Receptive Speech Delay

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-05-2003
Receptive Speech Delay
Tue, 09-16-2003 - 2:19pm
I just posted this on the speech delay message board- but I thought I would get good info here too...


Hi There-

My 18 month old son was identified yesterday as having a receptive speech delay. Our pediatrician was concerned at our son's 15 month appointment that he was not seeming to understand basic commands and that he could only say mama and dada. She recommended we go to get his hearing checked, which we did (it took 6 weeks to get in to see the doctor). Everything looked great- as far as his hearing was concerned. The ear doctor gave us a number for a reputable speech therapist in the area and we immediately made an appointment (which was four weeks out). Unfortunately the morning of the speech therapist appointment, my son got some sort of stomach virus- so we had to reschedule. Which brings us to yesterday's appointment. After being assessed by two therapists, it was determined that his expressive speech was within normal limits, but his receptive speech was as much as 6 months behind. They told me this was not a "common" speech delay pattern. They recommended that we get him into therapy, two times a week. We started this today. Everyone is hesitant to put a label on him- which is totally understandable. My fear is autism. He has exhibited "odd" behavior from time to time, which we always dismissed as "goofyness". For example, when we go to gym class (where there are lots of balls, hoops, slides, etc... to play with) - he will get into a pattern of running back and forth along one particular wall. Sometimes the instructors chase him- so I am not sure he is wanting to initiate a chase or it is repetitive behavior typical of autism. When we went to the therapy session today, instead of playing with the dollhouse with the therapist- he rather play with the telephone, the doorknob, the pad and pencil the therapist was using... Normal/curious 18 month old behavior- I don't know. He still does not follow basic commands well. But sometimes he does. As far as expressive speech goes- he has a grasp on about a dozen words. Some more recognizable than others...

So anyway, I guess my question is- is it possible to just have a receptive speech delay without any other diagnosis. And if so- what is the prognosis?? Or if any of you have an autistic child- does this sound like typical autistic behavior (or have I been doing too much internet diagnosing).

Any input or experiences that anyone has to share is greatly appreciated. I am a mommy who is worried sick about her baby boy.



iVillage Member
Registered: 09-06-2003
Thu, 09-18-2003 - 6:25am
Welcome Nicole to the Sensory integration Board!

My son also had a receptive speech delay, but is also delayed in expressive speech...I am not sure if it is possible to have a delay without another diagnosis. I was told by my sons speech therapist that most speech problems are helped within 6 months...ask what the speech therapist is seeing in your son after a couple of session(they usually welcome the questions), then they may be able to give you an idea of the time involved in therapy...

For my son it took a month to discover he was apraxic, then his slp gave me a general timeline that is changed as he either improves or plataues...

As a fellow worried mom I understand the anxiety of not knowing...


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Tue, 09-23-2003 - 8:10pm
You have a wonderful pediatrician - my son (now 4) also did not follow directions - couldn't point out his features or follow "head shoulders, knees and toes" and only had 2 words at 18 months - my pediatrician dismissed it as his motor skills were so great and he appeared fine. Finally had his hearing checked - fine - she still wanted to wait 6 months, so I got a new doctor. My advice would be try not to focus on a label, but work on the specific issues - speech - with a therapist. Trust me, a label will surface, and then it could change a few times still. I would call your school districts early intervention to have an assessment and get some hours there. I would also recommend finding a developmental pediatrician. They will evaluate your son and point out other areas to work on. You also may want to have him evaluated by an OT - my son is very active - a sensory seeker and OT really has helped his speech. This is not an easy time, but try not to worry over what could be but focus on what you can do. There is a great book called "The child with Special Needs" by Stanley Greenspan that reviews parenting kids with speech/sensory/developmental delays that really helped me a lot. My son has an auditory processing disorder and SID - but is doing great - still in therapy but also in regular preschool and doing fine.