My Child is a Late Talker: What Should I Do? #14

Are you worried that your child is a late talker? That they don't know as many words as other children their age, or can't put the words together into a phrase? This post tells you what you can do!

You can listen to this episode above, listen to it on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcript below.

What is 'normal'?
Before we start today we need to ask the question, in terms of language development, what is 'normal'?

Firstly, we must keep in mind that there needs to be a fairly wide range to what is considered normal. Comparing your own child directly with another might not be reassuring, and we shouldn’t look around at playgroup, for example, and start rating our kids by intelligence or the number of friends they have, or their ability to paint a masterpiece. Children develop differently, and that’s OK.

If we do have concerns we should visit our doctor or other health professional and ask for their opinion. Early intervention is the very best way of helping struggling children in the long term, so I’m not saying ignore developmental delay.

But I am suggesting that sometimes we worry too much, especially if we’re doing the comparison thing! My first daughter spoke in full sentences from a very young age, but my second daughter took much, much longer. We’re talking years longer! There would have been no point getting anxious about her development because they were two very different children with different personalities and gifts. They’re grown now, and my first daughter communicates really well through writing and my second daughter communicates powerfully through her art and music. There’s no difference in their understanding and expression of language, just in how it’s ended up being channelled.
3 to 12 months
When talking about language development, the first year is very important. It’s the time when the foundation is being laid so the stronger we can make it, the better. We want to encourage them to make sounds, cooing and babbling and gesturing. They may start to form their first words at around 12 months old.
12 to 18 months
From 12 to 18 months the first words start popping up and they begin adding to the vocabulary. They can understand ‘no,’ but may not obey! If your child isn’t babbling or using gestures by 12 months then talk to your doctor.
18 months to 2 years
From 18 months to 2 years children start to put 2 words together to make a kind of sentence. They should understand most of what you say, and you’ll probably understand them. If your child doesn’t have any words at 18 months, then see your doctor.
2 to 3 years
From 2-3 years children start using longer, more complex sentences, and their pronunciation is getting better. They can play and talk at the same time, and strangers can probably understand much of what a 3 year old is saying.
3 to 5 years
From 3-5 we get longer and more complex conversations. They’ll want to talk about lots of different things and they’ll learn many more words. They might make up funny stories and will use better grammar.

For the first three years children understand a lot more than they can say. This is why it’s so important for us to be interacting and chatting face to face with our young children even if we feel a bit silly or that it’s a waste of our very limited time.

Language development is not just about learning to say individual words, it helps children express what they need or what they feel. It encourages thinking and problem solving and helps them make friends and build relationships.

What's the problem?
When a child is having difficulty developing language skills it can mean:

They’re having trouble understanding what is being said to them, which we call receptive language.
They can’t find the words to express their own thoughts and feelings, which we call expressive language, or
A combination of both,

from The Early Childhood Research Podcast http://ift.tt/1Ye79co