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21 month old and speech?

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#1 Teah

Posted 13 January 2020 - 12:13 PM

Hi ladies

So my 21month old understands everything you say, has reached all his milestones on time, interacts well and is all over just a typical boy BUT he doesn't talk! He can say a few words and every now and then he will randomly say a new word but when I compare him to my daughter at the same age it's very different. I've read that it's nothing to be concerned about and some toddlers just take much longer. My nephew was 2 before he started to talk and his fine.

I guess I'm just looking for reassurance?

#2 Lou-bags

Posted 13 January 2020 - 12:35 PM

If in doubt, check it out. If I were you I would get a referral for professional advice- as by all accounts the earlier a problem is identified and intervention started the better. And if there really isn't an issue, you'll get the reassurance you need.

To my mind, only a few words by 21 months is concerning- but my sons were both early talkers so I acknowledge that my experience is not typical there.

I've seen people frequently recommend a hearing check as an important first port of call.

Trust your gut is my opinion, if you feel worried then it's worth looking into.

#3 Mooples

Posted 13 January 2020 - 12:35 PM

My son had only a handful of words at 18 months, mchn flagged it as something to look into (he also had recurring ear infections). He had a hearing test and it showed his ears were both blocked and his hearing was drastically impacted. We then went to see an ent and he had grommets put in. The day after he turned 2 we started speech therapy. He is 4 now and still in fortnightly therapy. His speech is so much better now but he still needs a bit of help. I’d get onto it straight away, no harm in checking earlier rather than later, if he does require intervention the earlier the better.

#4 Teah

Posted 13 January 2020 - 12:47 PM

He has no ear infections and his hearing is perfect, so no concern there. His made progress since 18months. I did mention it to my gp but he didn't seem concerned at all. I will mention it again though.

#5 Veritas Vinum Arte

Posted 13 January 2020 - 01:04 PM

How do you know his hearing is perfect?

Even having done 2/4 years of a Speech Pathology degree I was caught out with my second child who followed instructions etc that when he finally started talking more at 2.5yrs, sounded like he was underwater and we discovered hearing loss from fluid filled ears. Even at 12yrs he sounds strange from the hearing loss as a young toddler that was not picked up until later.

Most often comment from people testing his hearing was that he was very smart as he lip read, anticipation etc to compensate for his hearing loss so it was not noticed.

Even with grommets it was not until after 4yrs that he returned a normal hearing test.

#6 dreamweaver80

Posted 13 January 2020 - 01:10 PM

I can offer some reassurance. My son will be two next month. At 18 months, he had no words and the doctor said he should have at least 10 by then. She said if he hadn't improved by 21 months to arrange a hearing test. He wasn't greatly improved by 21 months, same as yours, a few words here and there. Since then, his speech has exploded, he has about 100 words now and will have a go at repeating anything we say to him. He can count to 12, can easily identify and say all the ABC's, and points to words in his books and says them. He also asks for things now, for instance, to go outside or have some milk. All of this progress was in less than 2 months.
By all means get him checked if you want some peace of mind but literally it all can change pretty much overnight.

#7 Veritas Vinum Arte

Posted 13 January 2020 - 01:26 PM

I can also offer reassurance that me eldest who had less than 10 words (including animal sounds) at 24 m had his speech explosion at 27m and by 33m was “mummy I think perhaps a train may be coming soon”.

DS2 apart from hearing loss was around 20words at 24m, speech explosion 27m, but his speech was hard to understand.

DD who had little at 21m I stopped worrying about at 22m when she came out with “DS1 name give me ball back now”

My nephew at 24m we were celebrating new consonant sounds being made, no words yet. Not even babbling. By 3 yrs he was a chatterbox.

Actually all the kids seem to have tried to make up for their lack of early talking with constant talking since.

#8 eigne

Posted 13 January 2020 - 01:29 PM

My daughter had two words at 18 months and the MCHN said to keep an eye on it. Then at some point just before she turned two she had the explosion and all of sudden had at least 30 words by 24 months.

#9 Luci

Posted 13 January 2020 - 01:42 PM


A child's speech development is unique to them.  It can be interesting / reassuring etc to hear other people's stories but it doesn't necessarily have much bearing on how the situation will play out for your DS.   Some children are a bit late to get going with speech but suddenly have a speech explosion and all is well. But other's don't and end up needing help from a Speech Therapist.

I have 3 children. My 2 DD's were early talkers. When I took DS to his 18 month old vaccinations I mentioned to the GP that he wasn't talking much. She told me to bring him back at 24 months if it hadn't improved. He was like your DS in that he was very good at understanding what I was saying and following instructions, just didn't really talk. By the time he was 22 months there hadn't been any real improvement so I had him assessed by a private Speech Therapist. He was diagnosed with a moderate speech delay and had about 18 months of speech therapy.

There is a good book called It Takes Two to Talk that you could read if possible. As mentioned by other posters early intervention is always so important.  My DS had private speech therapy which was excellent but not cheap. The waitlist for public services can be extremely long - over a year for the first appointment. If his speech doesn't improve soon please don't wait too long before taking the next step. You can always make an appointment and cancel it if things improve.

Good luck

#10 Veritas Vinum Arte

Posted 13 January 2020 - 01:54 PM

Public services..., I did not get a call until DS2 was 5.5yrs saying they were ready to assess him.

Yeah by that stage we had privately spent $8k on Speech Pathology to get him up to speed to start school.

#11 Hands Up

Posted 13 January 2020 - 01:54 PM

We did speech therapy in a similar scenario, OP. Maybe DS would have got there anyway (he’s now an extremely articulate five year old) but who really knows. I’m glad we took action.

First thing we did was a hearing test to confirm all was fine. Then while we were on the wait list for the public system we did about eight sessions privately. It was the group public sessions where it clicked though, and by 2 years, nine months he was off and running and caught up very quickly.

#12 Hypnic Jerk

Posted 13 January 2020 - 02:04 PM

Get along to your Maternal and Child Health Nurse (or whatever they are called in your area) and ask for a developmental screen to be completed.  There are a few different ones around.  The one I'm familiar with is called Brigance.

This will look at a range of developmental aspects of your child.  If you are asked about what your concerns are, take this as asking "what things are you noticing".  You may notice things about your child but if they aren't concerning/worrying to you then you might not mention it.

Then take the results of this screen to your GP or Paed.

#13 PrincessPeach

Posted 13 January 2020 - 02:28 PM

View PostVeritas Vinum Arte, on 13 January 2020 - 01:54 PM, said:

Public services..., I did not get a call until DS2 was 5.5yrs saying they were ready to assess him.

Yeah by that stage we had privately spent $8k on Speech Pathology to get him up to speed to start school.

We didn't even bother registering for the public clinic because when i rang when he was 2 they told me they couldnt offer me an initial appointment before he turned 5.

I haven't sat down & added up how much the private speech has cost us since then. Whatever it cost, it's been worth every single $, my kid can attend mainstream schooling with the ability to communicate his every totally random thoughts.

Back on the topic - DS at 2 had i think 10 'words'. Not a single one was able to be understood by anyone outside our immediate family. All of his words had the same 2 starting sounds (d & b). Wasnt even putting 2 together. He would also say a word once & then never again plus loose words (he went through a phase of 2 months of saying up, then could no longer say the word). All big red flags according to our speech therapist. We had a tentative diagnosis of verbal apraxia by the end of our initial consultation. Confirmed at 3 (which is generally when its diagnosed).

He's going into year 1 this year & we have for the first time ever got a term off from speech therapy.

#14 Chaotic Pogo

Posted 13 January 2020 - 02:38 PM

Has anyone ever said
'Oh, I wish I hadn't bothered getting her hearing checked'

Its so easy, and so inexpensive, and can head off really huge issues.

Just do it.


#15 MadMarchMasterchef

Posted 13 January 2020 - 02:56 PM

View PostVeritas Vinum Arte, on 13 January 2020 - 01:04 PM, said:

How do you know his hearing is perfect?

I will second this - my DD had terrible hearing in year 1 and we had no idea until her teacher mentioned it. She needed grommets.

I do remember DD having a 'language explosion' just after 2 so it can be within the realms of normal.  She had a few phrases and words by 21 months though.

#16 Silverstreak

Posted 13 January 2020 - 03:49 PM

I would get his hearing checked. To be honest, my DS sounds similar and he was diagnosed with ASD aged three. He stopped talking aged two and started talking again when he was six. We did a year’s worth of hearing tests just to be sure.

#17 Silverstreak

Posted 13 January 2020 - 03:51 PM

On phone in taxi so sorry for brusque reply!

#18 PandoBox

Posted 18 January 2020 - 07:36 PM

I posted a similar thread when DD was 18-19m..she had 20 words (including animal sounds)  and I was being generous.
Now 25m she repeats everything, Ive lost track of her words. At that point in time she just wasn't ready to repeat but now she doesn't hold back. She just woke up one day and was ready to do it

#19 AKAmum

Posted 19 January 2020 - 06:10 AM

We are able to access private speech therapy lessons as DS is eligible for NDIS funding. I applied for and was granted a small amount of funding using the reports prepared by the private Speech Pathologist. He was aged 2 (almost 3) when I arranged the first report to be done.

#20 HolierThanCow

Posted 19 January 2020 - 07:11 AM

I think if you're worried, get his hearing checked just so you know it isn't that. It's and easy thing to do (unless you already have, and that's how you know his hearing is perfect.

My experience FWIW, my son sounds similar. My two daughters were early talkers (one exceptionally so). My son has followed a similar speech development pattern to my moderately early talker, (i.e. with a lot of 'babbling' interspersed with real words), but has developed about 6-9 months behind my daughter at the same ages.

He had about 5-10 words at 18 months, said his first two-word 'sentence' at 23 months, said his first 4 word sentence at 30 months. So, basically meeting the milestones but only 'just'.

No health professionals ever expressed concern with this. He is a bit shy, and speaks less around people who are not well known to him or where there are a lot of other children around (he is 2 1/2 and still babbles a lot at childcare - conversationally, but without many understandable words). This stops, and he goes back to speaking in (mostly) 2-4 word sentences after a day at home.

He is also a very 'gross motor skills' oriented child (early walker, runner, jumper, loves climbing, balls and bikes etc.) and probably had waaay too much screen time over the last year while I was studying, so those could be factors).

I was thinking about going and getting his hearing checked again just to make sure, and this thread has reminded me to do it!

#21 Freddie'sMum

Posted 19 January 2020 - 08:24 AM

I'm going to second what the PPs have said - get his hearing checked and then get a referral to a speech therapist.  

Going back many years but when our DD#1 was 2 years old - she had maybe (at most) 6 words she would say.  By that stage other toddlers were taking in sentences and she would only say "Mum" "Dad" "milk" etc.  So I organised a hearing test and we went off to speech therapy.

I still remember sitting in the therapist's rooms - I was heavily pregnant with DD#2 - and toddler DD#1 spent the entire hour not saying one word !

Definitely get his hearing checked and take it from there.  Early intervention - with any issues / problems - is so much better than waiting.


Posted 19 January 2020 - 08:30 AM

If you are concerned enough to post on here, you should get it checked out.

Other people’s experience with late talkers is not relevant for your child.

I would get a gp appointment, get a referral for a developmental paediatrician, get his hearing checked and go from there.

#23 MrsLexiK

Posted 19 January 2020 - 08:49 AM

I’ve had both mine with speech issues. First just didn’t seem to talk. Excellent service through the public system. Group therapy and then one on one. We have no idea why. Hearing is fine. He did have tonsil and tongue tie issues. And explosion of speech happened not long after operation to remove tonsils, snip tongue, remove adenoids. We don’t know if it was related. He is a perfectionist as well. We don’t know if he didn’t want to talk as he couldn’t do it well enough. When he started speaking he was on par and even above for his age in some areas.

DS2 is a different case. Started out fine. Hard to understand. Had him assessed privately on the end of normal for his age. Get hearing and repeat. Hearing perfect and I repeated publically. (Was a wait if a few months) public picked up that he has a severe speech issue and needs NDIS, he can’t physically manipulate his jaw to say some of sounds. He thinks he is. That part should have been picked up by the private speech. They sent us to so all the medical stuff before putting in NDIS applications (due to brothers history and his snoring and his own medical history). Another assessment and same outcome. Filled in paperwork for us. And have been kind enough to give him therapy for x time while we wait for NDIS (there will be a short fall) and have provided all the Medicare and the like for us to hook in to the private system at a cheaper rate. They have been uprfront that he needs intensive therapy and that he needs more then they can offer.

It could be our area though but the public system has been fantastic for early intervention for both my boys. And because the NDIS has been rolled out the private sessions are eye watering. What I would need to pay weekly for half an hour (which they have said is basically useless but better then nothing) the hour session is our mortgage repayment.

After all that I forgot to say get it checked out if in doubt

Edited by MrsLexiK, 19 January 2020 - 08:49 AM.

#24 lizzzard

Posted 19 January 2020 - 09:38 AM

View PostPrincessPeach, on 13 January 2020 - 02:28 PM, said:

We didn't even bother registering for the public clinic because when i rang when he was 2 they told me they couldnt offer me an initial appointment before he turned 5.

A bit off topic, but I hope someone somewhere is doing something to develop a better triage model for assessment so they are not just on the basis of 'first on the list'. For whatever reason, it seems like a vast number of kids are getting assessed and/or are in speech therapy as toddlers these days, which is great....but puts an enormous pressure on the system and paradoxically seems to increase the risk of kids falling through the gaps.

#25 afterlaughter

Posted 19 January 2020 - 05:47 PM

Book in for a hearing test as soon as possible. My daughter could understand a lot but was only saying 4 words. She had a mild to moderate hearing loss caused by glue ear. Grommet surgery 4 weeks ago and we are now at about 25 words and a new one comes almost everyday.

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