Each child is different”, “Each Child grows at his/her own pace”, “Boys speak later than girls”, “Kids with delayed speech are very intelligent”…..etc, etc. These are a few sentences that young parents come across very often. But do they really hold some relevance? Understanding a few basic yet significant aspects can be of immense help for worried parents.
Knowing what’s normal and what’s not, when it comes to a delay in the speech of their little ones can be of great help for parents. Being able to figure out the right cause, action to be taken and the time to seek help may help resolve many issues that parents struggle with.
Signs to look for, to know the right time to seek a Doctor’s help
- By 12 to 15, Unable to speak either clearly or unclearly, simple words such as “mama” or “dada”
- by 12 months: doesn’t use gestures, such as pointing or waving bye-bye
- by 18 months: prefers gestures over vocalizations to communicate
- by 18 months, has trouble imitating sounds and in understanding simple words such as “yes”, “no” or “stop”
- by 2 years, can only imitate speech or actions and doesn’t produce words or phrases spontaneously
- by 2 years: says only certain sounds or words repeatedly and doesn’t use oral language to communicate more than his or her immediate needs
- by 2 years: can’t follow simple directions
- by 2 years: has an unusual tone of voice (such as raspy or nasal sounding) is more difficult to understand than expected for his or her age
- by 3 years of age, parents should understand about half of a child’s speech
- by 4 years, a child should be mostly understood, even by people who don’t know the child. Also, the child should be able to speak at least in short sentences.
Common causes that may lead to speech delays
- Oral impairment (problem with tongue or palate)
- Oral motor problems
- Ear infections especially chronic ones can affect hearing
- Use of feeder bottles and binkies for a very long period
- Psychological deprivation (generally when a child doesn’t spend much time talking with adults)
- Autism (a developmental disorder).
- Elective mutism ( when the child just doesn’t want to talk).
- Cerebral palsy (a movement disorder caused by brain damage).
Speech and language delay treatment
It’s not necessary that every child with speech delays would need some sort of treatment. Some kids just take more time to speak than their counterparts. So consult your paediatrician first and only then take a step further to go for various treatments.
A speech and language pathologist can guide you on how to help your child talk more and speak better, and also ways to teach your child how to listen or how to lip read.
One can also seek the help of an audiologist (a specialist in diagnosing and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders) and a child psychologist ( A specialist in behaviour problems)
What parents can do to make your child express
- Talk to your kid as much as you can throughout the day, during bath time, mealtime, playing time, while changing diapers.
- Read stories to them from a very early age so that they can learn new words with you and would always cherish the habit of reading.
- Talk to them at bedtime. Those five to ten minutes spent every night, while cuddling with your little one will be the best moments shared for both of you.
- Motivate them to speak and every tiny effort of the child should be awarded and applauded which in turn would motivate them to put in more effort.
- Don’t get frustrated Understanding a child who is unable to express himself can be frustrating for the parents. But please understand that the child too wants to communicate with you.
- Don’t lose your temper as the kids who are unable to express themselves tend to act out and may behave in ways that can press your button. They may get angry easily and behave weirdly to grab attention.