Sunday, July 26, 2009


Ok, so I'm going to come right out and throw it out there. I am certainly concerned about Ellie's lack of verbal communication abilities.

Now. That's said.

As you'll remember, she was tested by early intervention a while back and I was concerned about her "gross motor skills" (basically that she couldn't walk yet) and her verbal skills. Now, she's running around everywhere (boy, is she!!) *smile*.

However, the verbal skills have not come along like I think they should be. She says, "Mymamama" (mama) and "cat", "ball" and "Bo" (meaning dog because the neighbor's dog's name is Bo). We sometimes get "Bubba" (Josh) and "daddy". That's about it, though. She is very clearly understanding everything we say as she follows commands very well. She will take something to the right person, pick up something you tell her to, put things down, bring things to you. She knows who Elmo is, knows her blankie, shakes her head no in response to questions. She also makes her wants fairly well known. We've had some success with sign language, but mainly only because Dee'Anna (her babysitter) uses it there as well. She does "eat" and "more" and "all done".

I keep reminding myself that she was two months premature and her developmental age is adjusted to 14 months and that she was in a country that spoke another language that she heard for 6 months. However, it's just not ringing true for me (aka: mama gut). I read other families' blogs (that have children her age that were also internationally adopted) and see the words they are coming out and that it's pretty rapid fire at this age, and she's just not.

And my question is: when should I be concerned? She is obviously functioning too well in all other areas to qualify for early intervention. My friend Kat told me that I can pay for speech therapy locally for $50 a semester with grad students at the local college. But when do I start that? I don't want to "push" her, but I also want to give her every advantage to succeed without getting behind.

Comments welcome.


Becky said...

I wouldn't be concerned. My oldest didn't speak until he was close to 2.5yrs old. ANd when he did, he just woke up one morning and started speaking full understandable sentences. It was bizzarre. BUT he was always very physical... very much a thinker, a watcher, he's still that way. he started reading at 4 and he just turned 7 and will start 2nd grade in September, including 3 full days of advanced classes!

My youngest, he was speaking 3-5word sentences by 10mos old.Again, totally bizarre, but he's just a different child.

My point is, you can't compare her to other kids. She was a preemie, and she's only what 16mos old? I think the most thing to be looking for is if she can follow instructions... if you ask her to do something, does she hear you and undrestand you?? If so, then she's right on track! She will have a language explosion soon and you'll wish for hte times she was so quiet. LOL

Jeanne said...

Maria, I have been through extensive speech eval and treatment with my son in the past year or so. That doesn't make me an expert, but I don't hear any warning signs in what you are describing. Since she is understanding so much, I would wait another 6 months to see what happens. Here is what the Mayo Clinic says should happen by 18 months old:

"By the end of 18 months, your child may:

* Point to an object or picture when it's named
* Recognize names of familiar people, objects and body parts
* Follow simple directions accompanied by gestures
* Say up to eight to 10 words"

Sounds to me like she is already close to that target!

It's OK to give children a little time to be who they are.

Ivy Lee said...

Maria, I was a little concerned about Dylan too. At 18 months, he had about 5 or 6 words. At 20 months, he only had 14 words. The early intervention evaluation proved that my gut to be right. He is fine. He understands, hears, follows simple instructins... Now at about 22 months, he seems to pick up a new word each day. I am also being reminded by the folks at his daycare that some kids don't speak until until they turn and after.

I wouldn't worry just yet. I know how you feel though.

Mom to 2 Angels said...

I feel certain that that is about on track to where AP was at that age. I wouldn't get worried yet. I think their receptive language is more of an indicator of problems at that age, and we know she understands everything!

Lori said...

I'm going to second the not worry too much yet theory...based on both my niece and nephew (who were 1 month and 2 months premature, respectively)...Kayla was talking up a storm ALWAYS...from the second she could make noise...but her processing speed and motor skills lagged (and still do, to a degree--has an IEP for processing issues, spatial coordination, and a couple of other minor things--not a major IEP, just to help her level playing field.) Jacob, on the other hand, NEVER had any developmental issues other than being a peanut (still is, at 11 and hates it) but his speech was AWFUL. I kept telling my sister she needed to have him checked, look into it, etc...but she kept saying, "I can understand it, he's ok...the doctor says he's a preemie and that's normal." And it is...BUT...after I finally persuaded her that she should not be the only one who understands her 3 and a half year old, she took him to Duke and he was in desperate need of tubes in his ears...always had ear infections but no one had ever realized how his speech was affected by his hearing / ear issues. A year after the tubes, that kid was (and IS) a talking machine--and his speech completely and totally caught up QUICKLY! Moral to that story is that I didn't start pestering my sister until Jacob was about 2--maybe 2 and a half and still wasn't really making the milestones I expected for him. I'd still give the Princess some more time, especially considering she's able to hear, understand and follow basic commands--that's an excellent sign that her language acquisition skills are sharp and just keep an eye on the speech development over the next 8 months or so.

BTW--can you tell what a pain in the butt aunt I must be? :) My sister-in-law was always worried about my nephew and his ability (or inability) to say words with the hard-r sound...she kept wanting to put him in speech at 3!!! I told her that if he was still having difficulty to the point it affected his writing (around end of 2nd or 3rd grade) then she should look into it. By that time, he was fine. I bet my sister and sister-in-law can't WAIT until I finally have my OWN kid to doctor!

Shannon said...

Maria - I wouldn't be concerned. Our E didn't start to speak coherent words until about 18 months and he has just in the last six-eight months really put conversational sentences together (at age 3). He did have speech therapy for 2 years, but that was more to address his feeding issues and drooling. Kids progress and excel at different rates and in different areas. One thing that helped us was to never just give him things, including assistance without him clearly asking for it. We didn't respond to pointing, grunting and screaming and when he figured out that he could communicate and needed to, he really went full steam ahead with it. Hang in there.

Mala said...

Wow! Timely subject. I just made an appointment for Beck with a speech therapist.

He seems to have difficulty with saying certain sounds and since he'll be entering Kindergarten next year, I want to give him as much of a leg up as possible because it can't hurt to get additional help.
So that's my take. If your gut is telling you something, then have her evaluated. It's not going to hurt. And if you get her additional help, that's not going to hurt either. Just don't stress about it.
Best of luck.

Kathy W said...

I got my son at 1 from Kaz. He almost didn't even babble. Through 2 1/2, lots of words, but no sentences. Then one months nothing at all, and the next month full sentences. We went from behind to ahead in 30 days. And now he is tops in his preschool class for verbal skills.

You can always opt for an eval, but these kids take longer. Not only does no one talk to them in the orphanage, but the babble pattern is different among languages and they have to have time to make the shift.

Kathy W

Jackie said...

Call early intervention and share your concern. Just b/c she is fine in every other area, doesn't mean she wouldn't qualify for services in just one area. I know from experience...Noli is perfectly on track in every area except speech, where she has a mild delay and is currently recieving services (FREE) via EI. We are enjoying 30 min. once a week :)

Having said all that...I was worried despite everyone telling me not to worry. I will tell things are really starting to click and in just the last 2 mos. she is saying more words. She just turned 2. Oh, and recall she was 11-12 weeks premature.

In my experience, people can tell you not to worry and they are probably right. But I wanted to hear it from the experts. Noli's speech therapist has no concern that she will eventually talk (up a storm, I might add - just a feeling I have ;) I think she will be like that Volvo commercial!!

Lastly, based on what you described, I also don't think you should worry :)

Melissa said...

I'm sure that it couldn't hurt to have her speech evaluated via Early Intervention. Rory came home at 17 months and then didn't talk until she turned 2. In fact, Dr. H wanted us to have her evaluated and get started with therapy at her 2 year appointment, but her speech took off all of a sudden. I would say there's no need to worry too much, but I'd probably check in with EI.

Kelley said...

I have not read the other comments, but are you doing sign language with her? I am a reading specialist, and we did this with our daughter when we got her home at 10 months old from Vietnam, and she is wayyy ahead of the curve. 10 other families I know of I recommended this too, and they ALL are having successful results. Just because the cerebral cortex synapses aren't fused for speech yet does not mean they cannot communicate, and if you allow for communication through signlanguage, it actually takes away a great deal of frustration, and helps the synapses fuse quicker, thus helping speech. If you are interested, check out and no I am not advertising for them, but they seriously rock! Good luck.

Heather Field said...

I wouldn't be too concerned yet either. Our son Cody was speech delayed and I had two therapists tell me to have him evaluated at 18 months. He ended up going to speech therapy for a year and now (age 10) NEVER is there a quiet moment for that boy!!! Sam is a really early talker. I know it's natural to compare your baby with others, but they are all so individual. But sometimes a mama bear's intuition should be followed through! It never hurts to get a professional opinion, but I'm sure there is no worries at this point!

Margaret and Tom said...

Try not to worry Maria!! This was where Milana was at, even at her 18 month check-up, she also is "2 mos. premature", etc...Guess what, now she is talking like crazy, one or two new words all the time, and sometimes two in a row, only 2 months later. It sounds like she is doing just fine "corrected" or not....But that being said, you as her mom are the best judge of what she may need so go with your gut!

Gen 's Family Story said...

We were concerned about Michael's speech also, but now at 28 months he is clicking along and even singing songs with the right tone!! It'll come when she's ready. The IAC was really bugging us about his speech at 18 months but we just let it be as he was a boy-he wasn't up to their standards which I thought were too high for an adopted orphanage baby who probably heard very little speech in his 2 baby room, a total of 10 in the building. He was also a month premature! Hang in there, the most important thing is that you love and care about where she is at, the speech therapist in Michael's early childhood class watched him at 18 months and he was stringing 2 words together with signs and said that counted, also the range between chidlren 1-3 1/2 is enormous!

The Stahnke's said...

Okay Maria, I'm going to go against all the other comments and tell you that you may want to be concerned. Andrew was the same way and not talking or making many sounds. I had many tell me to not worry, but I did anyways, and now I'm glad I did. The first thing you might want to do, is get her hearing tested. If you have already, then you can cross that problem off your list. Our first discovery for Andrew's speech delay was when he flunked several hearing test. Then we realized that he had fluid in his ears. When we got the tubes put in, in October it was like a difference of night and day. He suddenly started saying all kinds of things. We have been doing speech therapy for the last year as well, and that to has made such a difference. Needless to say his ENT told us after the sugery it was as if Andrew was hearing under water, and he also suspected that it was like that for the majority of his life. I was floored that Andrew at that point seemed to understand everything I was saying, but what he was hearing and what I was saying was two different things. That is why the signing has made a world of difference.

Then Andrew also has another problem in his palet called a Bivid Uvula. We have had a craniofacial team following up with that to also make sure that it is causing his speech delays. When I went to my last appt. just a few weeks ago, their newest discovery is that he has what is called a submucous cleft. Which is a partial cleft palat. Now I have to worry about that, because that is keeping certain sounds from coming out of his mouth, which is ultimately slowing down his growth of speech. They will be checking him again when he turns three, and if he hasn't made huge improvements they want to do surgery.

So I don't tell you all of that to scare you but to inform you that if I didn't take the proper channels to have Andrew checked out, I probably wouldn't of discovered all the problems contributing to his delays. Check into some programs in your area. I have had all his speech therapy free through the MRDD in my county. Andrew will also qualify for preschool next year for free as well, if he continues to have delays. So it is worth checking into. The best person to evaluate her speech would be a speech therapist. They know more then the Dr.'s on what to look for. At the craniofacial team I go to, it is always the speech therapist there that makes the biggest decisions for Andrew, not the Dr.
Hope this has helped. Feel free to contact me if you need to know more.