What to Do When Your Already Verbal Toddler Stops Talking – Dealing with Selective Mutism

Real and perceived speech delays are not uncommon in babies and toddlers. In fact as many of 10% of all children suffer from a voice, speech or swallowing disorder that they may later overcome. Addressing the needs of a child with speech delays early on, while challenging, is still less traumatic than facing a child who is already well on their way to full speech and suddenly stops talking.

Surprisingly, this scenario is far more common than you may imagine. We frequently get questions from parents who are startled when their little ones suddenly stop speaking both at home and in social settings.

Once the pediatrician and audiologist have excluded auditory issues, as well as other potential scenarios like autism spectrum, it may be wise to explore the possibility of selective mutism. Selective mutism is a complex and difficult-to-diagnose condition where the toddler or child only speaks in certain settings. The condition is often tied to anxiety and social phobia and appears to have a genetic element. Selective mutism may take place only at school or in social settings, and in some instances, it is associated to fear, triggered by a person within the household. To be clear, selective mutism is not the same as traumatic mutism.

If your toddler has been diagnosed with selective mutism, there are many options you can explore to help your toddler embrace speech once again. Early intervention is key.

In addition to appropriate diagnostics, your toddler may benefit from the following:

  • Reduced environmental stress
  • Increased engagement in zones of comfort
  • Play therapy
  • Alternative communication such as pointing boards or baby sign language
  • Frequent socialization
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Medication

If you have just received a diagnosis of selective mutism, we encourage you to become familiar with our baby sign language materials specifically designed for toddlers. Through music, clear real-life images, and simple directions, our resources can quickly provide a toddler facing SM an emotionally accessible tool to communicate what matters most to him.

 

87 Responses to “What to Do When Your Already Verbal Toddler Stops Talking – Dealing with Selective Mutism”

  1. Ted D

    My son regressed almost at the time his sister was born at 14 months. He used to say words we’d ask him to repeat: “papa, mama, dada, etc”. He is 20 months now and he only says words when he feels like it. “Dada, shoes, nose, sticky” (he can probably say up to 10 words, but not at one’s command). He still does gestures and some commands such as “bye, hi, blow a kiss,” etc. He plays with other kids and acknowledges people around him, but we are not ruling out a possible spectrum. He has improved dramatically in day care (1 week ago) and has no problem adapting to new environments and routine (sleeping with other toddlers, weened off pacifier in 1 day). He just had his hearing exam and he passed that.

    Reply
  2. Barbara

    Hello,
    I am a kindergarten teacher and have a child in my group, who appears to have SM. He speaks perfectly at home, but not at the kindergarten. Also, he doesn’t eat or use the toilet at the kindergarten. I have read a lot about Selective Mutism, in order to be able to help him feel more comfortable. What I don’t understand is, he was speaking at his old kindergarten and suddenly stopped. Could that be connected to trauma? Or is it possible that Selective Mutism appears suddenly? I’ve mainly read about it occurring when the child enters a new social environment for the first time. So, I would assume that the child wouldn’t speak at the kindergarten from the first day on, which is not the case here. The child communicates nonverbally with peers and teachers and also makes sounds. I would really appreciate your opinion and advice on this matter.
    Thank you,
    Barbara

    Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi Barbara, Sorry to hear about this young boy. He may have experienced a trauma at his *old* kindergarten, and the fact that the new kindergarten is a different environment may not erase the negative association (as he may still understand that the setting is similar, due to the similar set up, activities, kids and teachers, etc.). Or, is it possible that something/someone may have traumatized him at the current kindergarten? It may be best for you to approach his parent(s)/guardian(s) about this. If this isn’t SM, it could be traumatic mutism as you had also surmised. Lastly, the parent(s)/guardian(s) may consider the possibility of autism. Talk things through so you and the guardian(s) can come up with the best solution for this boy. Best of luck.

      Reply
  3. Masha

    Hi. My toddler is 17 months, she is my third child (brother is 13 years and sister is 11 years old). She started saying her first words at around a year old. She would say “hello”, “am am” (for food) “no”, “Silly” (our cat’s name). She would say one word for maybe two weeks constantly, then changed to another. Now she won’t say anything; maybe if she falls and gets hurt, she will say “no no” (no idea why), but mostly she just takes my hand and puts it on whatever object she wants. If she’s hungry, she takes me to her high chair, which is where she normally eats.
    The thing is, I speak to her in Slovenian, her dad in Mallorquin (a Spanish dialect), everyone else in Spanish and the TV and music is normally in English. I know she will be a late talker, but I have no idea why she stopped saying the words she already knew.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hakim

      Sorry to hear that. I’m here because I have the same problem as yours; my son (when he reached the age between 18 to 20 months) suddenly stopped saying the words he’d been saying before.
      The only word he clearly says is NO. Please, if you have any news, get in touch. Thanks.

      Reply
    • Kirstie

      This is almost word for word exactly what we’re experiencing. My son at 18 months could say a variety of words most of the time (tree, cheese, kitty, done, mama) but like yours, would say one word for a week or so, then just drop it and on to the next (words like grandpa). Then one day, around 18-19 months old, he just stopped all together and will only pull our hand for what he wants. It’s been a few weeks and (also!) all he will say is “no”. It’s unsettling to say the least but comforting that I found another parent who is experiencing almost an identical situation. Has it changed at all?

      Reply
      • Paulina

        This is what my son is like. He was saying around 50 words at 18 months, which was a great indicator his speech was developing normally. Then out of the blue (cannot think of a situation that would have been traumatic for him around that time – although we were preparing to move to another country when he stopped talking, so maybe he felt the situation was stressful?), he just stopped talking. He just says mommy and daddy and grabs my hand and puts it on something he wants, like a drink, snack, and to get me to reach something that is high. Now he is 32 months and just started preschool. He is about to take part in the preschool’s speech therapy program and I have booked an appointment to see our family doctor next week, too. Has anyone got any further with their kids’ speech? Have they started talking again? Were they diagnosed with anything?

        Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi Masha, As you may have read in this article, there are several factors that contribute to a child’s selective mutism. Other factors could be excessive (TV, tablet) screen time, which has shown speech delays in some children who have been studied. At 17 months (actually, between 0-8 years), children are primed to pick up not just one but several languages they are naturally exposed to. It is not supposed to be an issue that your child is exposed to Slovenian, English, Mallorquin, and other Spanish dialects. Keep talking to your toddler in your preferred language, and supplement your speech with BSL, so that your child learns in two modalities. If she still does not talk as time passes, it may be best for you to consult her pediatrician and audiologist. There may be other factors causing her mutism. Best of luck.

      Reply
  4. Noella

    I have a grandson who is scared to go in the water and to have his haircut. He is 5 and doesn’t talk – just a few words here and there.

    Reply
  5. Grace

    My daughter is 34 months now. She started first words around one year of age but she stopped talking all together when she was 32 months. She was able to speak many words and phrases before she stopped talking. She is scared of the tree in the front yard and wants to close the curtains all the time. She is also afraid of the washer and dryer at home. Now she could only point at things with mmm sounds. She is not able to produce any vowels and consonants. Her doctor thought it could be autism because she did not make much eye contact with us. However, I heard that autism with language regression usually happened earlier than 2 years of age with fewer words, so I am wondering if this could be selective mutism related to her phobia. Any parents had similar situation please share your thoughts and experience. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Donna Hornsby

      Hi I’m Currently going through the same situation. I’m struggling to understand how my lively little boy who I was told was above average with speech all of a sudden doesn’t talk . From saying all his alphabet, colours, counting to 20, and knowing his shapes and animals to now only saying mummy, daddy, cow, tractor, and elephant. It’s so heartbreaking and confusing. I’m constantly googling to try come up with answers. He’s having stay and play sessions to try get him interacting and been referred to speech therapy and also specialist at hospital to check his ears. He also is scared of things all of a sudden: balloons and any kind of noise. I hope we both get some answers soon. Best wishes x

      Reply
      • UGueray

        Hi Grace, hi Donna,

        We have a 4,5 year old son, and it sounds like we are going through some of the same issues. He used to be very, very verbal, but he stopped talking altogether last year in June when he was 3.5. We have been to a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, we are going to get him tested for autism, etc. I know it is heart breaking. We were told by our psychiatrist that children can go through trauma even when there are no evident external factors. I think with the pandemic, it is understandable that some children decide to revert to an earlier stage in their lives. It is the not knowing what is going on that makes it so hard. I wish you all much strength.

        Reply
        • Grace

          Hi Donna and UGueray,

          Thank you so much for sharing your heartbreaking stories. My daughter has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder recently by a psychologist. The psychologist stated that it was not selective mutism which was an anxiety related disorder. Now she is on the waiting list for speech language therapist and occupational therapist. I understand how hard it is to face the language regression for our little ones, and I hope your boys could get answers soon! With warmest wishes.

          Reply
          • Donna Hornsby

            Hi, thanks for you’re reply. Just an update: we’ve been referred to an autism specialist and to speech and language therapy, also to a child psychiatrist. My son has now started to repeat words that we say, and sometimes if he hears them on TV, he says them. These are fairly big words: screwdriver, strawberry, excavator, etc. But worryingly, he’s now started to stare at a certain point on our settee, and he’s also making high-pitch noises and clapping his hands frequently, also running around in circles and pacing. I hope everyone is well and getting the help and support needed. x

  6. Trishia

    Short article but with good reminders. Our kid was dx’d with autism; we don’t doubt he has it, but he was talking at his level and even showing progress beyond most kids his age. We think he went through trauma when watched by a family member (that we later discovered had hidden mental issues we didn’t comprehend back then). Also just a stressful environment at that time, and I was one of the only people trying to coax him to keep talking. He went to a small school for ASD after and unfortunately, this exposed him to worse behavior and he also started talking less (as with most schools, this one was very much about “quiet time” throughout the day with very few periods of making sounds. If they sang wrong, they were told “no” very sternly, I noticed. Etc.) Not conducive to kids with trouble adjusting. I think it was the last nail in the coffin. Now he’s 9, as we have had a better home environment and more people have been talking with him that he knows well, he’s started to talk more often and with more people but it’s still only a few words a day typically. I can’t shake the frustration of why he was so good at communicating when a toddler and how it stopped so abruptly. I’m so sad that his speech therapists have never thought to mention Selective Mutism (IDK if they know about it), he’s deemed “severe” on the spectrum yet he does many grade-level tasks, he has some possible ASD symptoms but the biggest ones – NO. (Never had issues with desiring play with other kids; just was treated poorly so naturally became “shy” but still tries to interact regularly, never had an issue with eye contact, never lined up objects….). He stims, he also was exposed from 2 years old to other children that stimmed before he started to. He never pointed and he stopped talking are the two main factors for why he was dx’d. I don’t know if it was a misdiagnosis. But I definitely am hopeful that we can help him heal from past trauma and possibly start talking regularly, with confidence if it is related to SM. I really wish there was more awareness about this in the ASD community, especially and among speech therapists.

    Reply
  7. Atif Khawaja

    Hello,
    Our child is 4.5 years old. Till 4 years of age, she was slowly speaking up. She used to tell color names when pointing at things, Numbers 1 to 20, Alphabets A to Z, and name her cartoons and toys. She even started saying Mommy and Daddy, but suddenly she stopped speaking and it’s been 6 months now. She’s not saying any word. Now if I point to something and ask her about the color, she smiles, points at the thing, but doesn’t says the word. We are helpless at the moment.

    Reply
    • Trishia

      I hope you get help from a child psychologist, and that she is not misdiagnosed with autism (assuming she doesn’t show other signs of this). They can ask questions you’ve never thought of, that you can be unsure of, especially when your child isn’t answering for themselves. It’s okay to say “I don’t know” when a psychology screening happens. Definitely, remember to mention the possibility of Selective Mutism. Even if it was caused by trauma (which it may be, even if it seems atraumatic to an adult…), they need to treat the child for the traumatic event(s). I know personally it has been very difficult to open up to people about how stressful and unhealthy our home-environment was, the guilt that we possibly let our child be abused by a family member (unknowingly, though I had a feeling they were “off”…). Things like that are scary to think about in general (not that it’s in your case), to admit problems can be scary feeling you will be questioned as a parent, but the system is in place to help people. We have seen firsthand many times some people that have actually done bad things on purpose as parents because they are mentally ill and the system doesn’t punish them, it helps them and their kids get more help. Just in case there’s any level of fear in that form for anyone reading this. I hope for the best.

      Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Sorry to hear that, Atif. There are many factors that could cause selective mutism in children — add to that, the unbelievable stress that many families throughout the world are undergoing now due to the pandemic. If you can contact your child’s pediatrician and/or audiologist to share what’s been going on, you may get the assistance and specific action plan that your child needs. Best of luck.

      Reply
      • Keri Odom

        My 2.5 year old twin has talked constantly and is very advanced for her age. She has recently stopped talking and if she does talk, it is almost like baby talk when we know she is able to actually say the words and say them well. Her twin sister has never been the vocal one and she is talking more now that her sister has stopped. Have you ever heard or seen this?

        Reply
        • Baby Sign Language Administrator

          Hi Keri, I’ve personally never heard of such a case till now. Is there anything different in the environments your twins are regularly exposed to? Is the quiet twin now, for instance, more drawn to cartoons or games on a tablet than the more talkative twin? It’s also possible that each individual personality is crystalizing now that they’ve gotten older, that is, one twin could be more introverted than the other. Just keep observing your twins. And take advantage of teaching them using BSL. Cheers.

          Reply
  8. Hadiza Aliyu

    Hi. My 3 year-old preschooler, who likes to talk at home and in Creche, suddenly stopped talking once she arrives the Creche premises. This started a month ago and I came to realize there’s a child in her class who doesn’t talk but points and nods (as she does now). What can I do to get her to talk as she’s been doing? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi Hadiza, Sounds like your preschooler really identifies with that Creche mate of hers. You may need to enlist the help of the primary and assistant Creche managers who interface with your daughter and the other child. You may also need to positively reinforce that nodding and pointing to the desired object are okay — but couple that with enunciating the words as well. This may create the necessary mental connection to your daughter that it’s not an either-or situation for communication here. All modalities are welcome. Good luck.

      Reply
  9. Wandi

    Hi my son was saying few words when he was 18 months but at 2 years he just stopped talking, he likes to close his ears when there is a lot of noise, I am now worried please help me

    Reply
    • Nicole Zeigler

      Has he been tested for Autism? 30% to 40% of Autism cases are regressive where some where between 15 months and 2 to 2 1/2 years old, they regress, losing skills and speech. We have a non-verbal autistic son, that’s why I am asking.

      Reply
      • Mohit Arora

        Will you please share your experience with us? My 3.5 year old boy is normal till he turned 3 years old. now he’s stopped talking and following our commands. We need your help.
        My email id is [email protected]
        WhatsApp +917743096874

        Reply
    • Angela

      Hello, my 21-month old was saying words like Momma, Dada, ball, Bella (our dog’s name), and Pap for papaw at 12 months. But since turning 13 months, he only points to things and makes the “mmmm” sound. He didn’t start walking until 15 months. He shakes his head for “yes” or “no” correctly to questions asked, points to what he wants or where he wants us to go, understands when we say bedtime, naptime, bath time, etc. He can also whistle since 18 months when we ask him to; we heard him doing that one day, and he understands what we are asking him to do. But he just has stopped saying any words. Sometimes he will try to say Momma, Dada, but does not sound the exact same, as well as trying to say Pap. He mouths Pap, but there’s no sound. He also waves bye-bye when we are leaving someone’s home or they are leaving ours. Our pediatrician was sending him to a speech therapist, but insurance will not cover at this time. We are so worried about him. He does show one sign that we have read about autism and that is flapping his hands often whether he is scared, excited, or sometimes even just playing. We would love to get some answers on how to get him talking again. Thank you.

      Reply
      • Baby Sign Language Administrator

        Hi Angela, Sorry to hear about this seeming regression of your son’s, as well as the lack of insurance coverage for his speech therapist. We would suggest to you what we have shared with the other parents here: please continue to try using baby sign language with your child, while articulating the most common words you had mentioned above, as well as other everyday words you would naturally use with any other child at home. Since you have mentioned the possibility of autism, I encourage you to continue reading more into this spectrum, its symptoms, as well as the kind of support that parents, siblings, and other guardians or relatives at home or in the child’s immediate environment can give. Eventually, when life normalizes around or beyond this pandemic, we’d advise you to find a way to see an audiologist for your son, in addition to autism specialists, if applicable. Take care.

        Reply
    • Jeff Newman

      Hi, my nephew was saying “mum”, “dad”, at about a year old, But then his mum had another baby and he wouldn’t go near his mum for about two months. He doesn’t interact with his sister and we are now 14 months on,but the most concerning thing is he hasn’t said a word since. He is now 29 months old.

      Reply
      • Baby Sign Language Administrator

        Hi Jeff, Sorry to hear that. Sounds like your nephew may have issues of jealousy over the new baby, but there could be other reasons or factors contributing to his seeming selective mutism. Have your nephew’s parents talked to their pediatrician or son’s audiologist yet? I believe such things can be arranged now online due to the pandemic, if safety is a concern. Best of luck.

        Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi Wandi, Sounds like your son is deeply bothered by the noise, and his stress response appears to be selective mutism, based on what you’ve stated. Please consult your son’s pediatrician about this as soon as possible. With the pandemic, it’s best to reach out to your doctor online. Best of luck.

      Reply
  10. Nadia

    Hi! My 2.5 year old son doesn’t talk to me anymore. He used to say the words brother, sister, mama, papa, but now he is not talking anymore to anyone. What to do?

    Reply
    • suranga

      Hi! My son has said more than 15 words such as “mom”, “dad”, “brother”, “sister”, “granny”, “birds”, etc. When he required water and milk from my wife, he asked for them. But now suddenly he has stopped talking. At present, he says a few words, like requesting milk and water only. Please help me to solve the problem.

      Reply
      • Baby Sign Language Administrator

        Hi Suranga, Sorry to hear that. Have you seen your son’s pediatrician recently? Maybe you can consult with them even online?

        Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi Nadia, Thanks for stopping by. As we advised the other parents here, please feel free to use BSL with your son while also consulting his pediatrician and audiologist about his speaking hesitation. Best of luck!

      Reply
  11. lilly

    Hi, My baby talked at a very early age of 5 mos., then when he was 13 mos. old, he just stopped! He is now 16 mos., and I am very stressed and worried. I have tried to get an appointment with his doctor, but due to COVID, he will not see him. Please help, I don’t know what to do!

    Haven’t slept properly in weeks, feel so stressed.

    Reply
    • Fifi

      Hi, Lilly. How was your son? What did his doctor say? I have same problem like your son with my baby; can you tell me what did they say, please? Thank you.

      Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi Lily,

      Sorry to hear about the stress of it all. As we advised the other parents here, please feel free to use BSL with your son while also consulting his pediatrician and audiologist about his speaking hesitation. If your doctor refuses to have a visit in person, try to negotiate a virtual consultation: Face Time, Viber, Zoom, or Skype should do the trick. Of course, it’s best if your son is with you on cam. Best of luck!

      Reply
  12. Navilda

    My son is 2 1/2 years old. He was very talkative before, but after a recent comeback from a trip, he has suddenly stopped talking; he doesn’t even ask for water. He used to watch a lot of TV back in the US, though now we have completely stopped that. Is this a reason for worry?

    Reply
    • Navlida

      He also used to say if he wanted to drink water, but know he just grabs my hand and lets me follow him to the refrigerator, and then I gave him water. Now he just doesn’t talk but screams if he is happy or tries to talk, but till now he can’t talk.

      Reply
      • Anuradha

        My kid is also doing the same. He was talking till 9 months and doesn’t say anything now. Either he screams or will only say A and C.

        Reply
    • Lynne Pharis

      I am 72 and I had been told that I had been talking as a baby but then for a year stopped talking and just pointed to what I wanted (assume this is age 1ish to 2ish). My mother said when I started talking again I called my father Dick, his name, instead off Daddy or whatever I had used before. It sounds like what you are describing as selective mutism. That 1st year of my life we moved from Miami where I was born, to Staten Island, to Baltimore, to Hopkinsville for a few weeks, and then to Seattle where we lived 5 years. (My father was in the service). Would the moving have triggered it? I don’t remember being traumatized, and I have recall of events as a baby (getting a bath in the kitchen sink and looking out the kitchen window laughing).

      Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi Navilda, It sounds like the trip to (or back from) the US impacted your son somehow. As we’ve advised other parents here, it’s probably best to consult your pediatrician, as your son’s quiet turn involves losing interest in drinking water. You need to have this addressed right away as it may involve your toddler’s physical, not just emotional, well-being.

      Reply
  13. Altina

    Hi. My toddler is 33 months old. In the last 2 weeks, he’s been more quiet and does not respond when I call him. He responds only when it’s something that interests him, for example: “Do you want to run with Mum?” He says, “Yeah,” with joy. But if I say, “Do you want to eat?” he does not respond, and he wasn’t like this before. He was so happy and wanted to talk to me all the time. Now it’s not the case. I also have a 4-month-old baby, and these last 4 months, we placed him in front of the TV a lot, and now that I’ve stopped him from watching TV, I do not now how to win his interest again.

    Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi Altina, It sounds like you have two problems here. For your 2-year old, it’s probably best to consult your pediatrician, as your son’s quiet turn involves losing interest in eating, not just certain activities. You need to have this addressed right away as it may involve your toddler’s physical as well as psycho-emotional well-being. As for your 4-month old, it’s not too late to get him interested in toys that require a lot of manipulation, or that are very colorful or make music or other sounds. It is also best to keep him away from TV and games on gadgets — as such devices provide over-stimulation of the senses and not enough physical activity. When it comes to your children’s development, the “old school” way is still best: get them active with exercise, educational toys, and play time with Mum and Dad. Of course, if you can make the time to read stories to your boys, that’s an excellent bonding activity, too.

      Reply
  14. Carolina

    Hello,
    My daughter (14 months) has learned to say a little over ten words.(mom,dad,outside,please etc) a lot of which are surprising. For the last two days she has not said anyone of them. When I ask if she can repeat after me all she says is “bababababab”. Nothing else.

    Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi Carolina, I wouldn’t worry if it’s just a two-day hiatus from speaking. Keep observing your daughter in the following days/weeks. Use our BSL and try to make teaching your daughter the signs fun along with enunciating the old words she already knows, along with new words. Keep using BSL but also see your daughter’s pediatrician about this issue if it persists. The doctor may then recommend an audiologist for your daughter. Best of luck.

      Reply
      • Udo

        My daughter’s case is similar with Allison’s daughters case. She’s 2 and half and she just stopped talking all of a sudden.

        Reply
  15. Allison

    My daughter is 2 1/2 and was speaking just fine to our family, neighbors and all of her friends and teachers at daycare. It’s like a switch flipped about 2-3 weeks ago for no apparent reason, and will only talk to our immediate family. She will no longer speak to our friends, neighbors, teachers, etc. and just looks away/pouts any time someone tries to talk to her. Is this normal? Is it just a toddler phase? Do we need to reach out to her doctor regarding this issue?

    Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Sorry to hear that, Allison. Please schedule a checkup with your daughter’s pediatrician, who can recommend an audiologist for her. Also, talk to your daughter’s daycare specialist. While things appear okay on the surface, there may be details and interactions you aren’t privy to. Your daughter may have witnessed or experienced something at daycare, which has led to this reticence outside the family circle.

      Reply
  16. Faith

    My 3 year old son started talking and could count numbers but he just stopped talking and point at things he wants

    Reply
    • Kedibone

      Same story. My son is 3 and he just stopped talking. It’s been 3 weeks. I’m very worried.

      Reply
      • Baby Sign Language Administrator

        Sorry to hear that. Have you seen your son’s pediatrician recently? Maybe you can consult with them even online?

        Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi Faith, Thanks for stopping by. As we advised the other parents here, please feel free to use BSL with your son while also consulting his pediatrician and audiologist about his speaking hesitation. Best of luck!

      Reply
  17. Lilian

    Hi. My daughter was saying a few words, then recently she stopped; she is not learning or saying the words she knew before. She is 2 years old now.

    Reply
    • James

      My son was talking and counting numbers, but he suddenly stopped. He is now 3 years old. Help me please with what I can do about it?

      Reply
      • Baby Sign Language Administrator

        Hi James, Sorry to hear that. As we advised the other parents here, please feel free to use BSL with your son while also consulting his pediatrician and audiologist about his sudden speaking hesitation. You will likely be asked about any changes in your son’s environment, daily routine, and/or regular people he interacts with that may have contributed somehow to this situation. Best of luck.

        Reply
        • Ann Jace

          My daughter is worried about her little girl; she’s five years old and she just stopped talking. Her mom’s very worried about her. Please tell me what to do.

          Reply
          • Baby Sign Language Administrator

            Hi Ann, Sorry to hear that. As we advised the other parents here, please feel free to encourage your daughter to use BSL with your granddaughter — in addition to consulting her pediatrician and audiologist about her sudden speaking hesitation. You/Your daughter will likely be asked about any changes in your granddaughter’s environment, daily routine, and/or regular people she interacts with that may have contributed somehow to this situation. Best of luck.

    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi Lilian, Sorry to hear that. Try our baby sign language with her. At the same time, you may want to consult with your daughter’s pediatrician about this, who may then recommend a good audiologist.

      Reply
  18. Christy

    Hi,
    My son had been saying words like “thank you, you’re welcome, daddy, ” and even sibling names and a few other things from before 1 year old. At 23 mths old he travelled with my husband and his siblings to join me in the UK. It was a very traumatic flight as their flight was cancelled for 2 days consecutively and his routine (eating, sleep) was thrown off balance. He’s just been humming since he arrived, won’t answer his name alot, says gibberish and whispers occasionally. He’s very good with phones and tablets and plays with his siblings but gets upset easily. It’s been 2 months now…..

    Reply
  19. Hamad

    My daughter at 8 months knew few words like “papa, mama, brother, nana.” But when she went to Norway for 4 months and I visited her there, she only says mama now and stopped responding to her name. She is very attached to me but doesn’t say papa anymore which was her first word. Any advice?

    Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi Hamad,

      Children need constant exposure to the sounds of words that they learn, as well as the people and objects these words represent. So if she hadn’t seen you for 4 months straight, it’s little surprise that she stopped saying “papa” and other words. If you are still apart from her now, you can initiate video calls through her mother, so she can continue to see and hear you as she grows older. Through the call, you can have her repeat “papa” to you. Also, keep saying her name so that she relates to both the sound of her name and the association to you.

      Reply
  20. Linden

    My grandson started saying Dada and Mama when he was about 9 months. He stopped soon after that. I’m convinced his mother’s neglect and abuse had something to do with it. She was caught choking him by my son and he now has full custody. I just don’t know how to help him. He’s three now and he’s so smart. He just doesn’t speak. I don’t know how to help him.

    Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Linden, I’m so sorry to hear about your grandson’s trauma. Clearly, aside from the love and protection given to him by your son and you, he needs professional help. Please have your son schedule checkups with your grandson’s pediatrician and audiologist, if this isn’t being done already.

      Reply
  21. Onayimi

    Thank you so much for putting this up here.

    I have been so worried about my 27-month-old son. He started saying a few words at about 20 months and all of a sudden, he wouldn’t say those words anymore. When he speaks, he whispers. He is not learning new words and not using the ones that he already knows. I know he started talking late, but I wasn’t concerned because his siblings started speaking around the same age, and picked up very quickly.

    Nothing has changed in his routine. He was born in Canada and started pre-school at 17 months. He seems happy at his daycare and plays with other kids. He has 2 older siblings and plays with them at home, but instead of speaking when he needs things, he points and cries.

    Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Sorry to hear that, Onayimi. Please schedule a checkup with your son’s pediatrician, who can recommend an audiologist for your son. Also, talk to your son’s daycare specialist. While things appear okay on the surface, there may be details and interactions you aren’t privy to. Your son may be mirroring the pointing and crying of other kids in his daycare, particularly if he has developed an attachment to said kids.

      Reply
  22. Ijeoma

    My son started going to school back in Nigeria at 1 year and 2 months then started saying some few words. But we relocated to the United States and stopped talking. Says cartoon only occasionally. He’s 2 years and 1 month now.

    Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hello,

      I’m sorry to hear that. From your description, it sounds like the relocation was the major stressor that induced selective mutism in your son. Please do try baby sign language with him. At the same time, please consult his pediatrician and audiologist, if you haven’t already done so. Best of luck.

      Reply
  23. M

    Hi,

    My daughter just turned 1 last week. She would speak a few words starting at 9 months of age. But she has suddenly stopped speaking; she speaks the words she knows already sometimes, but she is quiet most of the time and just points at things or talks to us with “ugghh”, and only speaks words she knows rarely. Not learning new words, either. Is it a sign to worry about?

    Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi M, If your daughter is still uttering a few words (though rarely, as you had said), just keep encouraging her some more. Keep uttering the most common words in her daily routine, as well as teaching her baby sign language. If she stops talking altogether, it may be best for you to seek the advice of her pediatrician and audiologist.

      Reply
  24. Valerie Hundley

    Hi my grandson is 20 months old. He was saying Daddy and Mama, but stopped talking. Now he points and says ‘uhuh’.

    Reply
    • Manou

      My son is 2. He started talking at around 17 months. He used to have conversations with me and his siblings, but now he is 27 months and
      has stopped talking. I’m very worried. Any advice, please?

      Reply
      • Sufia

        Hi, my son is 15 months old. He used to say mamma, pappa, baby shark, dog, coco, and few more words and use to show eyes, nose, mouth, ears, but suddenly he stopped saying all these words and stop showing “Where are your eyes,” whenever asked…
        I am too worried about him. I don’t know what happened that he stop talking. Kindly help me. Is it a sign to worry about.

        Reply
        • Baby Sign Language Administrator

          Hi Sufia, Thanks for stopping by. As we’ve advised the other parents here, please feel free to use BSL with your son while also consulting his pediatrician and audiologist about his speaking hesitation. Best of luck!

          Reply
      • Baby Sign Language Administrator

        Manou, we’re sorry to hear that. It’s really best for you to see a pediatric specialist or speech pathologist in this case. It is not easy to detect the cause(s) of selective mutism in children, as some of them just snap out of this phase, while other children need a bit more professional help. Keep teaching him baby sign language in the meantime. But do see a specialist. Hope your soon starts speaking again soon.

        Reply
    • Baby Sign Language Administrator

      Hi, I’m sorry to hear that. We encourage you to keep using Baby Sign Language with your grandson while enunciating the words. If you still cannot get to the bottom of his selective mutism, just continue to show him patience and love as you keep signing to him (and consulting his pediatrician and speech specialist at the same time). Hopefully, he’ll come around to both signing and speaking back again. Cheers.

      Reply
  25. D Ginn

    My grandson (18 mo) just speaking mama, dada, tuna (dog), bubba, Bentley, Nanny and then he just stopped. Now he will not say anything..nothing. We were watching Pororo at the end there is a little song and he did sing along lalala (?). That was the first sound that I’ve heard in awhile. I’m getting worried! Pls no name thanks.

    ADMIN – Hello, Have you consulted with your grandson’s pediatrician and/or audiologist? Hopefully, there is nothing wrong with him. Sometimes, it is simply a matter of the toddler’s temporary preference to switch repetition modalities. The fact that he sang along with Pororo is a good sign. Keep teaching him Baby Sign Language in the meantime. If his specialists don’t detect anything wrong, just give your grandson the space to explore speaking with his hands before he resumes talking.

    Reply
  26. Martina MC Cosker

    My 4 year old Granddaughter stopped speaking at home last September, about 4 months ago, she talks at playschool, sometimes for a while when she comes home but usually stops after about an hour in,she hasn’t spoken all over Christmas much to the distress of her parents, it’s a very unusual situation as most select mutism happens outside of the home, where a child may be anxious or nervous, the only trigger we can think of is her sister left playschool and started primary school, so they were separated for those few hours daily, she also has a brother 15 months old, her home life is extremely happy, both parents are loving and caring, my biggest fear is that it could be a sign of Autism, any advice would be welcome.

    ADMIN – Hi Martina,

    This behavior should be escalated to her pediatrician ASAP

    Reply
  27. aeiou

    I have a personal story. I prefer to remain anonymous for the sake of privacy. When I was a child I was developing normally. However, when I was about 2 years old, all of a sudden I stopped talking. Moreover, I showed symptoms as mania for collecting objects, hiding under the curtain, avoiding eye contact, screaming in the night etc… I recall a strong fear of being abandoned. I was diagnosed with full-blown autism and advised to start psychotherapy and musicotherapy. I followed this advice and 6 months later I regained my speech abilities (I re-started singing a song) and I gradually lost the symptoms of autism. The psychiatrists defined this recovery “miraculous” and maintained that my “illness” had been “autism-type regression. I’ve always had serious problems at the kindergarten, but from primary school on I’ve never had troubles in learning and I did not need a support teacher. Now I graduated in Economics and started my first paid internship. There are still some “trraces” of my past condition: in fact, I still have serious problem in interpersonal interactions, sometimes I fail to understand the context I am acting in, I have a strong tendency for anxiety and I struggle in building long-term friendships. However, I do have friends, I can speak normally, I do not avoid hugging, I can be self-deprecating and so on. To conclude, I can have a quasi-ordinary life, which seemed almost impossible at the moment of the diagnosis. There is always hope!

    Reply
  28. Mario

    My niece is 3yrs, she was having full conversations and even started reading. And about a week ago she stop talking all of sudden. Only says is mama & papa, now.

    Help…

    ADMIN – Hi Mario,

    Consult with the pediatrician right away. Early intervention is essential.

    Reply
  29. Vidhya

    My son was saying small words like amma, mama & also he repeats whatever we say… Then he suddenly stopped talking and social interations at the age of 2… He was not listening and not delating the words with the mind… He’ll be alright?… Will he recover soon?… Please give some advise…

    ADMIN – Hi Vidhya,

    Kindly consult with your pediatrician. Without deeper familiarity with your situation we can’t give you clarification or guidance.

    Reply
    • Shobha

      My son is 31 months old; when he was 10 months, he started to say appa (dada), amma,Tata, atte, and the like, but he stopped saying these from 28 months onward. Any advice?

      Reply
      • Baby Sign Language Administrator

        Sorry to hear that, Shobha. As advised to other parents in the same boat, try our baby sign language with your son. At the same time, you may want to consult with your son’s pediatrician about this, who may then recommend a good audiologist.

        Reply
  30. Rebecca

    My grandson was saying small words that mommy,yes ,no ,you ,ball and all of a sudden he just stopped now he won’t speak it off can someone give me some advice.

    ADMIN – Hi Rebecca,

    I would encourage you to reach out to a language professional.

    Reply

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