Are you worried that your child might have trouble communicating? Maybe he doesn’t use as many words as you feel he should at his age, or maybe other kids often don’t understand what she’s trying to say. If you’re noticing signs like these, your child might have a speech or language disorder.
Among U.S. children ages 3-17, 5 percent have a speech disorder that lasted for a week or longer and 3.3 percent have a language disorder that occurred for a week or more during the past year, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
Speech and language problems are different but often intersect, according to KidsHealth. Speech involves verbally expressing yourself and forming sounds and words, while language encompasses the broader process of understanding other people and being understood through verbal and non-verbal communication. A toddler with a speech issue might have difficulty making certain sounds and pronouncing words, while a child with a language problem could pronounce everything correctly but have trouble forming sentences to express ideas.
It’s important for parents to educate themselves about both speech and language development and keep an eye out for signs of an issue, particularly during their child’s first few years. Here are some things to watch out for that could indicate your child is having trouble with speech and/or language acquisition.
1. Not babbling at age 4-7 months. A baby who seems strangely quiet and isn’t experimenting with sounds through babbling could be showing signs of a language disorder, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
2. Lack of gesturing. If your child doesn’t express herself by making gestures such as pointing and waving (or makes very few gestures) at the age of 7-12 months, that could be another indication of a possible language disorder, ASHA states.
3. Issues with verbal requests. Children between 12 and 24 months old should be able to comprehend simple spoken requests, according to KidsHealth. If your son or daughter doesn’t seem to understand your instructions, he or she could have a language development issue.
4. Not speaking in sentences. Between the ages of 1.5 to 2 years, kids should start putting words together to form sentences. If your toddler is struggling to make sentences, that might be a good reason to get her screened for a language disorder.
5. Trouble making certain sounds. Children with speech disorders might have issues producing p, b, m, h, and w sounds in words the majority of the time from 1 to 2 years old and/or trouble pronouncing k, g, f, t, d, and n from 2 to 3 years old, according to ASHA. Their speech might also just seem generally unclear and hard to understand when they are 2 to 3 years old.
If your child shows any of these signs or seems to have other speech and/or language issues, it’s best to seek help as soon as possible. At Little Steps, our pediatric speech therapists can help children of all ages with various speech and language disorders – including articulation, fluency, and language disorders, as well as general communication challenges. We provide the highest level of individualized pediatric speech therapy services to help our patients improve. If you’d like to learn more, contact us today by calling 847-707-6744 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.