If your two-year-old can form two- or three-word sentences from their 50-word vocabulary, you probably have nothing to worry about. In the same way, you shouldn’t be concerned if your three-year-old has too many words in their speech catalog.
As great as all this is, what if it wasn’t the case? While you’re full of hope that your little one will catch up, if they miss one too many critical speech milestones, that’s a cause for concern.
Let’s look at the signs that indicate speech delay, the different types of speech delay, and its range of interventions. This way you’ll know the appropriate actions to take if your child is a late talker.
How Do You Know If It’s Really Speech Delay?
If your child hasn’t yet achieved the following milestones by specific ages, they may have a speech delay rooted in something serious:
- Two Months: Makes cooing and babbling sound.
- 18 Months: Calls out “mama” or “dada“
- Two Years: Vocabulary should comprise at least 25 words.
- 30 Months: Uses two-word phrases or sentences with noun-verb combinations.
- Three Years: Has at least 200 words in their vocabulary, can ask for things by name, and is comprehensible.
- At Any Age: Can utter words previously learned.
Reasons Your Little One Has Delayed Speech
Speech delays can mean either one of two things. One is that your child is working on their own timeline and will eventually catch up. Second, and more worrisome, your little one has some physical and cognitive health issues that have caused the delayed speech.
Some of the most common ones are:
1. Hearing Impairment
Your child might not be able to talk properly because they can’t hear clearly or at all. One way to identify if your youngster has difficulty hearing is if they do not acknowledge when you utter the name of an object or person but do so when you point to them.
2. Oral Cavity Problems
If your little ones have problems with their mouth, palate, or tongue, they might have delayed speech. One particular condition called ankyloglossia causes one’s tongue to stick to the floor of their mouth, resulting in them being tongue-tied. It can make it difficult for children to form consonant sounds, like d, l, r, z, t, s, and th.
3. Language and Speech Disorders
In some cases, speech delay is the result of language and speech disorders. Since these disorders involve cognitive function, children who have any of them could also likely have a learning disability. Also, in many cases, this could have been the result of premature birth.
Another one of the major culprits for language and speech problems is an autism language disorder. A child who has this may repeat phrases constantly and display repetitive behavior. They may also have regressing speech and language, poor non-verbal and verbal communication skills, and poor social interactions.
5. Lack of a Stimulating Environment
Perhaps, you’re not talking or engaging enough with your little one. Remember that the environment is a major contributing factor to speech and language development. Lack of verbal stimulation at a young age could easily be the reason for speech developmental milestone delays.
What to Do About Speech Delays
Depending on how serious your child’s speech delay is, there are usually two things you can do. You can seek professional help and engage in home practices that enrich your child’s speech and language skills.
1. Seek Professional Help
This intervention may involve partnering with a speech-language pathologist. What’s great about working with these professionals is that they can give you an excellent outlook on your child’s condition. With their early intervention, your youngster might be able to catch up in the speech department by the time they attend school.
Early intervention services are also excellent options for addressing speech delays in children. After a professional diagnosis, your toddler could qualify for early intervention programs before they start formal learning.
2. Home Practices
Here are some of the most effective ways to enrich your child’s speech at home:
- Narrate what you’re doing to your children
- Give your children your full attention
- Do not answer for your kids when someone asks them a question
- Be patient when asking questions
- Read and sing to your toddlers
- Point to an object when you say its name to your child
Can My Child’s Speech Delay Be Cured?
That depends. If the reason your child is talking late is he or she is operating on their own timetable, more often than not, you probably have nothing to worry about. However, if it is established that the lack of speech stems from something more serious, like a physical or intellectual disability, you will need to take serious steps to address the condition that resulted in their underdeveloped speech.
Depending on the root cause, early intervention could lead to the normalization of your child’s speech by the time they attend pre-school. It’s safe to say that before you get any answers, you need to have your youngster evaluated by a pediatrician or a speech-language pathologist. So, the moment you see signs that your child could be a late-talker, get them assessed immediately.