When Nic came to us last year, he had very few words. Seriously. I’ve told this story before, the only recognizable word was “sh*t”. So I started teaching him sign language. It worked very well for us. He fought me like crazy on signing “Thank You” (for some reason) but now he says “Thank You”.
Even though he can say “I love you”, my mom has been teaching him the sign for it. She’s been teaching him and Ellie (my niece) the sign. He hasn’t quiet got it right yet. Anytime we say, “I love you” he throws out his sign and says it back.
He is consistent with doing it incorrectly. It’s just how he says, “I love you”.