My son is two and a half, with developmental delay. He has low tone muscles, which we work on intensively with psychotherapy. He can now crawl, but not walk.

He doesn't talk, nor say any words, and doesn't babble really either. He does "blow raspberries", also infrequently makes ahhh sounds, short open syllable.

I go to speech therapy, where we work on understanding and language, through pictures, photos etc. He seems to be understanding nicely, just doesn't express himself with any words or sounds. If he wants something (like to drink) he just cries.

I have been to other therapist, who say they can help when he starts to vocalize, like make any sounds, then we can play with his lips etc, to product sounds, even unintentionally. But though this he learns. However, while he still isn't making any sounds, there is nothing they can do.

I am looking for any methods or techniques that can help arouse his speech, to start him making any sounds. Any ways to strenghen the muscles in his throut etc. It has been suggested, just like he has low tone muscles in his body (which make it hard for him to walk etc), this affects speach as well.

Do you have any ideas to help.

Thanks so much.

  • 1
    Have you discussed your concerns with your SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist)? What do they recommend? My wife is an SLP and she gives parents homework to reinforce the activities in speech therapy.
    – John Yost
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 21:06
  • They mainly focus on understanding things. Like objects, his bottle the bath etc. Also we play some games with bubbles, that he pop the bubbles with his lips. Also use chewy tubes to strengthen jaw muscles. However, they mainly are saying to wait for the sounds to come from him.
    – RJB
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 21:12
  • The most magical moment I had as a parent was listening to my daughter go through a repertoire of sounds when she suddenly realized that she could control her voice. // Just some off the wall ideas... The first thing that comes to mind is are you sure that he can hear effectively? The second thing is that 2 1/2 seems old not to be communicating. Has there been any thought about using some simple sign language to try to communicate? (So is the developmental problem musculature, mental or both?)
    – MaxW
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 22:28
  • Yes, sign language as a transitional way of establishing communication, is often used. You might want to try a different SL provider who is trained in this approach. Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 6:11

2 Answers 2


You can achieve the best result if you combine vocalizing with movements - like using instruments especially made for young children or playing games where singing or child songs are involved. It helps the brain to get an urge to vocalize.

But you can't force a child into making sounds.

Visiting a professional is great, but not enough. You need to provide a sound rich environment, where a lot of inducements are affecting the child.

I hope you can get some help from this answer.

  • This is fine so long as the children don't easily suffer from auditory overstimulation. Along these lines, not making sound may be due to auditory overstimulation from their own voices.
    – L.B.
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 20:04

I am not a speech pathologist, but this is what seemed to work best in my classroom. 1) teach your child sign language and learn it as a family. This does three things. -It gives him a way to tell you what he wants and - teaches him that language is interaction -- give and take. And - it takes the pressure off of vocalisation. Pressure can discourage anyone from trying. 2) during snack time, meals or playtime, offer a toy or food item and ask him if he wants it. ANY sound gives it to him right away. It's great if there is another child or person who can show him what you are expecting. This is NOT about food withdrawal or control. If he makes no sound, give the item to the person modelling and say something like. "Yes, you may have the item." Then give your son what he wants. In time, he will without pressure start to understand the relationship between a sound and getting what he wants.

I had a parent who just wanted her son to say her name. At the end of the school year, she wanted to know how to make him quiet. So be prepared! I bet it will happen with lots of love, professional help and patience. Blowing bubbles, using a sippy cup or better, a straw, covering his mouth and letting go -- to make a waa waa sound -- show him on yourself. This is about breath control not scaring him.

  • Thank you very much. This is much advice we have heard from various sources, all in one place. And more.
    – RJB
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 19:57
  • I taught special needs kids, but am not an expert. If your professional does not agree, do not follow my advice. It is what worked for us and we had a speech path on our team.
    – WRX
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 22:02

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