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Speech Delays

Tips for detecting speech delays in preschool language development.

Child speaking

A mom recently emailed me about her child that seems slow to talk. Below are some tips I've picked up from remedial and occupational therapists I know and from witnessing these issues in children I know.

There are three main stages in a child's early language development.

  1. Pre-Linguistic Stage: 0-18 months
    Babies progress from one word at a time, to two-word phrases. Language and comprehension is developing in the brain.
  2. Emerging Language Stage:18-24 months
    Speech is developing in simple sentences with limited vocabulary.
  3. Developing Language Stage - 2-3 years
  4. Language and conversation skills continue to develop. The child can understand much more and is better able to express herself fluently.
Some children just take longer to start talking fluently than others...but keep an eye your child's progress. Don't ignore any warning signs that persist.

Watch out for signs and symptoms of speech delays in linguistic progress:

  • not babbling by 12 to 15 months of age
  • not comprehending simple commands by 18 months of age
  • not talking by age 2
  • not constructing sentences by age 3
  • not able to tell a simple story by age 4-5 years

If a child is in an environment where he is hearing more than one language (like a bilingual home) then he may progress slower than average initially, but later he will have the advantage of speaking two languages.

If he has been sick in any way that caused him to have ear infections, which would hinder his hearing, then that would cause language delays - he can't produce output if there was no input.

The language section of the brain starts developing while in utero, as the baby hears the sounds of his mother's voice and the language used in the environment, so a child with any hearing delays will also have speech delays.

Following on from that - to ensure that a child has a rich store of language data in his brain from which to draw and produce his own communication, make sure you read aloud often. Besides improving language development, there are over 20 other Benefits of Reading.

You should also read nursery rhymes and poems, teach your child preschool songs and talk and interact with your child a lot so that he is forced to produce language.

If after some time, a child still shows signs of speech delays that cannot be explained, then don't hesitate to get him professionally assessed. If there is a problem, the sooner it gets the right treatment the better.

Your child's abilities are NOT a reflection on you or your parenting skills, so don't let feelings of inadequacy prevent you from getting help for your child.

Children with auditory problems may struggle with learning to read and with spelling, which can have devastating effects on their school careers and self-esteem, so it is crucial to sort out any problems as early as possible.

It would also be wise to limit the amount of time spent in front of electronic media - TV, DVDs, electronic games etc.

Real life communication is far better.

...so get ACTIVE and get INTERACTIVE with your children and they will be flourish in their all round development.

Research shows that it's interacting with YOU that develops their brains.

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