When you have a new child, waiting for them to begin to express themselves vocally (aside from crying!) and begin to learn how to use language to make themselves understood can be one of the most exciting and joyous parts of parenthood. The average baby begins making speech like sounds, though they may not really mean much, in the first few months of life, and usually has a basic vocabulary and a willingness to use it by around age two. However, there really is no such thing as an average baby, and many children don’t become vocal in accordance with the expected pattern of progression. If your child isn’t developing as fast as others in their peer group when it comes to speech, is this something you need to worry about?
Physical and Mental Causes for Late Speech Development in Children
In some cases, learning or being comfortable talking or trying to talk can be caused by physical problems such as hearing difficulties or problems with their mouths or throats. Generally, these kinds of things can be identified as part of normal routine baby check ups, so if your doctor has not found anything physically to blame for the fact your child isn’t talking yet, it is unlikely that he or she has a physical issue. Other syndromes that can be harder to detect like autism and Asperger’s syndrome can also cause delays in speech in kids. However, these are usually accompanied by other symptoms. If your child doesn’t say anything but still seems to be able to recognize you, your facial expressions, and some of the language you use, and shows normal signs of emotion and affection despite not communicating verbally, it is also unlikely that they will be diagnosed with these types of issues.
Do Late Developers Catch Up With Their Peers?
Most studies on children who develop speech later in their development than average have shown that there is no link to later intelligence, learning or confidence issues, and these studies have shown that normally these children catch up before or around school age when they begin to socialize more with other kids. Studies which followed kids with signs of early developmental delay as babies and toddlers into childhood, and even later, showed that the majority had no signs of these issues once they were a little older. Most actually turned out to be just as capable with language as other children who had been speaking when expected. This means that unless you have seen other signs that your child might have different issues which are causing the speech delay, you can usually just let nature take its course and allow the child to develop speech in their own time.
There are however, products and programs you can follow that can help to support and encourage them to use words as you go, and there is no harm in trying things like this, provided you don’t allow yourself to become frustrated with the rate of progress. Remember that every child is different and will progress at their own rate.
The author of this post is Chloe Adams, an employee at Board Book Albums, specialists in kid’s photo albums. Chloe is also a gourmet chef and takes special interest in continental culinary arts.
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