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Every speech-language pathologist (even those who don't work with children) seems to get asked the same few questions by parents about early speech and language development. And hopefully this post, and the ones to come this month in my Series: The Early Years, will help clarify things for all you dedicated moms and dads.
How do I know if my child’s speech is delayed?
-This question is a big one! There has been extensive research conducted on children’s speech and language development to help us figure this out. By 1 year old, your child should be saying single words, following 1-step directions (i.e, Come to Mommy), and you should be able to understand about 25% of what your child says. By 2 years of age, your child should be combining words into at least 2-word phrases and following 2-step directions, and you should be able to understand about 50% of what your child says. By 3 years of age, your child should be speaking in sentences, following complex multi-step directions, and you should be able to understand at least 75% of what your child says. If your child is not meeting these big milestones, you should consult a Speech-Language Pathologist.
My child hasn’t said their first words but they will catch up, right?
-It is impossible to say without meeting your child, however there are some strong indicators that we can look out for. Language abilities at 12 months appear to be one of the better predictors of communication skills at 2 years (Reilly et al., 2007). Recent research also suggests that a child who is late putting two words together are at a higher risk for language problems than children who were just late saying their first words (Rudolph & Leonard, 2016). So those first two years of language development are invaluable. Without specialized training in speech and language development, it is impossible to expect that parents will recognize red flags in development. We all want the best for our kids (and I want the best for yours). If your child is not meeting the above milestones, contact a Speech-Language Pathologist. At the very least, you may walk away with peace of mind and tips for boosting speech & language development. Or you may walk away with a new member of your team to help you and your child.
What causes speech and language delays?
For healthy children there are many reasons for language delays. Several research studies have looked into risk factors for language delays/disorders. Risk factors identified include:
-Boys are at 3 times higher risk than girls
-A child with delayed motor development are at higher risk
-Twins were found to have between 32-48% higher risk
-23% higher risk for those with a family history of late language skills
-Larger family size; Late-talkers are less likely to be only children
-Lower maternal education
-Lower family socio-economic status
If you think your child has a language delay, what do I do?
If you would like more information about Play & Language or have more questions about speech and language development, Contact Black Oak Therapy.
Rudolph, J. M. & Leonard, L. B. (2016). Early language milestones and specific language impairment. Journal of Early Intervention, 38(1) 41 –58.
Reilly et al. (2007). Predicting language at 2 years of age: a prospective community study. Journal of Pediatrics, 120(6): 1441-9.