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I have never been worried about my children's developments. Emmalee was so bright and hit every milestone early. I never had any concern with her. Tyler was the same way, rolling at 3 months, walking at 10 months, I thought for sure he would surpass his sister's abilities because she was there to keep up with. He had to be smarter faster to keep up with her but at 18 months old, he doesn't use words.
Don't get me wrong, he communicates, but doesn't use words. He points, claps, shakes his hands, says "pop!", and has a very distinct "Ehhhh" type screech when he wants something, but he doesn't use words. I wasn't concerned until the doctor mentioned something at his 15 month check up. And then I I convinced myself that I had nothing to worry about because his communication skills are fine, even if he doesn't use words. Why would he need words? He has a 4 year old sister who says everything he would ever need to, so he's getting by just fine. But as we hit, and passed, and the 18th month mark with no new words, I am nervous again.
I was excited when I was contacted by VTech the same week to see if I would be interested in talking with Dr. Lise Eliot, an Early Childhood Mental Development Expert for a blog post. Dr. Lise Eliot is Associate Professor of Neuroscience at The Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science and she received an A.B. degree from Harvard University, a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and did post-doctoral research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She focuses on children’s brain and mental development and has written countless articles and has authored two books.
Of course my first question was what was weighing on my mind.
LE: The most important stimulation any young child receives is verbal--talk to your baby; sing to him; read to him; engage him in "dialogue" even if you are only pretending that his babbles make sense. Your child understands words, even if he cannot say them, and will appreciate the sense of being understood. However, if your child really has no spoken vocabulary at 18 months, you should talk to your pediatrician, who may refer you to a speech therapist.
Because we do this already, it kind of solidified that I really do need to have Tyler evaluated. That 18 month mark seems to be where doctors and experts draw the line so depending on what our doctor says at his next appointment, we will consider an assessment to see if he needs any time of Early Intervention.
I also asked a question regarding Emma.
In this day of pushing children to do everything earlier and earlier, what age range is truly developmentally appropriate for early reading skills?
LE: As always, it depends on the child, but for the average kid, age 5-6 is plenty early to begin formal reading instruction. Before that age, focus on your child's mastery of the alphabet and letter sounds. ABC books are great for this, especially if they have clever pictures that tell a story using many words with the same beginning sound. Rhyming books and songs are also great for teaching letter sounds, so once children start focusing on letter patterns, they will already be familiar with the rhyming sounds they make. You can also look for toys that serve as vocabulary builders, like VTech’s Spinning Lights Learning Hippo, which promote phonics and language development that can help with early reading skills.
It felt really great to hear that although Tyler is struggling with his words, we're on the right track with both him and Emma when it comes to helping push their development. We talk constatntly, push literacy and reading even if they don't know the words and story walk instead, and we use toys that encourage this type of development!
One of our favorite toys is the VTech Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train.
This amazing train works for both kids, to play with! Tyler pushes himself around on it while Emma puts the letter blocks into the talking port where she listens to the letter, the sound, and fun songs. It is the perfect toy to get them learning while playing!Kids can play ten activities while learning letters, numbers, colors and more
The train helps build motor skills with six manipulative features including a storybook, clock, gears and 13 double-sided letter blocks that little ones can plug into the side of the train to learn letters and build their vocabulary
When little conductors get older, the caboose converts into a wagon they can fill with toys and pull along to develop gross motor skills!
If they didn't have it already, we'd be asking Santa for it so we're going to play Santa and let one of our lucky readers win one!
Open to US readers, winner will be notified on December 5th and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.