The Parent’s Guide to a Child’s Speech Development

two children

As parents, you’re excited to hear your child’s first words. But in some cases, children may experience delayed speech development compared with other kids of their age. Although children develop their abilities at different paces, it’s important to be aware of the signs indicating speech disorders.

In case your child shows symptoms of speech problems, you may consider speech therapy for your child. FUNctionalities explains that this type of therapy assists children with the production of speech. It is also helpful for children to learn how to choose the correct words to use when communicating with others; it also improves their social and academic skills and behavior.

Possible Signs of a Speech Disorder

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), children typically learn skills between 12 and 18 months. But if a child takes longer than this age range, they might have a problem.

Making only a few sounds when a child is between seven and 12 months old is a sign of language problems, according to the ASHA. Between seven months to two years, your child should be able to understand what other people say.

Other signs of language problems include:

  • Can only say a few words during 12 to 18 months old
  • Not putting two words together during one and a half to two years old
  • Can only speak fewer than 50 words at the age of two
  • Having difficulties in playing and talking with other children during two to three years old

Common Speech Disorders

When your child shows signs of speech problems, he or she might experience any of these disorders:

  • Stuttering – this is a type of disfluency. Here, a child tends to repeat words, sounds, or parts of words or phrases. This typically occurs after the age of four. They may also add extra sounds or words and make words longer when they speak.
  • Articulation Disorder – this is a type of speech disorder where certain sounds, such as “r,” “l,” or “s,” may be consistently distorted or changed as the child speaks. People may struggle with understanding what they are trying to communicate.
  • Phonological disorder – children with this disorder may leave out or change the last and first sound of words, especially consonants.
  • Voice disorders – this disorder causes hoarseness or raspiness to the voice. A child’s voice may also break in or out.

Teaching Language to Children

You can help your child learn to speak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that you, as parents, play an important role in helping your child learn a language. Children learn by practicing what they hear from others.

One way to develop your baby’s language skills is by responding to the first sounds, gestures, and gurgles that your baby makes. You may also repeat what your child says and add more words to it. When you’re outside, it would also be helpful to talk about the things that your child sees.

You can be more interactive with your child, too. For example, try asking your child some questions and listen to the responses. Telling stories and singing songs may improve your child’s speech development.

There is, probably, no sweeter sound to a parent than a child’s first words. But when those words fail to come, your child may need help. When you see early signs of speech problems in your child, consult a professional to determine what kind therapies or treatment would be suitable.