Children who are late talkers have relatively good developmental milestones in time but have a problem with language development specifically speech delays. They have achieved milestones like feeding self, walking crawling, can play with other kids, thinking can understand but has limited expression using words.
While speech problems may be closely associated with genetic conditions, like autism and down syndrome kids with speech delays from those are not classified as late talkers.
It is pretty stressful when you have a typical child with speech problems. I got tired of people asking me questions about how comes your son doesn’t speak. It is even more stressful when you google and see the number of words your child should be speaking at a certain age. And so as they near 4 years, you are there fearing that they might never catch up.
A Mother’s Frustration
I went through the motions of emotion trying to figure out what I had done wrong. I read through different blogs and constantly practiced what I read. I could tell that he could take instructions and understand short sentences but he could not speak.
Myths that people told me that to encourage me:
- Boys develop speech later than girls
- Kids living with older people/ age gap between kids is big
- Learning using 2 or more languages confuses the child
- Kids will develop speech in school / daycare or kindergarten
- They will catch up eventually
As my son neared 3 years, his speech was super limited to a few nursery rhymes, counting 1-20, few colors and the alphabet. After spending weeks and months with my boy trying to teach him things, it appeared he could understand and replicate other things but was not interested in speech. I was very frustrated during the whole time. I felt I had given it everything, even suspected he had Autism. I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to take him to a specialist at the child development clinic. It is important as a parent to remember that no matter how frustrated you are your child is having a harder time.
When is the right time to seek interventions?
If you suspect something is up with your child it is important to speak to a pediatrician. Speech delays may be caused by genetic conditions, hearing loss early interventions to any condition in children yields the best results. While some kids may be assisted to acquire and develop language at home, having a speech therapist intervene goes a long way in helping your late talker learn to talk and eventually catch up
Good news you can help your child along the way. Parents ask how to help a child develop speech at home?
Screen time and speech delays
While kids love their nursery rhymes and cartoons, spending hours on screens. Most parents think that singing along to nursery rhymes is speech but it is not necessarily true. In fact introverted kids who spend hours on screens tend to be significantly slower in speaking. Watching requires zero effort and is a very passive activity, kids can not practice spoken language from screen. They might opt to remain quiet and enjoy their alone time if no intervention is made.
I cut out screen time for my son completely and started looking for different ways to keep him engaged. I soon realized that he became more alert and eager to listen to me and respond
Try getting your child away from the television phone and tablet. Limit screen time as much as possible and interact more with them. Talk to them and give them opportunities to respond.
Even when you are alone with your toddler engaging in different activities and chatting, ensure the TV is off to avoid background distractions
Role of play
Engage children in play. Social interaction is the best way for a child to learn social skills. Give opportunity for toddlers to mimic you and learn through their peers. Some parents buy expensive toys to keep the child busy while they handle the chores.
Get excited when you speak so that your child is also engaged. Rather than leave your child alone to play with toys keep their play time as engaged as possible. Describe to your child the different toys and activities you are doing e.g. “see the red car racing up and down.” Combine simple familiar words to make a sentence. This way a child is able to distinguish between blue car and red car, and learn up and down.
Sensory toys, musical instruments, farm animals, outdoor explanations, sand pits , swings and slides, singing and dancing , artwork are some examples of simple activities you can engage your child in. these help children with physical development and muscle strength; cognitive development and social skills
Playing with your child is the fastest way for them to develop confidence, narrate everything you are doing to them so they can follow and mimic different actions. Allow them to help you in different house chores, narrate their bath time and bed time. You will be amazed at how effective play is to child development.
STIMULATE, STIMULATE, STIMULATE YOUR CHILD
Get your kid out of the house and into the world. Allow them to explore and learn from the environment. Go for walk hikes picnic take your child out fishing the zoo etc. A child is able to learn more by seeing actual things in the environment than when they see it in books or on TV. Instead of focusing on teaching numbers and the alphabet put that energy into conversing with your baby.
Related: Read on Autism Vs Late Talking
Your child may refer to use gestures, point or pull you when they want to go up the stairs. Encourage them to use words by holding out something they want. Once they learn a word proceed to combine two then three words and so on.
Using the above I saw a great improvement in my baby’s speech his vocabulary improved and within a few months of consistency could form short sentences