Author: Jeannie Fleming-Gifford
Toddlerhood. Toddlers are often described as “walking and talking machines.” It is during toddlerhood that there seems to be an explosion of both gross motor and speech and language development. Although it is true that all children develop differently, when it comes to your toddler’s developing speech, it’s important to recognize what is a developmental norm and what may be signs of a delay.
The American Academy of Pediatrics confirms that one in five children will experience a delay in language or speech. Speech is defined as “the verbal articulation of language.”
Diagnosing a delay and obtaining early intervention, sometimes from a speech-language pathologist, is important in supporting your child’s optimal speech development.
What may be signs of a delay?
*Your young toddler isn’t babbling much or often, trying to imitate sounds, and/or using the most basic of words – “me,” “jump,” “down.”
*Your child prefers using gestures (i.e. pointing) vs. trying to use words to ask for or describe something.
*Your toddler has not obtained the ability and/or doesn’t seem to have an interest in defining their world around them with words (i.e. “kitty,” “cup,” “ball”).
*By the end of their second year, your toddler is not using simple two-word sentences to try to communicate with others.
*Your toddler may find it challenging to follow simple directions and/or may show frustration at not being understood by others.
*Although any toddler’s speech may be a challenge to decipher at times, primary caregivers most often understand the toddler. If it isn’t possible to recognize any toddler’s ramblings, it may be a sign of a speech delay.
*Although it may be uncomfortable to acknowledge, compared to their peers, your toddler’s speech development seems underdeveloped.
In addition to the above, it’s always important to go with your instincts. If you are concerned your toddler is not meeting developmental goals for speech development, talk to your pediatrician. Again, early intervention is the best intervention.