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My 2.5 year old son doesn't talk or understand instructions
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My 2.5 year old son doesn't talk or understand instructions

I am a desperate and worried parent of a 2.5 year old who doesn't talk. A child who isn't good at understanding instructions, has selective hearing and doesn't speak a word to us yet. Otherwise he is a fun and happy child with no major behavioural problems.

He spins wheels, he lines up his cars, but he isn't obsessed with it. It is also difficult to get his attention. He looks us in the eye, understands emotions, understands when we are happy or upset, he laughs a lot and plays like a normal child but doesn't talk and doesn't seem to understand what we are telling him beyond "no" and "come on lets go".

Now I may be looking into things too much, I know many normal children will show Autistic behaviours but the key thing for us is that he doesn't talk and is showing some Autistic traits at the same time.

He has a hearing test on 28th August and he is on the list for Private and NHS Speech Therapy which will probably happen in September or October. He has already seen a Paeditrician whose report has said that he needs speech therapy and his nursery has said he is showing minor signs of Autism but some of it can mimick hard of
hearing / delayed speech symptoms. He has confirmed glue ear but we thought that had cleared up.

Any advice? I am worried sick.
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Your description does not sound like there is an autistic-spectrum condition. There is a delay in the speech/language area, and my sense is that this developmenatl language disorder is the main issue. You have done the prudent thing by arranging professional intervention to address this.
19 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
1. He doesn't speak but babbles a lot now
2. He has communication problems and doesn't really tell us what he
wants. He takes our hand sometimes but that's about it.
3. He spins toys, so sometimes when he plays he will spin that toy or
spin wheels on a car. This isn't an obsession though.
4. He sometimes eats things off the floor but he is a fussy eater
6. He still doesn't respond to his name most of the time - sometimes
it feels like he hasn't heard us.
7. When outside, if set free he will run, smiling at his freedom
8. He sometimes flaps his hands when he wants something, wants to be
picked up or is excited.
9. He can become pre-occupied and in concentration especially with the
television
10. He used to have sleep problems often waking at night but is much
improved now

But on the flip side:

1. He looks everyone in the eye and can fix eye contact
2. He shares his joy with us and is always smiling and displaying
affection. He laughs a lot and can get very excited when he us having fun.
3. He plays normally with his toys and isn't really obsessive about
any one thing, although he can watch TV for long periods
4. He understands when we are cross, or if we are playing, or if we
are hiding from him etc. He knows our mood by looking at our face.
5. He loves cuddles and loves being close to us and his grandparents
6. He can take turns in play e.g he can play ball, giving it to us and
wait for us give it to him
7. He is very aware of danger and is careful
8. He is not aggressive and doesn't seem to get frustrated
7. He doesn't point to things generally but points to story books and
stimuli pictures we show him
8. He doesn't injure himself, bang his head or anything along those lines
9. He isn't compulsive or ritualistic - he doesn't line up his toys or
expect certain rituals to be observed
10. He plays hide and seek and will chase us if we run from him
11. If we ask him for a kiss he kisses us, if we ask him to not do
something he stops, if we get cross with him he knows he has done
wrong and gets upset
12. He is aware of the outside world, loves to watch traffic, cars and lorries
13. He has creative play, he drags his bikes, sits on his trucks and
loves playing in play ground swings and slides
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks Kevin - thats exactly what we want to hear and I hope to God you are right. We are going to get him speech therapy next month and he is having his hearing tested again. We just want him to say just one word!
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Avatar_n_tn
I thought I'd update you kind people.

My son had a hearing test at the Children's Centre today and they are confident that he can hear but it the result was inconclusive. They want to do more tests to check if there is any undetected hearing loss that needs treatment. They also checked him for Glue Ear and found that it had now cleared up probably due to the summer months.

This worries us as it means there could have been ANOTHER reason for his lack of speech. Although previous diagnosed Glue Ear may have caused it but thats probably clutching at straws now.

His complete lack of understanding of spoken words/instructions and zero speech has us very worried given that he is now 30 months. I can't imagine him ever listening to, understanding or speaking words. :(

We are so sad today, he is also getting more stubborn with age and set in his ways and its difficult to help him as he doesn't understand words much and doesn't speal, my poor baby.
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Avatar_m_tn
I am so sorry for what you are experiencing. I have been there and I know how you feel.  After 3 hearing tests and an addtional one for auditory processing disorder, I accepted that it was not my girl's hearing that was the issue with her delayed speech and social skills. For the last 6 years, I have taken my daughter to the many  weekly intervention therapies: speech, social skills, OT, social summer camps....  She is now 8 years old, is in a regular classroom, still gets speech therapy, still has a hard time using pragmatic language to make friends but she is in a regular classroom, has average grades, has some friends and reads above grade level.  So, it is hard but you need to be strong and get him as much help as possible.  He is young and the earlier you start the intervention for his disability the better chance he has.  Get him evaluated by a child development doctor or psychologist and get him started in the various interventions for speech.  He should start speech therapy ASAP (like Monday).  Good luck and God bless you. I know how you are feeling because I was there 6 years ago.  There is lots that you can do for this child in the next 6 years.
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Avatar_n_tn
We don't have any diagnosis yet but we do have the following:

1. Early intervention at day care
2. Hearing Centre appointments and tests
3. Paediatrician assessments with another follow up soon
4. Speech therapy starting this week

We are confused about our son because other than a delay in understanding and spoken language, he is entirely normal. The GP does not think Araon has Autism the subject was raised by his day care nursery first and it has now got us becoming obsessed with it. We do feel that there is some sort of serious disorder as he is 2.5 and without a single word spoken. We are so confused and often ask why God has given us this test, but we must be patient and take each day as it comes and be thankful for what we have.

Thank you for your support.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hiya - we scored 30% on the CHAT which is an Autism positive score but on the lower side. We also scored a positive where the answer was "sometimes" or "borderline". We are still going to do the tests with the Paeditrician and have him checked.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi again - Just to clarify that any evaluation that is performed on your child for development should be performed by a  specialist such as a "child development doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist" and not his regular doctor that does his annual checkups for height and weight and such.  Your regular doctor needs to refer you to a good specialist. If you live in the USA, and I do not think you do, some of the university centers with medical schools have good programs for these evaluations.  For example, in California we have University of Ca. at Davis.  This university has the MIND center which is one of the best for evaluation of autism and other development disorders.
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Avatar_n_tn
He is currently seeing one of the best child doctors in the UK and author of this book:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=myPKrjlvwysC&dq=martin+bellman&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=V6B65PbCXZ&sig=cHi0-h_vvTzxohHmPrMyXFGsljM&hl=en&ei=FoOZStW5Bo6hjAeu5IWfBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2#v=onepage&q=&f=false

We don't have any diagnosis yet but we do have the following:

1. Early intervention at day care
2. Hearing Centre appointments and tests
3. Paediatrician assessments with another follow up soon
4. Speech therapy starting this week

We are confused about our son because other than a delay in understanding and
spoken language, he is entirely normal. The GP does not think Araon has Autism
the subject was raised by his day care nursery first and it has now got us
becoming obsessed with it. We do feel that there is some sort of serious
disorder as he is 2.5 and without a single word spoken. We are so confused and
often ask why God has given us this test, but we must be patient and take each
day as it comes and be thankful for what we have.

Thank you for your support.
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Avatar_n_tn
Today was a very depressing day. We took our son to his cousins and they are kids of 3.5 and 1.5 - the youger one spoke more words and was far more advanced than our son who is 2.5. The older one was playing on the computer and spoke like an adult.

To make us feel worse, our son was not communicating very well, choosing instead to play with a drum for a whole hour, line up a few cars and even stack coca cola cans! People even noticed that he was a little "different".

Now I am not saying he is autistic, he might be, he might well be on the mild side but its only when you take him amongst other children you realise that there might be a problem. We know he does things that are totally normal, I have highlighed them above but why do we always concentrate on the things that don't look so good?

I am totally depressed today and cried again.

We won't know though, he probably needs more tests, to start speech therapy and confirm his hearing status. We are so frustrated :(

God willing, he will be OK.
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Avatar_n_tn
There are some great stories here of children who do end up talking and changing their behaviours to become normal children. At the moment that seems so far away from us. I can't imagine my son saying a word and know what he has just said - all he does is babble. It's in God's hands.

I feel distraught when my child does normal things like stack the odd brick or line the odd car. I know I am being overly harsh on him because "normal kids" do exactly what he does too but with him not talking it adds to the anguish.

I guess we have to wait until the speech therapists see him, wait until he is seen again by a Paediatrician, and assessed ongoing by the day care. We have to wait it seems and the suspense is killing us. Its becoming difficult to enjoy our son like we used to without worrying about "whats wrong".
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Avatar_n_tn
My son had speech and language therapy today and I have to say I wasn't very
impressed with the therapists knowledge. I have another private one coming in 2
weeks so hope that she is a little better. She did say though that he has an
expressive and receptive language delay which might be a "disorder" but not
confirmed given that he is so young still at 2.5.

However this delay could be due to a number of reasons, it could be due to
Autism although she says that having evaluated him, he has emotions, understands
communication, has non verbal communication, has good eye contact and is
interractive with people which makes it less likely but you just never know do
you? Too early to tell in any case.

So on to the next therapist, also waiting for the next child paediatrician
appointment and he is having ongoing help at day care.

One ray of light is that he is starting to understand words and babbling like
his life depends on it. Maybe (God willing) it's coming slowly.

I just wish my little boy would say a single word.
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Avatar_n_tn
I am having the same thoughts as you LondonDad about my 2 1/2 year old step-son. He seems to be very far behind in speech.. my 18 month old daughter is almost surpassing him already!! He has fits over nothing that can't be calmed down, he plays alone, and when he gets in one of his moods, he just makes noises, like he can't communicate anything to us. We ask him what he wants and he just says EH! and points and things and flails his hands and arms around. He seems to be very developmentally delayed. Often he will sit and stare off into space like he can't hear us talking to him. I have to yell and even then it does not get his attention. When he does hear me, he just gives me attitude without real words. he makes noises and sticks out his tongue and does things that really annoy me. its hard not to get stressed out and angry at him because I know its not his fault but sometimes I just don't understand why he can't just communicate something to me... i mean he is going on 3 years old!! my daughter who is a year younger is surpassing him. she picks things up very quickly and she can understand when i ask her simple questions where as the boy can not even answer me if he has pooped his diaper. he says yes, and no. and seems to be very confused. my daughter will tell me "poopy" or i ask her if she pooped and she says yes or shakes her head.
the other day i could smell poop and asked him if he pooped his pants, he just had a blank stare on his face like he didn't understand me. sometimes though he will go to his dad and say "daddy, poopy" but when you ask him, its as if he doesn't register that you are asking him something. i asked him like 10 times and only on the 10th try did he say "NO!" but clearly he was!! when i checked him, sure enough he was very poopy. i don't know if something is wrong with him but it seems to me like there is some kind of developmental delay where he is not connecting things in his brain..

if you have any advice let me know please!! thank you very much!!


*stressed out mommy of 3*
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Avatar_n_tn
You are further than ours. Ours don't even say yes or no!! Ours is generally very happy though, just with speech and understanding of a 1 year old.
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Avatar_n_tn
I totally understand what you are going through. I have a 18 month old who matches your sons description almost totally but in a few things your son is more advanced. I myself am getting extremely stressed about the fact that he doesnt point, has not said a word, doesnt even babble. Loves spinning tyres and toys that spin and balls but does also play with other toys.... its just that he spins wheels and plays with balls more than the other things... Spends long time watching tv... Is a happy baby...  Just matches your sons description totally!!!

I just hope God blesses both of them with language skills and skills needed to be successful in future life... An extremely stressed out mom.

Ive just had 1 appt with the speech therapist yet.. and they have referred him to an educational phsychologist... Im just really worried.... just hope hes not autistic....

Can somebody shed some light on when speech therapy sessions start and what does the educational phsychologists do?
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Avatar_n_tn
He will grow out of spinning and all the rest, the key test is the speech - he needs help with that. My son is how having speech therapy but he still hasn't said a word yet.

So what happens when a child who has shown some autistic traits in the past, no longer does so? He is now totally normal but still doesn't understand language and has no speech?

I did the autistic test and he could be "mildly autistic" but take away the speech issue and it says "no PDD"....

Confused, so am I?

Thanks
Father of A, aged 2.5, no speech but babbling, not a huge understanding of langauge either, previous history of ear infections and glue ear.
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Avatar_f_tn
Our nephew was diagnosed with PDD-NOS - a high functioning form of autism.  We thought he had Asperger's.  He never spoke one word until past three years of age and then echo-talked for over two years.  He finally was able to answer/comprehend questions after his fifth birthday.  His behaviours were very similar to your son's.

My sister worked and worked with him at school - he had a steel-trap memory but comprehension was extremely difficult.  He could read anything at a young age but was unable to answer simple questions about what he read.  The therapist said he would never get past Grade 6 or 7.

Today, he has a child and a responsible full-time job.  He graduated from college and did well in high school.  He has a few good friends and belongs to a couple of clubs.  He is an excellent father and son and neighbour.  Your son is not totally normal; sorry but that is a fact.  My point - with a lot of guidance and help, your son can lead a quality and very good life.  I wish you the best ....
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