Dealing With Speech Delays – Causes, Detection & What to Do About It
Hearing your child speak for the first time is certainly going to be an exciting moment. However, when his speech milestones don’t seem to be coming as expected, it can raise a lot of concern. In this guide, we will take a look at speech delays and how you and your baby can deal with them.
Your child’s speech and language development timeline
To see if your baby’s speech and language faculties are indeed developing correctly, you have to know when his milestones are supposed to appear. Here is a quick rundown of these milestones:
|Birth||Your baby cries to get your attention|
|2-3 months||Starts cooing and has different cries for different situations|
|3-4 months||Does random babbles|
|5-6 months||His babbles now have a certain rhythm.|
|6-11 months||His babbles sound more like speech, but is not yet, even including expressions.|
|12 months||Utters his first 1-2 words|
|18 months||His vocabulary expands to around 20 words|
|2 years old||Uses two-word sentences, able to use words like “more” to express his wants|
Note that these are just the average time frames at which the milestones appear. Some kids will reach these earlier than others while others might be late in the party. Hence, do not fret if it seems that your child’s vocal development might seem slow, as long is it is progressing within the prescribed period.
The causes of speech and language delays
One of the most common cited reasons for speech delays is a learning disability. In fact, a speech delay is actually one of the early signs of such disabilities. Such delays could also be an indicator of a potentially serious intellectual disability.
Another common, but often overlooked, a cause of speech and language delay is hearing impairment. As have been stressed in our previous article, hearing is an important component of speech development, as not only does your child learn sounds through it, but also associate these sounds with written words. Hence, even a small ear infection that disrupts hearing for prolonged periods can have a significant effect on his speech development.
Several neurological conditions can also adversely affect the development of your child’s speech. Such conditions include cerebral palsy and autism. On the other hand, physical disabilities like a cleft chin or palate could impair normal speech, though your child might still be able to communicate.
Detecting speech delays and problems
One thing you need to keep in mind with speech delays and problems is that they might not be apparent until after he hits his first birthday. At this point, you should be concerned if your child isn’t babbling or is not seemingly interested in communicating with others. You also need to watch out for his non-verbal communication, such as the use of gestures. If he prefers using this more than words, then you might have a problem. On the other hand, if even this is absent, you might be faced with a bigger problem.
Meanwhile, if your child does indeed speak but still have a limited vocabulary by the time he reaches two years old, he might be suffering from a from delayed vocabulary formation. At this point, difficulty in pronouncing words correctly can also show up. It is here that you might want to consider bringing your little one to a specialist on child speech development for further diagnosis.
Helping your child
When dealing with a child that has speech difficulties, one thing that you need to keep in mind is that you should never give up trying to communicate with him. Having a difficult time trying to express himself through words can be an alienating experience, and you giving up can further aggravate the situation.
Instead, you have to be patient with him, continuously engaging him into a conversation. You can also make your talks fun for both you and him by turning these into storytelling sessions where both of you narrate what you did the whole day. When it comes to mispronunciation and wrong grammar, don’t criticize him. Instead, gently correct him, explaining why those were
Another useful strategy in helping your child deal with speech problems is letting him socialize with other kids who have better speech development than him. If you are concerned that he might be bullied because of his problems, assure him that you will be right behind him when that happens. This will give him the confidence to interact with others, which can also help stimulate his speaking.
Having trouble speaking can have a significant effect on your child’s later life. However, by providing him with all the parental support he needs, your little one will be able to overcome such hurdles. However, it is still always a good idea to consult a specialist to get a more thorough diagnosis and be given the appropriate treatment.