As toddlers mature, their speech abilities should improve. Although some kids progress at different rates than others, communication and speech issues can start to present at any time. The earlier you can start addressing the problem, the more successful a treatment can be. Speech evaluations are provided by schools and by speech-language pathology departments and professionals.
It may be a good idea to seek a speech therapist if a toddler isn’t adding much to their vocabulary by 12 to 18 months. They should continue adding sounds and words, as well as gestures. Some start putting full words together by one-and-a-half years. Even earlier than that, it may be possible to see signs of a potential disorder.
Signs of Early Trouble
Earlier than three months of age, babies should smile or try to interact with others. Between four and seven months old, an infant will babble; if not, or it doesn’t make many sounds or gestures starting at around seven months, a speech or language disorder may be present. Even at this early age, it should be evident that the infant understands things you say. An early sign of an abnormality is if it doesn’t seem to comprehend your commands and communications.
Read into Your Child’s Speech Patterns
Speech and language development will occur at your child’s own pace. From 18 months to two years old, parents should start to understand what their child is talking about. Not being able to decipher their language may signal an abnormality. By two years old, children typically are able to put two or more words together; some master this later, by three years of age. Otherwise, a speech therapist may be needed to spur them along, or at least perform an evaluation of the child’s abilities.
By the two-year mark, children should be able to pronounce words and make basic sounds. Although K or G letter sounds might not come naturally to an 18-month-old, easier B, P, and M sounds shouldn’t be that hard by two years. Listening for how your child handles these basic linguistic sounds can help conclude whether further evaluation is needed.
There are other signs a speech therapist can help. A child, who struggles to say words, has trouble thinking of what to say, or makes repetitive sounds or stutters, then additional help can guide them on a better path. Prolonged sounds and blocking of sounds within words are signs as well.
Speech problems can also manifest as social issues. In addition to vocal tone, a child’s facial expressions, eye contact, social engagement, ability to take turns, and play and engage with others can be signals. A specialist isn’t hard to find, if you know where to look. The experts at Speech Connections Speech Therapy are skilled at evaluating a child to find the cause of the problem, and then implement the proper methods to address the issue and potentially help your child grow out of it. With professional help, communication can go from a challenge to possibly strength for your child later.