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Speech and Language Help

Speech is the verbal means of communicating. Speech consists of the following:

  • Articulation: How speech sounds are made 

  • Voice: Use of the vocal folds and breathing to produce sound 

  • Fluency: The rhythm of speech 

When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has a speech disorder.

Mistakes Parents Make

Parents often make the mistake and say that some children are early walkers and some are early talkers, and you tell yourself that there is nothing to worry about.

Some may excuse the lack of talking by reassuring themselves that "he'll outgrow it" or "she's just more interested in physical things."

Knowing what's "normal" and what's not in speech and language development can help you figure out if you should be concerned or if your child is right on schedule.

Speech and Language Therapist

Child Development Centre,                                Tel 426-2577
Jemmotts Lane, St. Michael  


Some useful international resources:

Sensory Processing Foundation (SPD Foundation)


Flint Sensory Learning Center

Understanding Speech and Language development

It's important to discuss early speech and language development, with your doctor at every routine well-child visit. 

Before 12 Months
Watch kids this age for signs that they're using their voices to relate to their environment. Cooing and babbling are early stages of speech development. As babies get older (often around 9 months), they begin to string sounds together, incorporate the different tones of speech, and say words like "mama" and "dada". 

Children should also be attentive to sound and begin to recognize names of common objects (eg bottle, book). Babies who watch intently but don't react to sound may be showing signs of hearing loss.

By 12 to 15 Months
Kids this age should have a wide range of speech sounds in their babbling, begin to imitate and approximate sounds and words modeled by family members, and typically say one or more words spontaneously. Your child should also be able to understand and follow simple one-step directions ("Please give me the toy," for example).

From 18 to 24 Months
Most toddlers are saying about 20 words by 18 months and 50 or more words by the time they turn 2. By age 2, kids are starting to combine two words to make simple sentences, such as "baby crying". A 2-year-old should also be able to identify common objects, pictured objects, indicate body parts on self and follow two-step commands 

From 2 to 3 Years
Your toddler's vocabulary should increase and he or she should routinely combine three or more words into sentences.

By 3 years of age, a child should begin to understand what it means to "put it on the table" or "put it under the bed." Your child also should begin to identify colors and comprehend descriptive concepts (big versus little, for example).


Stuttering is a form of dysfluency — an interruption in the flow of speech.  In many cases, stuttering goes away on its own by age 5 and in others, it lasts longer.

There's no cure for stuttering, but effective treatments are available and you can help your child overcome it.

What Causes Stuttering?
Experts think that a variety of factors contribute to stuttering, including:


  • Genetics: About 60% of those who stutter have a close
    family member who stutters.

  • Other speech and language problems or developmental

  • Differences in the brain's processing of language:
    People who stutter process language in different areas of the brain. And there's a problem with the way the brain's messages interact with the muscles and body parts needed for speaking.

Early Signs of Stuttering

The first signs of stuttering tend to appear when a child is about 18-24 months old as there is a burst in vocabulary and children are starting to put words together to form sentences.

To parents, the stuttering may be upsetting and frustrating, but it is natural for kids to do some stuttering at this stage. It's important to be as patient with your child as possible.

A child may stutter for a few weeks or several months, and the stuttering may be sporadic. Most children who begin stuttering before the age of 5 stop without any need for interventions such as speech or language therapy.

However, if your child's stuttering is frequent, continues to get worse, and is accompanied by body or facial movements, an evaluation by a speech-language therapist around age 3 is a good idea.

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