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Health Information For Parents
As with other skills and milestones, the age at which kids learn language and start talking can vary. Knowing a bit about speech and language development can help parents figure out if there’s cause for concern.
Speech and language problems differ, but often overlap. For example:
A baby who doesn’t respond to sound or vocalize should be checked by a doctor right away. But often, it’s hard for parents to know if their child is taking a bit longer to reach a speech or language milestone, or if there’s a problem.
Here are some things to watch for. Call your doctor if your child:
Also call the doctor if your child’s speech is harder to understand than expected for their age:
A speech delay might be due to:
Many kids with speech delays have oral–motor problems. These happen when there’s a problem in the areas of the brain responsible for speech. This makes it hard to coordinate the lips, tongue, and jaw to make speech sounds. These kids also might have other oral-motor problems, such as feeding problems.
Hearing problems also can affect speech. So an audiologist should test a child’s hearing whenever there’s a speech concern. Kids who have trouble hearing may have trouble saying, understanding, imitating, and using language.
Ear infections, especially chronic infections, can affect hearing. But as long as there is normal hearing in one ear, speech and language will develop normally.
If your child might have a problem, it’s important to see a speech-language pathologist (SLP) right away. You can find a speech-language pathologist on your own, or ask your health care provider to refer you to one.
The SLP (or speech therapist) will check your child’s speech and language skills. The pathologist will do standardized tests and look for milestones in speech and language development.
The SLP also will check:
Based on the test results, the speech-language pathologist might recommend speech therapy for your child.
The speech therapist will work with your child to improve speech and language skills, and show you what to do at home to help your child.
Parents are an important part of helping kids who have a speech or language problem.
Here are a few ways to encourage speech development at home:
Recognizing and treating speech and language delays early on is the best approach. Call your doctor if you have any concerns about your child’s speech or language development.
Working with a certified speech-language pathologist can help a child with speech or language difficulties.
Hearing problems can be overcome if they’re caught early, so it’s important to get your child’s hearing screened early and checked regularly.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Babies this age might be about to say their first words, and communicate using body language. Read more about communicating with your baby.
Your toddler is probably saying a few first words now, but you may not be able to understand them all. Learn about how your child is communicating.
Communicating with a child is one of the most pleasurable and rewarding experiences for both parent and child. Learn how to connect with your 2- to 3-year-old.
Communicating with our kids is one of the most pleasurable and rewarding parts of parenting. Learn how to connect with your 4- to 5-year-old.
A home filled with reading material is a good way to help kids become enthusiastic readers. Here are some ideas.
You might visit a speech therapist if you’re having trouble speaking or understanding others. Find out more in this article for kids.
Do you or does someone you know ever have a hard time getting words out? Get the whole story on stuttering and other speech problems in this article for kids.
Kids with APD can’t process what they hear as other kids do, because their ears and brain don’t fully coordinate. But early diagnosis and therapy can improve their hearing skills.
Many young kids go through a stage when they stutter. Stuttering usually goes away on its own but in some cases lasts longer.
This general outline describes the milestones on the road to reading and the ages at which most kids reach them.
Speech-language pathologists help kids with speech problems related to a cleft palate. Find out what they do.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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