Dear Dr. Bill,
My daughter has a 1-year-old boy who is starting to walk but hasn’t begun talking yet — no “Mama,” “Dada” or anything else. If he wants something, he just points and screeches very loudly!
I’ve also noticed that he often stares off in his own little world for a moment or two several times a day. He comes back eventually or you really work to get his attention otherwise. Is this normal behavior? Or could my grandson have some kind of problem — like autism? What do you think?
I appreciate the fact that you are such an involved, observant grandmother. Your grandkids are fortunate.
Here are my thoughts on your 1-year-old grandson. First of all, the fact that he isn’t talking yet shouldn’t be a concern. Language development varies greatly from child to child.
Many children don’t begin saying “mama” or “dada” until well into their second year of life. Their level of verbal development at their first birthday does NOT predict how verbally skilled they will be by age two or three, or tell you anything about their overall level of intelligence.
On the other hand, I am concerned about the fact that your grandson seems to stare off into space several times each day, and that you have to work to regain his attention. This could be a sign of a hearing problem, a developmental delay, or even recurring minor seizures.
Given your description, I would suggest your daughter make an appointment with her family physician right away, and describe the behaviors she is observing at home. The physician should give your grandson a complete medical and developmental evaluation.
Thanks for writing, Diana. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click on the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.