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My daughter is almost 2 1/2 years old and has been seeing two language/behavior specialists for almost two months. She was put in this program because they think she is delayed in her communications skills. I know for a fact that she has at least a 200 word vocabulary at this point, but most of her words are nouns. She can name things (she can and does point to things and name them, just not always when asked to). Her "requesting" language, or rather lack there of, and her resistance to "doing what she's asked" is what they're focusing on. An example would be, she wants something to drink...instead of asking for a drink she will simply state the name of the item, such as milk. If asked the question "Do you want milk?" she doesn't answer yes or no (I would like to add that we always prompt her with the appropriate response, such as, "do you want juice? Yes. Yes I want juice." or "do you want more? Yes, more." She has picked up "more" and will use it when she wants more, also "help" if she needs help, but not for every situation)she simply says the word or uses non-verbal communication to show that's what she wants. When asked a question with a choice "do you want milk or juice?" She won't use the proper word for what she wants, even though she knows the words. She'll say Milk, when she wants juice or juice when she really wants milk and when you start to give her the wrong item she will get upset. She's also very object focused so if you have something she wants it's incredibly difficult to get her to give eye contact and communicate what she wants rather than focusing on the item and just trying to get it herself. She does imitate, she does play with her toys. Her play has gotten more imaginative over the last few months (she loves to pretend eat with her tea set) where before there was just a lot of organizing being done with her toys (such as lining all her dolls in a row on the floor). She's been staying home with me since she was born and hasn't had a lot of interaction with kids her age on a regular basis until this summer and she will be starting at an early learning center the end of this month. I believe that a lot of her issue is because she hasn't been around other kids that much and also (I'm ashamed to say) she has watched a lot of TV at a young age (she's not a stationary TV watcher though, she was always moving around and imitating things from the movies, words, actions, expressions, etc). I'm inclined to believe that, based on just the improvement I've seen over the last month, with cutting down TV and adding regular visits with play groups, that much of her issues will get even better over the next few months being in a structured learning environment. However, a specialist who saw her once, is recommending that she be evaluated by a panel of professionals to see if a "diagnosis" is necessary. I honestly believe that this kind of a suggestion is premature at best. Based on just the information I have shared here, what would be your thoughts on this?

Answer
Hello Angela,

I would completely agree with you. There is a great deal of growth and development that takes place between ages two and four, and it is not uncommon for two-year-olds to ask in shorthand ways for what they want.
In addition, since two-year-olds strive for autonomy and independence, they may become oppositional about doing what their parents want them to -- such as asking for what they want with appropriate words.
You seem to be prompting in the ways I would recommend, and, at least at times, you should not respond to her request until she uses appropriate words. I think you are right about being with other children; that will lead her to imitate the language used by others and force her to use her language skills to communicate with her peers.
Finally, I would ask: Who does it benefit to put her in a category with a diagnosis? I'm afraid the answer is that it won't benefit your daughter or you to let her be diagnosed. It is certainly far too early to be putting her in disability categories when she will be changing rapidly over the next year or so.

Best,

James Windell  

Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers

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James Windell

Expertise

I can answer questions related to normal child development, disturbed behavior and how to provide appropriate guidance and discipline.

Experience

I've been a clinical psychologist in a juvenile court, worked in school settings, been a child psychotherapist in a private psychiatric clinic and consulted with schools, courts, hospitals and daycare centers.

Organizations
American Psychological Association
Michigan Psychological Association

Publications
I have been a columnist with the Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI) for 21 years writing a weekly column called Coping With Kids, which is also published weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been a mental health columnist with the Detroit Free Press and a columnist for Working Mother Magazine. In addition, I have published articles in professional journals. I have published 16 books, among them are "8 Weeks to a Well-Behaved Child" (IDG Books), "Discipline: A Sourcebook of 50 Failsafe Techniques for Parents" (IDG Books); "Children Who Say No When You Want Them to Say Yes" (IDG Books), "What You Need to Know About Ritalin" (Bantam Books) "6 Steps to an Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers" (John Wiley & Sons), "The Fatherstyle Advantage" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) and "Defusing High Conflict Divorce" (Impact Publishers). My latest parenting book (2012) is "The Everything Child Psychology and Development Book." Articles about my work with parents has appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Sun Times, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. My website at Jimwindell.com includes more information about me, my books and includes many columns I've written.

Education/Credentials
B.A. in Psychology from Wayne State University
M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University

Awards and Honors
Best Educational Program by Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association (National award for the development of a parent training program for parents of delinquent teenagers. Beth Clark Service Award from the Michigan Psychological Association.

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