You just can’t wait to hear your child’s first words, so when those first words are slow to come it can be both disappointing and worrisome. You’re left wondering, why is my child not speaking? Is there a problem? Should I be considering speech therapy for toddlers?
The good news – most kids that talk late actually catch up without a problem. However, it’s important to know what’s normal and be familiar with the signs your child could have a speech or language delay that requires therapy.
My Child Isn’t Speaking to Me – Speech-Related Developmental Milestones
While the stages of language and speech development are the same for every child, the age at which your child develops them can vary. Here’s a look at some common speech-related developmental milestones, but remember, some children just reach these milestones a bit slower than others.
Before 12 Months
By the time your child reaches his first birthday, he should be using his voice in some way, whether it’s babbling or cooing. When babies are about 9 months old, they often begin stringing sounds together, using various tones. Before 12 months, babies should be recognizing the names of common items and paying attention to sounds.
Children of this age should have a variety of speech sounds in their babbling and should start imitating sounds and words that they hear. They may often say one or more words, although it’s nouns that often come first, such as “toy” and “baby.” Children of this age should be able to understand one-step directions and follow them.
Most children will be able to say at least 50 different words by the time they are two. Kids usually start combining words together into two-word simple sentences by this age and point to things in a book, according to the CDC. Most two-year-olds should be able to follow two-step commands and identify common objects.
Why is My Child Not Speaking? Common Causes of Speech and Language Delays
According to Nemours Kids Health, there can be many different causes of speech and language delays in children. Some of the common causes of these delays include:
- Oral Impairment – Problems with the roof of the mouth or the tongue that limits speech.
- Oral Motor Problems – Problems in the areas of the brain that are responsible for speech, making it tough to coordinate the jaw, tongue, and lips to create speech sounds.
- Hearing Problems – A child who is having difficulty articulating, imitating, using language, and understanding could have difficulty hearing.
- Learning Disabilities
- Development Disorders – Autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disorders could result in speech and language delays.
When is Speech Therapy Needed for a Child? Signs of a Speech or Language Delay
My child is not speaking. Is speech therapy needed? Sometimes it’s difficult to know if your child is just taking a bit longer to reach speech and language milestones or if there’s a problem that requires speech therapy for kids. Some signs that could indicate that your child has a speech or language delay that requires speech therapy include:
- By 12 months old is not using gestures like waving goodbye or pointing
- By 18 months has difficulty imitating sounds
- By 18 months has not said at least one word
- Has difficulty understanding simple verbal requests
- By two years is unable to spontaneously produce words and phrases
- By two years cannot use oral language to communicate more than immediate needs.
- By two years is unable to follow simple directions
- By 2 ½ years does not have a vocabulary of at least 50 words
- Still speaks in single syllables by age 2 ½
- By age three you are the only one who can understand what your child is saying
When to Choose Speech Therapy for Kids
If your child has the signs of speech or language delays, it’s time to consider speech therapy for toddlers. Age 2 ½ is when most late bloomers start to catch up on their language and speech skills, so this is a great time to start thinking about professional help if your child hasn’t reached those important milestones. If you’re worried about speech or language delays, considering having your child evaluated by a professional.
- Familiarize yourself with language and speech milestones but remember that some kids may reach them more slowly.
- Many things can cause speech and language delays, such as: oral impairment, oral motor problems, hearing problems, learning disabilities, and developmental disorders.
- If your child has the signs of speech or language delays by age 2 ½, which is the time when most kids catch up, it’s time to seek professional help.
At Infinite Therapy Solutions, we use a reassuring, nurturing approach with children to make sure they feel comfortable during evaluations and therapy. If your child is getting ABA from our company, they can also get speech therapy with our practice and have speech therapy incorporated into their treatment. To schedule an evaluation or to learn more about speech and other therapies offered at our multidisciplinary practice, contact Infinite Therapy Solutions today.