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Speech Disorders/21 month not combining two-word phrases


Dear Deborah,

My son just turned 21 months. He is bilingual, and we speak both English and Bulgarian to him (more complicated sentences in Bulgarian, then we provide short sentence version in English).

My son has about 40 English words, and 5 Bulgarian at this time. Most words are labeling objects such as cat, dog, moon, etc. He also says 3 verbs: sit, kick, and eat.

Most of his words are shortened...Lion is LA, Moon is Moo,etc. He also says other forms such as Eyes (VVC), Apple (VCCV), Kick (CVC) sometimes. He tries to copy and repeat many words from children's speech DVDs (baby babble videos) and they often come out with first syllable only. He has no problem stringing sounds and he babbles with inflection extensively all day long. He uses all early sounds d,t,b,p,g,k,h,w,l,m and n.

He understands language ok I believe. He can follow many simple commands such as "Stomp your feet", "lay down". He makes distinction between "kick ball" and "give me ball", hence understands some phrases. He can follow *sometimes* two-step commands such as "shake head for no and lay down".
He can identify 11 body parts on request, points at pictures in a book, and responds to What is that? questions

He uses various gestures such as pointing to share interest, shaking head for no, waves bye bye, and claps to praise himself. Copies various body movements. He also points to the object and labels it at the same time. Pretends to talk on the phone, sometimes puts mirror or remote control and "talks" too. Feeds us with toy-cheese and toy-bread, and feeds a doll.

I am very worried that he hasn't combined two-word phrases yet. He seems to have decent amount of words, but he makes no attempt to even copy phrases that we say. Only once or twice he has said "kick kick kick pause ball", and "Sit sit sit pause Down", but this was two weeks ago.In addition, he doesn't use many words to request things...he used to say "dai dai" (give me in Bulgarian), but now he mostly points to what he wants, and cries while staring at us. Granted, he typically wants things that he can't pronounce the word for.

I worry that ASD toddlers label but don't form sentences (he was seen at 17 months, and they found good joint attention, no further testing).
Do you know if Bilingual kids start adding words together later than mono? Does his development sound typical to you, or is he slow/delayed/red flag?

I am giving you my business email give me another week to answer. I just found this now.

I am sorry about the delay. I work with parents and professionals and just got a new grant. Key here is to arm yourself with information about typical developmental sequence of childhood bilingualism.

I would need to know more about his dialectical community, level of exposure and interaction patterns.
Please feel free to email me at
I will provide more direction on the education.

Who labelled him ASD?

Speech Disorders

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Deborah Chitester MS CCC


I can not evaluate a child or person over the computer. I can provide generalities based on my extensive knowledge and expertise in second language acquisition and speech pathology.


Deborah Jill Chitester received her Masters of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Adelphi University in New York and was granted her Certificate of Clinical Competence (C.C.C) by the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA). She has 12 years experience working with all age levels both mono-lingual and Spanish speaking, having received special certification by the State of New York as a Bilingual (English/Spanish) Speech-Language Pathologist. Deborah has worked with all age levels and all disabilities. She began her practice in New York, where she worked with both private patients as well as with the major school systems and corporations. She treats both monolingual and Spanish speaking clients of all ages and disabilities and utilizes some of the latest computer based treatment especially designed to promote optimal language development. Due to the use of her “linguistic features” approach, her client mix is increasingly more culturally linguistically diverse encompassing those representing almost all backgrounds presently comprising Asians, Arabs, Pakistani , etc. Deborah is an advocate of “highest quality service provider” having given many speaking engagements at parent/special interest support groups to inform and educate parents regarding appropriate educational practices for second language learners. One presentation also dealt with the facilitation of literacy instruction particularly reading in the English Language Learner population. She provides professional development in this area both locally and nationally. Lastly, She provides specialized language services for internationally adopted children and provides consultative services for parents concerning the importance of distinguishing second language aspects from true speech and language disorders. In 2007 her first resource guide called Unlocking the Enigma of the Second Language Learner: An Educator and Parental Resource Guide was released. (Llumina Press)

Language magazine Advance Magazine Parents NJ suburban Unlocking the Enigma of the Second Language LEarner

MS Speech Language PAthology CCC-Certificate of Clinical Competence from ASHA Bilingual Extension as a bilingual speech pathologist

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