Welcome to Wordy Wednesday
Kevin is a busy, healthy 2 year old. His platinum blond hair reflects the sunshine he exudes from his happy smile. Nevertheless, his parents worry about him. They worry because at two, Kevin only pronounces one vowel sound and 4-5 consonants. Kevin has a speech delay.
The more research that I have been doing on SPD and related conditions, the more I have become aware of how prevalent speech delays are. There are several different kinds of speech delays (see videos below).
Some may be related to hearing problems. Speech delays are not an uncommon coexisting problem with or even symptom of other conditions such as autism, Asperger's, Down Syndrome, and even Sensory Processing Disorder. In fact it is not uncommon for children who are found to be highly gifted to have significant speech delays as toddlers.
However, speech delays often occur as a completely independent condition in an otherwise typically developing child.
Some delays can clearly be identified as early as 12-18 months or before, but the majority emerge closer to the age of 2 years when toddlers often have a language development explosion, and parents or teachers notice that their child seems to be lagging behind.
Does a child not verbalizing his/her needs and wants automatically indicate a speech problem or delay?
Not necessarily. Almost everyone knows someone who "didn't say a word until they were ________", fill in the blank. And that was completely normal for them, and they grew up to have no speech issues whatsoever.
So then is a child's non-verbal habits nothing to worry about?
Again, not necessarily. Early identification is critical to early intervention, and intervention and therapy are key factors in helping these children overcome their delays.
So when should parents worry?
Parents should remain alert as their child develops, perhaps even documenting their concerns and looking back as their child grows to see if they are making even slow, but steady progress. If nagging doubts or plain, all-out worry, plague you in regard to your child's speech, talk to your pediatrician.
Sometimes, they will recommend waiting until more obvious symptoms arise. This may be warranted, or even required in order to get tests and treatments covered by insurance. However, if you feel very strongly that your child has a speech difficulty or delay, find out what resources might be readily available, such as a hearing test, or evaluation from the Early Childhood Intervention Program. These steps are often inexpensive, but can be helpful in ruling out certain conditions that may be contributing to problems with speech.
And empower yourself and your child. Research activities and exercises you can do at home to continue exposing your child to language and giving them plenty of opportunities to participate until they can be evaluated for intervention or therapy. Just remember keep it POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, and FUN!!
Most importantly, believe in yourself and your child. Take Kevin for example. Though his mom suspected a problem around 18 months, it has taken until now for her concerns to be taken seriously. But she didn't give up. At her insistence, Kevin was finally referred for a hearing test, which revealed no hearing problems, so now they await an appointment for an evaluation with a speech therapist. You can follow their journey on her blog, More Than Words.
Here are a couple of videos that might get you started if you want more information:
Have a wonderful evening everyone!