speech development

Speech Matters November 2010

What is a Late Talker? – Speech Matters – November 2010

By Cheryl D. Lindsay MS., S-LP

 ‘Late talker’ is “a term used to describe children 18 to 20 months old, who have fewer than 10 words or those 21 to 30 months old, who have fewer than 50 words and no two-word combinations. Typically, these children have no other problems.” (Source:  Contemporary Pediatrics. “The ‘late talker’ – when silence isn’t golden”, by Marilyn C. Agin, MD, 2004)

 Speech and language developmental milestones have been presented here in previous columns. As speech is developing, it is important to recognize that a child will follow a certain order through the stages, but may be delayed at reaching the milestones. The stages begin with reflexive sounds; cooing, (first using vowels); babbling, (reduplicated e.g., “mama” and then variegated e.g., “baba beee-ummm gubba dum-goo-ee?”); vocal play; jargon; first words and then putting two-words together. When the order of development is not typical, or where there is regression in some areas, there may be reason for concern. A speech-language pathologist can help by assessing your child’s speech and language development.

 Although most late talkers do eventually “catch up” and speak normally, it is wise to be aware of warning signs that may indicate a disorder rather than a delay.

Sometimes talking late may be a symptom of another condition such as a hearing loss, cognitive impairment, speech disorder, (dysarthria, apraxia, phonological disorder), language disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or another syndrome. These conditions would be diagnosed by the appropriate medical professional. If late talking is not just delayed but a symptom of another condition, it will not resolve itself, therefore, early diagnosis and early intervention are necessary.

 Receptive language, which is comprehension or understanding, develops before expressive language. An example of this would be asking your child to put on their winter coat and they do so because they understand the request, but are unable to use vocalizations to express themselves. If a child’s receptive language is delayed, this would be cause for concern.

 Children can still communicate without words or nonverbally, by using eye-contact, gestures, body language, facial expression, shaking or nodding their head for yes or no, or hand leading.  Ultimately though, encouraging vocalizations with these initial nonverbal skills should lead to using true words and more verbal communication.

 Late talking may result in the experience of frustration for the child and the caregiver. It is important to stay positive and encourage good self-esteem. Think of your child as ‘learning to talk’ rather than ‘being expected to talk’ and celebrate every small step!

 (Next Month:  Phonological Processes – A child’s normal patterns for simplifying adult speech)

Speech Matters June 2010

Will my Child Outgrow a Speech Problem? Speech Matters-June 2010

By Cheryl D. Lindsay, M.S. SLP

As a parent you may be wondering if your child’s speech is developing normally. Similar to other areas of early childhood development, there are also speech and language milestones. These act as general guidelines to help you consider whether or not your child’s speech is on the right track.

 Below is a brief outline, giving you a range of speech sound development. It is important to remember that there are always individual differences concerning which sound(s) your child will develop, and when.  The beginning of each range shows when the sound may begin to develop, and the end of the range shows when your child should be able to say the sound correctly. (Source: Helping Kids Discover and Develop Language (Angus, Cahalan, Chenette & Pinnau Emrich).

 1-3 years    /p,m,h,n,w,b/

 2-4 years   /k,g,d,f,y,ng/

 3-6 years    /r,l/

4-7 years    /ch, sh, z, j/

 5-8 years    /th, zh/

When your child is learning to speak, they may make sound errors along the way. Some errors are quite normal and expected. Common errors include saying “w” for “r” (wabbit for rabbit) and “d” for “th” (dat for that). Errors like these can become a concern when they persist as your child gets older.

 If you are concerned that your child is not saying the sounds that would be expected for his/her age, it is recommended that you first have your child’s hearing assessed. An audiologist is able to test your child’s hearing and tell you whether or not their hearing is within the normal range. The audiologist may recommend next steps for your child, if there is an issue with their hearing. As a parent, you can book an appointment with the audiologist yourself, since a referral from your family doctor is not necessary.

 After the hearing test, if you are still concerned with your child’s speech development, it is recommended that you contact a speech-language pathologist (S-LP).

 Some children will outgrow their speech sound error(s) but some will need speech therapy to help them say their sounds correctly. An S-LP assesses and decides whether or not the speech sound(s) may develop on their own, or if speech therapy is necessary.

 As a parent, there a few things you can do to help your child learn to say their speech sounds. You can model how to say the sound correctly by repeating the word or phrase back to your child, as in, “Yes, that car is red”. You can also ask your child to repeat the word or phrase by asking, “Is it lellow or yellow?” This will help your child learn how to hear the differences between the sound that they are saying and the correct sound.

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