Frequently Asked Questions
When should I be concerned about my child’s communication development?
This depends on what you are noticing in the home. A young child (9 months) who is not responding to sounds, responding to his/her name, showing comprehension of simple words, or pointing to call attention to interesting objects, may be showing early signs of a hearing loss or language disorder. Other general guidelines:
- First Words by 12-15 months
- Frequent Two-Word Combinations Heard by 21-24 months
- Frequent Three-Word Combinations Heard by 36 months
- Intelligible speech in conversation 90% of the time by age 4 years
- Grammatically complete sentences most of the time by kindergarten age
My two-year-old child appears delayed in speech-language development, but my pediatrician says he is probably just a late talker. My doctor said he will talk within the year. Should I do something now, or wait?
While it is true children show some variation in when they achieve early language milestones. It also is true that a skilled speech-language pathologist can usually identify children who are more at risk for persistent delays, or who are showing signs of more deviant speech language development (sometimes associated with other developmental disorders, such as autism). The earlier these children are identified, the sooner they can take advantage of intensive early intervention programs, often at no cost to families. Thus, it is better to rule out a more serious problem at a young age.
The babysitter speaks to my child in Spanish. My mother speaks to her in Russian and my husband and I speak to her in English. Can exposure to so many languages contribute to a language delay in my child??
Some professionals believe that exposure to a multitude of languages at an early age is enviable. But it may not work for every child. Language acquisition is highly individualized. Many babies find it difficult to learn and process multiple languages at the same time. It is important for you to monitor your child. If they are not developing language milestones, then a conversation with your pediatrician and a referral to a speech therapist is essential. The therapist can assess the situation and make recommendations which best match the needs of your child and the structure of your household.
My child has a history of frequent ear infections. Could this affect his/her speech or language development??
Possibly. While there is no direct causal link between chronic ear infections and speech/language delay. Children are generally thought to be more at risk for developing communication impairments with this medical history, and should be closely monitored.
My older daughter spoke in full sentences at age two but my son is still babbling. Is this normal?
“Is this normal?”, is probably the most frequently asked question in my practice. Normal is so very individualized. Some kids walk early and some talk early. As parents, we have a tendency to compare our children, one to another. Instead, stay focused on the progression of your son’s verbal skills. Increase your conversation with him, sing to him and give him tons of reinforcement. If you are concerned about his language development, initiate a conversation with your pediatrician but avoid the comparison with your daughter. Each child should be assessed on his or her own merit.
What can I do at home to help my younger child’s speech-language development?
Generally speaking, understanding your child’s current communication level (preverbal, single word communicator, phrase or sentence level communicator, etc.) is very important in terms of what to model at home. Try not to overuse questions to get your young child to talk, but rather model comments about events as they are unfolding. Try to avoid rapid and lengthy speaking turns, and encourage turn-taking. Praise your child’s efforts to communicate using all possible means: gestures, pointing, gaze, and verbal attempts.
What is the right age for speech therapy? When is it too early and when is it too late?
There is no right age for speech therapy since speech therapy focuses on so many different skills: speech, language, social and organizational. Sound acquisition has a developmental hierarchy. When a speech therapist assess a child, we are assessing based on age-related milestone. There are sounds that develop early like pa and ba. And there are sounds that develop later like the R sound. Early intervention is crucial but the exact age for early intervention differs based on the sound or skill you are trying to correct. If a baby is not babbling, smiling or making eye contact, early intervention could start as early as a few months of age. For a lisp, trouble with the R sound and stuttering, the age for intervention is at a later age. It is highly dependent on your child’s motivation, desire to make the change, ability to follow directions and hear the differences as well as motor control and coordination.
How long will speech therapy take before my child catches up to his or her peers?
This depends on many factors such as: severity of the disorder, student cooperation, motivation, and readiness to learn. Family involvement in implementing home practice is another significant factor. In general, children with receptive language problems (difficulty understanding language) tend to require longer courses of treatment, as do children with underlying neurocognitive impairments such as autism.
All information is provided on an as-is basis and does not replace the evaluation and intervention of a licensed and credentialed speech-language pathologist or any other medical or education professionals.