May, Better Hearing and Speech Month, is a great time to take a close
look at your child's communication skills. Forty-six million
Americans, including eight to ten percent of our preschool children
have difficulty communicating. Research has shown that children with
speech and language problems are more at risk for developing reading
problems, and may fall below their peers in academic achievement.
Parents of children who are slow to speak sometimes hesitate to seek
professional advice. Instead, they justify their child's not talking
by saying, "She understands everything we say," or,
"He'll outgrow it, he's a boy." Because of the enormous
variation in what is considered normal, children who are not quite on
schedule may not necessarily be delayed, but, instead, may be
following their own individual timetable for learning to talk.
However, parents should not rely on assumptions or the fact that some
children talk late, but catch-up. It is very important that your
child show continued progression from one stage to the next and that
you are able to answer ALWAYS or SOMETIMES to the questions below. It
is always wise to seek a professional evaluation if, at any age, you
have questions about your child's development in any area, your child
does not seem to be learning new words, and/or he suddenly stops talking.
TAKE THIS QUIZ
1. Does my three-month-old child turn to the sound of my voice
and other sounds?
2. Does my eight-month-old child imitate speech sounds and use
sounds to get attention?
3. Does my eight to twelve-month-old child look at people who
talk to him and show an interest and intention to communicate?
4. Does my twelve to fifteen-month-old child have a wide range
of speech sounds in his babbling and jargoning?
5. Does my twelve to fifteen-month-old child say at least one
or two meaningful words?
6. Does my twelve to fifteen-month-old child follow simple
requests, such as "Look at the dog," and understand simple
questions, such as, "Do you want some more juice?"
7. Does my eighteen-month-old child express at least ten words?
8. Does my eighteen to twenty-four-month old child follow
simple, one step requests, such as, "Please get the ball?"
9. Does my two-year-old child have a vocabulary of fifty or
more clear words or word approximations, such as, "sue" for
"shoe," and is learning to join two words together?
10. Does my two-year-old child ask simple questions and
respond to simple questions with yes and no?
11. Does my two and a half-year-old child understand simple
stories and conversations?
12. Does my two and a half-year-old child use three words
together such as, "my big blocks?"
13. Does my three-year-old child ask and answer where, what,
and who questions?
14. Does my three-year old child start conversations?
15. Does my three-year old child use four word sentences to
talk and make requests?
16. Does my three-year old child follow two step directions,
such as, "Get the doll and put it in the box?"
How to Seek Professional Help
A Speech and Language Pathologist is trained to evaluate and treat
children and adults with speech and/or language problems. For
children, he or she may administer tests that show how much language
is understood (receptive language skills) and how much is spoken
(expressive language skills). He or she may also listen to how a
child speaks in different setting and determine why he may be slow to
develop language. With this information in hand, he or she can then
offer suggestions for stimulating language development or suggest a
more formal treatment program.
For assistance in finding a Speech and Language Pathologist in your
area, you may contact the American Speech-Language-Hearing
Association (800-638-8255 or 301-897-8662), or your local school
district. If you have any questions or concerns, it is certainly not
necessary, or wise, to wait until your child is in school, as your
local school district or county health department is required to
provide appropriate free services for children from birth to five
years of age.
If your child is a late talker, taking him to a Speech and Language
Pathologist may help you to achieve peace of mind when you learn that
he is developing as he should, or get your child needed help early
and possibly avoid future academic and behavioral problems. You can
relax and have fun helping your child reach his highest potential.