Like a child’s first step, a child’s first spoken word is a much-awaited milestone. Babies are born ready to learn speech and language, but how quickly they learn varies from one child to another. Babies are usually able to do certain things at certain ages.
What is a speech or language delay?
When a child struggles to understand and speak and does not master the language skills at an expected time, it may indicate a language or speech delay or disorder. It is important to understand that language and speech delay are two different entities.
A child's speech delay is when your child doesn’t make the sounds as expected from a child their age. Speech disorders face difficulty in forming certain sounds or words correctly or in saying words or sentences smoothly.
A child's language development is delayed when their understanding and speaking develop slower than expected for their age. Language disorders can happen when children have trouble understanding or speaking the language. This can happen due to a brain injury or when the brain cannot process the meaning of sounds the ear sends.
At what age do children start talking?The milestones for speech and language development are described here. At first, babies make sounds of their own, and as they age, they learn to mimic sounds they hear in their surroundings. Here is how to detect speech and language milestones in babies according to their age.
- At Birth: Cries
- Two - four months: Smiles and calms by parent’s voice
- Six months: Babbles
- Nine months: Says “mama” or “dada” and waves “bye-bye”
- 12 months: Says one word other than “mama” or “dada”
- 15 months: Say one to three words.
- 18 months: Points to at least one body part.
- Two years: combines words
- 2.5 years: Speaks three-word sentences, the speech is 75% understandable.
- Four years: Speech is all understandable.
- Five years: defines words and speaks five-word sentences
What Causes Delayed Speech in Children?Speech delay is a common problem that affects around 10% of children. Some of the causes of speech delay are:
- Hearing loss
- Premature birth
- Learning two languages at a time
- Delayed development
- Developmental disorders like aphasia, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, and autism
- Oral defects like cleft palate
- Mental retardation
- Brain tumor
Tips to Help Your Child with Speech Delay
Parents and other caretakers are the most important teachers for a young child. Children listen to and learn to say words by practicing and also observing how others respond to the sounds they make.
BabyG communication activities are designed to give the required stimulation to every young baby to help with speech development at the right time. You can help your child’s language development in different ways.
A few trusted speech delay tips for parents are:
- Talking to your child from birth is important, as newborns benefit from hearing.
- Describing to your child the things they see.
- Listening to your child and giving them sufficient time to respond.
- Repeating and adding on to the words your child says.
- Answering every time your child speaks will act as a reward for them.
- Not forcing your child to speak.
- Reading age-appropriate books, telling stories, and singing songs.
- Talking about the toys and games the child is playing with.
- Asking enough questions of your child.
- Taking your child on family trips gives you new things to talk about.
- Oral motor therapy: Facial massage and oral exercises like tongue, lip, and jaw exercises.
- Articulation therapy: Sound production exercises where the therapist shows how to make certain sounds and the tongue movement to make specific sounds, usually through age-appropriate play activities.
- Language intervention activities: The therapist interacts with the children by using various books, toys, or pictures to help with language. These activities also improve a child’s vocabulary and grammar.
When to visit a doctor?It is crucial to diagnose the type and cause of speech delay because it may impact the child’s personal, academic, and social life. If your child doesn’t achieve the milestones as per the age, you should consider visiting the paediatrician to discuss your concerns. They are professionals and know exactly how to help a child with a language delay. Children with difficulties in speech and language often require extra support, but it's nothing a few child friendly speech delay exercises can't fix!
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