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Most late-talking toddlers catch up. But their skills are likely to lag behind those of kids from the same background who were chattier at 2.

Normal spoken language, also called expressive language, for a child at this age should include naming a few body parts (not just pointing to them when you name them), speaking at least 50 words spontaneously and beginning to string two-three words together into phrases. Language goes beyond just what a child says and includes what a child hears and understands. This is called receptive language and by age 2 a child should be understanding virtually everything you say, following commands and beginning to understand simple location words like "under" or "next to."

Because spoken language depends on all three aspects of language (hearing, understanding and speaking) a problem with any one of these three can result in delays in speech. Because hearing is essential to all parts of language, all children with speech issues should have a hearing evaluation. If a child has wax blocking the ear canal or fluid behind the eardrum or frequent ear infections leading to eardrum scarring, hearing will be lost.

If a child does have hearing issues, his speech will be affected in several ways. If it has been longstanding, he may not seem to understand what you say well, may have difficulty hearing you calling from the other room or may follow commands better if you use gestures or if the child can see your face and read your lips. In addition, children with hearing loss will have a vocal quality that sounds like they learned to talk underwater. The sounds are a bit off, consonants not sharp.

The next area that can cause delays in spoken language at age 2 has to do with understanding or processing of speech. Many factors influence this area, including overall intelligence. Problems with social interactions, such as autism, can also cause significant speech delay because the child doesn't understand social cues and due to the lack of ability to have appropriate social relationships, language is often significantly delayed .These problems of understanding and processing are some of the most challenging to diagnose and require an experienced pediatric speech and language therapist to assess the child and plan the therapy.

The third area where language can go awry involves the connection from the brain to the mouth and the ability of the person to breathe, manipulate their tongues and mouths and lips in the right combinations to achieve understandable spoken language. Issues of the mechanics of breath and mouth control usually result not in few words at age 2 but a normal number words that are difficult to understand. These children are incredibly frustrated and will often have severe temper tantrums and behavior problems. From what you say it seems unlikely this is the cause of speech delay in your son.

Although all late talkers should be assessed by a pediatrician at least, some of these children will be "normal" late talkers. These children understand perfectly well, are clearly normal in every other way as far as development go and have a family history of a later talker who never needed speech therapy or school support.

If you're concerned about your child's speech and language development, there are some things to watch for.

Seek an evaluation for your son, if by age 2 years, he

·       can only imitate speech or actions and doesn't produce words or phrases spontaneously

·       says only certain sounds or words repeatedly and can't use oral language to communicate more than his or her immediate need

·       can't follow simple directions

·       has an unusual tone of voice (such as raspy or nasal sounding)

·       is more difficult to understand than expected for his or her age. Parents and regular caregivers should understand about half of a child's speech at 2 years and about three quarters at 3 years. By 4 years old, a child should be mostly understood, even by people who don't know the child.

What You Can Do

Like so many other things, speech development is a mixture of nature and nurture. Genetic makeup will, in part, determine intelligence and speech and language development. However, a lot of it depends on environment. Is your child adequately stimulated at home and with the maid? Are there opportunities for communication exchange and participation? What kind of feedback does your son get?

When speech, language, hearing, or developmental problems do exist, early intervention can provide the help a child needs. And when you have a better understanding of why your child isn't talking, you can learn ways to encourage speech development.

Here are a few general tips to use at home:

- Singing action rhymes with your child, Using action rhymes about topics of interest to your child is an important starting point. The internet has lots of ideas on action rhymes you can do with your toddler. The following are a few examples of action rhymes your toddler might enjoy:

Little, Bigger, Biggest

A little ball, (Make a ball with finger and thumb.)

A bigger ball, (Make a ball with two hands.)

And a great big ball. (Make a ball with arms.)

Now help me count them.

One, Two, Three! (Repeat gestures for each size.)

 

Row Your Boat

Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream.

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily,

Life is but a dream.

(Sitting on the floor with your child, hold his or her

hands and rock backward and forward.)

 

Stretching

When I stretch up, I feel so tall. (Reach high.)

When I bend down, I feel so small. (Bend over.)

Taller, Taller, Taller, Taller. (Reach up high.)

Smaller, Smaller, Smaller, Smaller.

(Get low on the floor.)

Into a tiny ball.

- Read to your child, Somewhere between 12 and 18 months, your child will realize that those sounds you've been making as you read — words — actually mean something. The more you talk and read aloud to a child at this time (and from the start, for that matter), the better his vocabulary will be.
Look for books with a wide variety of visuals, words that repeat often, and clearly labeled objects, both common and unfamiliar. When you read aloud, pause frequently to ask questions about the objects you see, answer your child's questions, and talk through the book's action and images.
You don't need a big book budget for this age group. Hearing three or four stories over and over is better for a child than trying to introduce lots of newbooks. House of Fashion, Chapters, Sarasavi,Makeen and Milk book shops all have a lots of such books available. Minimise Screen time. Children under the age of 2 should not watch any TV or have access to you tube or ipads or any such technology. Research has shown that exposure to such gadgets can have a huge impact on speech and is known to cause speech delay.

- Avoid giving a soother, except at nap times and bed time. If your son in in the habit of having the soother in his mouth at other times then gradually change that habit.

-  Use everyday situations to reinforce your child's speech and language. In other words, talk your way through the day. For example, name foods at the supermarket, explain what you're doing as you cook a meal or clean a room, point out objects around the house, and as you drive, point out sounds you hear. Ask questions and acknowledge your child's responses (even when they're hard to understand). Keep things simple, but never use "baby talk."

-  Have 30 min one on one without distractions. I know this may not be easy for you to do as a working mum. But this will help his speech development immensely. Sit on the floor with your son. Turn off all back ground noise like the TV, radio and even the washing machine. Then just play with him . Be guided by what he wants to play. Look at him and talk, sing dance read and do a lot of pretend play games together.

The keys are that during this focussed time you spend with your child it should be:

one-to-one with no other people distracting or removing focus. This means making half an hour quality play time for each of your kids.in a completely silent environment, with no background noise so that the child learns to really hear both the sounds you and he make but also the sounds his toys and other objects make. Like this they can really learn about cause and effect – eg when I hit this toy it makes that sound. Conversely a child brought up always immersed in background noise (eg TV) can have real difficulties listening and picking out important sounds – which can lead to speech and language delays. child-led. This is having 'shared focus' but at this age it means that you have really got to focus in on what the baby is paying attention to and give words to what shehe is seeing, doing, tasting, etc. This might be the most important step of all.responsive. Make sure you answer your baby's vocalisations. That gives him instant feedback, a chance to hear it played back but also an understanding of timing and of how conversations work i.e. I talk and you listen, then you talk and I listen, etc.simple. In this half hour, keep your words short and your sentences simple and always grammatically correct. Create a string of short sentences which repeat and emphasise a key word you are trying to impart for example: Here is the ball. It is a blue ball. Ammi is holding the ball.don't ask 'testing' questions. kids language skills can became inhibited by over-eager parents who incessantly asked questions like 'what is this called,baba?', 'can you say the name for that'. 'what's this colour?'This can really frustrate and puts kids off language all together – especially if they don't immediately know the answer – plus it is pulling focus to what the parent wants them to look at rather than following the kid's natural interest, which really is the best way to help them learn.be positive. When your child starts speaking, always celebrate or acknowledge what they do get right, even if you need to correct it slightly. Say they say 'kiki' for kitty. It is great they have a sound for the cat. You can respond with 'Yes, it is the kitty' – that immediately tells the child two things a) you like it and understand when they talk; b) the correct word is kitty. Be patient with them :)have fun. If language is fun and children are getting a kick out of being able to actually communicate and have their needs, wants and likes acknowledged and responded to they will want to communicate more. And you will enjoy it, too. This kind of approach is really about spending quality time with your little one and increasing the closeness and bond between you.

It is also helpful to begin keeping a word list in which you note the words that your child uses. These words don't have to be pronounced perfectly, but they should be sounds that your son uses consistently for one idea.  For example, he may say "muh" for milk and only use this sound to ask for milk. So you can include "muh" as one of his words on the list.  Bring this list with you to your discussion with your pediatrician and during any assessments that may take place.

In order to support your son's language development, make a habit of repeating and labeling any sounds he uses for words. For example, if he says "ba" for "ball," you can say, Yes, that's the ball. Continue to read, talk, and sing with him, ask him questions, and point out and identify the people and things that fill his world.  Other helpful strategies are to use short sentences (three to five words) when you talk with him, and to engage in lots of back-and-forth verbal interaction with him. You say something and then pause to give him time to respond.

Whatever your child's age, recognizing and treating problems early on is the best approach to help with speech and language delays. With proper assessment to find out the reason for the speech delay, and if needed  therapy and time, your child will likely be better able to communicate with you and the rest of the world.


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