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Speech and Language

Does My Child Have a Speech Impairment?

Every child develops at her own pace. Most kids who seem to "talk late" will catch up without any problems by the time they turn 3. Understanding what is typical for each age can help signal when something may be wrong. Although speech develops in pretty much the same way for all children, the rate of this development can vary considerably. As a rule, at age 1 a child should be able to say one word, at age 2 they should produce two-word combinations and 3 word combinations by the end of age 3. Although it is important to look at what your child can say it is equally as important to look at what your child understands. For instance a child at age 18 months may produce 50-100 words, but should understand far more. You can tell if your child understands what you say by the way he follows directions. A detailed speech and language milestone chart can be found at http://www.asha.org/

There are several reasons why a child may have a speech delay. Boys often develop speech later than their female counterparts with a delay of about one to two months. Preemies are at risk for speech delays in the early years, but they usually catch up by the time they are 2. Children who are multiples have a 50% chance of having some type of language delay. Prematurity, low birth weight, and medical intervention at birth can contribute to language delays. Children with chronic ear infections especially during the first year can cause poor hearing and thus delayed speech. Heredity and temperament can account for a linguisticly late bloomer as well as parent's anticipating the child's every need (Do you want your juice?) rather than letting her speak for herself.

If your child appears to be a "late bloomer" there are some things that you can do to help foster better speech and language development. Reading with your child is one of the most beneficial things that you can do to help your child. Reading increases vocabulary and helps your child learn the rules that govern our language (syntax). Singing songs and playing naming games with your child are also good choices for language development. You can make a game out of bath time, dinner time or even bed time, quizzing your child about the things they see (what is this) or narrating to them (first we take out the cereal and pour it into a bowl and then we pour the milk). In general kids learn to talk by listening to others, the more language they hear the more likely they are to repeat it. When your child says something like "I wan do wit maumau" you can say "oh you want to go with grandma?". Doing this type of recasting lets your child hear the correct production of words, without any negative feedback. Let your child look at your mouth, touch your lips and explore sounds with you. Kids love to play games, so when you make speech a game they will play it over and over again.

If you have concerns about your child who is under the age of three, don't hesitate to talk to your pediatrician or call ECI Cares for an in home evaluation at 1-866-567-3289. If your child is a student in our school district and you have concerns with his speech and language, please share your concerns with the teacher. The teacher can make appropriate classroom adjustments and refer your child for further evaluation if needed