Your son is 2 years old and still isn’t talking. He says a few words, but compared with his peers you think he’s way behind.
What should you do if those first words don’t come or if your child’s speech is difficult to understand?
Should you take the “wait and see” approach, or seek advice? Many parents turn to the Internet to try to find information about their concerns and land up feeling overwhelmed and panic stricken.
This is a common scenario among parents of kids who are slow to talk. Unless they observe other areas of “slowness” during early development, parents may hesitate to seek advice. Some may excuse the lack of talking by reassuring themselves that “he’ll outgrow it” or “she’s just more interested in physical things.” After all, wasn’t Einstein a late talker?
This can be a very confusing situation for parents who want to do the best for their child.
It is important to recognize that every child is unique and develops at his/her own pace. Knowing what’s “normal” and what’s not in speech and language development will assist you in making a decision regarding referral to a speech and language therapist. Below is a chart of “typical” language development in children.
LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT CHART
|AGE OF CHILD||TYPICAL LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT|
|6 – 12 months||
|12 – 18 months||
|18 – 24 months||
|2 years (24 months) -2,6 years (30 months)||
|2,6 – 3 years (36 months)||
Many late talkers do “grow out of it,” but many do not.
It can be difficult to predict which children will not catch up to their peers. However, a list of risk factors has been identified, which suggest that a child is more likely to have continuing language difficulties. These include:
• No back and forth sharing of sounds and smiles by 6 months of age
• No babbling by 9 months of age
• Limited eye contact at any age
• No pointing to request something or identify things of interest by 15 months of age
• Does not follow simple one-step commands by 18 months of age
• Does not verbally imitate the names of familiar objects by 18 months of age
• Uses mostly vowel sounds and very few consonant sounds after 18 months of age
• Relies primarily on gestures and grunting to communicate after 18 months of age
• Does not use gesture to communicate.
• Leaves off many sounds at the beginnings or ends of words after age 3
• Not using three-word phrases by age 3
• Does not ask or answer “wh” questions by age 4
• Not using complete sentences by age 4
• Difficulty playing with peers (poor social skills)
• Consistently sounds as if talking through the nose (hyper-nasal)
• Child is frustrated, embarrassed, or disturbed by own speech at any age
What about the group of late talkers who seem to catch up on their own without intervention?
Even though a large percentage of these children appear to catch up to their peers by the time they enter school, studies are showing that this group of children do not perform as well as their peers. These children may experience difficulty with language complexity and grammar.
Many young children have difficulty pronouncing words and you might have to try and guess at what they are saying. Children are constantly receiving new language information and adjusting their use of previously-acquired language in order to communicate more clearly. If a child is missing one or two skills in an age range, it does not necessarily indicate a delay. If a child’s communication growth is limited or absent a speech and language assessment may be indicated.