In the era of globalization and nuclear families, delayed speech is a common complaint of parents. Despite achieving all milestones at appropriate age, child, for some reason (yes, I am being polite!), tend to show delay in language milestones!
Why would she do that? Actually the child is not getting the environment she ought to for the development of speech, as both the parents are working, and as a consequence, don’t stimulate the child enough for development!
Firstly, one should be aware of normal language mile stones which are as follows:
1. A child starts cooing at around 3 months of age.
2. Monosyllable like ma, ba, da at around 6-7 months of age.
3. Bi-syllable like mama, papa, dada at around 9-11 month of age.
4. By 1 year, child can say 2 words with meaning.
5. By 2 years, child can form sentences.
6. By 3-4 years, he can tell stories (that’s one exciting stage!)
When is it normal? For this normal development of speech and language, a child should have the ability to hear, see, comprehend and remember. Along with this, she should also have motor skills and social ability to interact.
A child’ s language skill comprise of receptive (hearing and understanding) and expressive (talking) skills. A normal child is receptive since birth and the expressive part develops gradually.
Classification: A child communication disorders can be classified as:
1. Expressive language disorder
2. Mixed receptive expressive
4. Non-classified (don’t even ask 😉)
When should we worry? A conducive warm family environment is required for normal development of
language. However there are some guidelines about when the child should be screened for language
delay, and referred for investigations and speech therapy. They are as follows:
1.At 15 month of age: If the child does not look or point at 10-15 objects, or if she is not using 3 words.
2.18 months of age: If the child does not follow simple directions, for example, one step command like ‘get that
book’, or she is not using bisyllable like mama, dada, etc.
3. 24 months of age: Does not point to pictures or body parts, or does not use 25 words sentences.
4. 30 months of age: Does not verbally respond or nod to questions, or does not use unique two word phrases.
5. 36 months: Does not understand preposition or action words, or has vocabulary of less than 200 words, or she
does not ask for things, or language regression after attaining two word phrase.
Verdict: If the child is showing any of the above signs, she should be evaluated without delay. Having said that, language development depends on a lot of factors like – family history, environment of family, child stimulation, etc. All children are not alike. There may be minor variations in development, but if you find any gross delay as per stated guidelines, then my friend, it is time to visit your child specialist and speech therapist.