Speech and language development is a major area of a child’s holistic development. The development of language affects the social, cognitive and literacy skills of a child and his/her ability to acquire knowledge and understand the world therethrough. It helps the children to communicate their needs in a better way. It helps us to understand whether the child is progressing typically or not.
Though there will be variation among children in speech and language development, they tend to follow a universal pattern for mastering language. Infants start cooing at 2-3 months of age and they will start babbling around 6 months. Around first year, babies tend to produce some meaningless strings of words, and these are called ‘Jargon speech’. They are expected to produce the first word around 15 months of age. By the end of 18th month, we can expect 50-150 words from a baby. Once the child attains the age of 2 years, he/she will be constructing simple sentences. In third year, the child will make longer sentences and they will actively engage in conversations as well. The child will master his/her language around 4-5 years.
Delays in speech and language skills are one among the most common types of developmental delay in children. Some of such delays are temporary in nature and can be resolved by adequate attention and support from the family. But some delays could be warning signals of more severe issues like developmental delays, hearing loss etc. Vocabulary development in the beginning will shed light on how well the academic performance of a child is going to be in the future. Inadequate vocabulary may lead to poor academic performance later. The following are some wake up calls which may indicate the presence of a speech and language delay.
· If your child did not start babbling by 12 months
· If your child does not respond to his/her name by 12 months
· If your child is not saying first word by 18 months
· Not expressing a desire to communicate
· If your child is not following your instructions by 2 years
· If your child is not socializing by 3 years
· If your child doesn’t ask questions by 3 years
If the child shows any of these signals, it is advised to consult a Speech Language Pathologist. An early intervention will always benefit the child if you are able to detect the delay in early stages of the childhood itself.