More first words

by longtallyarn

Both of my twins are the strong silent type.  Well, maybe silent isn’t quite the right description.  They are pretty noisy, just not wordy.  In fact, we were advised by a child development specialist to see a speech pathologist because they are late talkers.  She said they should have about 15 strong and practical words by 18 months (their adjusted age) that they use proficiently and frequently.  At the time of that appointment, our more verbally advanced boy, Twin B, had said 8 words.  He had said them within context and they were clear to the listener but he would rarely repeat them.  “Ball,” “block,” and “quack-quack” were uttered almost 4 months ago but never again.  Our quieter son had said only “momma” and “dadda” and “mmmmmm” (which, around our house, passes for what a cow says) and he only said these words with prompting. 

The twins have survived all this time by pointing and grunting and then escalating to whining and yelling if necessary.  They know a few signs but they only use them when someone asks them how to say “more,” or “hat,” or “milk.”  The jibberish they emit has become more and more complex as time has passed but rarely do they say something that I can understand.  They speak the most when we are reading together.  (Cute story:  We read about dogs a lot and frequently see dogs when we are out.  Often we see barking dogs.  So I thought I would try to teach them to answer “What does a dog say?” with “Ruff.”  I eventually noticed that every time I asked what a dog says, twin B would quietly cough.  After a while I realized it was not a coincidence.  That’s what he hears when a dog barks–it sounds like coughing to him.)   

Anyway, when we heard that they were seriously behind, the first thing we started doing was drilling them more often.  Asking them to name the foods they enjoy or toys they like to play with.  Last weekend Twin B attempted the word apple.  It sounds like “App Mmm.”  He has been practicing all week.  Sometimes he practices alone and sometimes he says it when we prompt him.  Sometimes he says “Mmm Appp,” but he’s working on it. 

Last night while Twin B was practicing “App Mmm” we asked Twin A to say it too.  After a few seconds of pause he responded almost perfectly with “Ap Pp Pel.”  Then he said it again, and noticing how happy we were about “apple” he attempted the next practice item “B-B- Ball,”  which he pronounced “B-B- Bah” and continued to practice for a couple minutes.  We really were elated because being referred to a speech pathologist shook our confidence we were wondering by this time if he had a hearing problem too.  As his proud mother, I have to point out that while he said the P sound twice, he perfectly executed the L sound on his first try. 

It is just another first word.  They still aren’t really using it to communicate, but it is encouraging to me that they are practicing.