Dear Aunt Juniper,

I’m really concerned about my Grandson’s speech.  He doesn’t seem to be on a par with his peers and is barely making any recognisable sounds. He’s 2 and his little friends are starting to chatter, but he stays silent.

He can follow instructions so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his hearing, he just doesn’t try to form any words.

He makes sounds when he cries and laughs so there’s nothing physically wrong with him. I’m just worried that he’s not making any attempt to communicate.

What should I do?

From, Worried Grandma.

Dear Worried Grandma,

There are many ways to help your child at home to improve their language.  Here are some top tips.  

Use eye contact – Before you speak to your child, make sure you have their eye contact, Face your child and bend down to their level.  

Wait for signals: Give your child a chance to initiate communication by pointing, pushing, looking and reaching or even using a noise or word.  You can respond to their message, teaching your child about communication e.g. when looking at a book, wait for a signal before turning the page or talk about the picture.

Offer choices: Always offer choices, even when you know what your child wants.  This gives a chance for your child to communicate what they want or need by pointing, reaching, looking. Hold out both items for your child to choose.

Use gestures as well as words to help your child understand.

Use routines.  Using the usual routines of the day to encourage talking will help you child learn phrases to go with different situations e.g. Bath time “wash your face”, “out you come”.

Repeat : Respond to your child’s speech, repeat what they have said as if agreeing with them

Expand: What your child says by adding another piece of information, e.g. child “egg”.  You: ” Yes, BIG egg”.

Make sounds: Look at pictures together and make the sounds that go with them.

Play games: Encourage your child to play games that are like real life, e.g. making tea, feeding the teddy. This provides the best time for talking. Ready steady go games and games that you need to take turns will help develop his/her communication skills.

Don’t ask to many questions: Try not to ask too many questions e.g. ‘what’s that?’.  It’s more helpful to name things as your child looks at them. offers plenty of useful information about speech, language and communication development.  Any questions please contact your local SALT advice clinic.

 I know there are a lot of top tips but they do work!

 If you have any major concerns after trying these, I would advice you bring your grandson to one of our advice clinics. That way you can talk to the therapist about your concerns. You may then be offered a follow up appointment, or be asked to come back in a few months.

 Best of luck and try not to panic.

 Lots of Love,

 Aunt Juniper* xx


*On this occasion,  Aunt Juniper was Bernadette Workman, a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant for Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust.

She has been working in the job for 7 years and works primarily with children who are deaf and under 5’s with complex needs. She is also mum to a toddler.


‘My middle child’s speech didn’t come at all. I had to battle all the way to get hearing tests and a referral to SALT. In the end they confirmed what we suspected – that he had glue ear and profoundly inhibited hearing. We then had to battle to get him grommets, which he had last year at the age of 3. We weren’t offered any help from SALT afterwards but fortunately his speech just exploded. If we hadn’t have pushed it, we wouldn’t have got anywhere as we were just led to believe he was slow to develop. We’ve now changed area and my daughter had a proper two-year check with a home visit (my son just had a questionnaire for me to fill in). Speech was brought up by the HV and we were given advice on helping her develop.’


‘My little one was referred to a local speech/language therapist by her pediatrician at the age of 2 as he felt she wasn’t saying as many words as she should and wanted to get her on the waiting list (it is very long!!) I’m not confident that the Health Visitors are as on the ball with speech/language as they should be – they usually refer the parents who are concerned to a drop in clinic where there are specialists who then refer to a speech/language therapist if they feel there is delayed speech, but there is very little information and awareness to help parents but a lot once you are in the system.’


‘I was told that my son was delayed because he had an older brother, then I was told that I should make sure I talked to him. That pushed me over the edge as I’ve always spoken, read and sung to my kids. I also was going to play groups etc. He was only referred to SALT by Kaleidoscope after I stamped my feet to get some help from the GP. The SALT was 6 sessions. We had to wait ages then a huge gap till the next lot. SALT services are under a huge amount of pressure. Cuts to services mean they can’t help as much as they would like to.’


‘It took 3 months from my sit-in with the GP (apparently I was just being over anxious!) to seeing a paediatrician, then months later to see SALT. Portage were great. And started us on PECS.’


‘You don’t get a 2 yr check unless you ask for it. HV gave me a lecture on obesity when I’d gone in to tell her that my son was losing weight!?! I changed to another HV and told her that my boy wasn’t even doing ”babababa” or “dadada” he only screamed. But I was told he’d get it eventually, it because he has an older brother, etc. etc. etc!! By the way, he has severe speech and communication difficulties.’


‘In case anyone wants to access drop in speech therapy clinics:…/childrens-speech-and-language-/


‘We’re in Orpington and my son just turned 2. He has his own language and has been talking in “sentences” for ages now. At the one-year-check we were asked about his words and all was deemed fine. We went to a s&l drop in session a few months ago as we had minor concerns about his hearing (glue ear) and were referred to audiology, though the therapist wasn’t concerned as his communication was good. We were given some handouts with tips about repetition, praising then repeating the correct word when they try rather than correcting etc. Audiology test revealed no problems. We just had his 2 year review and they have a new test (which they are still getting to grips with) that has a scoring system, with total marks shown in white (fine), grey (watch) and black (concerned) for areas such communication, gross motor, fine motor and personal / social. As my son got white for communication we weren’t really allowed a referral but after the Health Visitor talked to a speech and language colleague we have a referral.’


‘Boys always take a little longer than girls unfortunately. He is still young and it may just take time for him to get there.’


‘I accessed a speech therapist via my daughter’s pediatrician. The HV was entirely ineffective and inefficient, and we have not had a 2-year check.’


‘I’m sure he’s fine but if you want to check take a look at the TAMBA website as they give free sessions with experts for members.’


‘My son had a stutter at 2 and we took him to kaleidoscope. They advised it was very common and nothing to worry about at this stage. He’s grown out of it now and his speech is advanced. I think his head just had more in it than he was able to verbalise and once his mouth caught up with his brain it was all ok.’


‘No harm taking him for some advice and reassurance though as they were lovely.’


‘Most children’s centres have drop in Speech and Language therapy sessions. They’re only held once a month. They assess your child & give you advise or refer you for further sessions. If you’re worried, might be worth a visit. It could just be that they’re developing at a different rate.’


‘The Talking Point website has a useful guide to 2-3 year old speech and language development. ‪’


‘Are you in Lewisham borough if so go to one of their drop in sessions:’


‘Honestly,having had a child who was very deaf for the first five years with glue war without anybody knowing…. my advice would be to get his hearing checked straightaway, better to know earlier rather than as late as we did.’


‘I would seek advice if you’re concerned – but I do think all babies/toddlers develop at different rates – I remember my nephew barely saying anything (except “car!”) at 2, then chattering away like he’d been speaking forever by 2.5.’


‘I’ve just seen a health visitor with my 2 year 4 month old for a routine check and I bought up speech as my little girl is often impossible to understand. She can say individual words but when putting a sentence together she seems to speak her own language. Apparently nothing to worry about. She will develop in her own time. I had a stutter when I was little apparently but I don’t now!’


‘Having had an early talker, when my 2nd daughter didn’t speak at 2 I was worried about her hearing. Got the GP to refer me to Kaleidoscope Centre in Catford (had heard it was brilliant). They were amazing, and kept her on their books even after I’d realised she was fine. Now she’s 4 and babbling away non stop we can barely believe that we were ever worried about her speech!’


‘I think it never hurts to get it looked at. Sometimes there can be underlying issues that are impacting speech, sometimes it’s just the child getting their oral motor skills up to speed and they’ll be talking in no time. Best to get it checked to give you peace of mind.’


Note: These are suggestions from members of Mummy’s Gin Fund based on experience and should not be treated as official advice. Any action taken is at your own risk. Always seek professional advice if you have any questions or concerns about any aspect of your life.

Always consult NHS 111, your GP, health visitor or A&E for professional medical advice.





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