Pediatric Speech and Language Development
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, so it is the perfect time to explore childhood language development and speech therapy’s impact on it! Children begin developing language and social skills just after birth, and the first 12 months of life play a huge part in the development of a child’s communication skills. However, if a child is not meeting many of their developmental milestones, speech therapy may be necessary to promote the development of necessary language skills.
As early as 3 months of age, babies begin to recognize familiar voices and smile or quiet with interaction. They will begin to make pleasure sounds such as cooing, as well as begin smiling intentionally. By 10 to 12 months of age, children can understand words spoken by others, follow simple commands, and use one or two words.
Language Disorders & Delays
A child who has a language delay typically experiences language development that follows a typical pattern, but it begins later in life or progresses at a slower pace than expected. A child who has a language disorder experiences difficulty learning language skills, and those skills do not follow the typical pattern of development. Both language delays and disorders can occur as isolated deficits, or they can be secondary to other diagnoses such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, hearing loss, neurological impairments, or head trauma. A speech therapist may collaborate with other healthcare professionals to diagnose or rule out other specific disorders or disabilities as part of a child’s individualized treatment plan.
Does my child need speech therapy?
Each child ultimately grows and develops at his or her own pace, but there are some early warning signs that indicate a need for intervention by a speech therapist. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the following signs may indicate a language disorder:
· Birth-3 months: lack of smiling or playing with others
· 4-7 months: child is not yet babbling
· 7-12 months: child is only making a few sounds and not using gestures (pointing, waving)
· 7-24 months: child doesn’t appear to understand what others say
· 12-18 months: child only says a few words
· 18-24 months: child does not put two words together
· 2 years: child has fewer than 50 words in his or her vocabulary
· 2-3 years: child struggles to play and talk with other kids
· 2.5-3 years: child struggles with early reading and writing skills such as drawing and looking at books
For children who present with one or more of these early warning signs, early intervention is the best treatment. Family-centered therapy can begin during infancy, and parents can implement activities and strategies suggested by the speech therapist in order to facilitate language development. Each child will receive an individualized program to meet his specific needs.
If you have concerns about your child's speech and language development, please contact our referrals coordinator at 720-989-0179 to set up an evaluation!
Early Identification of Speech, Language, and Hearing Disorders. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/public/Early-Identification-of-Speech-Language-and-Hearing-Disorders/
Super Duper Publications (2019). Retrieved from https://www.superduperinc.com/