Keeping an approximate track of your child’s developmental milestones comes naturally to most parents, especially when it comes to progressions in motor, cognition and speech. Children accomplish so much in their first year of life. While the rolling, crawling etc are exciting, somehow hearing our child say “Mama, Dada” for the first time is an immensely joyful moment. This doesn’t necessarily happen with all children at an exact age and there is no cause for concern as children understand language and speak at different times. However, if alongside lack of speech, you see certain signs that are worrisome and catch them early on, you will be able to tell if your child needs speech therapy. Typical Speech Development: This chart above roughly shows approximate speech milestones by age. The development of speech begins in the early months when babies start to babble, vocalize and try to imitate sounds they hear. Speech and language go hand in hand. While speech is the expression of language that includes articulation, language is giving and getting information. It’s understanding and being understood through communication. At around age 1, children begin to say their first words and by 18 months, they generally know about 15 -20 words. If they aren’t meeting these milestones, don’t panic, but with the guidance of your paediatrician, get in touch with a speech and language therapist.
Signs of Speech and Language disorders: While speech and language problems differ, they often overlap. A toddler with a speech issue might find it challenging to make certain sounds or pronounce some words, while a child with a language problem might have trouble forming sentences to express their thoughts.
Here are some early signs of Speech and Language disorders :
- Not babbling by 4-7 months: Babbling is the first speech development a baby makes. If your baby is very quiet and not attempting to make sounds, this could be an early sign of a speech disorder.
- Absence of gestures: We must remember that communication includes verbal and non-verbal communication. Children use gestures such as pointing, waving, nodding to communicate. An absence of these around 8- 12 months could also be an indicator.
- Number of words: Between the ages of 18 to 24 months, your child should be speaking between 20-40 words. If you don’t see them reaching this milestone, you might need to get them help.
- Comprehension: By the time children complete 2 years of age, they are able to understand most one-step instructions. “Bring your shoes, shut the door, get me your book” etc. If your child has trouble understanding simple requests such as these, they might need the assistance of a therapist.
What To Do: Early intervention is of utmost importance. The earlier we get help, the easier it will be for our child to make changes and catch up with their peers. If you notice your child not meeting speech and language milestones, do not panic or self diagnose. Reach out to your paediatrician who will put you in touch with a speech and language pathologist (SLP). An SLP will conduct a complete evaluation of your child’s receptive, expressive language, their oral-motor status and also use some standardized tests to understand their development and milestones. Based on these results, the therapist will suggest a personalized plan best suited to help your child.
As parents it is important to educate ourselves about child development, so we can spot any issues that arise and get intervention at the earliest. If you are worried about your child’s speech or are concerned that they have not met the typical speech and language milestones, reach out to us at Tactopus, where our therapists will evaluate your child for free and after assessing their needs, provide you with an individualized intervention plan and way forward.