From the moment your child is born, they start hitting little milestones. Some you’ll notice in just a matter of days while others happen over a period of months. Some are small, and others are big. For instance, when your child grabs their first piece of bite-sized food off their tray, you see how their motor skills are working. Or, when they roll over for the first time, there tends to be lots of excitement.
As they continue to grow, they start to crawl and then walk. Just as their movements change, their speech development does, too.
Board-certified pediatricians Rachel McConnell, MD, Sharon Lucas, MD, and our team at Neighborhood Pediatrics celebrate these milestones with you. We know what to look for and at what age. Just like crawling usually occurs between ages 6-10 months, they should say their first word by the time they turn age 1.
However, if your child falls behind on some of these expected accomplishments, you shouldn’t worry. It’s possible that your child simply develops a little slower than others. But how do you know if your child might need speech therapy?
Our team can give your child an accurate assessment to determine if they have speech or language delays. If so, we have the expertise to give guidance on how to help them develop essential skills for speaking well, so they can live a normal, happy life.
Signs to look for
You want to make sure that your child responds to sounds or uses their voice in some way. Here’s what to look for at certain ages:
They use gestures like pointing or waving.
They use their voice more than gestures, imitate sounds, and understand verbal requests.
They produce words and phrases spontaneously on their own, use oral language to communicate their immediate needs, and can follow easy directions.
You should be able to understand about 50% of what your child says when they’re age 2 and about 75% of their language when they’re age 3. By age 4, you should be able to understand most everything they say.
If your child doesn’t seem to fall within these expectations, our team can assess your child and determine if they need speech therapy.
Causes of speech or language delays
Your child’s speech delay might not be a developmental issue. They might have a problem with their tongue or palate that causes a problem with clear speaking. They might also have a short frenulum, which is the fold beneath the tongue that can limit their tongue’s movement.
Other reasons include an oral/motor issue where the area of the brain that’s responsible for speech doesn’t cause proper coordination of their lips, tongue, and jaw to make the right speech sounds.
In addition, hearing problems can affect your child’s speech, so your child might need an audiologist to test them.
How you can help
You can work with your child to improve their speech. Simply encourage them to use communication with their vocal cords from the time they’re a baby.
Reading to your child and letting them see what you’re reading can encourage them to match pictures with your words.
You can also use your language throughout the day to explain what you’re doing — whether you’re telling them you’re now cooking a meal, or cleaning up your room, or placing objects in certain places — so they have word associations with your activities
To schedule a speech or language assessment for your child, call for an appointment with our medical team, or book an appointment online today at our practice in Shenandoah, Texas.