The Speech-Language Pathologist at SMC provides you with the full gamut of treatments and solutions for various speech and auditory-related disorders. Our licensed and ASHA certified speech language pathologist targets individuals, families and groups with a broad array of neurological and development conditions – ranging from articulation and vocal production issues to language barriers and swallowing disorders. All services are designed to deliver the basic human right of communication and facilitate the healthy benefits of social interaction.
Pediatric Speech Development Guide
Red Flags For Speech Development
Even though we do not expect that everyone would understand 100% of what a child says until he’s older, there are characteristics, even before age three, that tell us that a child may have a significant speech sound delay or disorder.
• Limited consonant sounds in child’s speech
• Vowel sounds are substituted or left off in words
• Beginning consonant sounds are omitted
• No two-syllable words are used
• Parents don’t understand at least half of what a child says at age 2 and most of what a child says by age 3
If no one understands the child, even his or her parents, that’s extremely frustrating for everyone – especially for the child!
Ignoring a significant speech intelligibility problem can set a child up for frustration and failure.
What You Can Do To Help at Home
Avoid overcorrecting a new talker’s word attempts. Focus on the intent of the child’s message.
Don’t repeat a child’s errors back to them. If a child says, “uh” for cup, say, “Cup! Here’s your cup!” Many toddlers need practice hearing words produced correctly before they recognize an error in their own speech.
Practice a new sound alone only a few times, then quickly move the new sound to a word.
Some toddlers will respond and correct their mistakes when you ask them to repeat words as you slowly model the correct way to pronounce words. Toddlers with developmental delays may not be able to do this until after age 3.
Negative attention and overemphasizing speech sounds may stall progress in toddlers who are new communicators.
Focus on talking and communicating rather than perfect speech with late talkers!
Red Flags for Expressive Delays
• No babbling by 12 months
• No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months
• No consistent imitation of actions, sounds, and words by 15 months
• No words by 16 months
• Less than 50 words at 24 months
• No two-word phrases without imitating or repeating by 24 months
• No back-and-forth conversational turn-taking by 30 months
• Any loss of speech, babbling, or interaction skills at any age
If your child is over two and is still not talking or only says a handful of words, there is an expressive language delay.
Please don’t listen to misguided advice and do nothing. At the very least, you’ll need to change what you do at home to help your child begin to talk.
If a child is developing slowly during a time when other peers are rapidly progressing, the child will be falling further and further behind…and no parent wants to see that!
The older a child is at the time when intervention begins, the less positive the outcome.
What You Can Do To Help at Home
Teach a child to imitate actions during play. Little games like
“Give Me 5” or songs with hand motions like “If You’re Happy and You Know It” are critical first steps to helping a child learn to talk. He needs to begin to “do his part” during the game.
Introducing simple sign language is a life saver for many families and toddlers! Try signs for things he loves or requests like “more” and “please.”
Many times single words are too difficult for late talkers. Try FUN play sounds like animal and car noises and encourage her to repeat those silly sounds after you as you play together.
Simplify what you say to your child so that your child can imitate words. Speak in mostly single, familiar words when you’re trying to encourage him to repeat you.
Focus on words your child needs to say to get what she wants like words for toys, food and events. Words for colors, shapes, numbers, and letters aren’t important for late talkers!
Children don’t need to just learn to talk, they need to know what those words mean and use those words to communicate with others.
Red Flags with Interacting Skills
• Difficulty making and maintaining eye contact
• Doesn’t use eye gaze to get your attention
• Seems to ignore other people
• Doesn’t consistently respond to his name by 12 months
• Difficulty getting her attention when you talk to her
• Doesn’t look to where you’re pointing or when you say to her, “Look!”
• Demonstrates better attention to objects, a DVD or TV show, or an app or iPad than to people and conversations
• No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or facial expressions
• Seems very independent and doesn’t know how to ask for help when she needs something
• May not initiate or respond to cuddling
If a child exhibits several red flags with interaction skills, the issue is likely more serious than late talking.
What You Can Do To Improve Interaction
Get down on her level on the floor and really play together. Find things she likes to do with you and do them over and over.
Encourage him to look at you and to share experiences with you. If he’s playing with a toy or watching his favorite DVD, make sure you’re included too!
As you play together, you should also focus on helping him learn to copy or repeat what you do. Teach him to imitate you with toys or during little games that you know he’s learning from you. Try "Patty Cake” or “Ring Around the Rosies.”
Limit “screen” time. Research says toddlers who watch more than 2 hours a day with screens are at risk for delays.
The worst thing you can do for a child who is struggling to learn language is to let her check out, do her own thing, or remain disconnected from others for much of the day.
Sing! Play! Tickle! Run! Jump! Be silly! Have fun together!
Red Flags for Cognitive & Receptive Language Delays
• Not looking when you call their names by the first birthday
• Doesn’t pick up on other people’s facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures by 12 months
• Doesn’t follow simple directions by 18 months
• Doesn’t look at and point to familiar people, objects, and body parts when asked “Where’s ____?” by 18 months
• Doesn’t point to familiar pictures in books by 24 months
• Repeats a question rather than answering it
• Answers a question incorrectly or off–target
• Uses the same words and phrases without adding many new ones
• Most speech is jargon or jabbering or using mostly unintelligible sentences after 2 (without the presence of a growing single word vocabulary)
A child’s ability to understand and respond to language is a factor which helps us determine if a child has a more significant developmental issue or is just a late talker.
If a child exhibits red flags with cognition or receptive language, the issue is more serious than late talking.
What You Can Do To Improve Understanding
Simplify what you say to your child. Speak in single words and short phrases.
Talk about what she is paying attention to in the moment.
Give him opportunities to demonstrate that he understands. Ask him to follow requests throughout the day such as, “Show me the ____, ” and “Where’s the _______?” If he’s not pointing yet, encourage him to look around to find what you’ve asked him to locate.
If a child does not seem to understand, show her what to do. If you’ve said, “Give me your doll,” and she doesn’t move toward the doll, point to direct her attention.
You may have to provide physical assistance to help a child learn to follow directions.
As you begin to work at home with your child, it is more important for your child to understand what a word means than it is for him to say the word.