Q&A: 2 1/2 Year Old Not Talking A Lot

CME WebsitesChild Development, Toddlers 12 - 36 Months

blockquote_bgMy daughter is almost 2 1/2 and she isn’t speaking very much. When you ask her questions, she will answer with head nods or pointing but she will rarely speak. She says words such as ma, da, and she will make some animal noises but she won’t mimmic or repeat anything. If she asks for something, she points, or gets it herself. I believe the next step is early intervention for speech therapy but I didn’t know if there was something else I should do. I am extremely concerned she is developing with a speech delay.

By age 2.5 we expect that most children will have 50+ consistent words (not including mama, dada or animal/environmental sounds) and be putting words together into at least 2 word phrases such as “more juice”, “me go”, “Daddy work”, etc. There are many children with expressive language delays who are understanding language in an age appropriate manner, for example using only pointing/gesturing to make wants/needs known, but following simple commands such as “get your shoes” or “put your cup on the table” with ease. Since you live in Allegheny County I would recommend calling the Alliance for Infants & Toddlers at 412-885-6000 and requesting a speech evaluation for your daughter. A service coordinator from the Alliance will contact you and do a home visit to gain preliminary information about your daughter and then an independent assessment team will come to your home and complete a developmental evaluation using a standardized test such as the Battelle Developmental Inventory 2 to determine if your daughter is eligible for early intervention services. Once her eligibility for services is determined you will asked to pick a provider for services and be given a variety of options. Our therapists work for ACHIEVA which will be one of the choices you are given.

In the meantime you can continue to be a good speech role model for your daughter, expanding on any single words she says by putting them into a sentence for her. For example, if she says “ball”, you can say “Yes, you found your red ball”. You can break words apart and see if she will make attempts to repeat them, for example “ba-by”, see if she will attempt single syllables, then have fun putting the word together. Make sure you gain her eye contact when speaking to her, so she can watch your lips and mouth as you form words. You can give her choices during playtime or meals instead of always asking yes/no questions and hold the toys or food items by your face to encourage her to watch your face/mouth as you speak, such as “Do you want juice or milk in your cup?” or “Do you want to play with the dolls or bike?”. Do encourage her to imitate fun sounds such as animal sounds and environmental sounds, such as the car goes “beep, beep” and the cow says “moo”. Sometimes kids will imitate fun exclamatory sounds such as those more readily than nouns like cup or ball. Also use music and familiar songs like Wheels on the Bus to motivate her. Use mirror play so she can watch her own lips and tongue move during speaking. You can play games making funny faces and sounds in the mirror with her to encourage imitation. You will find more ideas and suggestions at these links on our Early Intervention Support web page: Speech – 24/36 months and Speech.