As children age, we watch what they eat, how they play, and we evaluate how quickly they pick up activities and milestones for development. It makes sense to celebrate our child's accomplishments, but when we perceive a delay, it can fill us with concern. For the most part, all kids grow at their own pace - speech, motor skills, coloring, art, and coordination can't all develop at the same time at a splendid level of mastery - it just doesn't happen that way for most kids.
Still, even considering that not all children will experience growth the same way, there are times when we should be looking closer at delays. If your child isn't speaking as much or as articulately as you'd like for their age, there could be something underlying that should be addressed. Let's take a look at the causes of speech delay and what age you should consider speech therapy.
What causes speech delay?
Various factors go into speech delay:
Families who have a history of speech delay will often have children who experience this themselves. While the mechanism of this is unknown, it is a common issue, and it's more prevalent in males, with around 13% of boys experiencing some form of delayed speech.
Families who do not speak as much, use smaller vocabularies, or who are not as celebratory of their children's attempts at speech will often have children who experience speech delays.
All children develop at differing speeds. If your child is showing mastery or at least progress in other areas of their development, it's not necessarily a problem that their speech is somewhat delayed.
When should a child see a speech therapist?
If your toddler (18-30 months) is not speaking as much as you think they should, especially when compared to their siblings, you can consider a consultation with a therapist. This doesn't necessarily mean they need speech therapy or that there is anything wrong, but a speech therapist can help you determine what, if anything, needs to be done to help your child get on track with developmental milestones.
Speech therapy for toddlers can take multiple forms, addressing everything from low desire to speak to articulation or intonation disorders. It's also a possibility that issues with the mouth or throat can cause a child to want to talk less, and this can easily go undetected until a therapist intervenes.
For most children, it’s advised you wait until they are at least between 18 and 24 months. Language use explodes between 18 months and 2 years - children go from around 20 words to over 100, and from 24 months to 30 months, their vocabulary and language use develops even further. While it's understandable to be worried if your 20-month-old isn't speaking much, it doesn't mean that there's something wrong, but a consultation with a speech therapist can at least put your mind at ease.
Speech Development Evaluation
There are many levels on which to evaluate a child's speech development:
Frequency of communication
Intonation, articulation, and clarity
Word usage and vocabulary
Potential distress at not being able to articulate their needs
If your child isn't meeting a level of distress with their inability to communicate, but still isn't where you think they should be, a speech therapist can help. At Infinite Therapy Solutions, we can meet with your child and help develop a baseline of where they are versus where many kids of their age are typical. From there we can determine if they need toddler speech therapy, or if we should wait a little longer and see.
Language in a child explodes from 18 months to two years of age, so it’s advised you wait until (18-24 months) before reaching out to a speech therapist.
A delay in speech doesn’t always mean your child needs speech therapy, but reaching out to a therapist can help put your mind at ease.
Pediatric speech therapy in New Jersey
Our approach is to guide and encourage your child so that they don't feel forced or frustrated to learn faster than they are comfortable. If you're in the Hudson County and Bayonne, NJ area, and are concerned about the rate at which your child's speech is developing, contact us for a consultation. We can help your child build mastery in their speech to give them the confidence to excel.