Understanding Language and Speech
Language Is Different From Speech.
Language is made up of socially shared rules that include the following:
What words mean (e.g., "star" can refer to a bright object in the night sky or a celebrity)
How to make new words (e.g., friend, friendly, unfriendly)
How to put words together (e.g., "Peg walked to the new store" rather than "Peg walk store new")
What word combinations are best in what situations ("Would you mind moving your foot?" could quickly change to "Get off my foot, please!" if the first request did not produce results)
Speech is the verbal means of communicating. Speech consists of the following:
Articulation: How speech sounds are made (e.g., children must learn how to produce the "r" sound in order to say "rabbit" instead of "wabbit").
Voice: Use of the vocal folds and breathing to produce sound (e.g., the voice can be abused from overuse or misuse and can lead to
hoarseness or loss of voice).
Fluency: The rhythm of speech (e.g., hesitations or stuttering can affect fluency.)
When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), then he or she has a language disorder.
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
A 2 year old still isn't talking. He says a few words, but compared with his peers you think he's way behind. You remember that his sister could put whole sentences together at the same age. Hoping he will catch up, you postpone seeking professional advice.
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.
This scenario is common among parents of children who are slow to speak. Unless they observe other areas of "slowness" during early development, parents may hesitate to seek advice.
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.
Understanding Speech and Language evelopment
It's important to discuss early speech and language development, as well as other developmental concerns, with your doctor at every routine well-child visit. It can be difficult to tell whether a child is just immature in his or her ability to communicate or has a problem that requires professional attention.
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".
Before 12 months, 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 (like p, b, m, d, or n), begin to imitate and approximate sounds and words modeled by family members, and typically say one or more words spontaneously. Nouns usually come first, like "baby" and "ball." 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
Though there is a lot of variability, 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 (such as "Please pick up the toy and give it to me").
From 2 to 3 Years
Parents often witness an "explosion" in their child's speech. Your toddler's vocabulary should increase (to too many words to count) and he or she should routinely combine three or more words into sentences.
Comprehension also should increase — 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).