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'Teen Mom' Amber Portwood's 2-year-old Leah Is Barely Speaking. Is There A Problem? Exclusive!

Thu, December 16, 2010 2:40pm EDT by 2 Comments
'Teen Mom' Amber Portwood's 2-year-old Leah Is Barely Speaking. Is There A Problem? Exclusive!

The tiny star of Teen Mom is saying just a handful of words. Some fear there’s a serious issue with her development.

Amber Portwood and Gary Shirley‘s 2-year-old daughter, Leah, isn’t exactly a chatterbox. A source close to the family tells that the toddler’s vocabulary consists of about five words: mom, cracker, cookie, Gary and Amber. Considering most toddlers know about 20 words by the time they’re 18 months and 50 by their second birthday, is this the sign of a bigger problem?

Why does Amber refuse to use birth control?

According to experts, every child develops at a different pace and some are just slower to start speaking than others. Albert Einstein didn’t talk until he was 4! But Amber, 20, and her ex-fiance, Gary, haven’t exactly been the best role models for their little lady, so it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if they’ve not been interacting or stimulating her enough.

“Certainly, it’s true that children need positive interaction with a nurturing caretaker to provide developmental stimulation,” says pediatrician Ari Brown M.D.

“By the time a baby is two years old, she should be able  to say two, or even three, word sentences,” Carole Lieberman M.D. tells “But a traumatic environment can stunt a child’s development. Clearly Leah, who has been exposed to Amber’s violent behavior towards her ex-fiance, Gary, has been repeatedly traumatized and frightened.”

The little girl is also confused when it comes to who’s who. Sources tell us that when Leah does speak she has a habit of calling her father “Gary”, instead of dad, which is what most little kids would say. And Gary’s new girlfriend is Ashley but Leah calls her “Amber!”

Amber regained major custody of Leah

While Leah’s not ready to talk like Amber, she is following in her mom’s footsteps in some ways. We hear that the tot was caught trying to hit Gary’s girlfriend’s daughter!

Dr. Lieberman agrees that little Leah isn’t getting enough interaction with her parents. “She is not getting the appropriate healthy stimulation from either her mom or dad,” she tells, but is quick to point out that delayed development can also be a sign of substance abuse during pregnancy. “She should be taken to a pediatrician and a psychiatrist for testing, to check for problems, such as autism,” recommends Dr. Lieberman.

“The first thing I would do is a hearing test to be sure that the child can actually hear. Some children have numerous ear infections, leading to a temporary hearing loss. And rarely, a child can have nerve damage that is either present at birth or acquired,” adds Dr. Brown.

–Amy L. Harper

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