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communication skills

Speech Development

February 4, 2019

What happens when a parent first expresses concern about a toddler’s speech development?  How can a parent know whether a child is simply a late-bloomer or is having more serious developmental issues?

When to Seek Help

Why don’t we give it a few months and see if the child catches up on his or her development. Unfortunately, this is often the first thing parents hear when they talk to a pediatrician about a toddler’s lack of speech.  Although it’s true that some children start speaking on their own without any intervention, this advice does not give parents any recommendations to encourage their children’s communication skills.

Speech milestones on the developmental charts are flexible because of the vital roles of non-verbal communication and social skills in early development.  But when pressed, pediatricians and speech therapists usually say that a child should have about 3 spoken words (including partial words) at age 12-18 months, 50 to 200 words at age 2, speak in sentences by age 3 and tell simple stories by age 4.  A child is considered “significantly” delayed in speech if he or she has a vocabulary of fewer than 5 words at age 2. But there are many ways to be delayed in language. For some, it is a matter of oral motor skills, for others it is a lack of understanding of the function of language.

Every child develops at different rates and some children develop in certain areas faster than others. Speech and language are the most common areas of development that can be delayed. About 20% of children learn to talk or use words later than other children their age.

If your child is delayed in several areas, this may be a sign of speech or language delay (learn more about when to seek help). Sometimes a related concern will be that children will show behavior problems, such as temper tantrums, because they are frustrated when they cannot express what they need or want. If your pediatrician suspects there may be a speech or language delay, your pediatrician may ask additional questions, order a hearing test, or refer your child for additional evaluation.  Please reach out to Solace as our Speech Therapist will come to your home and give your child an evaluation.

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