No words at 13months

Hi, my son recognises no words at 13 months. He babbles ‘mama’ ‘dada’ etc but no understanding. He was due to start speech and language therapy but because of Covid-19 risks, it has been cancelled for 12 weeks.

Can anyone please offer any advice/resources?

1 Like

Hi there @Bxp533 I see that you’re new here, welcome! We have many wonderful speech therapists in our community. I will try to tag a couple and see if you can get some answers. @Twowayspeech @Speechie.Morgan

1 Like

I’m so sorry to hear that your first speech and language sessions were cancelled. I always congratulate parents for taking the first steps to initiate therapy. It is also wonderful that your child is saying “mama, dada” since babbling is one of the first steps in speech development.

When you say “no understanding” which one do you mean?

THIS-He is not using the words “mama, dada” purposefully. So he will not expressively call “mama” when he sees you or he doesn’t label familiar items like “ball”. If he is not doing this that means he needs to develop the connection between the person/object and the symbolic representation of the word.

If this is the case some things you may want to do for this are:
-put desired items out of reach or in clear boxes so he cannot just get them. First make sure he is reaching/pointing to the desired object. If he is, say what the toy is and then see if he will “Imitate” what you say. This could just be a vocalization that sounds nothing like the word. You are trying to pair that when they use words/vocalizations the vocalizations have a meaning.
-Also if there are 2 adults at home 1 adult can hide around the corner, and the other adult stays with your son, models speech and calls out “mama”. Once you hear him vocalize then come running into the room and hug him.
-When looking at books do not read the words just point to the picture and tell him what the picture is. See if he imitates your vocalization.
-You may also start using some baby sign. Getting the hands moving will help the mouth start to move. mommyandmemilestones has a great resource for baby sign.

or do you mean.

**THAT-**He is not understanding language. Therefore, he has a difficult time following directions like “show me the book”

Babies don’t expressively say their 1st words until around 12 months. However, there are prelinguistic language skills that are developing and a child may need to master these prelinguistic skills before they say their first word. Here is a list of the prelinguistic skills:

1.Responding to the environment
2. Responding to people
3. turn taking (playing peek a boo)
4. Developing a longer attention span
5. joint attention (shifting eye gaze back and forth from the toy/book to their caregiver)
6. Interacts and plays with a variety of toys
7. Understands words and follows directions
8. vocalizes purposefully (not saying words)
9. Imitates body movement and speech sounds
10.Uses gestures to communicate (pointing or baby sign)
11. Initiates

Try to figure out which things your child can do, and play games that work on the other items. If you need some ideas for games let me know.

Also, I would contact the people who were suppose to do the evaluation and see if they are doing any teletherapy. I know right now I’m seeing my clients through teletherapy. This may be a great way for a therapist to help answer any specific questions you may have, and they can give you tips on how to best develop those expressive language skills.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

Thanks, Janice SLP

Thank you Janice, that is very helpful. He does not use words purposefully, and is only showing some of the pre-linguistic skills you mentioned, eg he doesn’t understand what a ‘book’ is but does take turns and make sounds to show frustration etc

I think the biggest issue is he doesn’t really seem to imitate at all

Hi @Bxp533,
I have a question for you in response to your question. Has your son ever had a hearing test? One of the reasons kids can be missing some of the prelinguistic skills @Twowayspeech twowayspeech described can be due to a hearing loss. Even if your son is responding to sounds it could be possible for him to have a hearing loss that affects his ability to hear the speech sounds that will help him understand language. Many audiology clinics are still performing diagnostic hearing tests with special cleaning procedures to prevent covid-19. Let me know if you have any questions about hearing and how it affects language development.

1 Like

Yes! Awesome question Lauren.