It is such an exciting time when children are first acquiring words; they can begin to express wants and needs, communicate with parents, and begin to label objects in sight. Most children will begin to speak their first words around 1 year of age, but what happens if they don’t?
Don’t panic—children progress through language milestones at different rates. Some children will start talking before 1 year of age, and others may begin a few months after. There is a typical pattern of development when acquiring speech, but this pattern may vary widely from child to child. See below to identify 5 warning signs that your child may benefit from intervention.
Warning Signs Your Toddler May Need Speech-Language Therapy:
- Number of words: If your child is approaching 2 years old and is using fewer than 50 words to communicate, he may benefit from an evaluation to determine the need for speech therapy.
- Understanding: By 2 years of age, most children should understand approximately 300 words. Parents can monitor their child’s understanding by giving simple directions, for example: get your shoes, get your coat, want more juice?
- Combining words: After your child acquires his first 50 words, he should begin to combine words when making requests. For example, your child may say, “more ball,” and “my truck.”
- Frustration: Oftentimes when children are delayed expressively, some will exhibit signs of frustration when communicating, including tantrums and hitting themselves and others.
- Play skills: Children showing difficulties with the acquisition of speech and language may also have difficulty with appropriate play skills. By 2 years old, children should begin to play away from their parents, and use most toys for their intended purpose.
If your child is exhibiting any of these warning signs, they may be a late-talking toddler. A licensed speech-language pathologist can help! Parents may want to “wait and see” if their child will “catch up,” however the most successful intervention begins early, as soon as parents notice a delay. A speech-language pathologist will work both with the child and his family to help boost speech and language skills in order to maximize the child’s potential.