This morning was Pickle’s speech therapy assessment. The therapist was from the same company as the Child Development therapist. They always start off the same~ asking about my pregnancy, his health and any issues. She gave him toys to interact with while she asked us so many questions. Its hard to remember them all but she asked things like can he say any words meaningfully, babble consonants, attempt to say simple words, follow simple commands, make animal sounds, say yes or no, point, recognize objects and body parts… things like that. And the short answer to those things is no. He can’t.

I always am diligent about keeping up with what he should be able to do for his age from the early intervention website HERE ever since all of this came up. Here is what they say:

In speech development, typical 18-month-olds can:

  • Use 10-15 words spontaneously
  • Attempt to sing
  • Say “No” meaningfully
  • Gesture to express needs
  • Name one or two familiar objects

Developmental Red Flags For 18 Month Child Speech Delays

  • Not using at least 15 single words
  • Not beginning to use 2 word phrases
  • Not able to follow simple instructions

The red are things he cant do. He doesn’t have any words he uses spontaneously (just saying them out loud to nothing in particular). No attempting to sing or even imitate any words or sounds we make. If he is in a mood to try, its always “aiye” kind of sound, repeated. Even if the word is duck. He can name no objects. The red flags are self explanatory. I made the “follow instructions” bullet point orange because she did ask if he could follow simple instruction and our answer was “kinda”. He can follow a command if it is a simple object that you point to and he can see, and put it somewhere he can see or bring to you. Example: Levi, get that ball (pointing) and give it to me (hand out). He couldn’t, however, follow a command of things out of site. Example: Levi, go get a diaper. I don’t even things you could ask him to go get a ball if there wasn’t one in sight.

She said he was pretty behind. More like a 9 month old. I was shocked! So I looked at the early intervention site for what 8-12 mo olds can/should do. They say:

Most 12 Month Olds can:

  • Recognize name
  • Say “mama” and “dada” (nonspecifically) and 2-3 words besides “mama” and “dada”
  • Imitate familiar words
  • Understand simple instructions
  • Recognize words as symbols for objects: car  points to garage, dog  barks
  • Babble single consonants
  • Shout for attention
  • Wave hi and bye
  • Demonstrate an understanding of some words by gesturing or pointing

Developmental Red Flags For 12 Month Child Speech Delays

  • No pointing
  • No single words
  • No gestures or imitation of gestures (waving, clapping, etc.)
  • Not beginning to recognize common objects or people

This is where I saw he is performing just under a 12 month old. Of course he knows his name and can babble mama & dada. And he knows who we are. But he cant call us by that to get our attention or if we suddenly come in the room, therefore its kinda nonspecific versus meaningfully. No imitating and, again, the instructions bullet point is orange for the same reason I listed above. He cant point to things you name, especially in real life. Sometimes he can correctly point to a ball or shoes in a book if you ask, but a few minutes later he is pointing to everything and you’re not sure if it was a fluke or not. No babbling consonants except for dada and sometimes “shhhh”. Definitely lots of shouting! LOL! No waving hi at all. Now pointing…. thats new… like as of ONE WEEK AGO! Another tell-tale sign that this child is a solid 6 months behind… just as he was cognitively and physically when we started those therapies.

There are a lot of good things, though. Pickle is very social and she recognized this right away, saying that this isn’t a question of confidence like many other children delayed in speech. She said cognitively he is right on and doing great. There is no concern for a diagnosis of anything other than developmental delay. We have been operating with this assumption/evaluation for a little while now but every confirmation is another sigh of relief. Of course she said that he needs speech therapy. I don’t know how often or how long until she writes her report but she said this could take a while since he is so behind. But, she doesn’t know Pickle. She doesn’t know the progress he can make once therapy begins. I hope to be pleasantly surprised as I was with his fast progression in physical therapy.

Lastly, we talked a lot about what we should focus on at home to encourage his speech. And we talked a lot about signing. She was happy that he signs so well… and learns it so quickly… but we all kinda got iffy on if we should stop teaching him more signs. It isn’t encouraging his speech. And why should he try to communicate verbally if he can more effectively communicate with signs and gestures. We didn’t come to a definite conclusion, but I will be researching it more and doing whatever is necessary to help him. Some of you may be thinking “its not like he will never talk”. Of course…. and those comments are ones I have had to deal with all along the way. But the older he gets he will only get more delayed. How could I forgive myself if I just waited it out and a few years down the road it was effecting his ability to progress in school? Or we get to the age where children can recognize those different than themselves and tease? Not to mention how much more difficult it is to get service after 3 years old. So instead ask yourself if you would be pursuing the same avenues as I… and I think you would say yes.

On this path, his delays and struggles have shown me that common objects like walkers and jumpers, though not the best, are fine for the average developing child. But they can hinder a delayed child. Even the subject of healthy educational methods that many parents swear by like Montessori methods and the above mentions sign language are not the best for every child. Montessori wouldn’t work for him because he doesn’t learn through exploration like the average developing child does. And obviously sign could potentially further delay verbal speech. I really feel that I have learned, first hand, that a good parent must recognize and accept that our littles will dictate what is best for them. And we need to listen. And sometimes that may mean accepting that your child isn’t exceptional… but I don’t mean that in a bad way. It means accepting that the best methods for teaching, learning, socializing, potty training, and parenting … even when based on the recent research and leading experts and blah blah blah… are not always best for your child. That’s my child and I love him.

Thank you for traveling this path with us. We will get there! Wherever “there” is!


ps. Speech poll in the sidebar! Please vote! —–>


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  1. Stacey says:

    I just randomly found your blog through a Pinterest link but this post is totally our situation! My son was at a 12 month speech level when he was 20 months old…he’s been working with a speech therapist for the past 9 months and it has made a huge difference. When we started he babbled but didn’t even say mama or dada…he just screamed and screamed, and now he can string two words together and refers to people by their names…ans he spontaneously says tons of words! He’s no where near what a 29 month old ‘should’ be but he’s shown so much improvement…and yours will to! Best of luck with your therapist!

    • Piece says:

      Wow! That is so cool! Welcome… and thank you for sharing your experience. As you know, its hard to get through things like this and all the pressures of people who dont understand. Its always a sigh of relief to hear similar situations and the success at the end, versus moms who had similar situations and then drop the bomb that their kid was found to be on the Autism spectrum (cue racing heart). Glad to hear of your son’s progress and hope he continues to progress well! Thanks again!


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