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Should I Worry if My Child is Delayed in Speech and Language Development?

Long before your child says their first true word, you’ve likely developed your own language. While you’ve become a master interpreter for their needs through sounds and gestures, you’re anxious to begin communicating through speech. Yet, speech doesn’t seem to be forthcoming and you begin to worry.

Here at Celebrations Speech Group, our highly qualified team of speech therapists and pathologists has extensive experience helping parents navigate the early waters of communication. 

To help you better understand what to expect when it comes to early speech and language development, and when there’s cause for concern, we’ve pulled together a few rules of thumb.

In their own time

Before we get into a typical timeline for speech and language development in toddlers, we want to underscore the fact that every situation is unique. In fact, 20% of children learn to talk or use words later than other children their age.

It’s also important to note that there are a wide range of factors that can influence early communication and these should be plugged into the speech development equation.

For example, perhaps you’re raising your child in a bilingual home and your child needs some extra time to sort through the different words they hear for the same object. Or, conversely, perhaps you’re a single parent raising your child in a relatively quiet environment where there’s not a lot of talk around them.

What we’re pointing out here is that there are any numbers of factors that can influence the speed with which your child learns to communicate.

A typical speech and language development timeline

Now that we understand that a speech and language development timeline can be influenced, let’s take a look at what a typical timeline might look like.

Year one milestones

By the time a child reaches 12 months, we’re not looking for vocabulary as much as we’re looking for verbal interaction. In fact, early language sounds a lot like babble, but it’s how they babble that counts. 

At this point, you can have exchanges with your child in babble-speak (on their end) and you even notice that your child starts to intone their sounds. In other words, they might form questions or demands through intonation where their meaning is very clear even though they don’t have the words, yet.

When it comes to gesturing, most toddlers can wave hello and goodbye and point to things. Another great step is when your child can point to an object and “ask” for it, even if the word isn’t there.

Year two milestones

By the time most children reach the age of two, they:

Please note that two year olds can still have trouble pronouncing certain words, but most children can be understood about half the time when they reach this age.

Delay or late bloomer?

If your child isn’t developing speech and language along a typical timeline like the one we outline above, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a problem. You know your child best and perhaps they’re just more thoughtful than most. Still, an outside opinion can be valuable and provide you with peace of mind.

Our experienced speech therapists can perform a complete assessment for you and, if we find that there may be a problem, we offer the speech therapy services you need to help your child be heard and understood.

If you’d like to learn more about early speech and language development, contact our office in Brentwood, California, to set up an appointment. Because of the current healthcare crisis, we’re also offering telehealth visits where we can “meet” virtually.

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