Children develop language at different times and in different ways so there isn’t a line in the sand for normal. However, all children do go through the same stages as their speech and language develops. It’s just that it is hard to know exactly when your child will get to each stage. And since there is a range of what is normal, and it can vary a lot. Primarily, your child’s speech and language development depends on:
- Their natural ability to learn language.
- Other skills that they are learning at the same time.
- How much talking they hear during the day.
- How people respond to what they say or do.
These variables make it difficult to predict where your child’s speech and language development will be in 3 months or 1 year, but the American Speech Hearing Association highlights some general risk factors you can watch out for.
Trust Your Instincts
You know your child best. You don’t have to wait and see if you think there might be a problem, and you don’t have to guess if your child will catch up. You can have your child seen by a speech and language therapist anytime you feel concerned. A speech therapist will talk to you about your concerns and can evaluate how well your child understands and speaks, including any use of gestures. A consultation with a speech therapist will give you a general understanding of your child’s communication skills, and some ideas on how to facilitate language development, regardless if they are a late bloomer or potentially have a language disorder.
Is your child between 18 and 30 months old and not talking as well as you think they should? Some factors that may put your child at risk for language problems include:
Understanding language. A child usually understands what they hear before they use words. This is receptive language. Please see our previous blogs on language and receptive language. Your child may be able to point to objects when you name them and follow simple directions. If your child seems to understand well for her age, they are more likely to catch up with their language. If you think they do not understand what others say, they may have a language delay.
Using gestures. Your child may use gestures to communicate, especially before they can say many words. Gestures include pointing, waving “hi” or “bye,” and putting their arms up so you will pick them up. The more gestures your child uses, the more likely it is that they will catch up to other children their age. Your child may not learn language as well if they do not use many gestures.
Learning new words. Your child may be slower to talk, but they should still try to use new words each month. They may start putting some words together or use words to ask questions. If your child does this, they are more likely to catch up and not have a delay. Your child may have a language problem if you do not hear them respond to or use new words often.
Having a problem with anything on this list does not mean that your child has a language delay. However, it puts them more at risk. If you have any concerns, it is a good idea to have your child evaluated by a speech therapist to make sure their speech and language skills are where they should be.
How Can Speech Therapy Help?
A speech therapist may give you ideas about how to help your child improve their communication. They can support your child by helping them increase their verbal expression, shape their words and non-verbal communication into verbal language, put words into sentences and learn new vocabulary. The speech therapist may suggest therapy sessions in order to determine the current level of development and provide you with a home program to facilitate language. If there is a concern regarding speech/language development, then the speech therapist will likely suggest continued therapy to support language development. If it looks like your child is a late bloomer, then they may suggest a couple of sessions in order to help you understand how to use a home program. It is usually suggested to check back in with the speech therapist a few months later to see how the home program is going and if there are still concerns with language development. It is always a good idea to check with a speech therapist to determine if your child is a late bloomer or if there is a language delay. You will get some great tips on how to facilitate language!
At Vibe, our speech therapists are trained to work with children and adults of every age, in every facet of speech and language. We are experts in our field. The clinical and personal relationship we have with you is at the core of everything we do. From the resources we bring to support growth in all areas of your life, to the highly individualized therapy sessions, and the collaborative partnerships we make with other providers and family and caregivers, we are committed to exceeding your expectations. We look forward to helping you bring your best self into the world!
Contact Vibe Speech Therapy to learn more about how we can help you!