In just 3 short months, little Rowan is going to be TWO. How did this happen so fast? Seriously. One interesting thing going on with him at this age is how his receptive language is surging, yet he hardly produces real words. So this got me thinking and wondering how many other young toddlers out there are this same way (or if the norm is to just be jabbering already)... Or is it just half and half?
I couldn't find any hard statistics on how many toddlers are slower to produce expressive language, but I do know that it is more common in boys. I also read that 70-80% of late talkers will outgrow a language delay (if they have no delays in comprehension). But then this kind of sent me down a rabbit trail as I wondered, how do you know if you might be in that other 20-30%?
So, these were the main ideas I found for checking and building receptive language:
"They" say toddlers with a greater number of gestures used for different communication purposes are more likely to catch up with their peers. To be honest, I was starting to think that the sign language might be getting in the way at this point, since Rowan knows how to say "bye-bye" yet prefers to just wave now and will NOT say the word. But I think I'm just letting the language teacher in me be too aware of it all... apparently, gestures still equal a good sign.
One great resource is teachmetotalk.com where there are multiple articles on receptive language. A few cues your toddler should be responding to include things like:
I have already been completely exploiting this "language building opportunity" for my own parental gain. "Rowan, can you please go get Mama a banana for breakfast? Mama is hungreeeeee!"
PITCH & INFLECTIONS
The next interesting element that is usually innate (but I hadn't thought of ) was the fact that inflections bring about the earliest conversations and questioning. Laura Mize of Teach Me To Talk even encourages parents to not talk with deadpan glottal fry (think the Kardashians), because it limits your child's ability to recognize the shifts in pitch when asking questions.
One game I like to play with Rowan is a car game in any parking lot. I point to other people's cars and say "Mama's car?" Then we say, "Nooo!" and move along until we find our car. He loves it, and I think it really solidified his understanding of questions. BONUS -- it can distract from the sorrowful meltdown that happens when leaving a place like the zoo or the science center.
THE BEST BOOKS
This is pretty much another no brainer, but speech therapists also suggest simple, single-picture books as well as those that use real photographs. The real photographs will make quicker connections to their real-life objects. Then choose books that are the most interactive and interesting for boys (or girls) who may be too energetic to sit and read for very long. Basically, Laura Mize is awesome... read her full list here.
EINSTEIN SYNDROME vs. AUTISM SPECTRUM
The last thing my rabbit-hole search led me to was the debates and considerations of Einstein Syndrome vs. the autism spectrum. The thought of Einstein Syndrome (and that your late-talker is actually just probably a math genius) is surely very appealing to parents of late-talkers, but it can also cause more problems.
"While The Einstein Syndrome discusses a real problem—the misdiagnosis of gifted late-talkers—it does not solve that problem, and creates a new “syndrome” which unfortunately encourages non-professionals to diagnose late-talkers based on an unsubstantiated theory." (Read More)
Hmm... Pretty interesting stuff, eh? Unless no one is reading this blog anymore, because this is only interesting to me! haha!
For mom-journal purposes, or for the two interested nerd-parents still reading this post, this is the gist of Rowan's vocabulary at 21 months.
And please note: I am not actually stressing that Rowan has a low vocabulary or losing any sleep over this. As a language teacher, I am just genuinely this geeky about it. :-)
So, parents with older kiddos, do you remember when your toddler made the big shift to using "real words"? I've seen a lot of people say there was a big change around 26 or 27 months, so I'm interested to know. Leave me a comment!