Children learn new skills at their own pace. This can be applied whether it be learning how to walk, run or talk. Sometimes, parents may notice that their child is a little behind in terms of development. When it comes to speech and language skills, it is common that you might compare your child to someone else’s. It is important to keep in mind, however, that every child develops differently.
There are many reasons why a child might have a speech delay. It could be due to a hearing problem, an issue with the tongue or mouth, or it could be a sign of a more serious condition. In this post, we will be discussing how to spot early signs of speech delay! We will also talk about how important early speech intervention is to your child’s speech and language development.
In this article we will discuss:
What are the early signs of speech delay?
It is hard to generalize when it comes to the early signs of speech delay because every child is different. However, there are some common patterns that parents can look out for. It is important to look out for skills that should have been developed by a certain age.
There are non-verbal and prerequisite skills children need to learn before they start talking. Non-verbal skills are usually the first to develop. This means that a child would be able to do things such as make eye contact, follow an object with their eyes, or turn their head when they hear a noise. These skills usually develop by the time a child is 6 months old. Prerequisite skills are the skills that a child needs to learn before they can start producing words. This includes:
Joint attention – this skill is when a child is able to share their attention with another person. For example, a baby might look at a book and then look up at their parent to show that they want to share the experience.
Imitation – this is when a child is able to copy the actions of another person.
Making inferences – this is when a child is able to understand what another person is thinking or feeling. These skills usually develop by the time a child is 12 months
Eye contact – this is when a child looks at another person’s face when they are talking.
Play skills – this is when a child plays alone or with other children their age.
Considering early speech intervention for your child?
Aside from prerequisite skills, children have speech and language milestones to achieve in order to start talking. To spot early signs of speech delay, these milestones should be taken into consideration:
By the end of 3 months:
Your child should smile at you
He/she starts to make cooing sounds such as “ga ga”
When spoken to, they might get quiet or smile
Your child may seem as though they recognize a parent’s voice
He/she makes different crying sounds for different needs
By the end of 6 months:
Your child starts to make gurgling sounds
He/she can be able to make other sounds
They use their voice to show pleasure/displeasure
Your child will look in the direction of sounds
He/she will respond to changes in tone of voice from an adult
They pay attention to sounds made by objects/toys/music
By the end of 12 months:
They attempt to imitate speech sounds
He/she says simple words like “dada,” “mama”
Your child responds to simple directions, such as “Come here”
They recognize common items, like “doggie”
He/she looks in the direction of sounds
By the end of 18 months:
He/she knows and recognizes the names of known people, objects, and body parts
They can follow simple directions such as “Give me the bottle”
Your child can produce or say 10 words
By the end of 24 months:
He/she uses simple 2-word phrases like “more juice”
They can ask one or two-word questions like “Go bye-bye?”
Your child can follow simple questions and understand simple questions
He/ she can produce or say about 50 or more words
Speech is understood by parents/primary caregivers at least half of the time
Speech skills continue to develop and blossom as a child grows. However, if you feel like your child is not meeting these milestones, it is important to seek help from a speech-language pathologist or your child’s doctor.
What is the importance of early intervention?
If you feel like your child might have a speech delay, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Early intervention is key in helping your child’s speech and language development. The earlier a child gets help, the more likely they are to catch up to their peers. Early intervention includes speech therapy, early interventionalist, or even a developmental pediatrician.
There are many benefits of early intervention. Some of these benefits include:
Improved communication skills
Developed social skills
Improved academic performance
Reduced need for special education services
If you think your child might have a speech delay, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. A speech-language pathologist can assess your child and provide you with recommendations on how to best help your child’s development.
Early intervention for speech therapy
Speech delay can help address any speech delays or disorders your child might have. It is important to seek help as soon as possible to maximize the success of therapy.
When to start speech therapy for early intervention?
The earlier the better! If you think your child has a speech delay, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Early intervention is key in helping your child’s speech and language development. The earlier a child gets help, the more likely they are to catch up to their peers.
The Benefits of Early Intervention
Study shows that speech and language skills develop like a ladder. As a child grows, they build upon the skills they have acquired. So if a child has a speech delay, they might miss out on developing more complex communication skills. This is actually the reason why children need speech therapy for early intervention.
Early intervention reduces the severity of a child’s disorder
Studies have shown that the earlier a child receives therapy, the better their outcome is likely to be. The goal of speech therapy for early intervention is to turn a child with a severe communication disorder into a child who can communicate his wants and needs.
Early intervention improves communication skills
Children who receive speech therapy for early intervention can improve their communication skills. They might learn how to use gestures, body language, and facial expressions to communicate.
Some children with speech delay might also receive augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. These devices can help a child who is nonverbal or has trouble speaking communicate their needs.
Early intervention minimizes frustration for both the child and the family
Most of the time, children get frustrated because they do not know how to express their wants and needs. This can be very frustrating for both the child and the family.
Speech therapy can help minimize this frustration by teaching the child how to communicate their wants and needs. This can help reduce stress for both the child and the family.
Early intervention can increase the success of treatment
The earlier a child starts speech therapy, the more likely they are to be successful in treatment. This is because early intervention can help reduce the severity of a child’s disorder. It can also help improve communication skills and minimize frustration for both the child and the family.
For disorders such as Cerebral palsy, speech therapy and early intervention can be very helpful. For cerebral palsy and other related disorders, a child can learn early on how to compensate for their delay as well as learn strategies to overcome it.
Early intervention help the child reach their fullest potential
Early intervention can help a child reach their fullest potential. The earlier a child gets help, the more likely they are to catch up to their peers. Speech therapy for early intervention can also help reduce the severity of a child’s disorder and improve communication skills.
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About the Author
I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.
I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.