Your Child's Speech - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/15/04

Your Child's Speech

Everyone is anxious for their baby to say his or her first word. With some, it comes as early as seven or eight months while others may not speak until they are a year or two old. The question parents always have is, "What is normal?".

Most pediatricians would probably answer, "Both." There is a wide variation in speech development among children and among siblings. Most children have some language skills by age two. There are a number of questions you can ask yourself to see if your child falls into the wide range of normal, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Is your two year old active and healthy? Does he or she appear to understand you and respond non-verbally to you? Children learn to make signs for what they want and need more easily than speech. Moving the tongue correctly is more complicated than moving the hand.

Does your toddler confuse word order or mispronounce syllables? This is normal in the learning of speech. By the end of the second year, most children will speak in two or three word sentences and will repeat words they hear you use. They will be able to follow simple instructions.

At the end of the third year, they will be able to identify almost all the name of objects around them and can be understood by most other adults.

If your child seems to hesitate or stammer, this too may be part of normal development. Sometimes the thoughts come faster than their ability to express them. Don't overcorrect your child. Be patient and try to slow them down. They will probably outgrow this. If your child seems normal in other areas, their speech development may just be slow or they may not feel the need to speak-especially if they have older siblings who anticipate their needs.

When, then, should you begin to worry that there may be a problem with your child's speech?

  • If your child responds to you only when they can see your face, you may want to consult a speech and hearing professional. There may be a hearing problem.
  • If by the age of 2 1/2, your child is very hard to understand, doesn't use two or three word sentences, or doesn't follow simple directions, you should see your pediatrician. Studies have shown that about 25% of late talkers do not grow out of the problem and need professional help.

Finally, do not overreact or pressure your child to speak. This in itself may delay speech development. Read to your child and interact with him. You may want to try mixing sign language with your verbal communication.

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