My baby boy is 20 months old, and my question concerns communication/speech development. It wasn't until last week that he started to say words when I asked him to repeat them. He still doesn't call me mama directly but prefers to come to me and hit my leg or arm. He will say mama if I ask him to repeat after me but that is usually the only time he will say it. I am concerned about this delay because I have a 16-year-old brother who had delayed speech and a cousin/godson who is 7 and has the same problem. Are there any studies with heredity or the possibility of asthmatics having delayed speech (my son and brother and male cousins are also born asthmatics)? If not, maybe you can reassure me that my son is just slower. Doctors have seen him and they have not found any hearing problems.
You have very good questions. From what you've told me, your son's language development is atypical. At this age we would expect him to have a 20- to 50-word vocabulary and to be putting words together. I think he needs an evaluation by a developmental pediatrician or a speech therapist who works with young children or an early interventionist in your community. He may be a "late bloomer" with expressive language, but in that case he will have normal receptive language, meaning he will understand things at his age level. Hewill also have gesture language like his age mates. Pulling and hitting are very early attempts at communicating. These language difficulties do run in families so that's another reason to take this seriously. I know of no connection between asthma and delayed speech development. However, if your boy is chronically, seriously ill, lots of aspects of development fall behind. The hearing test was the first thing to be done but now it's time to get the formal language evaluation. Early intervention in this area can make a big difference.