As our children begin to develop their voice, they can begin to exhibit speech problems. As parents, it’s our job to worry about our children’s well being and how it might impact their later success in school.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development it’s important to consult a professional (speech language pathologist). Although this might not be necessary, a speech pathologist can look for any physiological problems that may be aiding the delayed speech development. They will then suggest the implementation of exercises that you can do at home to address the cause of the speech impairment.
As with any medical condition, early intervention will facilitate and improve results. If you notice your child is falling behind language milestones it’s important to take action.
Keep in mind that not all speech impairments are caused by any underlying health condition. Child development has different timelines and it’s important to understand that.
Difference Between Speech and Language Delays
Speech therapy involves the assessment and treatment of speech and language delays. It’s important to know the difference between the two.
Speech Delays are the act of not being able to produce sounds and say words.
A language delay is the inability to understand and communicate.
Signs that your child might have a speech delay include:
- Isn’t cooing by the time they are 2 months old.
- Hasn’t uttered simple words by the time they are 18 months old (such as “mama”).
- Doesn’t use at least 25 words by the time they are 2 years old.
- By 2 and a half, they haven’t started forming two-three-word phrases.
- Age 3: They’ve yet to ask for things and are hard to understand (uses less than 100 words).
- Unable to say previously learned words.
Does a Speech Delay Signify There’s an Underlying Condition?
Sometimes a speech delay is simply the cause of different timelines. Every child learns and grows differently, and they will soon catch up.
Patience is key when it comes to helping your child develop their way of speaking. Some tips for motivating and inspiring your child include;
- Practice: The phrase “practice makes perfect” is effective for a reason. Have your child practice the sound that he/she is struggling with. When they repeat it a certain amount of times give them an incentive to keep going.
- Focus On What Can Be Done: Instead of getting upset about what is out of your control, focus on what he/she can do. Don’t overwhelm your child or yourself
- Listen and Limit Noise: Ask questions and actually listen to their responses. Give him/her time to respond without pressure. Limiting the amount of background noise can also help. Focus on the conversation and give it time to develop.
- Read: This might sound redundant but read to your child and have them read the same book back to you. The repetition of context will have them feel more comfortable with pronunciation of the words.
Other times it could mean they have hearing loss, problems with their mouth, Autism, or intellectual disabilities. Early diagnosis of any condition usually translates to a better outcome. The goal of any therapy is independence.