Late Bloomer or Language Delayed? Here's How to Tell
Some children's language develops later than others. But how do you know when to worry and when to take it easy? Find out here.
As parents we tend to compare our child with the child at the playground or our firstborns. It is natural and sometimes this causes us to panic and worry.
Why is my child not talking as much or saying “flatbed truck” like my nephew at that age? So let’s learn some facts to help us determine if your child is a late bloomer or has a speech delay.
Every child develops at their own pace and time. Language is an important milestone as it allows the child to engage socially and is also linked to the child’s cognitive ability. Language and speech are often confused - as are delays in them.
There is a difference and it is important to know the difference.
What is the difference between a speech delay and a language delay?
A speech delay is when:
- A child has difficulty making sounds and pronouncing words.
- The child’s speech is difficult to understand.
A language delay is when:
- The child has difficulty saying words.
- The child has difficulty making simple sentences.
- The child struggles with learning new vocabulary.
- The child has difficulty understanding words or sentences
Delays in both language and speech may indicate a deeper issue. However with targeted early intervention, you can expect a good outcome for your child.
How do I know if my child has a language delay?
It is advised that you seek help if you notice the following:
At 12 months:
Your child does not attempt to communicate using sounds/ gestures/ words when needing attention or your help.
By 2 years your child isn’t:
- Saying words spontaneously
- Putting 2 to 3 words together – e.g. – blue car
- Saying 50 different words
- Able to understand simple instructions or questions e.g.: drink water, where is
By 3 years you child isn’t:
- Speaking in longer sentences, 3 to 4 word sentences – e.g. “I want my blue cup”
- Interested in books
- Asking any questions
- Able to understand longer instructions e.g.: Please get you bag and shoes.
If your child demonstrates any of the above, it is advisable to consult a speech and language pathologist. These professionals can determine if there is a problem and whether intervention is required.
How will a specialist usually assess my child to find out if a speech/language delay is present? What can parents expect after an assessment?
They use a standardized test to assess and also look for any physical impairments that might affect speech. A report is usually written up and a face-to-face session arranged to go through the report and answer any questions parents might have. The report will contain recommendations for the way forward.
How you can help your baby's speech and language development
- Introduce children to different textured foods
- Sing nursery rhymes with actions
- Less screen time and more play both indoors and outdoors
- Read to the child
- Play with your child without directing. Play side-by-side or let your child take the lead.
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