Two year old toddler not talking: What if Your 2-Year Old is Not Talking But Understands You?
What if Your 2-Year Old is Not Talking But Understands You?
Written By Allison Geller
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What if your two-year-old is not speaking yet, but you know they understand what you are saying? If your child has not yet fully developed their verbal communication, they may be what is commonly referred to as a “late talker.”
Late talking is when a child understands more than they can say. While this may be cause for concern for some parents, it is important to remember that all children develop at different rates. In fact, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), about 15 percent of children between the ages of 18 and 24 months old are late talkers.
There are several reasons why a 2-year-old is babbling but not talking. Sometimes, it may be because they are shy or introverted. It can also be related to hearing loss or other developmental delays. In most cases, however, the cause is unknown.
Early intervention is key if you are concerned that your child may be a late talker. This article will share tips on a few things you can do to encourage your child’s communication development and help you understand when it’s time to seek help.
How to Know if Your Child Understands You
How Do I Know if My Child is Just a Late Talker Or if It’s Something More?
Two-Year-Old Speech Milestones
Causes of Speech Delays in 2-Year-Olds
Does Your Two-Year-Old Need Speech Therapy?
Tips For Parents of Late Talkers
Activities to Encourage Speech and Language in Toddlers
Frequently Asked Questions
How Connected Speech Pathology Can Help Your Toddler Communicate More Effectively
How to Know if Your Child Understands You
Receptive language is the ability to understand spoken language, including following directions, answering questions, and understanding stories. If your child has good receptive language skills, they can communicate their needs and wants, even if they are not yet talking.
Here are ways of knowing that your child understands you even if they are not talking yet:
Your child follows your gaze
If you are looking at something across the room, does your child look in that direction too? This is called “joint attention,” an important milestone in communication development.
Your child points
Pointing is one of the first ways babies communicate. If your child is pointing to things they want or need, it is a good sign that they understand what you are saying.
Your child responds to their name
If you call your child’s name and they look at you, it means they understand that you are talking to them.
Your child imitates sounds
If your child makes sounds back when you make sounds, it shows that they are trying to communicate with you.
Your child uses gestures
Gestures are another form of communication. If your child is waving “bye-bye” or shaking their head “no,” it means they understand what those gestures mean.
How Do I Know if My Child is Just a Late Talker Or if It’s Something More?
Expressive language is the ability to use spoken language. This includes being able to say words, put sentences together, and ask questions. If your child has good expressive language skills, they should be able to communicate their needs and wants verbally.
Here is a checklist of some ways of knowing that your 2-year old may have an expressive language delay:
Your child has a limited vocabulary
If your child only says a few words, they are likely a late talker.
Your child uses made-up words
If your child uses words they only understand, it is a good sign that they are trying to communicate, but their expressive language skills are not yet developed.
Your child does not imitate words or sounds in their environment
If your child does not imitate the words or sounds they hear, it may indicate a delay.
Your child points or gestures to get what they want
If your child is using gestures instead of words to communicate their needs, it may be because they don’t yet know the word for what they want.
Your child does not put two words together
If your child is not yet saying phrases such as “more milk” or “daddy pig,” they are likely a late talker.
Your child has difficulty asking questions
If your child can only answer yes or no questions, it is another sign that they are a late talker.
Two-Year-Old Speech Milestones
Keep in mind that developmental milestones provided by speech pathologists are a range, not a rule. All children develop differently and at their own pace.
The following milestones are for typically-developing children:
Causes of Speech Delays in 2-Year-Olds
While there are several possible causes of speech delay, often the cause is unknown, and it may be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Early intervention and therapy can be beneficial in helping children with speech delays improve their communication skills.
Hearing loss is one of the most common causes of speech and language delays in young children. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, around 3 in every 1,000 children in the United States are born with hearing loss.
Hearing loss can make it difficult for infants and toddlers to learn the sounds of speech, which can, in turn, delay their development of language skills. In some cases, hearing loss can also lead to behavior problems, as children may become frustrated or withdrawn if they cannot communicate effectively.
If you suspect an early language delay, hearing loss, or have a familial history of hearing issues, you should have your child’s hearing checked.
Some children may have neurological conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, or Down syndrome, which can cause speech delays. Children with neurological and developmental disorders may struggle with expressive and receptive language. In addition, they may have trouble understanding what others are saying.
As a result, children with neurological disorders may not receive the same level of language exposure as other children their age, leading to delays in speech development. Various treatment options are available for children with neurological disorders, including occupational, physical, and speech therapy.
Children with an intellectual disability may have difficulty understanding language or processing information, leading to delayed speech development.
Speech and Language Developmental Disorders
Children with speech and language developmental disorders may have difficulty producing sounds and forming words, which can result in a delay in speech development.
Lack of Stimulation
Children who are not exposed to a variety of sounds, words, and conversations may have a harder time developing speech skills.
Speech Sound Disorders
Some children may have difficulty producing specific speech sounds, such as “r” or “s,” which can result in speech delays.
Children with cognitive delays may have difficulty understanding and using language, resulting in speech delays.
Does Your Two-Year-Old Need Speech Therapy?
If you have a concern about your child’s speech and language development, the best thing to do is to consult with a professional at the first signs of a problem. If your child is not yet talking, but you feel they should be, you can ask your pediatrician for a referral to a speech therapist.
A speech therapist can assess your child’s development and guide you on what you can do to help. In some cases, speech therapy for your 2-year old may be recommended.
Remember that early intervention is critical if your child is a late talker. Late language emergence is not always a cause for concern, but it is important to consult a professional to rule out any underlying issues. With the proper support, your child will develop the skills they need to communicate effectively.
How Do Speech Pathologists Assess Children For Language Delays?
Speech pathologists assess children for language delays in a few different ways. One way is through clinical observation, where the speech therapist watches the child interact with others and takes note of their verbal and nonverbal communication.
Another way is through formal testing, which may include using standardized assessments or developmental milestones to identify areas of concern. Finally, speech pathologists may also talk to the child’s caregivers to better understand their development.
A speech-language evaluation is conducted playfully, and the child should not feel like they are being tested. The speech pathologist will ask the child to do various tasks, such as answering questions, following directions, or naming objects. They will also observe how the child interacts with others.
The goal of the evaluation is to get a clear picture of the child’s strengths and weaknesses to develop an individualized treatment plan.
Meet With a Specialist
Tips For Parents of Late Talkers
There are several things you can do to get your toddler talking:
Talk to your child often and use simple words and phrases. When they see you communicating, they will be more likely to want to communicate themselves. Pay attention to their body language and facial expressions and respond to them. Describe what you are doing as you do it. For example, “I am cooking dinner now. I am putting the chicken in the oven.”
Encourage Your Child to Communicate With You
Encourage your child to communicate with you, even if they are not speaking yet. You can use baby sign language or picture cards to help your child express their needs. Using baby sign language can be a great way to communicate before your child can speak.
If your child points or gestures, try to understand what they want. Respond to their sounds and encourage them to make more sounds.
Read to Your Child
Read to your child every day. Reading will help them learn new words. Point to the pictures as you read and discuss what is happening in the story.
When playing with your child, take turns talking or making sounds. Taking turns will help them understand that communication is a two-way process.
Make Eye Contact
Make sure to look at your child when you are talking to them. Maintaining good eye contact will help them feel connected to you and more engaged in the conversation.
Try to be patient when communicating with your child. Give them time to respond, and don’t get frustrated if they don’t understand everything you are saying.
Play Games With Your Child
Games are a great way to help your child learn new words and practice their communication skills. Try games that involve pointing, such as “I Spy” or “Where is Thumbkin?” You can also play with toys that involve taking turns, such as block towers or simple card games.
Activities to Encourage Speech and Language in Toddlers
If your child is not speaking, you can still do plenty of things together.
Playing catch is a great way to bond with your child and get them moving. It can also help improve hand-eye coordination, skill, and strength. Try using a soft ball or bean bag so it’s easy for them to catch. You can make the game more challenging by adding obstacles, such as trees or fences, or by increasing the distance between you and your child.
There are so many great books to read with your toddler. Reading is a great way to help your child learn new words and understand what’s happening in the world around them. Be sure to point to the pictures and discuss what’s happening in the story. Pointing will keep your child engaged and interested in reading.
Drawing is an excellent way for children to express themselves. Encourage your child to draw pictures and discuss what they did.
There are many great songs to sing with your toddler, most of which are easy to learn. Some of our favorites include “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” These songs are great for teaching new words and sounds, and they’re also fun to sing. Plus, they’re easy enough for even the youngest toddlers to join in on the singing.
Play With Blocks
Blocks are a great way to help children learn about shapes and sizes. They can also be used to teach counting and other basic concepts.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many words should a two-year-old know?
Children learn the language at different rates, so there is no one answer to this question. Some two-year-olds may only be saying a few words, while others may be able to repeat words and phrases. However, most experts agree that children should have a vocabulary of about 50 words by the time they reach two years old.
How can I help my two-year-old with speech and language development?
Helping your 2-year-old with speech and language development is essential for future success. While every child develops at their own pace, there are some general milestones that most children reach around this age.
A toddler talking 50 words and putting two words together to make simple phrases is considered normal for spoken language. In terms of speech development, most two-year-olds are starting to produce sounds like “m,” “b,” and “p.” If your child is not meeting these milestones, or if you have concerns about their speech or language development, it is always a good idea to consult with an early intervention speech pathologist.
What causes expressive language delay in toddlers?
There are many potential causes of expressive language delay in toddlers. Some children develop more slowly than others and may eventually catch up. Others may have underlying medical or developmental issues that impact their communication ability. And some children may be exposed to limited opportunities to practice and hone their language skills.
What are the treatment options for language delays?
The treatment options for language delays will vary depending on the child’s individual needs. Sometimes, no treatment is necessary, and the child will eventually catch up to their peers.
However, in other cases, treatment may be recommended to help the child reach their full potential. The most common type of treatment is speech therapy. Speech therapy can help children improve their communication skills by teaching them how to produce sounds, use words, and compose sentences.
Speech therapy is usually conducted one-on-one. It would be best to look for a speech therapist that your child feels comfortable with and who uses appropriate techniques for their age and level of development.
How Connected Speech Pathology Can Help Your Toddler Communicate More Effectively
If your toddler is not meeting the expected speech and language milestones for their age, it is vital to seek professional help. A certified speech-language pathologist can assess your child’s skills and guide you on how to best support their development.
At Connected Speech Pathology, we specialize in working with toddlers and their families. We understand the challenges of raising a non-verbal or late-talking child and are here to help. We offer various services, including individual therapy and parent coaching. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help your family.
Learn more about our speech therapy services for children
About the Author
Allison Geller is a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and the owner of Connected Speech Pathology. She obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Florida in Speech-Language Pathology. Allison has practiced speech therapy in a number of settings including telepractice, acute care, outpatient rehabilitation, and private practice. She has worked extensively with individuals across the lifespan including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, and adults. She specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of a variety of communication disorders including receptive/expressive language disorders, articulation disorders, voice disorders, fluency disorders, brain injury, and swallowing disorders.
Allison served as the clinical coordinator of research in aphasia in the Neurological Institute at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. She is on the Board of Directors for the Corporate Speech Pathology Network (CORSPAN), a Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) certified clinician, and a proud Family Empowerment Scholarship/Step-Up For Students provider. Allison is passionate about delivering high quality-effective treatment remotely because it’s convenient and easy to access. What sets us apart from other online speech therapy options is—Allison takes great care to hire the very best SLPs from all over the country.
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2-Year-Old Not Talking but Babbling: Should You Worry?
Speech and language disorders can affect your child’s comprehension and how they express themself. Certain conditions can affect their development in these areas.
Toddlers are busy little beings. They walk, talk, and explore the world around them with fascinating curiosity.
You may notice that your child’s development goes at its own unique pace. And that’s OK — at least most of the time. Still, if you’re worried that your 2-year-old isn’t talking as much as their peers, or that they’re still babbling versus saying actual words, it’s a valid concern.
Understanding what’s developmentally appropriate at this age can help you know if your tot is on track. Here’s more about the milestones, what to watch for, and how you can seek help for potential issues.
Related: Language milestones at 1 to 2 years
By age 2, milestones for speech and language include having a vocabulary of 50 or more words, even if they aren’t pronounced perfectly or understood by strangers. Your tot may also call their favorite foods by their correct names and make various animal sounds — moo, baa, cluck, oink — when prompted.
Two-word phrases also emerge (e.g., “want food”), as well as the use of pronouns like “mine,” by your child’s second birthday.
Between the age of 2 and 3, your child may know between 200 and 1,000 words. That’s a big jump in vocabulary! They may begin to understand and speak about spatial concepts, such as “on” or “in.” They also demonstrate a better understanding of pronouns and know words to describe people, places, and things, including “happy” or “sad” and “big” or “small. ”
Other milestones include:
- using two- to three-word sentences (e.g., “I want more” or “I see that”)
- speaking more clearly so that caregivers can understand
- answering simple questions
- using more pronouns, such as “I,” “you,” or “me”
- adding appropriate inflection to questions (e.g., “my turn?”)
- beginning to use plural words by adding “s” to everyday words, like “toys” or “shoes”
- beginning to use past tense for verbs, like “walked” or “jumped”
It’s important to note that children of this age still may leave the ends off of words. They may also not speak in a way that’s totally understood by strangers. When they’re 2, you or other caregivers may only understand around 50 percent of the words your child says.
As your child gets closer to age 3, their speech may be understood fairly well by the people in your family or others who regularly care for them.
Related: Does my toddler have a speech delay?
You may have heard that speech delays are associated with autism. This is true, but delays can exist on their own as well. In general, children with isolated speech delays tend to meet their milestones in other areas of development — just not in speech or language.
For example, your child may have trouble speaking but does respond when their name is called or can use other ways to communicate, such as shaking their head yes or no, using sign language, or vocalizations. Your child may not have a large vocabulary, but they can follow age-appropriate directions or use age-appropriate social skills.
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have speech delays, as well as difficulty with communicating in general. For example, you may notice your child doesn’t respond to their name or follow directions. Your tot may not point toward objects or use other gestures.
Other features of autism include:
- Additional communication issues. These include repeating certain words or phrases and losing words or phrases that were once in their vocabulary. You may also notice that when your child does speak, they do so in a robotic, sing-song, or other unusual tone of voice.
- Social challenges. In children with autism, these include things like limited eye contact and trouble reading cues, such as facial expressions or body language, among other challenges.
- Repetitive behaviors. Rocking or hand-flapping are other signs of autism. Your little one may be extremely focused on certain interests, play with their toys only in a specific way (e.g., lining up dolls or spinning crayons), or even seem interested in just one part of a specific toy, such as the buttons on a doll’s dress.
Being extremely troubled with breaking a normal routine is yet another common characteristic of ASD.
Resist the urge to self-diagnose your child, and bring up any concerns with your child’s pediatrician. Some of the behaviors above may be part of your toddler’s personality or development. Experts say that a doctor’s diagnosis of autism at age 2 can be “very reliable” but note that it often takes longer for most kids to get a final diagnosis.
Related: How early can autism be detected?
Outside of ASD, there are a number of reasons your child may experience a speech or language delay. Primary causes are those that can’t be attributed to some other condition affecting your child.
Speech and language are two different things. Speech is the way your child forms words and sounds, while language is how your child applies meaning to those words and communicates. Children can have trouble saying words, putting them together, or other issues with speech and language.
Some primary causes include:
- Developmental expressive language disorder (DELD). Children with this condition have trouble expressing themselves with speech, gestures, and writing (though trouble with writing won’t be noticeable with a toddler). The cause of this disorder is unknown.
- Receptive language disorder. On the flip side, children with receptive language disorder have trouble understanding and processing language they hear. These kids may hear the words around them but have trouble connecting the words to their meanings. As with expressive language disorder, the cause is generally unknown.
Other secondary conditions that may also cause delays in speech and language. This means the delay is caused by another condition that affects another part of your child’s body or brain. For example, the ears or soft palate of the mouth.
- cerebral palsy
- childhood apraxia of speech
- hearing loss before or after speech is developed
- intellectual disability
- selective mutism
Related: Speech disorders
In the United States, children are eligible for a free federal program called “early intervention” until age 3. This program covers every area of a child’s development, from physical skills to emotional skills and beyond.
In regards to language and speech, audiologists and speech-language pathologists help children with communication skills, including listening, talking, gesturing, and overall understanding.
You may also get in touch with your state’s early intervention program directly. Simply call and say, “I have concerns about my child’s development, and I would like to have my child evaluated to find out whether they’re eligible for early intervention services.”
Was this helpful?
After your first contact, your child will be evaluated by a professional to discover their individual set of needs. If your little one is eligible, they may undergo more tests or observations so your child’s team can write up an Individualized Family Service Plan.
As the name implies, each child’s plan will be catered to their needs and the corresponding potential treatments. As a caregiver, you help decide what’s part of your child’s plan.
Therapy activities for toddlers might involve:
- playing games
- reading books to interact through language
- practicing with sounds and syllables
Sessions may take place in your home or at a nearby school, day care center, or other public space.
You, as the parent, may also be able to help your child with speech therapy with proper training from a speech-language pathologist. Experts share that children exhibit a more varied response to learning from their parents, though, so be sure to work with professionals when coming up with your ultimate plan.
Discussing any concerns you may have with your child’s pediatrician is a good idea, too. They can help with the evaluation, as well as recommend and help coordinate any appropriate medical testing, such as a hearing test, and potential specialist referrals.
What about after age 3?
Is your child almost 3? Before their birthday, your early intervention team will help write a transition plan for the next stage of therapy/support. Some states continue to offer early intervention after this age — your team can give you more information on the specifics. For others, services may be available through their local school district.
Related: What is speech therapy?
Keep in mind that every child is different, and every treatment plan is individual. Your little one may respond quickly to therapy (if needed) or, on the other hand, they may take some time to get the hang of things.
That said, in instances of an isolated speech and/or language delay that isn’t associated with another condition, early treatment can be helpful. Experts at the American Academy of Family Physicians share that children in this category typically have normal speech by the time they enter kindergarten.
One study followed late talkers from the time they were 20 to 34 months until they were in kindergarten and beyond. It found that 74 percent of the group had normal speech and language skills by the time they reached school.
A more recent study showed that late talkers may have more emotional or behavioral issues at age 2 due to not being able to adequately express themselves. However, over time these children didn’t show a significant difference in these areas when compared with their peers.
For speech and language delays caused by secondary issues, your child’s progress will likely depend on the cause and continued treatment therapies. Don’t lose hope. Continue to reach out to your child’s pediatrician or early intervention specialist for guidance and support.
There’s a lot you can do at home to promote good speech and language skills in the early years. Try reading to your toddler daily. You can also sing songs and talk out loud as you go about the day’s tasks to get your little one hearing more words and sentences.
If you still have concerns about your child not reaching speech or language milestones, consult your pediatrician. You don’t need a referral for early intervention services, but your child’s doctor may be able to point you in the right direction for help. The key is to identify potential issues and get support as soon as you can.
And don’t worry if you’re unsure about whether your family needs services. Leave that part up to the professionals and continue to advocate for your child.
Should I be worried, and what should a mother do if the child does not speak
Now there are significantly more children with speech development disorders. I compare with the 1990s, when I started working as a speech therapist and, according to my observations, the situation deteriorated sharply in the early 2000s. Perhaps this is due to the advent of the Internet in our lives or other factors that are still unknown.
There are so many children who do not speak at 2 or even 3 years old that for some young pediatricians this situation seems to be the norm. Doctors say that the child has the right to an individual pace of development and up to 5 years of age you can not worry about speech. But there is one problem: at the age of 6, the sensitive period of speech development ends. If you start developing a child’s speech only at 5, then you may not have time to take advantage of this “window of opportunity”.
When does a child’s speech development begin and how does it happen? After the 21st week of intrauterine life, the baby’s auditory system already responds to sounds. Best of all during this period, the child hears the voice of the mother.
This creates the foundation for the perception of the native language and learning it.
It is important that the vestibular system develops at the same time. This is due to the movements that the mother makes. If a pregnant woman constantly lies, does not talk to her baby, does not sing songs to him, this becomes a risk factor for his development after birth.
The first test of the maturity of the nervous system of a newborn is his ability to suckle breast milk . This is one of the predictors of speech development.
Communication skills are also important for future speech development. From the first weeks of life, the baby communicates with his mother and other family members. At first, he uses only as a means of communication, calling , indicating that he is hungry or uncomfortable. Mom comes to the cry and corrects the situation – this is how the first dialogue between mother and baby is formed.
Later smiles and drawling sounds uttered by the child are added to this dialogue, then babbling . Gradually, the cry ceases to be the main means of communication.
The first dialogue between mother and baby begins with a cry. The baby screams to say that he is hungry or dirty, and the mother comes to feed him or change his diaper. This game can last up to 15 minutes. An important stage in learning to speak is the game of “coo-coo”, which most babies like – when an adult hides behind a diaper and appears.
By the age of 12 months babbling begins to gradually turn into words . A child can say about 10 recognizable words. It can be lightweight options like “ba-ba” or “bang”. Another important acquisition of this age is the pointing gesture. With its help, the baby draws the attention of others to some interesting object for him.
By the age of 12 months, the child already has all the pre-speech skills of dialogue. He communicates using a smile, sounds, gestures, a look, and then also words. With this arsenal, the baby can:
- start a dialogue with an adult;
- change subject;
- comment on ongoing events;
- end the dialogue.
After the child began to walk confidently, there is a leap in his speech development. At the age of about 1.5 to 2 years, vocabulary is rapidly increasing, and at 2 years old, the baby already uses simple phrases like “mom give me” in communication.
First, the child uses sounds, gestures and looks to communicate with parents, and then begins to say simple phrases: “Mom, give!”
At 3 years of age, children with normal speech development communicate in long phrases , ask questions that begin with the words “what for” and “why”. Memorize and recite verses.
At this age, the speech of a child is still different from that of an adult, and this is normal. It can distort some speech sounds (phonemes). There are phonemes that appear early in speech – these are vowel sounds, as well as the sounds P, B, M, V, P, etc., which are called the sounds of early ontogenesis.
Later, the child learns to pronounce sounds that require more complex tongue movements, such as hissing. The sounds L and R are usually the last to appear in the speech of children who speak Russian. However, there are children who growl as early as two years old. This does not mean that the child masters his native language ahead of schedule.
By the age of 6-7 years, the child fully masters speech.
How to identify speech delay
It is advisable to start acting even before specialists have diagnosed a child with speech development delay.
The baby’s nervous system can send you SOS signals:
- The baby sucks weakly at the breast, often spits up.
- The newborn does not sleep.
- Too quiet child – never screams.
- Does not respond to loud sounds.
- Does not respond to mother’s voice.
- 1.5-2 months – does not smile when communicating with mom and dad.
- 2-4 months – no humming (long sounds).
- 4-5 months – no babbling (repetitive syllables).
- 12 months – No pointing gesture and/or does not use words to communicate.
- 1–1.5 years – no dynamics in speech development, the number of words does not increase.
- 2 years – no phrasal speech.
When to start worrying
If a child at the age of 2 does not say anything, then most likely you have already heard many stories about adults who also spoke late in childhood, and then everything was fine in their life. Yes, this really happens.
But here’s what’s important to think about. What if your child does not speak at three or four? This is very common now.
A delay in the development of any skill in a young child is a sign of dysfunction in the functioning of the nervous system. Sometimes the brain can handle itself, but sometimes it needs help. Better to play it safe and act.
The most unfortunate strategy in case of delayed speech development is to wait.
An urgent need to see a neurologist if a child of one year:
- does not turn around when you call him by name;
- does not make eye contact;
- is not interested in communicating with close adults;
- no pointing gesture.
Why a two-year-old child does not speak
Hearing impairment . The first thing to do is to go to an audiologist and do a comprehensive hearing examination with the help of equipment. Perhaps the child is hard of hearing.
A comprehensive hearing examination by an audiologist is a must for every child. This is the gold standard all over the world.
Problems with the articulation apparatus or part of it . A less likely option is that something is wrong with the tongue, lips, or other parts of the articulatory apparatus. Very rarely, but it happens that the short hyoid ligament (bridle) interferes with the child.
Certainly this is not the only reason preventing the child from speaking. For example, if the movements of the tongue are disturbed, then the reason is brain dysfunctions.
Neurological causes . Most often, the matter is in neurology, but the neurologist in the clinic has neither the knowledge nor the equipment to identify the weak links in the work of the baby’s nervous system – those points of growth that need to be influenced. Therefore, it is important to go to a neurologist who works in a specialized clinic that deals with the diagnosis and rehabilitation of children with speech development disorders.
Genetic causes . There are families in which speech disorders occur from generation to generation. But this does not mean at all that you need to sit idly by. In this case, the child all the more needs intensive help for the development of speech – primarily neurological.
Language developmental disorders may be part of other genetic and acquired developmental disorders such as Down syndrome, autism and others. The development of these children requires increased attention. It is difficult to predict something here, but many children, even with severe developmental disorders, master speech.
We have discussed the biological causes of delayed speech development. However, a child is not only a biological, but also a social being. He masters speech by communicating with people. First of all, with my mother and other family members. This implies another possible reason for the delay in speech development.
Lack of live communication and excess of gadgets in the life of a child . At the beginning of the article, I suggested that the Internet may be causing an increase in the number of non-speaking children. Especially the mobile Internet – tablets and smartphones have created conditions for the deterioration in the development of children.
Parents communicate less with their children. They themselves are immersed in gadgets and believe that it is normal and convenient to keep a child busy with the same. Children move less due to the abuse of gadgets, and the development of speech is closely related to the development of motor skills (and not only fine ones).
The child begins to speak when the following conditions are met:
- The brain has reached the necessary functional maturity.
- The child wants to communicate something to others.
- People around react to the child’s initiative and talk to him.
By the age of 12 months, the child should be faced with a situation where he lacks the means of communication to share with parents quite complex meanings. This is where speech comes in.
Parents always influence the development of the child’s speech: either support or inhibit. They must constantly adapt to the changing speech capabilities of the baby. Any extremes here are bad.
If the parents never respond to the child’s attempts to communicate, dismiss him and often give him the phone, there will be a delay in the development of speech. But if they anticipate every desire of the baby to communicate, then they also interfere with his development.
To help your child speak, avoid extremes. Give him enough lively communication, but do not anticipate the wishes of the baby in this matter
How to help the child speak
Communication with the baby should be started even when he is in the womb . You will see that this is a real dialogue, because the child will respond with movements.
From the first days of life it is necessary to read aloud to the child . Rhythmic poems from children’s books are excellent for this purpose.
Introduce complementary foods at 4-6 months of age . We eat and speak with the help of the same organs. Diverse in texture and taste food develops the sensitivity and controllability of the tongue and lips.
Sing to your child from birth . Young children are very musical.
Children under two years of age should not be left alone with gadgets. If he watches a cartoon, then let him do it only with you. Comment on the child’s reactions and what is happening on the screen.
Limit Screen Time . For a preschooler – a maximum of 30 minutes a day.
Talk to your child more than . This does not mean that you need to keep talking. Consider his reaction, pause so that he can participate in the dialogue. Even if the child does not yet speak, he can use gestures or sounds.
Language Development at Home: Vocabulary Flashcards
Use more gestures when communicating with your child – bye bye blow kiss, no high five. Children who use gestures to communicate have a better prognosis for speech development.
Develop your child’s independence . Create conditions for him to master self-service skills. This is also important for speech development.
Encourage your child to be independent. Give him feasible tasks, teach him to take care of himself and the environment, and it will be easier for him to develop harmoniously
Why is it important to think about the development of a child’s speech up to 2 years of age? They come to us from different cities of Russia and from other countries. We provide diagnostics and rehabilitation.
In 90% of cases, diagnostics show that the work of those parts of the nervous system that are formed during fetal life is disrupted. This means that the risk of developmental disorders could be identified as early as 3-4 months . We know how to do this, but patients go to the clinic when the child is 3-4 years old. How much time has been lost!
Nature made sure that children grow up healthy. They are born with a supply of nerve cells in the brain and an excess of inactive connections between them. This is a strategic reserve in case the brain suffers from infections or hypoxia (lack of oxygen) during fetal life or childbirth. This happens often.
These cells and connections are in demand when the child interacts with the environment, that is, communicates and explores the world. If they are not used, then by the age of two years the brain begins to get rid of them. Therefore, it is important to start using this strategic reserve as early as possible.
Briefly about the main things
- If a child at the age of 2 does not say anything, this is a sign of a delay in speech development.
- If a two-year-old child does not speak, common causes may be: hearing impairment, articulation, neurological and genetic problems, lack of live communication, excess screen time and gadgets.
- It happens that the child spoke only at 3 or 4 and no longer encountered speech disorders. But this is not a reason to ignore the problem now and wait until it goes away on its own – after all, by 3-4 years it may not only not be resolved, but even worsen.
- It is necessary to take care of the child’s speech development even before the age of 2. And the best way to do this is to create conditions in which he can communicate enough and freely explore the world.
- The risk of speech development disorders can be detected when the baby is only 3-4 months old, using diagnostics in modern clinics.
Author: Viktoriya Efimova, psychophysiologist, speech therapist, Doctor of Psychology, head of the Prognoz Clinic and the Logoprognoz Center in St. Petersburg
Photo by Ekaterina Shvidchenko, Irina Antonova and Yulia Vorobieva
Editor: Kamila Klenovits
From 1 to 3 years old
Techniques and speech development techniques
Speech development delay: how to help a child speak
Speech development delay is one of the most urgent problems in child neurology today, which, unfortunately, affects absolutely healthy children. Often the parents themselves are the cause of the child’s speech difficulties. The chief pediatric neurologist of the Ministry of Health of the Tver Region, Galina Anatolyevna Zueva, tells what to do and what should not be done in any case so that the child speaks correctly and on time.
Hello dear parents!
Today our conversation is devoted to a very important and urgent problem – the speech development of children. In the last few years, we have increasingly heard that a child who does not speak at 2. 5-3 years old is a variant of the norm, that there is nothing wrong with that, you need to wait a bit, and speech will appear. In fact, this approach is fundamentally wrong. There are physiological norms for proper speech and mental development, and it is very important to monitor their observance from the very birth of a child. Only in this case, he will be able to develop harmoniously and fully.
The main stages in the development of a child’s speech
You can start developing your baby’s speech from the first day of his birth.
The first thing to notice is how the baby cries. The crying of a child from birth is very different, it becomes especially expressive by the first month of life, from it you can understand what the baby needs: it is cold, it hurts, he wants to eat or go to the toilet, or maybe he just wants his mother to take it in her arms . If the child does everything right intonation, then the attentive mother quickly learns to understand the difference and respond to these “requests”. In this case, mental, and then speech development occurs harmoniously. If the baby cries monotonously, at the same level, and does not respond well to the voice, consult a doctor.
If the child is healthy and does not have hearing problems, then in response to positive emotions in the second month of life, he begins to “walk”. Together with the “cooing” the first laugh appears – squealing in response to emotional communication with an adult. The sounds of “humming” are already distinguished by a certain variety with a predominance of combinations of guttural and vowel sounds (“gu”, “ge”, “ha”, etc.) With these sounds, he tries to communicate, reacts to what is happening around him. If the baby does not start to “walk”, consult a doctor, he may have a problem with his ears.
The period of onomatopoeia begins from two months: the baby carefully follows mother’s lips when she talks to him, and as if tries to repeat these movements, but so far silently. So, by 3.5-4 months, a true “coo” is formed, where the child focuses on the sound being pronounced, the syllable, as if listening to himself. During the period of true “humming” sounds become long, melodious and more diverse. Along with guttural and vowels, labial sounds and combinations of vowels with labials are increasingly appearing.
By the age of six months, the child begins to babble – he begins to pronounce some individual letters, syllables. During this period, it is important to track intonations – how he speaks, how he cries. At six months, a healthy child should already be chatting, pronouncing certain syllables, repeating specific sounds after his mother. During the period of babbling, imitation of the sounds of an adult becomes more distinct.
By the end of the pre-verbal period, the child’s non-verbal forms of communication with others become more complicated. Communication is carried out with the help of both hands, more differentiated facial expressions and sounds. The child stretches his hands to his mother, utters separate sounds, as if asking “take me.” Then the facial expressions become more complicated. It becomes more expressive, symbolic gestures appear. The child can communicate with one hand. Babble words of various intonations appear.
By the age of one, a child should speak 8 to 10 simple words: “mom”, “dad”, “baba”, “give”, “on”, that is, short simple words of several syllables. It is during this period that early speech development ends and motor speech begins to form as a way of communication between people.
After a year and a half, the child easily pronounces familiar and unfamiliar words by imitation, both addressed to him and accidentally heard from others. Intensive development of motor speech usually begins in the second half of the 2nd year of life. Up to one year and six months, a child pronounces about 30 words that are simple in sound composition. At two years old, the child already speaks more than 200 words, he has almost phrasal speech, he should already be able to formulate a simple thought or request: “Mom, let’s go to the store, you promised to buy me a toy. ” At the same time, he can still pronounce some sounds indistinctly. By the age of three, a child’s speech has up to 1200-1500 words, including almost all parts of speech.
This development is considered normal. But this happens only when the parents constantly talk to the child, tell him stories, sing lullabies. A very big problem today is that live speech is increasingly being replaced by gadgets. Because of this, many children who are initially born healthy from the point of view of neurology do not begin to speak on time.
If a healthy child at 2.5-3 years old does not speak phrasal speech at all and, at best, only speaks single simple words, he has a delay in speech development, and this, unfortunately, must be treated.
Speech develops gradually
It takes time for a child to learn to speak correctly and build logical, figurative phrases. When a child is just learning to walk, with his mother’s help he takes the first uncertain steps, and after six months or a year he already runs, jumps and dances on his own. The same thing happens with speech: it develops gradually. The child not only memorizes new words, but at the same time trains articulatory muscles, learns to control intonation. It takes more than one year. Therefore, if at 3-3.5 years old your child is just beginning to pronounce the first words and build simple phrases like “mom, give me,” then by the age of six, when it’s time to go to school, he will not form a full-fledged phrasal speech. It is important to engage in the development of speech gradually, but from a very early age.
Causes of delayed speech development
The first and most basic reason is brain damage due to ischemia, hemorrhage, infection. But such deviations are diagnosed immediately, doctors monitor the child and take all the necessary measures. These are the patients with whom the neurologist, psychologist and speech therapist are already working.
But there is a category of patients who are born absolutely healthy. But due to errors in learning, they also begin to delay in speech development. Most often, the reason is the excessive passion of parents for mechanical sound, that is, the sound from a TV, computer, tablet, phone. Children who watch a lot of cartoons or constantly play with singing-talking toys develop passive speech well, but their own active speech is not formed. This is due to the difference in the wavelength of live speech and mechanical speech. In order for the child to start talking, you need to talk with him as much as possible, read fairy tales yourself, sing lullabies.
Never let the TV or radio play in the background in the room where the baby spends time. Of course, if you want to show your child some kind of cartoon or program on a computer, this can and should be done, but after viewing the device must be turned off and put away.
Of course, all these devices and toys allow mom to relax a little or do some other business. But when they replace live communication, this leads to serious problems with the child’s psyche. It is better to prevent such things than to catch up for years later. To restore the correct stereotype of speech in a three-year-old child, to change his perception, it takes a lot of effort and time: the child cannot quickly catch up with such gaps, one has to resort to intensive drug treatment, to additional classes with speech therapists. It’s a long and difficult road. Why bring it to this when you can do everything right from the very beginning?
Why you should sing lullabies
Singing lullabies is an important part of raising a child. The most famous lullabies, for example, “bayu-bayushki-bayu”, were invented back in the 5th-6th century, and it is not by chance that we still sing them to children. They are built specifically in the timbre and wave length fluctuations that are understandable to the child, soothe him, develop the brain. There are songs for every age to sing. Singing such lullabies to a small child and simultaneously rocking him in your arms creates the basis for proper mental development.
Now many couples approach pregnancy planning with full responsibility: they lead a healthy lifestyle, take all the tests, read books about the health and upbringing of the unborn child. Include in this preparation and learning at least a few lullabies to sing to your baby. No matter how simple they may seem to you, they contain folk wisdom worked out over the centuries for the proper development of a person, this is very important. Sing these lullabies for at least a year.
By the age of two, when the child already understands phrasal speech well, songs can be selected with more storylines, so that while the mother is singing, he can imagine this picture in his head.
Talk to your child as much as possible
Do not rush to talk to your child, calmly and measuredly tell him what is going on around you, voice your actions. Then he will begin to perceive by ear the name of this or that object, this is how passive speech is formed. From six months, add details about the color and volume of objects: “small toy”, “red ball”. When you do this consistently, the child learns to hear and understand you.
This helps to explain to the baby after a year that the panties should be dry, that is, it is quite early to teach the child to the potty, and not to use diapers all the time. At a year and a half, the child is able to hold the bladder, control his pelvic functions. This is one of the important links in mental development. Of course, he will eventually learn to ask to use the toilet himself, but these skills will come much later and no longer in the form in which he would like.
Therefore, it is very important to accustom yourself to talk with the baby as much as possible and limit the mechanical sounds around him as much as possible – these are the most important links in the prevention of speech development delay. If we build this correctly, then at the age of 2.5 the child begins to speak in phrase speech, and parents have no problems with his behavior and learning. If your child at 2.5 years old does not speak, especially if there is no so-called gibberish of his own, he is silent and does not voice the game, asking you for something, then this is not a variant of the norm, this is a problem that needs to be dealt with.
How to talk to a child
- You need to talk to your child in a normal timbre, it is this tone and timbre that the child knows from his prenatal state.
- Try to speak in simple phrases, but do not lisp, do not distort words.
- If the child has a problem with vision or hearing, then the mother needs to start brightly painting her lips as soon as possible so that he can follow her lips and understand exactly how she pronounces sounds.
- If a child in the first year of life had problems with swallowing, then, unfortunately, problems with sound pronunciation cannot be avoided. You can start studying with a special speech therapist already in the first months of a baby’s life, even in the pre-speech period.
- Solve all problems as soon as they appear, do not delay and do not wait for it to pass by itself. It won’t pass.
Ordinary or speech therapy garden?
So, the child has grown up, and it’s time to decide which preschool institution to take him to. At this point, it is important to figure out if your baby has mental and speech problems, and which ones.
When your baby does not have any serious medical problems, start with a regular garden. If in the first year speech does not level off and does not develop to the desired level, then it is worth applying for the medical and pedagogical commission. It runs from February to June. You can get a referral from the day care center or call them and make an appointment. To pass the medical and pedagogical commission, you must have the conclusion of a neurologist, speech therapist, psychiatrist about the state of health of your child.
If a child has begun to speak in phrasal speech, but does not pronounce certain sounds, then you can take him to a regular kindergarten, which has speech therapy groups. They work with children with normal psycho-speech development, but with incorrect settings for the sounds themselves. Usually a speech therapist starts working with such children from the age of five in order to even out speech and correct all weak sounds by school. On average, it takes three months to set up and fix one sound.
One of the most common disorders in children aged 3-3.5 years is the so-called porridge in the mouth, when, due to a violation of the innervation of the speech muscles, the child cannot pronounce some of the sounds clearly and understandably. In this case, one cannot do without the help of a specialist, it is better to contact a neurologist to establish the exact cause of dysarthria and carry out the necessary treatment, if necessary, it is also necessary to visit a special speech therapy garden. It requires an integrated approach: simultaneous coordinated work of a speech therapist, neurologist and psychologist.
The Medical and Pedagogical Commission is in charge of assigning children to specialized groups or kindergartens.
And I repeat again, it is much easier to deal with the prevention of speech development delay, so that those children who could speak, but due to insufficient attention from their parents, did not start, did not fall into special groups. To do this, it is important not just to talk with the child, but to hear what he is talking about, try to understand him and respond to his words. I assure you, if you establish this contact from childhood, it will last for a lifetime, help the baby become a good member of the family, society, reliable support and support for you.
How to prevent stuttering
There are times when a child doesn’t start talking for a long time, while he is being taught, he accumulates a large passive vocabulary, he can form phrases in his head. If you start his speech process excessively actively, then he will not cope with the flow of speech and will begin to stutter. Most often this happens at 2.5-3 years. Children with tics are especially prone to stuttering (obsessive blinking, blinking, sniffing, and the like). If you notice that at the beginning of speech the child begins to stutter, this is a signal that you need to contact a neurologist to solve the problem. Of all the obsessive-compulsive disorders, stuttering is the most complex and can take years to cure.
The nipple and speech development of the child
Another important aspect of the prevention of speech delay is prolonged use of nipples and prolonged breastfeeding. I mean the situation when a pacifier or mother’s breast is in the child’s mouth not for calming or feeding, but just like that, in a state of wakefulness. In this case, the problem arises purely mechanical: in order to speak, the mouth must be free, and if the mouth is occupied, then it is impossible to speak – the nipple or chest interferes.
The pacifier can be used when the baby falls asleep, when sick, when hit, but must be removed when awake. After two years, the pacifier should be discarded completely. This will help to avoid speech problems and maintain the correct bite, which will significantly reduce your financial costs in the future when treating your beloved child’s ugly teeth by an orthodontist.
The same applies to the mother’s breast. It should be a source of food or a means of sedation, nothing more. Of course, breast milk contains a lot of good substances, but it is needed exactly until the child begins to eat normal human food. Breast sucking is very important for the formation of psychological communication between mother and child. But by the age of two, the child already understands the addressed speech well, he can speak himself, so this connection only strengthens and will not be interrupted after weaning the child from the breast.
It is important to wean your baby from thumb sucking from the very beginning. By the age of 2.5-3 years, the child should be able to safely do without a pacifier, mother’s breast or sucking fingers. Why? During sucking, rocking-translational movements give a feeling of calm, sedation. With age, the child’s need for such movements weakens, now he needs to learn about the world around him, to be active. And if the child continues to suck a finger or a dummy, then he automatically transfers himself to the infant period, behaves like a baby and does not give himself the opportunity to fully develop.
Gadgets: harm or benefit
Modern devices, on the one hand, are very useful, but when it comes to children, you need to be extremely careful and careful. Nobody says that you don’t need to use TV and gadgets at all. This is an important part of modern life, children should be able to master them. But a small child still does not have the skills of speech, movements, motor skills, proper mental development, criticism, self-criticism, and the ability to control oneself are incorrectly formed. Therefore, it is very dangerous to uncontrollably give him something that can provoke improper development.
In Russia, little is said about this, and today in most families gadgets are used beyond the permissible limits, for each family member, including a baby, there are two to three gadgets. At the same time, in the same high-tech Japan, children are allowed to use a telephone or computer only from the age of five, when the nervous system has matured. And I agree with their approach. Yes, you can include some educational games or cartoons for your child, but no more than 30-40 minutes a day on a good screen with good sound. Tablets and smartphones are best avoided because young children quickly form color and tactile addictions.