What Did You Say?

I have long excused the fact that Aaron and Brady do not speak nearly as well as their big sister did at this age. They are not the first born, they are multiples, they are boys. But as they approach their second birthday and their communication frustrations are now rising along with mine, I’ve been thinking about this thing we MoMs often hear about:

Twin Talk.

Is it true? Do twins really develop their own language? If you listen to Aaron and Brady with each other, they seem to understand each other. They babble back and forth to each other in their cribs when they wake up in the morning and before they fall asleep at night. They “chat” in their car seats in the car. But are they really communicating? Or, do they simply enjoy each other’s company. I used to think it was the former, but the more I watch them and the more reading up I do on “twin talk”, the more I think it’s the latter.

If you truly listen to them and their mispronounciations, they have the same ones. For example, they substitute the “B” sound with the “D” sound universally. I don’t think this is a function of twin talk so much as one started and the other is copying him. And now that the second is reinforcing the first, he’s not apt to change his habits.

So, what to do?

I’m not sure they’d qualify for Early Intervention programs at this point (especially with the level of “need” rising with budgets being cut), but it’s still worth inquiring about at their 2-year check up in a few weeks. I do think, however, that there is quite a bit of work that my husband and I can and should (and don’t currently do enough of) with them at home.

For starters, we are fairly terrible at getting them alone time with us or with other children. They spend a good 90% of their time together, as a unit. The few times we’ve separated them for outings, Aaron has embraced it and Brady has looked lost. For that reason alone we should focus more of our energy getting them apart. But I think speaking to them one on one, without the influence of the other, would help with their language skills as well.

Second, we are also very quick to respond to their communication attempts even when they are not clear. We have identified patterns in their spoken language, patterns in their body language and just patterns in their behavior depending on the time of day that lead us to be able to anticipate most of their needs and interpret their grunts and whines when the words that they do have are not sufficient. This does nothing to encourage them to work on their vocabulary or language skills at all. They know Mommy and Daddy will get them what they need — and we are always the ones caring for them — so they have no need to fine tune their communication.

I hope that by making an extra effort as parents, we will start to see some of the frustrations go away – on their end and on ours.

What about you other parents of multiples? What is your take on Twin Talk and what have you done to get past it?

9 thoughts on “What Did You Say?

  1. We’ve been going through the same thing. My boys are 26 months now and still use a lot of grunts and whines when they want something. The last week has been very frustrating for me especially and I’m working on getting them to use words. I’m trying to teach them that they won’t get anything by whining. Hopefully things will get better soon.
    I’m not sure about the twin talk, but I see what you mean. I think it might be there.
    I like your idea of separating them sometimes, but it will take more work on our part, definitely.

  2. I have had 2 of my children be considered speech delayed…one was my singleton (first born) and the second was one of my twins (they are 2-1/2). At my oldest daughters 2 yr well visit my peditrician expressed concern and she told me her son (almost 3) had the same issue. She gave me the choice of seeing the specialist she took her son to or to try on my own using what she had done. I of course wanted to try on my own…the simple solution was to sit down each day one child to one parent and instead of reading to them, use story cards where they had to answer a lot of questions with only one word (we used the Brain Quest story cards). She never looked back…for us this worked not just with our singleton but shortly afterward when one of our twins appeared to have the same issue.

    In our situation, I believe it was just personality…the two with the delayed speech are the most alike in personality…both very calm. Our twin that did everything at hyper speed and super early (she was calling our dog at 9-1/2 months…it’s still funny when we watch the video) she talks and talks and talks but she is still the hardest to understand.

  3. My daughters definitely had their own language. It consisted of grunts and shrieks and they KNEW what was being said. Mind boggling. I had them evaluated by Early Intervention because of this and they’ve progressed really well.
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..Let Kids Be Kids =-.

  4. I’m not convinced that my 17 month old boys have the whole twin talk thing going on, but there is a definite difference in their language skills compared to their big sister (she’s 4-1/2). My boys have the same strikes against them as yours, Cynthia — multiples, boys, not first-borns. But at least you have some ideas of how to (hopefully!) improve their language that have inspired me to do the same — now to just find the time to do it! Sigh. :)

  5. I’m with ya, ‘Mommy, Esq.’ … you guys are killin’ me here with the thought that the triplets will still be whining at age 2!! They’re 13 months now & I’m already nagging my husband to stop giving them things w/o first annunciating to them what it is. (actually, I’ve been doing that for awhile…)

    The youngest & smallest is also the LOUDEST. And I mean LOUD. Her ‘speech’ is the most advanced. In fact I think she’s elected herself the spokeperson for the group.

    At their 1 yr. ck-up doc asked about speech development. Yes, we say ‘mama’, dada, baba, but that’s about it. “How do you know what they want?” “Huh? When it’s time to eat, they’re fed; when it’s time to be changed we lasso & tie them down & change them; etc, etc.” I informed him. No, seriously – I don’t know – they whine or cry, or lunge at whatever it is they want. He nodded his head & told me that I must do a lot of ‘forward parenting’…anticipating what they want & responding. THAT didn’t put me on the defensive! HELLO – OF COURSE we do that! Otherwise things would be COMPLETELY insane around here, instead of relatively so…

    They definitely do communicate w/ each other though – of that, I’m convinced. Time will tell… So I guess it’s too soon to potty train then, huh???

  6. At one of my nephews birthday parties I had a speech therapist that was attending have the audacity to suggest that there was no such thing as speech delay in multiples. The kids were maybe 3 months old or so at the time, so I was running on very little sleep, and I came very near devouring her head. Instead I just said “ya-huh,” and walked away.

    I worry about speech delays with mine. They’re only 8 months old right now, so I know I have some time, but I still worry. I’m a quiet person while alone (a fact that would probably surprise many people who know me), and when alone with the babies that don’t talk, well… I get quiet. I push myself to talk to them and with them. Tell that what I’m doing. Ask them questions that I obviously don’t expect answers to. I can tell that they finally understand their own names and who Mommy and Daddy are. It’s hard to tell if they understand any other words, though. “No,” is definitely not in my sons vocabularly. I say no and give a stern face and he just laughs. Come to think of it, maybe he does understand me…
    We try to do a lot of individual time with them, and specifically bought two single strollers to go with their double stroller so Mommy and Daddy can take them out in two different directions. Is any of it enough, though?
    I suppose time will tell.

  7. My b/g twins are highly verbal, which I know is a blessing and one thing I don’t have to worry about. However, my MIL said the other day that they were “twin-talking,” and I was like “huh?! Really??” So I stopped and listened to them, and they were talking alright, but with their normal words. Just seems that I understand them when others might not catch every word.

    One thing that started happening this week is Jonathan stammering. He goes “uh, uh, uh, uh, uh” before starting his sentances. It happened at the same time he went from 3 & 4 word sentances to 5 & 6/ I called the peds office and talked to a nurse, who confirmed my thought that this is a very common stage. However, when I told her my husband stuttered and stammered as a child, and still has trouble sometimes as an adult, she said to have him evaluated in two months if the stammering continues. I will try to blog about her suggestions soon.

    Some times I ask one child or the other, “what did he/she say?” and they always know. The problem is, all the words that they mispronouce, they mispronounce the same way!

    I actually think the sign launguage videos and training might have helped F and J’s language skills.

    I hope you guys are able to spend time with each boy separately! It really is fun to see their personalities change when they are away from their sibling.

    Oh, and my youngest cousin rarely talked beause her sister said everything for her. It was crazy, because all Jess would have to do is give a look or make a sound and her sister would say “Sisah wants (fill in the blank.) Took them a very long time to get Jess to speak for herself.

  8. I have 20 month old b/g twins and I was having similar concerns. My daughter has been saying sporadic three word sentences and multiple words for a few months now. My son on the other hand may have 10 words in his vocabulary and uses them sparingly. He relies more on physically touching what he wants, taking your hand and dragging you to it, or throwing tantrums. His favorite phrase is “Oh. no!”, after he has spilled something over or knocked something down.

    I will use some of these suggestions to try and help.
    .-= Pregnancy 123´s last blog ..How Soon Can You Tell if You are Pregnant =-.

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