My child is not yet talking. How do I know if they are a"late talker" or if they need speech-language therapy?
A As a general guideline we expect to see children use their first word by 12 months. By two years of age, children should be starting to use simple two-word phrases and can follow a variety of simple directions. Three-year-olds should be using three-word sentences to communicate their ideas, wants, needs and can ask and answer simple questions. More specific information on early language development by age range can be found at the American Speech and Hearing Association's Development Charts.
- Courtesy Caroline Skidmore
There are a number of reasons, such as hearing problems, muscle coordination or learning/experience, as to why your child may not be developing their language skills as expected. If your child is not yet meeting communication milestones, it is best to speak with your pediatrician and seek out an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist.
My child's speech is hard to understand. Does that mean that they need speech therapy?
A Just like all areas of development, speech articulation is sequential and different sounds are mastered as the child grows. The most early developing sounds are /m/, /p/, /b/, /t/, /d/. Typically, the last sound that children learn to articulate correctly is /r/. By age two, parents should be able to understand about 50% of what a child says. By age three, parents should be able to understand between 70 and 90% of what their child says.If your child is frequently not understood or is becoming frustrated or self-conscious about their speech skills, speak with a speech-language pathologist, teacher and/or your child's pediatrician to determine if an evaluation of speech articulation is recommended.
How does screen time impact my child's language development?
A The best way to help your child learn and use language is through direct, face-to-face interaction through play and everyday routines. Recent studies have concluded that the overuse of media screens adversely impacts language development in children and should be limited, especially in very young children. Children who are exposed to more screen time are more likely to have delayed expressive language skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics' screen time guidelines advise no screen time for children two years and under, as well as limiting screen time for children from two to five years of age to one hour of educational programming a day.
Although there is clear evidence that too much screen time hinders language development in children, there is also some evidence that limited screen time with parental interaction and careful selection of educational apps and programs may have some positive influence on language development. It remains that the best way to help your child develop their language skills is to engage in fun interactions through everyday routines such as bath and meal time, and in child-directed play.
We speak both Spanish and English in our home. Will that affect my child's speech and language development?
A Learning more than one language at a young age is not only a great opportunity for children, but also an important part in learning more about their own culture and heritage. Children who are exposed to two languages in the home will learn both languages simultaneously, but may experience a normal, early delay in the development of both languages. It is normal for children exposed to two languages to occasionally mix both languages early in their language development. The most ideal way for a child to learn two languages at home is for the native Spanish speaking parent to speak in Spanish with the child and the native English speaker to speak in English with the child until the child has a strong foundation in both languages.
Caroline Skidmore is the owner of Skidmore Speech and Language Services, a small pediatric speech therapy practice located in Bend since 2002.
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