Toddler not talking

A question for moms with older preemies. At what age did your LO's start saying words? My boy is 22 months (20 adjust) and nothing other then dadda. He is very vocal still in his own babbling, however nothing he says remotely sounds like a word. I also find I can call his name and he won't look at me or acknowledge that I have spoken, but he will come to me. I know that he understands what I am saying. I'll ask him if he would like some "doodoosh" meaning boob and he'll come right over and climb on my lap. So I know he's making the connection, he knows where his nose, eyes and mouth is, but won't say the word.
Curious to know what some other experiences are :)

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My son had hearing loss as a baby and was behind early on--no cooing stage, not much babbling, and then he started repeated babbling a month out of the normal range (10 months adjusted--normal is 5 to 9 months), but then he started saying words, with meaning. He had a couple by 11 months adjusted. A month later, a handful, and then he began to really take off. But even that didn't save him from a speech delay, as phrases just wouldn't take off. And his articulation was very poor. He finally grew out of his expressive language delay last winter, at super sonic speed, but there were some months there where he was very far behind. His language development was far from conventional, but many preemies do end up with a speech delay.

Talking is one of those things that has such a wide range of what's normal. You hear of many children, especially boys, not talking until 2, and I would adjust for that, for sure. But, I have read that the if a child isn't saying mama or dada to the correct person by 13.5 months, or at least any other word by 15 months, to let your doctor know, as that's considered outside of the normal range. So at 20 months adjusted, he is well out of that range, but it's still not unheard of, especially for a boy. Boys tend to lag behind girls several months, in the area of speech, in the toddler years. I read once that the normal range for 18 months was 3 to 50 words, but I've also heard 5 to 100, with a mean of 20. Again, though, he could hit 2 and really take off.

I would consider having his ears checked out--both for fluid and possibly for a hearing test. Sometimes silent fluid in the ears can interfere with how well he can hear the individual words. He may still be able to understand enough of a word to get what you're saying most of the time, but not enough to replicate it, if that makes sense. It can make it appear like he's hearing underwater. So I'd have his ears and hearing checked, just to make sure they are okay, and also look into Early Intervention for speech as he'd qualify with no words, at that age.

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My preemie (25-weeker) didn't say much until 13 months adjusted when he started walking. By 15 months adjusted, he had 65 words under his belt.

My FT girls were not as quick on language. My middle child had 2 words at 18 months but then could speak full sentences by 2 years of age. I'm not sure that she has as many words under her belt as my oldest BUT she's had nearly perfect diction since 3. My youngest was a concern. Nothing all that consist at 18-20 months. At 26 months, she had tubes put in her ears (and adenoids and tonsils removed), which really got her rolling on speech. She's made a lot of progress since then. She's very smart and has impressive gross and fine motor skills. It's just expression that has come along at a significantly different pace from everything else. She's finally putting together sentences at a great rate (2 years 10 months).

When I hear that someone suspects that their kid has a speech issue, I recommend getting a hearing test. Even if the child follows directions and can hear sounds, sometimes fluid in the ear interferes with the quality of sound, which can inhibit expressive speech.

If your son is making a connection, it is less of a concern. I'd be inclined, however, to see an ENT b/c most kids are highly volatile emotionally around 2-3 years of age. And when they can't express themselves clearly, it magnifies the intensity of those emotional outbursts. Our youngest still has her toddler tantrums (and some whoopers at that!) but when she feels like we understand her, it takes the edge off immensely! If the solution is something as simply as ear tubes, it can make everyone so much happier on the home front. :-)

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He had a hearing test a year ago, wouldn't participate. She suggested we come back during a time that wasn't nap time, I never did. I know he can hear me, I call it selective hearing. I never thought of fluid in his ears. The outbursts though, that hit the nail on the head. He throws the WORSE tantrums. I know its because that's the only way he can express himself. I'll call the hearing center today. Thank you :)

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My daughters were 30-weekers. They did lots of babbling too, which began after they started walking at about 11 months adjusted and continued through to their first words, which began at 15 months adjusted. By their 2nd birthday, 21.5 months adjusted, they had a good amount of words, over a hundred, and were communicating back and forth with us fairly well. My girls are anonomolies, even in our family. My sister has a 36-weeker daughter who babbled a small amount, and had her first words after age 2 adjusted. She had about 100 words at 30 months adjusted, and could actually make some basic phrases by age 3 adjusted. And no one was ever concerned about her. My nephew, not a preemie, was delayed in speech. He began forming his first words at 30 months, but they were really way off - like "car" sounded like "fat", etc. My sister contacted their Early Steps public preschool therapy program in her community for an evaluation at age 3. After hearing tests were cleared, they did a number of tests on him and he was diagnosed with a phonological speech disorder. For 2 years, he worked twice a week with a speech pathologist and speech therapist. He's turning 7 next month and you'd never know he had such a tough time with speech early on!

My point is, kids vary in speech dramatically. For some, it signifies a problem when they start later. For others, they're just learning other things before the speech kicks in.

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My 24 weeker had her hearing tested and it came back normal and she had no fluid in her ears either. She is 22 months, 18 adjusted, and she cannot say one single word. She gets speech therapy once a week but it just started. We will see if it makes any difference.

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Speech is a hard one, our LO just started picking words up recently at 22 months actual, 19 adj. Once they get it though they take off. If all is good with his hearing and ears then it might just be a waiting game for him to decide he wants to start! Do you teach him some basic signs? It can really help with the tantrums.

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My son started saying one word at 6 months old 3 months adjusted, but he was even trying to say it in NICU , which the word was hi. When he was 12 months old he added mama and dada and at 18 months 12 months adjusted added more phrases under his belt. He still has selective hearing no fluid in the ears n hearing test is fine. also have flash cards with pictures of the daily routine. that is what i have found that works with mine when has one of his many tantrums through out the day.

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My 32 weeker (now 5) never used to say much until he was about 2. I used to understand what he was trying to say/ what he wanted but nobody else did! My health visitor was in the process of referring him to a speach therapist when he one day decided to give up his dummy and he never looked back! I blame the dummy for him not talking and probably myself for not encouraging him enough, he just used to point at things and I would talk for him "do you want juice?" Do you want this book?" Etc. he was a bit slower because he was early but there is no shutting him up now!! Total chatterbox!!! :)

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My son is 22months (and about 19months adjusted) and has just started trying to say words with prompts. He just recently figured out that if he says Mama that I will come running with kisses and this is quite a fun game to him. He will attempt to mimic words and vocalize. He just started walking this past month so I am hoping his speech will come soon. We have all kinds of therapy. The ENT looked at me like I was crazy for bringing him to see him... no fluid. :) It will be interesting to see what comes of it all. My son was so sick... and that continued for basically his first year of life. Now that the medical stuff has settled down a bit I am hoping he will finally be able to develop. Part of me thinks it's unreasonable for me to expect that he not have any delays. When I think back to his birth and remember how tiny and frail and underdeveloped he was all I can be is grateful for his life. I am being patient because I know typical boys that didn't talk until 2 years old.

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RE: The ENT looked at me like I was crazy for bringing him to see him... no fluid. :)

That's odd. The ENTs we've talked to (not to mention developmental experts) are aware that hearing issues (such as from fluid) can delay speech. Surprised that an ENT would not be aware of that.

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Hi I have a 6 yr old daughter she was a
Preemie born 26 wks weighed at 1lb 2 oz
She was a very late talker I'd say by 3 she
Started saying words then really started at
4 with alot of words .. She has been in speech
Is your son in any type of speech therapy ?
That would help !!! Good luck.. He will talk
Soon enough :)

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Hehe no, no he is aware.... he was just surprised that I came to him when our pediatrician didn't have any concerns. I don't think he's used to parents just electing to see him. He is actually a pretty good ENT. Takes care of my older daughter who had many sets of tubes, etc. I just felt a little crazy because it was a very short appointment. He looked for fluid, saw none, and sent us on our way. I, of course, would follow up if I have any more concerns. I will certainly stay alert for problems. :)

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I would express your concerns to your ped. There are many programs that are available to preemie parents as part of the school systems. Meaning our taxes pay for them and they are free. My daughter (32 weeker) now 2 had speech delays, less than 100 words. So they come out to the house weekly. When they first came they noticed balance and reflex issues which are now resolving with excersises and games. It was very helpful. She is almost caught up to her peers. Everyone talks about "catching up" but I feel we have to work with them to catch them up. Some preemies need more help than others.

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My little one is now almost 3 years old, and is talking like a trooper.
But I remember worrying about this because his consultant said he would very likely have learning delays, so I remember stressing about his speech and understnading.

But like someone else said before me, Jake had 'word-booms' where he would suddenly say loads of words and even come out with whole sentances!

And he never said anything when you wanted him to... he always did it when he was ready.

At 20 months old - as long as he is vocalising - I would try not to worry.

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RE: She is almost caught up to her peers. Everyone talks about "catching up" but I feel we have to work with them to catch them up. Some preemies need more help than others.

That's great that she's almost there! It is true that some need more help that others. And it is great that you are utilizing EI to get there.

To put some "delays" in perspective, our youngest (not preemie) had tubes put in and adenoids/tonsil removed at 26 months. She had probably less than 25 words or partial words (the beginning of a word and we could guess what she meant about 50% of the time). No two word combos. This is a kid who could do 3-4 year old puzzles, excellent fine motor, and fantastic gross motor skills. At 2.5 years old, she started doing cartwheels. Anyway, things improved a lot after her surgery. She's 34 months old now and getting the hang of several word combinations (a couple sentences). The sentences that she's chosen to master usually involve commands to our other kids, e.g. "Eat your food. Less talking, more eating." or "Give me that now. That's mine." The word combinations were definitely behind before but once things clicked, they really clicked for her. I'm sure she's in the normal range now. By contrast, there is this little girl in our daughter's classroom who is a verbal prodigy (was speaking with perfect diction, several sentences, holding long conversations right as she turned 2). I took from all of this that there really is a great range in speech. But if anyone suspects delays, then (1) get hearing checked, (2) go ahead and get an EI assessment and talk with the ped about concerns, and (3) keep reading/talking b/c even if the child isn't speaking, that doesn't mean the child isn't absorbing everything you say to him/her. Some kids have speech explosions later than others.

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My 29 weeker is 21 months adjusted, almost 2 actual. He only says mama. We started speech therapy, but so far it hasn't made a difference. He won't imitate any sounds or words, but he is very conversational and "talks" all day in gibberish. I am constantly stressed about it!

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I'm new to inspire, but love seeing all of these comments that I can relate to and that can help me. My son was born at 35 weeks weighing 3.7lbs. My placenta was very, very small and they delivered him early because he wasn't getting the nutrients or oxygen that he needed. I always wonder how long he went with no nutrients/oxygen. Kills me to think about that. He tested in the NICU around 31-32 weeks, so we adjust his age back 8 weeks. He's now 19 months (adjusted 17 mo) and doing great, but we have lots of developmental delays. He didn't sit up on his own until almost a year. He also had cranial vault reconstruction surgery at age 11 months which might also contribute to his delays. We see a PT, OT and about to start speech therapy. Just in the last month, he's finally started to walk holding his toy walker, the walls or furniture. He hasn't decided to let go yet, but I'm hoping he will in the next few weeks. He just recently started saying Mama, Dada and Night-Night.
My question is for parents who have preemie children that are a little older. Did you see developmental delays like this? When did your child "catch up"? It's been so stressful and I try SO hard not to compare my little man with all of my friends children. :) Easier said than done!

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From a strict developmental perspective, the "catch up" is truly by adjusted age not actual (by which they mean birth certificate age..."actual age" is a misnomer). People sometimes say that their kid has "caught up" to actual age. But that's usually because they don't understand that skills within a population naturally vary the older the child gets. The "range" on any given skill gets wider the older the child gets. For example, social smiling often occurs "normally" within a very narrow range of 6 weeks to 12 weeks (adjusted for preemies). Walking has a range of something like 8 months to 18 months (adjusted for preemies).

Our son was a 25-weeker who "caught up" to adjusted age on gross motor skills by 9 months adjusted (which is very early "catch up" for a micropreemie). Our son's neonatalogist didn't expect "catch up" to adjusted age until 2 years adjusted for micropreemies. And some developmental experiments don't expect it until 3.

I make no bones about stating that problem a developmental perspective, the idea of catching up to birth certificate age is silly. Just plain nonsensical. Even in my son's K class, there are clear developmental differences in emotional maturity between the kids who turned 6 in October versus the kids who won't turn 6 until the summer. That said, when my son is 45 years actual/ 44 years 8.5 months adjusted, I'm not anticipating seeing major developmental differences. ;)

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