Is Your 2-year-old not Talking? How Katty Turned her Son’s Speech Delay Around

Katty and her husband are raising their 3.5 year old son, Santiago, in a bilingual (Spanish and English) household. However, when he started showing signs of a serious speech delay at 22 months old, Katty got to work applying the practices she learned from joining my community and courses!

Speech Delays in a Bilingual Toddler

Some minor speech delays in bilingual children can be common, however, when your child is approaching the age of two with no words and minimal sounds in either language, it is right to raise concerns. When Katty approached her pediatrician it was clear that Santiago should at least be saying mama or dada but she was barely babbling. Amid starting my programs and beginning some form of speech therapy and intervention, I recommend revisiting the focus of teaching two languages. A speech delay does not mean your child cannot be bilingual but you should focus primarily on the language where the child will have the most opportunity for use and practice, usually the language of the country you’re living in. Once a child has made progress and caught up from the delays, it’s great to add back in that second language. 

18-Month-Old Not Talking

By 18 months your child should have several words with some manding, tacting, echoing, and the start of intraverbal skills. Katty’s son Santiago was barely babbling but now at 3 and a half years old, he is nearly conversational. When it seemed like there was nowhere to turn for the right support and therapy for her son, Katty became the captain of her own ship. She threw herself into the courses, became an expert at table time, and created exposure and practice every minute of her son’s day. We go over the various assessments Katty gave to Santiago and his progress is really amazing, even illuminating problem behaviors that he once had.

Autism or Speech Delay

When Katty first had her concerns about Santiago’s delays she suspected autism. With minimal assessment and evaluation, her family did not receive that diagnosis. She still sought out and applied my approach, despite the autism title. Many of our community members also do not have a diagnosis of autism for their family members but the programs still work. Whether your child has autism, a speech delay, or any other developmental disorder these programs are proven to work and show progress. 

At the airing of this episode, you can still access my new digital autism assessment at

Is Your 2-year-old Not Talking? How Katty Turned Her Son's Speech Delay Around

Katty on the Turn Autism Around Podcast

Katty is married and a mother to a son who is 3.5 years old.  She also has 2 dogs and 1 cat. She lives in Canada now but is originally from Ecuador. Before migrating to Canada, she worked as a kindergarten teacher for 13 years and also as a professor training teachers for 6 years.  She is a stay-at-home mom now.


  • How to turn speech delays around?
  • Is it Autism or a speech delay?
  • How the turn autism around book and courses have guided a mom for speech therapy.
  • Can you be your child’s speech therapist?
  • The impact of table time on speech delays.
  • Should you measure length of utterances and teach carrier phrases?
  • What to do if your two year old is not talking.
  • Can you use the Turn Autism Around programs if your child does not have an autism diagnosis?
Want to get started on the right path and start making a difference for your child or client with autism? SIGN-UP FOR DR. MARY BARBERA'S FREE TRAINING


Katty – Turn Autism Around Podcast Transcript

Transcript for Podcast Episode: 205

Is Your 2-year-old Not Talking? How Katty Turned Her Son's Speech Delay Around

Hosted by: Mary Barbera

Guest: Katty T

Mary: You're listening to the Turn Autism Around podcast episode number 205. Today we have a mom on the show, Katty T, and she is from Canada, but originally from Ecuador. She is bilingual in Spanish and English, and she has a three year old son, three and a half year old son, Santiago. She started my courses when Santiago was only 22 months of age. He's now three and a half and he has gone from zero words and only a few babbles to pretty much conversational to a degree, where he's answering and asking little questions, going back and forth at three and a half, he has never been diagnosed with autism. He was diagnosed with a speech delay, but Katty just took it upon herself and did all the therapy herself and continues to work with him daily during most of his waking hours. In this interview, we talk about my brand new digital assessment that you can complete in 10 minutes for free still at And we talk about her wanting to raise her son in a bilingual household. And we talk a lot about how traditional speech therapy really focuses on carrier phrases instead of what we focus on within my online courses and community and spend a good chunk talking about the intraverbal subtests, where we where it really helps us identify a child's strengths and needs when they are talking in a few word utterances together. So it's a great interview. I hope you love it as much as I did. Here's Katty T.

Narrator: Welcome to the Turn Autism Around podcast for both parents and professionals in the autism world who want to turn things around, be less stressed, and lead happier lives. And now your host, autism mom, behavior analyst and bestselling author Dr. Mary Barbera.

Mary: So, Katty, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm excited to get to know your story and you better.

Katty: Thank you, Mary, for having me here. I am pretty excited today, but thank you so much.

Mary: Yeah, we've never met before, but you have been very active in our online courses and community for a long time now, so I wanted to get you on and I always start with the same question. Describe your fall into the autism world. But I do want to say, and I know you'll say it, your son does not have a diagnosis of autism and was never even officially evaluated for autism. But so why are you here? Why did you take my course and describe, you know, what you were concerned about early on?

Katty on the Turn Autism Around Podcast

Katty: Well, yeah, my son, he's three and a half right now. I don't have an official diagnosis of autism, but at the age of 18 months, he was not saying any word. It was just saying ah just pointing for a lead. I mean, not too much either. And for that specific visit, the pediatrician, she told me that he should be saying, at least mama or daddy, I speak Spanish. So he could have been saying any word in Spanish, too. But he was not saying anything. I also realized, I mean, when I took your online course as a toddler, of course, and studying all the information, I realized that, for example, his babbling was limited. He was just babbling with mm, ba, pa and those were the only sounds that I could hear that time and just pointing. And he was not responding like too much to his name. Sometimes we call him, we call him by his name. And so sometimes he was looking for other clients. He was just like he was not listening to us. Right? And yeah, that was it. Those were my concerns. So when I didn't see you onFacebook, it was my husband who told me, you know, what I found on Facebook. So give it a try, because I know that you're getting upset and you know that something is going on with our child. So give it a try and let's see how it works. Right.

Mary: And you didn't start with my book or.

Katty: No, I didn't just start the course. Yes. I jumped into the toddler course and maybe when I....It was last year, by December last year, December that I got the book.

Mary: So just about a year.

Katty: Or so.

Mary: And I say this on some videos, but I don't know how much I say it on the podcast, but half of the members in the toddler course who introduced themselves don't have a child with autism. So did anybody because you didn't have a diagnosis of autism and you still don't. Was anybody like, oh, don't look into autism, you're just getting yourself all worked up over nothing?

Katty: When I talked to the pediatrician, I brought the idea that, I mean, that there are some signs of autism on him. And she said, no, don't worry, he doesn't have anything. But even though he was, she referred me to a developmental pediatrician. So he was assessed twice. But it was kind of frustrating because I went to the developmental pediatrician two times. It was less than 5 minutes that she said this was an assessment, hey, look at this and look. But then she said, oh, what color is this? She was asking questions. And Santiago could have not said anything because the first time he was not saying anything. The second time he was saying it to me like approximation words, but it was just asking for colors, for numbers and things like that. And I was like, really? So anyway.

Mary: That was an assessment by a developmental pediatrician. I didn't know that. But she only spent a very short time with him.

Katty: A very short time with him. That was the assessment. And I was like, Oh, my. And the last assessment, she told me, You know what? During my whole career that I have 30 years of experience here, I have seen that kids speak two or three and four languages at home. If they are exposed to many languages, they speak after three. So I was like, okay. So then I was like, because I have to be honest, I don't work. My husband is the only one who provides economically at home. So we were not in the I mean, we couldn't afford an assessment that sometimes $3,000, $5,000, and we were like, we cannot do that. Even with a speech therapist, it's $200 for each session and we couldn't afford any of that. So I was like, okay, so I have to become speech therapy and try all that I have learned with my son. Right?

Mary: So yeah, it is quite expensive. I know it. And you're in Canada and you're originally from what country?

Katty: I am from Ecuador.

Bilingual Households and Speech Delays

Mary: And so you're bilingual. And that's another thing we've covered in the podcasts. And a video blog is with a child with delays or with a toddler showing signs of autism, signs of speech delay. The thought is that multiple languages are and cannot, quote unquote, hurt anything. And in my experience, I have seen families like you. And my recommendation is just like if you were teaching sign language, you don't want to teach it two different ways. So my recommendation based on my own history of two decades working with kids, many of which were bilingual or even trilingual, is for the first hundred words, 500 words, you know, until they're starting to put things together again. I think it's best to start with one language. Not that you can't speak Spanish outside of table time or therapy time or pairing time. You can speak fluently in Spanish or English to other people. But when you're trying to get your son talking and trying to pair the early learning materials and try to pair the one more times three strategies, I think you should pick one language, and I think it should be the language where the child's early intervention professionals and school is going to speak and, you know, pick the language where he's going to have the most chance for generalization and exposure. So you did tell me that you did take that advice.

Katty: And yes, I did what you said because it could be funny, but the I just stick to that like, okay, so I am going to do this and I am going to make it work, okay? I'm going to make things happen, right? So when I heard that advice, I said, I as I told you, I speak Spanish and I wanted him to speak Spanish, too. I didn't want him to lose that language. But when I realized that he was not saying anything, it was like, okay, so he's growing up in a country where English is spoken. He is going to go to a school where English is spoken and Spanish is not going to be spoken. So I said, okay, so I'm sorry, Spanish, you are going to be on the side for a little while. So I started to speak in English all the time. My husband is Canadian, so he doesn't speak Spanish. So it was just like we try all the time. English at home. English. English. When my parents came over, they didn't speak English, so we were speaking Spanish. So that was the moment that my son was exposed to that language. And I didn't push him to get anything, any Spanish or it was just like if one day he wants to say something in Spanish, that could be fine. And now he's just trying to make not he doesn't have too many words in Spanish right now, but he has some and he understands a lot of Spanish. So I think that that could be great for him.

Mary: Yeah. And Chino who I talk about a fair amount and the same thing his family wanted was a bilingual household Spanish English. They paired it down to just English in the beginning. But, you know, now he's older and he's bilingual. And I think the same thing is going to happen for your son now that he is kind of over the hump of his speech delays, which he's made miraculous gains. And we're going to talk all about those gains. We're going to talk about his intraverbal subtests. But before we get to that, and I do want to note that in the show notes, this is episode 205. So in the show notes, we're going to have what language for a bilingual family. We can link a podcast I did with Magui, I think that's how you pronounce her first name. She was in a similar situation. Her son is now fully verbal and bilingual and also you had said with the you know, getting diagnosed like spending 5 minutes with a developmental pediatrician who just says look or what color that's not an assessment for. Well well, that's not the kind of thorough assessment that I would expect. But we do have a video blog on the M-CHAT and I believe on the STAT or ADOSS, we can link those on the show notes as well. So but I think the real key that Katty is talking about is it doesn't matter if it's autism or even, you know, we don't know. We don't have a crystal ball. We can't. I don't know what he actually looked like. And I can't diagnose autism anyway, even if I could look back, we don't know how kids are going to turn out. Yeah, maybe it was the fact that you were speaking Spanish and English. Maybe it was COVID isolation. Maybe it was, who knows? But it was something. And we have a brand new digital assessment, which I announced with podcast number 198. Right now it is free. I don't know how long it will be free, but it is still free at We'll take you there. And just like my one page assessment, which is on page 49 of my turn autism around book, this digital assessment should take you about 10 minutes to complete. Katty completed it recently and got really great scores because her son is, I would say, if not all, caught up in language, almost all caught up with language from this general one page assessment. So she also kind of just to compare where he was, she backdated a one page assessment on the digital app and also just documented what he was like when she did join the course when he was 22 months of age, I believe, and he had no language back then. And his scores in the language will give you scores in three areas: self-care and daily activities like eating, sleeping, potty training, grooming, dressing, he has had no problems in those areas, which is really great. So he scored fine in the self care area on both assessments, both when at 22 months and again at three years, three months and then. But the language scores went from 20% to 85%. And again, this isn't like valid research. She came back. They did it just because she was coming on here. And I just. We're going to include these one page assessments with the scores just so you can see. Can you talk about the digital assessment and how easy it was?

Autism and Speech Assessments

Katty: And yeah, it was pretty, pretty easy. It was pretty easy. I mean, it's just very, very specific. The things that you do you have to answer and that give you an idea where you are and where do you want to go and which areas do you need to, to work with. Right. But yeah, yeah, it's pretty late. I think that it was less than 10 minutes for me to do it.

Mary: Yeah. And it's not. Is it autism or not? It's just basically rating you. Does your child have safety concerns? Does your child have any sleeping issues? Does he have any eating issues? You know, and so you were you wrote no to those. You checked. No. Yeah. And it calculates the score based on your answer. So I'm hoping this is the first version. It's still not great. His problem behavior score, even though he has very, very little or is only an 80%, that's a little wonky. And other kids are having similar things where you put basically he has no problem behaviors based on the fact that he's, you know, three years, three months or three and a half now and it's still scoring at 80%. So the higher the score, the better. But his overall score in those three areas is 88% now. But, you know, we're going to focus mostly on his speech delays because problem behaviors are not a concern and they're even better than ever.

Katty: And actually it has.He used to cry, but I mean, developing language, it is less crying. And he has some time. I mean, I have right right now. Like he doesn't want to kind of refuse to say, forget, relax, wash your hands. And he said, no, that's his immediate answer no. So but then once again, watching the courses and watching the no more tantrums. Right. That held me a little bit like assessing again and try to remember when these things happened. And right now I finally strategy and he's not crying anymore, so I'm happy to stop it. Yeah.

Mary: Yeah, yeah. So we used to have a course called, well, it was called No More Time Out mini course, and it's included as part of the full course. But you can also buy just the mini course. But we just recently changed the name of it to Turn Tantrums Around and it's for small kids who are having tantrums and other problem behaviors and it's really just preventative, proactive strategies. It only takes about an hour and a half to 2 hours to complete. And it apparently helped Katty with problem behaviors. So he went from babbling, not speaking at 22 months. You joined the course when he was how old?

Katty: When he was 22 months

Mary: 22 months you joined the course and then within the toddler course is 60 days. So he was having word approximations at that point.

Katty: When I finished the toddler course, he was just like trying to make an approximation of things. Yeah. And I also taught him some sign language. So he was trying to sign, I mean, just because he was not too interested in our words. So he was just like interested in any word, when he was looking at animals outside so I taught him some sign language for some animals, food. But yeah, he was, he was signing and he was saying approximation words.

Table Time and Speech Therapy

Mary: And so then after the 60 days people are like, well, what happens after 60 days? You know, well, just like anything else, a college course or playing the guitar, learning to swim. You go to the next course, you go to the next thing. And that is adding the verbal behavior bundle course, which, you know, the toddler course really gets you in good shape to learn that information. But that information is you know, it was originally created for professionals and gung ho parents. So how was that transition for you?

Katty: It was good because I don't think that I mentioned it. But another thing that my son did is that his attention span was not good. He was just like going from one place to another and he was running everywhere. So when I started a toddler course, I got it started, used to sit him at the table and that he was interested in why we were doing. I mean, it was just the beginning when he was sitting there. I remember that at a time he liked to eat a lot. So I brought blueberries and every time that he said something and we did something, it was a blueberry. And he was happily sitting there and he learned to stay right there. And we started with making sounds, making silence on silence. And when I jump from the toddler to the early learning course or the baby bundle, it was pretty much we still do it. We kept doing the same things. But obviously it started getting more skills at a table, right, like matching more and things like that.

Mary: And I do have a video blog about table time and a whole podcast on the five questions we've frequently asked, questions we get about table time. But table time is actually pretty controversial because most people think that with a very young child, two or three years old, you should follow the child's lead. And of course, my procedures, we never we never force a child to sit at the table. We want it to be fun. We want the child running or eagerly walking to the table. And if that's not right, if you don't have the reinforcement of the demands right, that's not going to happen. And our table time is a mixture of natural environment, manding and fun and some early learner activities that seem like fun, but they're part mand. So what do you say to the naysayers about table time?

Katty: What you mentioned about following the child's lead? That was I was told to do that. I mean, I got a private consultation with a speech therapy and she saw, oh, follow the lead. But that didn't work for me. I mean, it was a complete disaster. I'm not saying that it doesn't work, but it was like, I'm not getting anything from this. So when I get started with the table time reinforcement and he was sitting happily there, as you said, he was not saying things immediately because probably in my mind it was like, okay, I'm going to try this and he's going to talking immediately, that is not going to happen. That doesn't happen from from night to day. It's just like going to take a process. But I will see that. I mean, he was happy sitting at a table that he was looking at me like all the time. Like I grabbed that report when I gave it, delivered an improvement. And he was looking at me and he was looking at me like, more like, what do you mean, intention? Right. So it was like, oh, so this is great. And then he was like trying to mand for things and trying to at least not say the complete word, but get something from his mouth. It was like, okay, this is working. So as I told you, I was trying to get the most of these strategies. So I think that follow the lead. It was just like not a waste of time, but it would have to be taking a long, a long process for me to help him and develop his language.

Mary: Right. And, you know, we don't recommend table time all day long or every day. Obviously, we only recommend short bursts of, you know, at the beginning, five, ten, 15 minutes and expanding it as the child really wants to. I mean, there we've been one of our success stories, Alisa, with little Lexi. She's like, she had a lock outside of the door because her daughter just kept wanting to go in to do table time. You know, like these kids, it gets so well paired with your attention, with access to easy, fun activities that it becomes really, really reinforcing. And of course, all day long at the grocery store, in the bathtub, you know, all of these strategies that you and your child are learning at the table, then we're expanding.

Katty: Yeah, that helped me a lot because it was just not a table. If I usually do it, I mean, when we woke up and just like, okay, we're getting up and we do the table and Santiago I up to these days he's like mama, table time. So we go immediately to the table and we do a parcel and we do flashcards. And then during the day I was like I became like the narrator of the things, right? And I was like saying things for him, even if sometimes he was not listening to me or looking at me like he was looking at. I was like, Oh, these, these and these. We went to the grocery store and I was saying things, even if he didn't say it at all, but if he was looking I was saying things so that helped a lot when I was watching TV with him that it was... I don't let him watch the whole day. maybe just 15 to 20 minutes. And I am not just like watching TV and just like, oh, narrating all these. This one is running or jumping or things like that. So my husband is a little bit upset at me. He said, let me watch TV. But at the same time, it's just the way that I mean, that he could listen and that maybe at one point he's going to say it back to me. He's going to use it at one time.

Mary: Yeah. And we do recommend people say, well, how much therapy should kids have? You know, and it's like they need these strategies during all of our most hours, which is 100 hours a week at least. And that sounds really overwhelming. But like you said, you just incorporated in to your activities and you really just are keeping a child engaged and you know, at some point during the past year. Yeah. And it wasn't one point, it was a gradual he started, he was babbling then he was making word approximations and sign language. And then he had words and then he started combining words and he started playing more and started imitating more. And I would say from his latest digital assessment, which we're going to put in the show notes with your permission, his language is pretty much turned around. Yeah.

Katty: I mean, I have friends. They have to because these two kids have the same age. But they're a little bit more developed in language. I think that when I hear those two and my son, it's just like, oh, he's a little bit behind, but he's on the track. That's the most important thing. He's just like, Yeah, he's going on that way. And as you say from babbling, he will just say an approximation of things. And then it was like another thing, for example, that I was told where a speech therapy is like, okay, carrier phrases and how I teach him to say I one, I need to give me these. And then I was like, No, I'm going to follow what Mary says in the course. So I just thought, I guess teaching I mean, now some verbs and adjectives at the table and out of the table. And after maybe once Santiago was 30/32 months, he started combining words together.

Mary: So you did take him to a speech therapist for an evaluation? Yeah. Okay. His expressive language ability of a 26 month old. And you didn't?.

Katty: No I didn't get that, I was looking for that. But they told me that part of the assessment was for the autism thing, so for the autism process. And they told me we can do that. So the only thing that I knew was that when Santiago was 22 for the government center, they told me, oh, he's delayed. But they didn't told me how late he was. Then he was assessed for speech therapy, for that speech therapy like two times and they told me so you know what? He's still delayed. But they didn't tell me how delayed the last time I gave him because he said oh because they were focused like on or he's not saying utterances like two or three words together. But that happened when Santiago was in the speech session. But here at home, he was just trying to join two or three words. And then I made a language sample and I brought it to her and it said, Do you know what he's saying this at home? I don't mind what I mean. I don't mind if he doesn't talk to you because obviously he's not going to talk to you. He's going to talk to me. So he's saying this.

Speech Evaluations, Carrier Phrases, and Length of Utterances

Mary: And we find this a lot. Okay. So when kids then do have 50/100/500 single words, they have a bunch of words. Right. And then we find that a lot of traditional speech therapists, like most speech therapies, and I've had a number of speech therapists on the podcast, but those are all they're mostly in the verbal behavior world, in the ABA world, many of them like Rose Griffin on podcast number ten, I think we can link in the show notes. She's both an SLP and BCBA. She's taken all my courses and she is in our groups to support people. But traditional non ABA SLPs almost always recommend carrier phrases and what a carrier phrase for those of you listening are putting a pat phrase on the front. Of things like I want. That's all I need. I see. And this is a technique to get the length of utterance, the length of word utterance, two or three or four, four words per sentence. And even back in the day when Luke has started his talk, I mean, that is what everybody recommended. Oh, and I even thought back then, because I wasn't a behavior analyst, that I was measuring his progress by his length of sentences, length of utterance. I did do a podcast, which is actually I don't talk about it much, but it is based on a lecture. I heard Dr. Vincent Carbone, who's a BCBA. He did a lecture on length of utterance and how it's so important and it's a podcast 94 we'll link it in the show notes. And he basically presented a lot of research on the fact that we need to let our kids develop two word utterances on their own before we start monkeying around with anything with length of utterance. I did, you know, video blogs we can link in the show notes. What's wrong with the goal of Timmy talking in 3 to 4 word utterances and some of the work of Barbash, who created that? A quick assessment as part of the VB-MAPP. She's an SLP-BCAD and she basically said it should be word length like refrigerator is five syllables, one word the cat ran down the stairs or down the steps is, you know, we have to we can't not count syllables. So in the beginning when you're going from babbling to words, we need one word utterance, one syllable, one word, one syllable or two syllable like mama, which is easier than mom sometimes for kids to to have that, you know, consonant in the end. And I'm not a speech therapist, but I will tell you, I have strong feelings about not using carrier phrases. We can link that video blog in the show notes, too, because I think what Katty and her experience has done with these courses and basically just doing all the therapy yourself, you went to a speech therapist twice. She told you if you bring him back, we're going to work on carrier phrases. You said, no, thank you. And you did it yourself, which, you know, huge applause to you to just roll up your sleeves and continue to get him as high as possible in terms of language. So that's do you have anything to say about that until then I want to move on to the intraverbal subtext.

Katty: Just to say that I agree with you. Like, I mean it, yeah, we expect a child to speak immediately. And as I told you, it's just a long process. And right now with my experience is just let the child say that has plenty of words. So in Santiago's experience, as they say, two words, he tried to join together and then he started by himself, like and I was like sometimes they were like, I didn't teach you that, so how come you got it? So it was just the following that is funny. I let him learn it once he can do it right. So.

Mary: So once a child has one word utterances, then we teach adjectives, adverbs, verbs, you know, teach them separately, colors, potentially, and then let them naturally put it together. I mean, you might have to do a couple little things, but it's tricky and I say it all the time, like intermediate learners who are like for those of you that know the VB-MAPP, level two, level three and our intermediate learners are so tricky to program for and they can become so rote and have such conditional discrimination errors that you or the speech therapist or the BCBA. Well-meaning people can make a real mess of language if you don't program very carefully and you don't let little kids develop natural language patterns. Okay, let's move on to I also with carrier phrases. We also don't want to do what I call tit for tat parent programming, programming too much for kids like Santiago, because Santiago is at this point typically developing. I don't see from the videos that I've seen and the, you know, the assessments. Any need for an evaluation for autism. But we need to get his language to be as natural and as caught up as possible.
Katty: And also, when this started, I helped a lot, the book program.

Mary: Yeah, okay.

Katty: The book program was totally good. It started for me to help him. So it was just like at a table or the table and everything that he liked reading. So I was just like, And he also learned a lot from it, from the books.

Mary: So the book program, we have a bonus video inside the Verbal Behavior Bundle. If you have a toddler or you're an early intervention professional, we always recommend starting with the toddler course. But then after 60 days moving to the bundle, if you have an older child, starting with the bundle is good, you can find information in our show notes about joining the course. If you're not sure if the course is right for you, attend a free workshop. We're going to link that in the show notes as well. But it's going to take a lot of time and dedication. People are like, Oh, I can't afford it. Okay, you know, the money part is actually the easy part. And I don't mean to be flip about it, but it is hours and hours and hours of your time. But you know what? You're parenting hours and hours and hours of your time anyway. You might as well do it easily and positively. And once you start seeing progress, it's amazing, right? Yes. Then it's so motivating to wake up and be like, all right, you know?

Katty: Yeah, as I told you, my husband, we have two different points of view. So what I was because I was a teacher in my home country and so obviously I usually work with kindergarten, but five years old. And then I jumped to become a professor. So I was just like, I sometimes feel frustrated that I could help kids at the kindergarten where I used to work and how can I not help my child? Right. So my husband was like, Katty, take it slowly. I mean, take it easy, watch the videos slowly. And I was like, I know I am in a hurry. This is like a marathon. Okay? If I don't do it right now, I'm not going to do anything. So it takes time. But I see that, as you said, once you see the results, everything works like, okay, go ahead. Go ahead and go ahead because I can get it. I can have some more results.

Intraverbal Subtests

Mary: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So now we're going to jump to the VB-MAPP, the inter verbal assessment. It's a subtests of the VBE map and it is a great, great tool. Once you have a child who is. Putting some words together and beginning to do fill-ins with song fill-ins, beginning to answer some very easy questions in the beginning. Now, for those of you that don't know, there are four elementary verbal operations where when people say, does your child speak? And you say, yeah, that they have ten words. So as a BCBA that specializes in verbal behavior, I'm going to ask you, well, how do they use those ten words or 100 words? Can they request or mand? Can they label or tact? Can they echo you saying the word after you say it? And the fourth operant, verbal operant is an intraverbal. And that is the answer part of asking a question. And the answer part is or is always the most difficult verbal operant. It's the most advanced verbal operant. It doesn't start until 18 months of developmental level. So what if your child is 18 months old and they're developing? Typically they will start to do song fill-ins. They should start to answer their name. They will start, what do you sleep in and they'll start to fill in that. Now we have, you know, older kids who can't do any intraverbals because they don't have the basic mands and the basic tacts. And this all sounds complicated, but like Katty, you can attest, the toddler course, we don't really get into it. We just like shoebox programs, say, cow, cow. It's all in there. If they say cow, it's part mand because they want the picture to put in the shoe box as part tact because they can see it, part echo because you're saying it, it's not part intraverbals, intraverbals come later and we do song time which we talk about in the toddler course, which is how to build those into verbals. So the enumerable subtext is just a great tool. It is the tool I would use if I were like, if you are listening and you say, I have an eight year old who's quote unquote high functioning or has a lot of language, talks in little phrases is in second grade. Where should I start? You know, as a behavior analyst, I would want to know where they're at in terms of intraverbals. And sometimes I would just go up to kids and I would just just to see I remember one time we were in a classroom and it was like, Oh, we just got Johnny. He's new in the class. And the teacher even said, Oh, he's, he's really high functioning. I'm like, okay, go up to him. Start asking him questions to see. Can he converse? Is he conversational? So I go, Johnny, you know? Or I said, Hey, buddy, what's your name? Asking us a pretty simple question on the intraverbal subtest. And he said it. And then I said, you know, maybe ask him a couple more. And he didn't really answer. And then I said, What flies in the sky? And he's like, three, two, one, blastoff. It just gives you an idea. I mean, that wasn't a totally off the wall response, but it wasn't a response she would get from a typically developing or high functioning youngster. So the VB-MAPP assessment is eight groups. We will post Santiago's results in the show notes, but his inter verbal assessment is amazing. It was just done recently. And had you done this intraverbal assessment earlier?

Katty: I did it when? Maybe last year. By December. Yeah, I did it. I mean, I think the first or the second very well. And then he fell apart. And so and then this the fourth group and then I think it was by March last month, I mean, yeah, this March, this past month of March or May that I did it again and he was doing much better. And it was last week. I think that I did that and I was totally impressed.

Mary: Yeah. Yeah. So the other thing I don't. I'm not even sure if you know this, Katty, but even typically developing four and five year olds sometimes make errors on group seven and eight.

Katty: Yeah.

Mary: He actually scored great up until group seven and 8. 7 was the majority. So groups one of the intraverbal subtests is like, twinkle, twinkle, little. The wheels on the bus go, a dog says so that an animal sounds song fill-ins. Happy birthday to. So it's those kinds of things. Now, remember, this is everything on the intraverbal subtest with no visuals. So some of the techniques we use to teach this might be Twinkle, Twinkle Little, and we might hold up a star. But when we're testing, we're not using any visuals. And then Group two gets into, like, what's your name? You eat. You sit on. You flush the. You sleep in. So they're fill-ins, but not to songs. And then group three. What are some colors? What can you drink? What are some numbers? What's in the kitchen? Those tend to get you know, it gets hard real quick. So it's very common. I know in the intraverbal bonus video I have within my courses, I show the original one and she only had a ready set which was go and that was her only response when she began. So it's really a great tool. We can also post the blank VB-MAPP assessment or post a link to it that is all free of charge from Dr. Mark Sundberg, who created the about into verbal subtests. But I would say based on this, with Group seven at about 70% and Group eight being about five out of ten from this scoring. For me, I wouldn't even bother to do a VB-MAPP assessment at this point. I know you did one. And you can if you have one, you can program from it. That's fine. All of our courses are based on the VB-MAPP. And even my digital assessment is something I created way before the VB-MAPP assessment originally. But it's all based on looking at the big picture, looking at language, but also looking really a third of your time at those daily activities and self-care tasks which normally are a big problem, especially for kids on the spectrum. Now Santiago's not on the spectrum and then also looking a big chunk of the time at problem behaviors, which isn't a problem anymore for him. But one of the things I would say is if you can get a standardized speech evaluation through your insurance or through government funding, I would do a standardized speech assessment now or as soon as possible. And when's his birthday.

Katty: In May next year.

Mary: Okay. So if just so I would do it now or soon or as soon as you can get somebody to do a standardized speech assessment. If you said, oh, his birthday is December 8th instead of May, I would say wait until after December 8th, because the language for a four year old obviously is different from the language for a three year old. But since it's far away, I would do try to get a standardized assessment and maybe you could go back to this government person or another person from that agency and just say, I need a standardized speech and language assessment to see for these high kids that have completed or nearly completed the VB-MAPP and intraverbal subtests, I then like to really keep my finger on the pulse of where his language is. I like the fact that you can compare him to your friends, to kids who are the same age. Is good. Your thinking is a little delayed. But remember, he only started talking a year ago.

Katty: Actually he's 42. He started talking like I mean, like joining words and being a little bit more clear when he was 32/33, yeah.

Mary: So he's a new, you know, newer talker than those kids that started at 18 months. So he just may need a little bit more time sometimes, you know, preemies have to get adjusted and those sorts of things. So but I would say that most of my kids, if they can get if they were at this point, one of my things was. Every six months or every year until he's caught up to get a standardized speech assessment, because they are going to be able to do the real hard stuff of the dog's following behind the cat because he's like, you know, why all of those intricate speech things that and he might need speech therapy at this point, but they won't be working or they shouldn't be working on carrier phrases now, but they should be working on those hard rule kind of more, more tricky kind of things that would be covered also in in something like language for learning and language for thinking. But since he's so young, he's only three and a half, I might really focus on some good speech therapy. You could also look at distance speech therapy. Rose Griffin, I believe, does some or she could refer you to somebody, even in the states that might be able to do assessments or treatment and not go against what you've been learning because you're right to be questioning and not just going, okay, I did my part. Let's leave it to the professionals because you're still the captain of the ship, right? Yeah.

Katty: That's right. Yeah, that's what I told Rachel, too, that I. I learn things to happen here. It's just not waiting for somebody else to do it. I mean, with no support. I mean, with COVID too it was like somebody has to do it. I'm his mom and. Nobody else is going to do it better than I can do it. So let's do it. As I told you, it was nights, long nights. I was crying. I have to be honest. I cried a lot. But I finally see results and see progress and see that he's trying. Because he's also trying to learn and echo and use words, I mean, on a daily basis. Learning words on a daily basis. So it's just like, okay, go ahead, let's do it.

Mary: And another thing I like about the intraverbal subtests is he says, I don't know if he doesn't know something.

Katty: Yeah.

Mary: It's also a really great skill that, you know, most typically developing kids will use. So, you know, I think it's just great that you found my course and you weren't turned off by autism. I mean, you know, in the title of the course and and you just felt like I was the same way. I'm like even when I thought Lucas quote unquote, just had a "speech delay". I was like, I got to go and find out what they're doing to help kids with autism, because I want to know and if that's the only place you're going to learn now, eventually, just like I created the mini course Turn Tantrums Around which people can buy right now for $47 and just dip their toe in the water. I might create Turn Speech Delays Around, you know, because these are behavioral techniques based on, you know, the literature, but based on my experiences as a mom, as an advocate, as a nurse and as a BCBA. And I think there's just a lot of common sense tools that are working for kids with and without autism.

Katty: And I think that, for example, with Santiago I had the speech therapy told me, oh, he might have a motor error.

Mary: Apraxia?

Katty: Yeah, something like that. And I was like, okay, I was always trying to ask questions. I saw, what can we do there? If you think that he might have apraxia or whatever thing that you think, how can I have his motor development? Right. And these are oh, no, he's going to learn. And I really felt frustrated every time that they told me he's going to learn. So I was like, no, there might be something I can do. So I remember that you mentioned it was so I went to that website and I found some good courses and that helped me a lot. Right now I feel like a speech therapist without a certification.

Turn Autism Around for Children With or Without Autism

Mary: I mean, there's a lot you can learn and we do have a podcast on talk tools. We can link it in the show notes. We have also had a podcast with Tammy Casper, who is all about apraxia and autism. She's also one of those SLP/BCBAs. And so there's so much that parents and pros can learn and it's just, you know, just take some rolling up your sleeves. And I really appreciate you, you know, not only taking the course and sharing your success within our community, but also being willing to come on here and, you know, share your son's story. Even though you're not in the autism world, per se, you just want to help others by showing.
Katty: And I think that I mean, one thing that I kept in mind was like, I don't mind if he has a condition or not. I mean, the only thing that I want is just to help him communicate. And even if he can only say one or two words, that he can communicate and be as clear as possible. Right. So and I kept that in my mind always. As I told you, I cried. But at the same time, this gave me the tools to help myself and help my child.

Mary: Yeah. And now he's. He's on his way to being fully conversational. He is having little conversations.

Katty: Yeah.

Mary: He's talking in sentences he is using contractions and, and pronouns and, and just some of the things you've typed in the community are like, wow, you know, to get from zero words to, you know, having little conversations in a year is amazing. So yeah. So congratulations. So before I let you go, I always like to ask about self-care skills or stress management tools that you use that can help you be less stressed and lead a happier life.
Katty: One of the things that I do is walk with my child and we walk a lot. We have walks. And another thing that I do for myself is watch some TV at night. I know. I know that because I mean, probably not the best thing. But just.

Mary: Well it's one of my stress reduction tips, too, because I just was on episode 200, I got interviewed and at the end.

Katty: Right now I'm very attached, not attached but I got into a series called Stranger Things and me and my husband are like, okay, let's watch, everynight!

Mary: Yeah, going on walks and watching TV. I think the amount of time you spend helping Santiago do his best is amazing. And so you get some downtime watching some junk TV like I do. Yeah. Thank you so much for coming today. I'm also excited to learn that you speak Spanish and you know, as my books are both now available in Spanish, you know, we can link those in the show notes. And I think I, you know, some of the best people that work with me and and volunteer in my community and everything are past participants who have had success. So I'm excited to have you along for the future and in the long term. So. Thank you so much, Katty.

Katty: Thank you so much for having me and for everything that you do, because, I mean, this is so much I mean, it was a blessing for me. It was a real blessing. Thank you so much.

Mary: Thank you. If you're a parent or an autism professional and enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out my online course and community where we take all of this material and we apply it. You'll learn life changing strategies to get your child or clients to reach their fullest potential. Join me for a free online workshop at where you can learn how to avoid common mistakes. You can see videos of me working with kids with and without autism. And you can learn more about joining my online course and community at a very special discount. Once again, go to for all the details. I hope to see you there.