As a practising speech therapist, I regularly consult children with delayed speech and language development. As with other skills, the age at which your child learn the language and start speaking may vary. Generally, kids babble “mama” well before their first birthday, and most of them say around 20 words by the time they reach 18 months old.
Parents always compare the responses of their child with other children of the same age, and the problem arises when their 2-year-old isn’t really talking or able to put only two words together. They keep waiting for that commonly expected response from their kid and lose those most crucial initial years of development.
Below mentioned are some tips to help a late talker talk properly:
- Telecommunication devices: Parents quite often complain that their children know shapes, colours, and rhymes but do not say words like ‘hello,’ and they are becoming less emotional and caring about their parents. The truth of the matter is that kids should not be blamed for this scenario as being lovely and caring parents, you might have provided devices such as smartphones and tablets that have adverse consequences for your child’s speech and language development.
Recent studies show that children who spent more time using handheld devices are more likely to have delays in speech, compared to children who don’t use the devices as much. Hence, limit the exposure of such devices, and kids will start finding their own ways for entertainment which will gradually improve their physical as well as communicative abilities and cognitive aspects.
- Input (stimulation): There is no output without input. Stimulation can be anything that can enhance a child’s understanding towards the world around him/her. In most cases, children lack the constant verbal stimulation from parents due to their busy schedule. Spend some time every day with your child playing some simple games, doing role reversals, or trying storytelling as they will increase your child’s vocabulary and learning skills.
- Demand: It is often said that kids have a privilege to get everything they need, but busy parents do not always wait for the child to communicate his/her needs verbally. Wait for your child to speak about his/her needs, and if you child can’t express them properly, help him/her to verbalise them. Also, try keeping your child’s regularly used toys out of his/her sight to make him/her demand for them.
- Expansion/Extension (adding new words): Don’t get satisfied with the same response from your child each time. Always try to modify the responses from your child by making him/her add new words when asked for something.
- Social Exposure: Take your child to places like the beach, garden, and grocery store as it helps improve their pragmatic language skills by learning appropriate responses to real circumstances.
Ms. Rupali Ranjith
Audiologist/ Speech Therapist
PRIMACARE Speciality Clinic Center, Bur Dubai