much better developmentally but he has lost weight. :( He only weighs 18 pounds, 13 ounces now which is about 8 or 9 ounces less than last month.

I don't know what else to do to get some weight on him. He doesn't want to eat.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2005 at 12:36PM
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My two youngest kids have the weight problem. Their doctor wants me to give them more fat also. It's hard. I don't let them eat very much junk food. Sometimes I feel were being punished for proper nutrition and the genes they inherited. My dd is 16 months old and only weighs 16.5 lb . She is 28.5" tall. DS is almost 3 yo and is 36" tall, but only weighs 25.5 lb.

Our doctor's recommendation was to feed them peanut butter and crackers and put extra olive oil on their pasta. My kids don't care for oily pasta, but will eat peanut butter out of the jar if I leave it open for them. It's not what I wanted, but at least it's something. My kids eat lots of cheese and we're drinking whole milk. The doctor was also concerned because my kids eat a lot of yogurt and it doesn't have much fat. My kids love yogurt and beg me to buy it at the grocery store. I promised to give them more pudding and ice cream snacks. I don't mind them eating this stuff, but it's not what I truly consider nutritious either. We're not having much luck putting on weight at this point, but I don't think that's uncommon for active kids. You'll probably notice as your son starts walking that he'll slim down even more and his weight gain will be less.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2005 at 5:10PM
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Thanks, Adella.
Actually, he's been walking for the last 4 or 5 months (is almost running now) and that has definitely taken off weight. I am so frustrated. Did your doctor say your dd was failure to thrive or anything with her weight? Or was he concerned? I wish I could say he's inherited my genes, but I need to lose about 60 pounds, so it's not that. His dad is relatively small, but he is also on the overweight side. If I could trade metabolism with him for a few months, I think we'd both be evened out pretty good.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2005 at 10:07PM
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My dd has little rolls of fat. She looks short, but is perfectly healthy. The doctor said that also, but makes me bring her in anyway. DD had the flu in January and had only gained 1 1/2 oz in two months time. I took her back a couple of weeks later and she had gained 7 oz. I took her in for her 15 month checkup two weeks later and she had lost 3 oz. I think the weight "loss" could be the difference between eating lunch or not having lunch yet.

DD is off the weight chart and has been for about eight months so the doctor is watching to see if she comparatively holds her own. The doctor said in the past that that she used to send these kids in for metabolic testing, but everyone always turned out normal so now she just watches to make sure that they are following a trend. I understand that the doctor is trying to do what is best for my child, but it is frustrating.

I've tried to explain that my dh's family is short and most of mine (not me)is skinny. My dfil is around 5' 3" and dh's sister is exactly 5' 0". My 5'10" brother only weighs 115 lbs. DD just inherited shortness and ds the thinness. It's hard to tell that by looking at me because I'm a little overweight and slightly above average height. DH has stocky build and is in the short to average range in height. People forget that the genes you inherit can be recessive. Even if you don't exhibit a particular trait, your kids can.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 8:05PM
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My friend and I know of a little boy that didn't start talking until he was almost 2 and he is perfectly fine, you still may need to get him checked, but just for some encouragement, he could be fine.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 12:36AM
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Perhaps his weight loss is because of a food interolerance or allergy? Does he tolerate milk or wheat well?

What wonderful insight we have from Kathy G! I had no idea she was a pediatrician. That's great that she could weigh in on your particular problem.

I think testing is a good idea just to be sure. And the bilingual household, as well as reading to him alot, are sure to be very helpful! He'll probably be one of these kids who retains everything like a sponge for a year and then starts talking in complete sentences at 2 years old! My step brother was like that: he didn't talk for the longest time. He then got very sick and my stepdad told me they were very concerned about him. They read to him all the time during that period, and when he got better, he was talking in full sentences! So you never know.

As far as growth, to me his height and weight don't sound all that bad, just small for his age. At one year I think my son was barely over 20 pounds but tall for his age, so every kid is different! And in this day and age where so many children are overweight we don't have much of a "norm" to compare it to, it seems like.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 8:29AM
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Just an update. Took him to the GI, they wanted to test him for celiac disease, hiatal hernia, reflux problems, etc. After a lot of ups and downs and worries, they have diagnosed him with reflux, no Celiac, thank goodness. He now weighs 18.6, so he is down still from a few months ago, but hopefully with the zantac he will start wanting to eat again and gaining. As for his speech, well, he's added a few words. Some are in English, some in spanish, I think he picks the language which is easiest for that word, still won't say 'mama' or 'dada' to us, but he understands that and can follow commands like 'get your shoe' 'where is your nose' 'do you want to eat' (shakes head no).

    Bookmark   April 29, 2005 at 3:14PM
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I skipped over the last few entries, but wanted to add a few things. You should be able to call Birth to 3 and have them do a free full evaluation on your son in your home. We were concerned about my son's speech and they came out-said everything was developmentally appropriate, but he was not talking as much as we thought he should and since I was a teacher just new it was best to be safe and if something was going on start addressing it as soon as possbible. He was also a preemie and was 6 weeks early and born 4.5 pounds. He reached 20 pounds at around 15 months. What helped him gain weight after that was that he accidentally got a cookie with nuts and once he was fine with that we let him start eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and peanut butter crackers which he LOVES. I think now MOST doctors say peanut butter is fine at one year, and I was honest with my doctor that he was eating peanut butter and thrilled that there was something he liked a lot. I would try peanut butter as long as you don't have any family history of allergies from it.
Also, my first son's speech is developing wonderfully and my 15 month old says mama and dada but makes sounds for different words which my older son can understand and "translate" for me...very cute:)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 10:26AM
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My son is 16 months old. He started walking at 11 months, but I have been concerned bc he talks so much less than any of his friends. Up until last month he only said mama and dada. But in the past 2 weeks, his vocabulary has skyrocketed. We took a Baby Sign class for 5 weeks that he basically ignored at the time. I stuck with it and now he uses a quite a few signs, and has even started saying the words at the same time he does the sign. Everyone kept telling me that he would talk when he was ready. Even though he's still not as advanced as a lot of his pals, he's definitely making marked improvement, even over the past week. Hang in there!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 9:00PM
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Don't forget that girls also talk ALOT earlier than boys. My pediatrician warned me of this when I was concerned about my son's lack of vocabulary and boy was he right. The boys catch up though...eventually:)

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 1:31PM
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My oldest son didn't say a word -- not mama, not dada -- until he was two. He's since been a resident scholar (this is a good university scholarship) and is completing his Masters in Economics. Had two columns in regional newspapers, and a couple of comic strips. He's a politically involved debater. Yeah, he's a vocal guy. He's clearly fine, and has been clearly fine pretty much always . . . after that scary non-vocal stage.
What's important is that your son follows directions, because this shows that he understands the language. After that, it's really just a matter of time.
It's been a while since you posted, and I hope all is well with you.
Oh: I was a speech therapist for 3 years, but really, most of the children in my care would have learned to speak correctly without my assistance; it was just a matter of time. The parents were concerned and sought help, but their children just needed a little more time to work out all the sounds. (And, when I quit I had my own little non-speaker. At least I wasn't worried!)

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 12:11AM
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Wow, I forgot I even posted this. Well, an update for all of you. He is TALKING (a LOT), things I had no idea he knew. He just turned three. He told me that cookie monsters eyes were 'weird, like they are looking around the block'. I am actually amazed at how his speech is so 'grown up'. I did have him seen in the home by soonerstart which is a program of specialists that come to the home for various issues. He qualified due to his heart problems and failure to thrive, he aged out last month, but is doing so well. He had the heart problem repaired with good success, he will always have some issues, but he is mainly normal and normal life expectency. He went from not being on charts for weight to the 20th percentile (he is 25 for height). So, basically, apart from still having to push food and high calorie stuff all the time, the main thing I am dealing with now is potty training issues. (He is not interested). He also had an extra canine tooth that was growing towards the roof of his mouth, it was removed under general anesthesia (a big fight with the insurance company first). Wow, when I think of it, he's been through a lot, so I am not that concerned anymore about the speech at all. I guess he has his own timetable for things. Thanks to everyone!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 12:33PM
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Thanks for the update! It's great to hear you got the help you needed and that your son is now doing so well. I just love happy endings...

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 1:52PM
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It is a known fact that children raised in billingual homes speak later than usual. But when they start to speak, they will most likely start speaking two languages. Your son is not autistic, he is a biligual in development. Just be patient and everything will be fine!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 5:33PM
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