Q: My almost-2-year-old only knows two words. Our pediatrician recommended we enroll her in speech therapy, but our second opinion said we’re OK to wait a bit longer. At what age should I worry and see a specialist?
How difficult it is when your child seems to be outside the boundaries of “typical” development. Whether he is 2 years or 12 years, it stirs up worry and concern of all proportions, especially when it is your first born, and you have no experience knowing things can work themselves out.
Allow me to share a personal story. When my daughter’s first child was approaching 2 years old, she had just about no speech at all. She had plenty of language, as she babbled musically, pointed at things and made her needs known nonsensically.
I don’t remember exactly when her speech burst forth, but it was after 2 years old. Today, at almost 6, she is a totally fluent speaker, non-stop!
Her little brother, at age 2, had even less. No speech and very little language. The Regional Center (the public branch that supports the development of children under 3 years old in need) agreed that he needed an intervention.
He saw one of their specialists once a week for over six months. Candidly, there was no improvement.
Then one day he started speaking. He is now 3.5 and quite verbal. Yes, there are a few adorable mispronunciations, but he is totally intelligible and fine.
Another of my kids has two children. The first was an early speaker beyond anyone’s belief. At 20 months he (seriously) could name all the presidents of the U.S.!
His little brother celebrated his second birthday having one or two words at most. A month later, he has new words spilling forth every day. Same family, different kids, different development.
I am sharing these personal stories to remind you that all children develop differently, at different paces and times, each in his own way.
You did not share how your little bunny is communicating besides the two words. Does she point? Does she babble? Does she get her needs met in other forms of communication?
This is language of a different sort. If she is completely silent, this is something else altogether.
While I do believe it is important to pay attention and to check in with professionals about a child’s development, even the specialists disagree, as you have discovered.
I realize that you are reaching out for another opinion, in addition to the two you already have. I am not a speech and language pathologist, but I can tell you that every speech and language person I know will tell you it’s a good idea to get it checked out. It’s their thing!
Pediatricians, however, are often not as fast to send one to a specialist. While they, too, make mistakes, they tend to have a broader perspective on the full range of development. There is a window of time in which we see children grow.
And yes, sometimes a child may need a bit of a kick start.
Do you trust your pediatrician? Have they been on the button with other areas of your child’s development? It sounds to me like your mother gut is telling you to check it out. Why else did you second-guess your pediatrician?
I always tell parents to go with your gut. So, if it will make you feel better to have an evaluation by a specialist, why not do it? At the very least, you will have a professional opinion, which you will or won’t follow.