Children are a heritage and blessing into our homes. They are born with an innate ability to learn language and communicate. However, some have difficulty in understanding spoken language and to be able to speak fluently. While it is important, to allow them space and time to catch up with their typically developing peers, one must not miss out on the critical age of a child.
By the time they reach five years of age, their brain development is close to that of an adult and the neural connections are already made. Therefore, if your child is not able to communicate for his age level, it is important to seek professional help from a Speech Pathologist/ Speech Therapist, instead of waiting and watching while we are missing out on their critical years.
You need professional help if your child does not complete these skills by the appropriate age listed here below.
0 - 12 Months: Is able to take turns in vocalizing
Above 1 year - 2 years: Uses 50 – 200 words in his vocabulary and is able communicate in two-word phrases
2 – 3 years: Uses about 500 intelligible words and can ask simple ‘wh’ questions
3 – 4 years: Is able to use approximately 1500 words in his vocabulary and can tell the functions of objects and have long conversations
4 – 5 years: Can form complex sentences and narrate a story with appropriate grammatical structures such as irregular plurals and tenses.
In order for children to be able to achieve the above-mentioned skills by age, they must have acquired the pre-requisite skills for language acquisition which are sitting tolerance, joint attention, be able to look at the speaker, imitate gestures, and follow instructions.
Some children may be excellent with the above listed pre-requisites and have elaborate vocabulary; yet have difficulty being understood! They may have challenges in speaking with clarity. If that’s the case, the child may be having either of the following speech deficits.
It is extremely important that speech and language delays and disorders in children are identified and treated early, as they are core to effective communication. When left untreated children may face the following difficulties, but are not limited to:
Who can help?
A speech language pathologist/ Speech Therapist is a qualified professional in the field of speech, language and communication who can help identify children with communication disorders and plan a treatment protocol to bridge any gap between the child’s chronological or biological age versus the present functioning levels.
When is the right time to seek professional help?
Children as early as three months of age or even at birth can be identified at risk by a qualified speech language pathologist; however, often they are brought for intervention over three years of age waiting for the child to progress on her own and trying home remedies. Wait and watch will only delay any progress that can be made with intervention. Therefore, it is crucial that the child is given immediate speech and language therapy along with parent coaching by a qualified speech-language pathologist for best results.
Speech Language Pathologist