Speech Milestones and Delays
As part of our speech series, this article will focus on milestones and delays. Remember, speech is the way we form words, the ways we pronounce words, the way words sound and how we recognize them. Some of it can be seen in different accents from different regions of a country.
In the United States, we have different regional accents. Personally, I enjoy trying to determine if someone I’ve never met is from the east coast, west coast, south, deep south, Midwest, or some other region. If we hear someone speak who does not have an accent we can place in a specific region, we say the person “has no accent.” People in specific lines of work get speech training in order to get rid of their accents – or adapt their accents. When those people return to their roots, however, the old accents return. Speech, especially early speech, is a big part of who we are and who we become as people.
So, how do we know if our children are developing their speech in a healthy, “age-appropriate” way? Speech is different for everyone. There are some milestones to consider.
You may notice that most children struggle with certain sounds when they’re young: the sound of L or R for example. They both may sound like W. In the beginning, that is normal. Check your child against these milestones for comfort about his or her development or encouragement to seek speech help for your child.
Between 12 and 24 months (1-2 years), your child should say several consonant sounds well. The most common are “p,” “b,” “m,” “h,” and “w.” By this age, your child likely says things like, “Mama,” “baba” for “bottle,” “wawa” for “water” or similar things that you recognize as speech.
Between 2 and 3 years old, your child should have many more sounds and words that sound like words instead of simple sounds. Your child likely can say the sounds of “k,” “g,” “f,” “t,” “d,” and “n.” By 3 years old, many adults understand children who do not have speech delays. Some words may still be unclear, but conversation usually can happen.
One thing with which I have struggled is correcting my children’s speech when they struggled. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says it is more important to keep our children talking than to correct them all the time. I know that when I have corrected my children too often, they give up and decide not to talk to me at all. If your child has only a mild speech delay, keeping your child talking will help him or her learn how to form his or her sounds and words correctly. If your child has a severe speech delay or challenge, keeping your child talking will help you detect it. It will also help you get your child the help your child needs to become a successful communicator.
By the time your child is 3, perhaps even 2 ½, your child could be using up to 350 words that most people understand. If your child uses closer to 100 easy-to-understand words, for example, your child may have a speech delay. One wonderful thing about our society is that there are many people who can help. Many professionals want to help your child succeed as much as you want your child to succeed. Speech pathologists, early intervention specialists, and pediatricians all have resources and techniques to help you help your child.
I noticed that many online sources address speech and language at the same time, in the same articles. Remember, speech is how a person forms words, how words sound, how a person’s voice sounds, whether or not a person repeats sounds (stuttering). Language is how a person communicates thoughts or understands what is spoken. Speech is physical. Although speech and language work as partners, they also are individuals. If you’re concerned about your child’s speech or how your child communicates, talk to a professional who deals specifically with speech. It may be something you and your child completely can overcome together with only a little extra help.
What might cause a delay? Sometimes children have physical problems with their tongues or palate (roof of the mouth) that could cause a delay. Sometime children just struggle to figure out how to make their tongues, teeth, and lips work together as they should. Sometimes children hear words incorrectly which makes them then say words wrong – they speak the way they hear. All of these things can be diagnosed by a professional. Professional speech pathologists can help struggling children overcome these challenges or recommend other things to solve the problem. Maybe you will only need one professional to help your child. Maybe you will need several. If you are worried, find a professional speech therapist or speech pathologist who can help you help your child.
Check these other resources for more information. Remember, they combine language and speech in all their discussions. It is important to know the difference.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs