A slightly freaked-out update at 12:31 am
A Different Kind of Okay


The podcast for the radio show isn't available yet. I don't know why they're dragging their feet and denying the Internet the chance to hear the MOST THRILLING 11 MINUTES OF RADIO EVER (har!) but rest assured I will link to it as soon as I can. God forbid you miss the part where I completely lost track of my point and the words coming out of my mouth and said something about how I'll look back and miss the toddler tantrums someday. What? WHAT?

And this is why I should not talk to people before 9 am. Or really, ever.

Anyway, I'm bummed that I don't have it, simply because I was hoping to take up a whole entry with it and thus not have to fill space this morning with the topic I'm going to fill the space with, because this topic makes me sound so high-strung and neurotic but I can't help it. I am high-strung and neurotic. I mean, I'm a blogger. Gawd.

Noah has a doctor's appointment today. He's getting checked for a speech delay.

I know! Aball! Abeer! And all the other videos I've posted of him chattering away. The problem is that's pretty much all we've got in the speech department. He says about six or seven words clearly (two of which he's said in the past couple days after I already made the appointment, of course), and then another five or six words that aren't really words, but we at least know what he means.

(He also seems to lose words as quickly as he acquires them, with "light" and "fan" and "plane" all getting reduced to "na" and "doggie" turning back into "da." I'm guessing this is a pretty normal thing for toddlers [right? normal?], but it does make it harder to get a real grasp on the sum of his vocabulary.)

He babbled early and noticed books early and was pegged by our pediatrician as "highly verbal." But then he was "slow" to point and clap and wave (can I stop with all the quotes? will you remember that I get how ridiculous it is to be using these words? do you understand that it's not like we have a milestone chart stuck on the fridge with a MENSA magnet?) and all the younger kids in Gymboree started talking and Noah continued to speak only in his own little Swahili alien language.

Personally, I think he is fine. I think he is stubborn. I think he is STUB. BORN. He's never been much of a mimic or interested in performing on cue.  If you ask him what the cow says you will get a withering look that clearly says, "You know what the damn cow says, woman. Stop bugging me."

But at the same time, he doesn't appear to know what the cow says. He won't say milk or juice or string two words together. He doesn't seem to have enough words to string them together. How much do you chalk up to temperament? And for how long?

I'm from a family of late-talking boys (my dad apparently spoke in a language only his big sister could understand until he was three, and then went on to become an English teacher), so I've been going back and forth and forth and back on this for months. Yes, Noah is clearly behind other kids his age. But he's not even two yet, for fuck's sake. He's taking his time. He'll bust out in sentences one of these days, just you wait!  It's not like I'm trying to turn him into the star of his Toddler Mandarin Chinese class or get him into a college-prep preschool. (I've already picked out his preschool. IT'S THE ONE CLOSEST TO MY HOUSE.)

My kid is smart. My kid is a freaking delight. He can identify a good half of the alphabet and loves looking at books and numbers and if I tell him he needs to put his shoes on to go outside, he will go get his shoes. His fine motor skills and attention span are insane for his age. He's all-around totally fine and okay.

They just make it really hard to trust your own instincts these days, you know?

At his 18-month check-up, the doctor (who wasn't even our regular doctor, because I'm an asshole who forgot to make the appointment on time) quizzed me about his vocabulary and admitted that he was lagging a little. She wobbled her head back and forth as she debated whether or not to make A Thing about it. She told me to bring him back in three months if he didn't make any progress.

It's been three months. He's said three more words. He's stopped saying two of the words he was saying three months ago. So we're going back in. 

I really hope he's okay.




Just wanted to throw in my two cents. My best friend's youngest boy (of 3 boys) was slow to start talking. She had him in speech classes for almost two years. I made the not-really-helpful prediction that he was just slow getting started and once he started talking he'd never shut up. And guess what, I was right. The kid is now seven and he NEVER. SHUTS. UP. But he's adorable and charming so it's okay.

Trust your instincts, but check with the doc just in case. Try to find a way to stradle the line between ignorning your instincts and ignoring the doctor. There's got to be a happy medium, right?

But I don't have any kids, so what the hell do I know?

Amy the Mom

He's fine...but I've been in your shoes, so I totally understand the concern. My oldest was an early talker and then I had twins the next time around. I couldn't understand a thing they said until they were three-their big brother translated everything for them. I was a total basket case at each and every well baby appointment after one year. Then, as if someone waved a magic wand at age three, I suddenly understood them.

From what I can see in the videos and pics you post, Noah is a bright and engaged child-he's fine. I'm sure pediatricians love it when people a thousand miles away attempt to diagnose children they've never even met...

Becca Parra

Amy, thanks for posting about this. It is such a hard road, being a parent (and I haven't even started yet! hopefully just a few more weeks). My friend worries about her son in the same way, sometimes. Their neighbor has a daughter just exactly his age (they turned one in March). When her son was shaking his head and making funny faces, their daughter was signing every word in the language, swimming unassisted underwater, etc...She started to worry about milestones. And guess what? Her kid is the coolest, cutest, most interesting little bugger I've ever met. He's going to be a GREAT man. If he meets thesse milestones at a different time than some other kids, that's okay. We're all different.
That said, I think you are most definitely doing the right thing. Noah will perceive his speech stuff as play, and you'll get the reassurance that he's developing just fine. Starting now if he does need help is so much better than waiting.
You are a great mom, and Noah is doing perfectly well. YOu should be proud--of both of you!


He is so young to be tested for this now. It is perfectly normal for him to be using a few words. He is absolutely fine, smart, intelligent. All children develop at their own speed. Burn the damn development chart and enjoy your perfect child.


I know exactly what you mean about how "they" make you feel like you don't know what you're doing. The Hub and I have begun the more serious talks about having children, and everything is so much more scary than it needs to be, which takes away from the joy of it all.

Noah is a beautiful child, and like you said, probably stubborn. He probably just knows how perfect he is without even having to say a word.


aball, abeer, aboy...that's what he is...a normal little toddler boy. Some kids get off on pandering to adults, some don't. He is a bright spark and will talk when he's good and ready. Children approach speech very differently. The speech therapy approach won't hurt him (hey, how much do you remember from this time in your life?) but I think it's a little premature when your boy appears a beautiful, able, coordinated, funny little guy who interacts comfortably in the way he chooses for the moment. Hard to tell a parent not to worry, but don't worry, kid. He's fine.


My boy is not a big talker either. I think it is very common to get some words and then lose them a little bit. If he didn't babble at all or have any words, I'd say maybe there might be an issue but Noah is younger than my boy (who was two in June) and I took him in for his 2 year appointment and told the doctor my concerns and the doctor said he was fine and not to worry. I hope your doctor says the same, because I think it's true. We put a lot on these kids, I think, with our charts and expectations.


Criminy, he isn't even two yet. Most doctors will tell you at this age, it is more important what they understand, than what they are saying.

My son would say a word once, then never say it again. My ped said he was choosing not to talk, which is different than not talking. He had a huge language explosion at about 2 1/2.

I understand your worry. Check it out so you feel better.


Amy, I love your blog and read it daily!

I am a speech language pathologist and mom to 2 preschoolers. I would strongly advise you to seek a speech and language evaluation for Noah. It's true that pediatricians can be alarmist. However, they often don't sound the alarm until there is an obvious problem. It sounds to me like Noah may be borderline with a delay. The good news is that most kids catch up, and it ends up being no big deal. It's a good idea to be pro-active and try to prevent potential communication problems down the road. If there is one thing that we know, it's that early intervention works. It's also free for young children, so take advantage of it.


My nephew didn't speak for the first two years. Not one word. He made weird sounds and shook his hands. He saw a speech therapist and now he won't shut up. Some kids take longer than others. Don't worry about it.


i really wouldn't worry too much yet. he's still pretty little. kids are each so different and he's possibly just slower to get there...but he'll catch up! they all do!


I'm sure he's fine. Actually, I'm nearly positive.

My parents had three kids. 2 were late speakers. The third child, me, spoke in 2 and 3 word sentences at a year of age. One of these children has a fairly severe speech impediment. That would be me as well.

One of my brothers didn't speak until past 3 years of age (except for the word mama) but, today, he is a much more adept speaker than I will ever be.


My son is 21 months and sounds EXACTLY the same. He would much rather learn to climb and run and jump, then talk.


You can't compare Noah's development to that of any other kids. Kids come along at their own pace and I think the world is so set on results that it makes the parents nervous wrecks in the process. Honestly, I wouldn't worry.

That is my unprofessional keyboard advice, anyway.


My almost 6-year-old son was a late talker. I took him in for a speech evaluation the summer after his first year of pre-school when he was almost 4. His teacher was concerned about his speech, but he passed with flying colors. Now we can't get him to shut up!

Noah will be fine. Even if they do think he has some sort of speech delay, they have wonderful programs. Try not to worry. That's easy to say, I know, because I still worry my son is behind but he seems to get things in his own time so I've tried to stop comparing him to other kids.



My 2 year old daughter is the opposite, very chatty, not so good with the fine motor stuff. She doesn't stack blocks, never has. I am not worried (o.k not REEALLY worried). It's just hard to see your kid struggle with what seems to come so easily to kids the same age. Isn't it? Why in the hell is block stacking so damn important anyway?


Trying not to assvice you here, but I want you to know that no matter what, *it will be ok.*

I finally had my daughter tested a year ago after a few years of denial and yes, the results made me cry BUT after a year of speech therapy she's doing so much better. There was a four year old in her class that didn't speak a single word when she started school in the fall and when I went in for a volunteer day toward the end of the year after a long break, she was speaking! (No, she didn't say "Hello, run-on sentence!" Why would you ask?) I can only imagine that with Noah starting so young, he'll be doing amazingly well by 4-5 years old.

IMHO, speech pathologists are amazing people and should be paid with big bags of gold and diamonds. The testing and all that is a unnerving thing to go through, but I applaud you for being so pro-active with Noah.


Holly Comments, Batman!!

I doubt you'll make it down this far, but let me just tell you that even though I don't have my own kids, I give damn good advice. Plus my Dad's a pediatrician (and a damn good one! And if he were in the DC area, I'll tell you to go to him. Because he's awesome. But that wasn't my point...) and he doesn't get all hung up on "normal" development stuff. Wait, that makes him sound like an inattentive doctor, he's not!

It's just that (and you can see this from all of the stories above), every child grows and develops at his own pace. Now, if Noah were 5 and still only saying Aball! and Abeer!, you might have cause for concern...but your adorable little one will be talking up a storm IN NO TIME!

Hope the appointment went well!


Hi Amy,

Teo (who's 12 days younger than Noah) just had hearing and speech evaluations. He came out in the clear on both, though the therapist recommended speech therapy to get his talking started.

He sounds a lot like Noah--"don't make me say it, you know what it is"; gains words then loses them; great at gross & fine motor skills. He loves to read and can point to stuff in the books when we ask (but he won't always do it). He signs more than he talks, and his words now are mostly animals sounds (for cat, dog, cow & elephant).

I admit I panicked at the 15-month shots because he got sooooo sick--and I started thinking "autism"!! It seems his verbal development was excellent untill that point. And in his playgroup, all the kids are talking! I was also worried about verbal apraxia, just because it's a common problem for delayed kids.

We're holding off on the speech therapy, mostly to give him some time. We know for a fact that he will not appreciate being pushed. The therapy center near us also doesn't have openings, and my husband's going through a change of insurance in the office, so we have some time.

So I hope you came home today relieved at what your doctor had to say.


My dad didn't speak until he said, "May I have a glass of water, please?" And he's smart and delightful too. Here's hoping you hear what you want to hear. Noah will be fine.



After raising five kids, I've realized that I've made my biggest mistakes when I've forgotten to trust my instincts.


Thank you for this post. I wish I could give you a huge hug & reassure you that he's completely fine (which he probably is! We'll laugh about this someday!).

One sentence you said sums up all of our motherly anxiety nicely: They just make it really hard to trust your own instincts these days, you know?


After going through this kinda stuff with my first one and worrying about what was done when...I just said screw it. They communicate, they talk they do stuff on their own time. Now Noah is not even 2. My son isn't 2 yet either...he babbles and says some stuff...I'm not concerned. Plus he has 2 older sisters that do lotsa stuff for him...that doesn't help!


De-lurking to tell you - he's fine! Totally! My daughter is 4 1/2, and they just gave her the 4 year old evaulation at daycare, and she scored "below average" on several things. My mom and I freaked, so we started asking her to do/say all the things they wanted - she answered every one just....fine......Miss Stubborn-Pants just doesn't want to do things for an audience, or away from home......and my daughter's little friend down the street? Perfectly normal 6 year old - didn't say more than 5 words til she was 4. All in good time..........


Oh, and one more thing (hee hee)...don't forget, doctors are very quick to jump on any perceived "problem" nowadays because of the glut of malpractice suits. Your doctor may just be being overly cautious in the interest of her own butt. Keep that in mind, too. And "abeer?" Perfect. I love it.


Sure, you should get him tested. You never know, and it's better to find things out earlier than later. But my brother did not speak a single word until he was three. Not mama or dada, nothing. So my parents had him tested (speech, hearing, whatever else they could think of) and nothing was wrong. When he was good and ready, he started talking. He's graduating from college this year, so no harm done.


Hi Amy,
Please don't worry. My son will be 18 months in a week and doesn't walk yet. Nothing is physically wrong with him, he is stubborn and just doesn't want to do it yet. I also live in the DC area and he is in my counties Infants and Toddlers program, I figured it couldn't hurt. It is free and he sees a PT and speech therapist. He has his own language and says alot of words. But one thing that I have learned through all of this is that kids will do things when they are ready to. I know it is hard not to compare them when they are in playgroups, but every kid is different and will develop at their own rate. I hope this helps, I know it is hard when they are "supposedly" not doing what they are supposed to. BTW, Noah seems like a delightful beautiful boy. Good luck with everything.


Good for you for getting him checked. He's probably fine, *but* a real speech delay can result in social and emotional problems. Social because he can't communciate with other kids, and emotional because of the frustration at not being able to communicate.

That alien speech is called jargoning, and my son was doing it so much at three that the other kids in his preschool class started doing it, too. We finally took him in for an evaluation and he had to go to early intervention for both the speech delay and social pragmatics. Yes, he's fine now -- but I would have rather he been spared the frustration.


he is fine! you would totally know if something were wrong. you totally would! he's fine. ps. i used to be an interior desinger and can tell you that putnam ivory would work for EVERY room if you have enough of that color to do all the rooms. it's great. and i love your granite. st. cecellia?


Hi Amy! Loooooonngggtime reader, first time commenter. I love love LOVE your blog. < /cliché >

When I was little, I was slow to walk. My mother was half-crazed with worry, but then one day she said I just started walking around the house like it was no big thing. Now I'm in my 20s, and I've been dancing for 20 years.

Developmental milestones are overrated. Noah will talk eventually, and when he does, he’ll probably be witty as all get out (just like his mother). I hope your appointment goes well! I’m sending lots of positive vibes your way.


I didn't read all the comments, and with 109 of them, I'm probably redundant, but anyway...

Balance, Amalah-san.

Be aware of the possibility of an "issue" and yes, take him in. Have him tested, if they can. But also be aware that it doesn't necessarily mean anything. You laid out all the reasons why it probably doesn't mean anything, and you're probably right. But there's nothing wrong with being alert, either.

I have a friend whose daughter didn't say a SINGLE WORD until she was nearly 3, and then she said, "I would like some milk." So you never know.


So, you have 150 comments, I'm pretty sure you won't bother reading this, but just in case.

I think it's good you are getting it checked out, just to be on the safe side and to keep yourself from worrying too much. But he'll be fine.

My Dad didn't speak until he was 3 and family-lore has it that he was so content (he called it dumb!) that he would sit for hours while his parents worked in the field (sounds very Little House on the Praire, doesn't it?). And my cousin didn't speak until he was older than 3. They were thinking autisim, but now he is fine.


My best friend's daughter (28 months old) is very bright, but has been very slow to learn & speak words. A few months ago she was at the point that she thought her daughter should be tested and then lo and behold she's started saying about 50 new words in a matter of weeks. She's now stringing words together and talking in short sentences.

It can't hurt to have Noah tested, but I just wanted to say (as I'm sure most of your other commenters already have) that every child is different and he is obviously very smart. I wouldn't worry about it a bit. He'll start talking when he's good and ready. And then you'll never get him to shut up! :)


YOUR gut instinct is telling you it's fine. That is the best test. But you are going ahead and looking into it, because you are responsible and you want to be sure. Good for you. If you find out there is something to look at, you are so ahead of the game because you jumped on it right away, even when you didn't have to. Much bigger issues than this can be resolved with early intervention, so you are fine any way you want to look at it!


Amalah please stop noah is bright and he will develop in his own time. Some kids talk sooner. My little brother (yes there is a 25 year age difference lol) is only 2 months older than Noah but he talks like a grown up and completely skipped the stage noah is at with baby talk because he has only ever been around adults. If noah isn't around that many children that may be a reason. Also my other brother he is 14 mumbled until he was 5 but we all understand that mgdsf meant juice!! He is a perfect stubborn 14 year old now who we now only wish he would mumble his stupid teenage rantings


My sister was incredibly behind with her speech. She did a bit of speech therapy (of course it turned out she was a trifle deaf from her chronic ear infections) and now she is nearly 18 and won't shut the hell up. (I say that out of love) She is a smartie, started college two years early and does a load of public speaking. Good lord even I had speech delays and I am another one that doesn't shut up. Sometimes a little speech therapy is needed to get the kid up to speed and then in two or three years you will be paying your son in cash to be quiet for five minutes.


Amy, I know you've already made another post but I wanted to address the many "doctors make too big of a deal about language" and developmental milestones comments above.

As part of my job I spend a lot of time educating doctors and professionals about performing screenings, the benefits of early intervention and the importance of early referrals. There are educational programs in every state set up to re-teach pediatricians to do this, because overall they actually tend to take a "wait and see" approach, prefering not to upset the parent. It is nice to see that these efforts paid off for you and Noah.

You are both smart and lucky. I was a parent whose similar concerns were ignored and pooh-poohed by our pediatrician 8 years ago when my son was 2, I wish I had been encouraged to seek a free assessment instead of being told I wasn't doing something the "right" way or not to worry. Many parents who have kids later found to have developmental delays will tell you the same thing.

I know people's comments about doctors being overly paranoid were meant to be encouraging to you, but I just wanted to point out some risks of the "wait and see" approach. You are brave and awesome and I wish you and Noah all the best!


Hi Amy,

I don't know if this one was mentioned or not, I just skimmed the comments, but there is a book all about late talking children. I believe the title is Late Talking Children by Thomas Sowell. I haven't read this particular one, the author is a brilliant economist and I've read those books. I gather that one of his children was a late talker. Like I said, brilliant author and extensive researcher so it might be helpful to you. One of the points of the book is that late talkers tend to be very intelligent, particularly in math and sciences, and somehow that inhibits their speech at first. They go on to be totally brilliant people just so you know.
And like the other gazillion comments, my sister's kid didn't start really talking until he was two and now he talks all the time so there's that too.


When we did our 1 year checkup, our doc asked us how many vocab words our did had, and I asked does bah count? She gave me a worried look but the fact is, I didn't talk until I was 2. IN fact all of us were "late" talkers and walkers. It runs in our family. And to Hanna's point, our family is heavily left brained;there are math and science geniuses. And if history proves itself over, I have a feeling when my son does finally say something repetitive it will be a complex sentence, just like it was for one of my brothers.

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