Delayed speech development in children

Many parents become concerned about their children and their developmental milestones. When other children begin to master skills that are age appropriate for your child you may start wondering if there is something wrong with your child. Although there are general estimated ages in which children develop certain skills, it is also important to realize that not all children develop at the same rate. However, if you feel that your child is delayed dramatically in speech and communication there is the possibility of there being an underlying problem.

First it is important to understand what is considered normal before jumping to the conclusion that your child has a developmental issue. There are some children that are naturally slower at speaking than others. Statistics say that boys tend to be a little behind in speech than girls are. Also premature babies, twins or those who have had medical issues may be slower to start communicating through language. Most of these children will eventually catch up to other children their age it just may take a little longer. Babies typically can speak one word at around their first birthday. Between ages 18-24 months a toddler may be able to speak close to 50 words or more and begin putting together 2 words phrases. By age three, pronunciation should begin to improve and 3 word, short sentences may be spoken.

Even if speech is delayed, it is important to know whether or not your child understands what you are saying. If your child is able to understand what you are saying to them then hearing should not be an issue. However, if you have noticed that your child does not really follow directions or interact with you when spoken to, then the reason for the speech delay could very well be related to the inability to hear correctly. This may have been a problem since birth or may be caused by other health conditions that the child has encountered. The most common reason for hearing problems in toddlers is due to chronic ear infections. Having fluid in the ears repeatedly can prevent a child from hearing correctly which will cause problems with speech development. This issue can be remedied quite easily with a minor surgery that puts tubes in the ears to allow fluid to drain from the ear canal. Once this surgery is performed, children are able to hear better and speech usually begins to improve rather quickly. If a child’s hearing is good there is also the possibility of a physical problem with the structure of the child’s vocal cords. This can be noticed if the child is extremely quite or has strange vocal sounds.

If all physical aspects of the child are evaluated without problems then the delay could be mental. A mental delay may be minor or may be caused by another disorder such as autism. This will take several medical evaluations to determine, however finding out as soon as possible gives the child the best chance in learning the skills he or she needs to communicate correctly. If the delay is caused by a mental or developmental condition then the child may need to see a specialist in order to learn ways of communicating and speaking properly. There can be many challenges to overcome when dealing with a developmentally slow child but with time and patience they can catch up to where they should be. Without learning appropriate communication skills a child may develop behavioral issues due to being frustrated.

If you are concerned about your child’s speech development make sure to talk to his or her pediatrician. They will be able to tell you what is normal and can also spot warning signs that your child may have a speech problem.

Last updated on Mar 19th, 2010 and filed under Mental Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Delayed speech development in children”

  1. Robert, SLP says:

    Talking to your child’s pediatrician is fine, but remember that the professional of choice for speech or language disorders is a speech-language pathologist. Your conversation with the pediatrician should take the form of asking for a referral. Pediatricians often encourage parents not to worry and to “wait and see”. This is actually bad advice. If you are worried, you are going to keep worrying, and if there really is something wrong with your child’s language development, waiting is not going to do any good. If your child needs speech therapy, the sooner you get started the better. If you take your child for testing and there really is nothing wrong, then you really can stop worrying, because you’ll have the information you need.

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