Should you worry if your child isn’t speaking as early or easily as their contemporaries? The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. Every child develops at their own pace. Some children are early babblers and talkers. Others take their time, preferring to communicate through gestures or behavior.
Each child goes through the same milestones of speech, language, and development, but not at the same time. Delays are common. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 20% of children learn language later than their peers. Often this challenge communicating results in frustration and behavior issues.
Sometimes these children catch up to their friends. But, for others, a speech and language delay can be the sign of an issue that the child won’t grow out of, such as a hearing problem or a speech or language disorder.
At Scottsdale Pediatric Behavioral Services in Scottsdale, Arizona, our specialists use language therapy to modify behaviors that will enhance grammar, vocabulary, and listening skills. Working on these therapies early on can help your child drastically improve the way they respond to the world around them.
What are speech- and language-delay red flags?
If your baby doesn't respond to your voice or gestures, you should take them to your pediatrician for an evaluation as soon as possible. Usually, the first sign that there is a delay is that your child is not speaking as much as their friends. But for most parents, it's hard to tell if their child is just a little slower or if there is an issue. Some signs to watch for include:
- If your child isn't using gestures such as waving good-bye or pointing by 12 months
- If your child doesn't understand simple words such as "no" and "stop" by 18 months
- If your child does not use two-word phrases or is not able to identify simple things in a book by 24 months
- If your child does not speak in short sentences by three years old
Importance of identifying a speech or language problem early
Kids who have a persisting untreated speech or language problem can suffer consequences as they get older. For some, it can lead to increased attention and social issues. Eventually, it can turn into learning difficulties, reading and writing problems, spelling issues, and grammar deficiencies.
Common causes of language issues include autism spectrum disorder (ASD), hearing issues, or a learning problem. Identifying these conditions early can help specialists create customized treatment plans to help your child grow, learn, and develop.
How to treat speech and language delays
In cases of mild speech and language delays or issues, talking and reading to your child frequently helps. Encourage your child to speak and praise them for communicating. Often, however, your child will need the help of a specialist.
The specialists at Scottsdale Pediatric Behavioral Services can help. For information on how we can assist your child in overcoming a speech or language delay, call for a consultation today.