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#1 Posted : Tuesday, January 20, 2015 5:02:20 PM(UTC)

Rank: Newbie

Joined: 1/20/2015(UTC)
Posts: 1

Hi there, my baby girl turns 11 months old on 1/28/15 (next week). She rarely babbles but instead shrieks and grunts when she "talks." She has said "buh, gee, boo, ka, ma, da" but only rarely. She used to babble often when she was 5-6 months old but she slowly stopped. To be honest, I didn't even notice that she stopped until her pediatrician asked me during her 9 months check up if she babbled.

I have spoken to 2 pediatricians (her main and back-up one), 1 SLP and 2 nurses yet no one is concerned. They all say that she makes "sounds" and she is clearly communicating and getting what she wants. I keep saying "but she doesn't BABBLE!! She never says mamama babababa dadadada, etc" so I don't get why they aren't worried like me.

She has responded to her name since she's been 7 months old, makes eye contact all the time, smiles/laughs all the time, has stranger anxiety, finds hidden toys, drinks bottle on her own, claps, waves, plays hide and seek, crawls, eats well, drinks from a straw cup, etc. She is meeting every milestone EXCEPT for language. I am not concerned at all that she might be autistic or on the spectrum. She has no signs of that disorder.

When she does make a sound, for example, if she blows bubbles or coughs the I imitate her and she does it back. She passed her initial hearing test with no issues and she does not have a hearing problem. She understands "no" and when I tell her to "come here" then she crawls back in my direction. If she wants something like more food, she shrieks and eyes the bowl and then I feed her more.

I read about 5-7 books daily, listen to music, and talk to her all day long. I say "mmmmaaaaaaama, mama, mmmmamama" or "daddy, ddddady, dddddddddddaddy" or "bottle bbbbbboooottttlee bbbbbbbbbbbbbbb" but she doesn't repeat after me. She kinda looks at me like I'm weird and continues to play =/ I also bought the book "It Takes Two to Talk" by Jan Pepper since I heard that was a great book for speech delay. I try not to force her to talk since I don't want to stress her out.

Any thoughts or suggestions? I don't know what else to do. I feel like I am doing everything that has been suggested on this forum. I speak slowly, repeat words and wait for her to "talk" and then imitate her.

How can I tell if she has a speech problem?? Should I keep pushing the issue with her doctors? Should I be very concerned?

Thank you!

Mary Lou SLP  
#2 Posted : Wednesday, January 21, 2015 6:40:52 PM(UTC)
Mary Lou SLP

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 1/21/2008(UTC)
Posts: 903
Location: Colorado

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Hi Santafemom,

When I saw your post, I knew I definitely wanted to respond!

I've been a speech-language pathologist (SLP) for 39 years. I am very interested in talking with parents like you who are concerned about their young children's speech and language development.

Your post shows that you are a very careful observer, which is great. Your observation skills will help you notice even small changes that your daughter makes.

I trust parents' intuition, so I support your attempts to get a professional to notice what you are noticing and to offer you some support and guidance in this area of concern.

I recently went looking for current information about how parents can stimulate for babbling, when their children do not babble. I didn't find much. I will share with you some of my own thoughts on this subject (later in my post). I also looked for some data about what percentage of young children don't seem to babble and how their speech-language development progresses. I also didn't find much. Perhaps you have looked, too.

This is anecdotal, but I have asked parents of 2 to 4-year-old children who are struggling to acquire speech production (articulation) skills if their children babbled, and often I am told "no" or "not much".

There is a condition that some children have, which is called articulatory apraxia, developmental apraxia of speech (DAS), and some other names. In brief, it is a condition which affects a child's ability to transmit a "message" from the brain to the mouth to shape sounds needed for producing words. It is a motor planning difficulty. In my practice, I have worked with many children who have such a difficulty which "holds up" verbal expression. Of course, I am not saying that this is what your daughter is experiencing, but I am providing this information to you, in case you want to learn more about it. One good site is apraxia-kids.org. I have absolutely no affiliation with that site.

I believe strongly in early intervention, so, I would say if you continue to be concerned about your daughter's sound-making abilities at her first birthday that you discuss your concerns again with her pediatrician. You can contact the early intervention program in your state, which provides evaluations at no charge and provides therapy at no charge to children who qualify in their (the children's) homes [up to the 3rd birthday]. If you remain concerned around 15-17 months, you may want to seek a private evaluation with an SLP who has knowledge and experience working with very young children who have apraxia of speech or some other condition that is preventing them from making typical progress with the production of speech sounds. For example, are you near a university that has an SLP professional training program or near a children's hospital?

The examples of what you have been doing to try to entice your daughter to produce sounds after you sound good. I really like what I call vowel stretching, which is what you likely are representing by your examples like these: "ooooopen", "baaaaaalll", Dooooogy", Daaaaaady". Some consonants can be lengthened, like "Mmmmmmoooommmy". I don't suggest any sound "bouncing" like "d-d-d-d-daddy. Children are attracted to the longer sounds but not to the bounced sounds.

Another method you could try is to take turns making sounds (look ah or oo) into a container (like the canister that you sort blocks into). You get a lot of auditory "feedback" from this. You could put the can or other container in front of her mouth when she is laughing or making a pleasant sound, so she gets the idea. She is a little young for this, but it is worth a try.

I would also suggest you give my Upside-Down Pyramid way of talking a try with your daughter. You will see lots of references to this in previous posts on this forum. You could try it during your book time. Instead of reading the words in the books, try making simple sentence comments about what you see happening in the pictures. Then, systematically reduce what you say, finally getting down to a single speech sound or a sound-effect word. It is very important to pause (expectantly) to give your daughter a chance to try to copy you, if she is ready and able to. You are RIGHT--you cannot and should not attempt to "make" your daughter talk. You can't, anyway. But you can provide inviting models and ample pause time. Here are some examples:

The bunny is hopping.
Hop, bunny, hop!

(If she will let you hold her hand up to your mouth, let her feel the air on the back of your hand.)

and another:

The kitty is playing with the ball.
Hi kitty!

I hope you will write again. Keep advocating for your daughter. You see "green lights" in all of her development, except for speech. Milestones exist for a reason. When they aren't being met, it is wise to try to figure out why and to start doing something.

Time and growth/maturity may take care of this, but I see no harm in providing as much helpful stimulation as possible while you watch.

Best wishes to you and your daughter!

Mary Lou
Mary Lou B. Johnson, M.S.,CCC-SLP

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