Should I be concerned about my child’s speech-language development? Take a look at this checklist compiled by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. Do you have a child aged birth to three who:
- Does not smile or interact with others (birth and older)
- Does not babble (4-7 months)
- Makes only a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (7-12 months)
- Does not understand what others say (7 months-2 years)
- Says only a few words (12-18 months)
- Says p, b, m, h, and w incorrectly in words (1-2 years)
- Words are not easily understood (18 months-2 years)
- Does not put words together to make sentences (1.5-3 years)
- Has trouble playing and talking with other children (2-3 years)
- Says k, g, f, t, d, and n incorrectly in words (2-3 years)
- Produces speech that is unclear, even to familiar people (2-3 years)
- Has trouble with early reading and writing skills (2.5-3 years)
If you find yourself in agreement with some of these statements, consider talking your to your child’s pediatrician or healthcare provider to rule out any other medical concerns like a hearing loss and to share your concerns. When in doubt, check it out! Parents often have a gut feeling if something doesn’t seem right with their child’s ability to communicate, even if this is their first child. It’s better to check out your speech-language concern for your child and have the peace of mind that you’ve explored options.
Children who are under three years old may qualify for your local Birth to Three program that provides speech-language therapy services. Children do have a range of normal and are sometimes later to talk than others.
Your child’s healthcare provider may refer you to a Birth to Three program or may encourage you to increase your child’s speech-language development at home.
What can you do as a parent or caregiver to help with a child’s speech-language development?
- Talk and read to your child
- Listen to your child
- Sing children’s songs like Mary had a Little Lamb or Itsy Bitsy Spider
- Have your child play with other children
- Comment on sounds you hear – “the truck went honk honk” or “the water goes splash”
- Provide real time commentary – “Let’s put on your socks” or “We’re washing our hands”
Jann Fujimoto, MS CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and owner of SpeechWorks LLC with offices in Waukesha and Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. SpeechWorks helps children become confident and competent communicators.