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A Slow Talkin' Boy: Mom Talk

How long do you wait for the little boy to talk before you seek help?

The kid won't talk.

I know I'm going to live to regret wanting him to open his mouth. There will be many a day I wish he'd just shut up. But for now, it stresses me out that he won't talk.

He is 20 months old. He does plenty of other impressive things. He has been walking since nine months. He sings and hums. He keeps rhythm.  

He clearly understands words. He follows directions. If I tell him to pick up the red ball, he usually gets it right. If I ask him "where is the such-and-such?," he looks around and usually finds it. He understands the language. Hearing is not the issue.

Communication is also not the issue. Liam does sign some language. For example, at meal time, he signs words for more, all done, water and milk. He also knows how to sign please, a word he uses when he wants something. 

My favorite sign he does is for daddy. My husband often has breakfast with us before work. Sometimes, if he has to leave early, Liam misses him. Sometimes on those days, Liam asks where his daddy is by making the sign. That's how I know that breakfast with dad is an important part of Liam's day. 

In the past few months, we have worked on sounds. Liam now says "mah" for more when he is hungry.

But for the life of me, we cannot get him to move past that. We work on the B sound for ball. We say up, up, up, every time we put him in the highchair or car seat. We are trying lots of tricks.

The truth is, I am not all that worried. The doctor wants me to take Liam to a speech therapist in a couple months if he doesn't talk by then. But I guess I am in no hurry to do that. 

Liam is a very physical boy. He could roll over at two months and run by nine. Other moms tell me that boys are more physical and girls are more cerebral. Girls usually talk earlier. Boys usually walk earlier. 

Every time I tell this story to a friend or relative, inevitably, someone comes back with a similar story.  

Is it true that boys talk later than girls? Should I be worried? Should I go ahead and see a speech therapist, or just wait it out? Which is worse: the chatterbox stage or the I'm-gonna-throw-a-fit-cuz-I-can't-say-what-I-mean stage?

Last Christmas, a wise friend told me that once Liam starts talking, it will be in paragraphs. I believe her. But that was six months ago. My husband says we are going to be looking back on these quiet moments as the good old days. 

Seeing Liam make the sign for daddy, though, is a treasured memory I doubt I will ever forget.

Dawn Aulet June 29, 2011 at 04:49 PM
I'm just an ordinary mom, but my oldest did this too. He never talked. He said his first word at about Liam's age and then nothing of substance until he was about three. Even then, when he spoke, we understood him, but watching him back on video, my husband and I have no idea what he is saying. He is nine now. He speaks fine. You're the mom. Follow your instinct. I took Joey for a hearing test back then, but when I knew his hearing was okay, I held off. I knew that he was spoiled and never needed to ask for anything - especially when he was with his grandmother - which was often at that age. It was a Montessori teacher way back then who said, "we know he hears us. He's absorbing everything that is going on around him. He's learning. He'll talk in his own time." He did.
charlies angel June 29, 2011 at 05:29 PM
Hi Erin, I have a son who is 24 now, but he didn't talk until 3 1/2 yrs old. I was worried as well. Went to family md , then ear specialist & speech therapist. He also did sign language. When he wanted a sandwich , he would put two hands together & act like he was eating a sandwich. Everything checked out ok & they said he would talk when he was ready. Voila one day he did start talking. I guess he was a little sponge absorbing it all til he was ready. He hasn't stopped since lol For your peace of mind , have him checked out.
Sue Becker June 29, 2011 at 07:10 PM
Hi Erin, I just wanted to let you know of the experience my sister had. Her son (my nephew) wasn't talking by age 3, although he was definitely making an effort to talk. He would get highly frustrated (as would his parents) by his unsuccessful efforts to communicate. When the speech therapist who was working with his younger sister (who was getting early intervention therapy due to her Down Syndrome) happened to be at the house for little sister, she noticed his unsuccessful efforts. Long story short, it turned out he had aphasia - his brain and mouth weren't communicating. Speech therapy made all the difference, both in his communication skills, and in reducing the stress and frustration within their family. My nephew was over a year older than your son, but just wanted to let you know of another possibility. All the best in determining what route to take.
Vanessa Holloway June 30, 2011 at 01:20 PM
My oldest daughter said one or two words. I wasn't too concerned because I knew she could hear. At 2, the voices came out of the woodworks. She was non-stop. My younger daughter if I remember correctly spoke more a bit earlier, which is usually the opposite because the younger child usually doesn't have to say a word because everyone else is doing the talking. Now both sometimes tend to non-stop talk; as in when they are getting in trouble. They are 10 and 12. But that's another story.
Abby Holloway July 06, 2011 at 07:28 PM
That last part was a little unnecessary, mom.

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