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Why has my child not started talking?

Q: My daughter is 2 years and 2 months old. She has still not started speaking. She is a healthy child and all her developmental milestones (height, weight, head size etc.) are fine. Doctors say that she is slightly hyperactive. Her hearing is tested ok as the impedance test gave A type graph. At home we speak Assamese language. But outside and on TV she listens to Hindi. She is very fond of watching TV though since the last 10 days we have minimised her TV watching. When we try to teach her something she is not interested. She has learnt things like building blocks, looking at books, charts, etc. But she does not speak. She only says ma ma, pa pa, ba ba etc. Should we go for a MRI scan? How should we deal with a child who is slightly hyperactive? What language should we use to teach her?

A:I do not feel that your daughter needs to have an MRI. Obviously she is a little confused because of hearing two languages at once. Many children who hear two languages at home, early in life, understand them both, but may start speaking later in both of them. Continue to give her picture books and play materials suited to her age. There is no problem in your talking in Assamese with her. It is her mother tongue and it will be a good idea for her to learn it from you. You will find that she will speak normally in a few months. One of the problems could be the TV. It is often loud and meaningless, from the child's point of view. It can be described as a lot of noise. It might be a good idea for you to reduce the TV time and talk to her, tell her stories and sing songs to her in Assamese. As soon as she has picked up simple communication, she can be exposed to Hindi, so that when she attends nursery school, she understands what is going on. Be patient with her, but make her ask for the things she wants, instead of only pointing to them. Avoid soft drinks in her diet, if you can. Have a quiet time with her before she goes to sleep. People use the word hyperactive when they mean very active. Spend more time with her before going for the next diagnosis or assessment.

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