Speech & Language delay
A typical 2 y.o. kid can say about 50 words and speak in 2/3 word sentences. By age 3, their vocabulary increases to about 1,000 words, and they’re speaking in 3/4 word sentences.
If your toddler hasn’t met those milestones, they may have a speech delay. Developmental milestones help gauge your child’s progress, but they’re just general guidelines. Children develop at their own time.
If your child has a speech delay, it doesn’t always mean something is wrong. You may simply have a late bloomer. A speech delay can also be due to hearing loss or underlying neurological or development disorders.
Many types of speech delay can be effectively treated.
There are a differences between a speech and language delay. How speech and language delays are different:
• Speech is the physical act of producing sounds and saying words. A toddler with a speech delay may try but have trouble forming the correct sounds to make words. A speech delay doesn’t involve comprehension or nonverbal communication.
• A language delay involves understanding and communicating, both verbally and nonverbally. A toddler with a language delay may make the correct sounds and pronounce some words, but they can’t form phrases or sentences that make sense. They may have difficulty understanding others.
Children can have a speech delay or a language delay, but the two conditions sometimes overlap.
What is a speech delay in a toddler?
Speech and language skills begin with the cooing of an infant. As the months pass, their babbling progresses into the first understandable word.
A speech delay is when a toddler hasn’t met typical speech milestones. But being late with conversation doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a serious problem.
What’s typical for 3 y.o. kid?
• use about 1,000 words
• call themselves by name, call others by name
• use nouns, adjectives, and verbs in three- and four-word sentences
• form plurals
• ask questions
• tell a story, repeat a nursery rhyme, sing a song.
People who spend the most time with a toddler tend to understand them best. About 50-90% of 3-year-olds can speak well enough for strangers to understand most of the time.
Signs of a speech delay
If a baby isn’t cooing or making other sounds at 2 months, it could be the earliest sign of a speech delay. By 18 months, most babies can use simple words like “mama” or “dada.” Signs of a speech delay in older toddlers are:
• Age 2: doesn’t use at least 25 words
• Age 2 1/2: doesn’t use unique two-word phrases or noun-verb combinations
• Age 3: doesn’t use at least 200 words, doesn’t ask for things by name, hard to understand even if you live with them
• Any age: unable to say previously learned words
What can cause a speech delay?
A speech delay may mean that their timetable is a little different and they’ll catch up. But speech or language delays can also tell something about overall physical and intellectual development. Here are some examples.
1. Problems with the mouth
A speech delay can indicate an issue with the mouth, tongue, or palate. In a condition called ankyloglossia (tongue-tie), the tongue is connected to the floor of the mouth. This can make it difficult to create certain sounds, particularly:
Tongue-tie can also make it hard for infants to breastfeed.
2. Speech and language disorders
A 3 y.o. who can comprehend and nonverbally communicate but can’t say many words may have a speech delay. One who can say a few words but can’t put them into understandable phrases may have a language delay.
One cause of speech, language, and other developmental delays is premature birth. Childhood apraxia of speech is a physical disorder that makes it hard to form sounds in the right sequence to form words. It doesn’t affect nonverbal communication or language comprehension.
3. Hearing loss
A toddler who can’t hear well, or hears distorted speech, is likely to have difficulty forming words.
One sign of hearing loss is that your child doesn’t acknowledge a person or object when you name them but does if you use gestures.
However, signs of hearing loss may be very subtle. Sometimes a speech or language delay may be the only noticeable sign.
4. Lack of stimulation
We learn to speak to get in on the conversation. It’s hard to pick up on speech if no one engages with you.
Environment plays a crucial role in speech and language development. Abuse, neglect, or lack of verbal stimulation can keep a child from reaching developmental milestones.
5. Autism spectrum disorder
Speech and language problems are very other seen with autism spectrum disorders. Other signs may include:
▪️repeating phrases (echolalia) instead of creating phrases
▪️impaired verbal and nonverbal communication
▪️impaired social interaction
▪️speech and language regression
6. Neurological problems
Certain neurological disorders can affect muscles necessary for speech. These include:
▪️traumatic brain injury
In the case of cerebral palsy, hearing loss or other developmental disabilities can also affect speech.
7. Intellectual disabilities
Speech can be delayed due to an intellectual disability. If your child isn’t speaking, it may be a cognitive issue rather than an inability to form words.