Delayed language development in toddlers is a matter of serious concern for many parents. Read this article to gather some valuable information that can help in improving the condition of the child.
Parents start worrying about delayed language development when the child turns two but is still unable to talk. He or she may be saying a few words occasionally but is quite behind other children of the same age. If the parents do not notice slowness in any other activities, they tend to ignore this problem with the hope that they will catch up with the others soon. This happens more because they do not have much of an idea on what should be done to develop the language skills of the child at that age.
There are several factors that can lead to delay in language development. It could be a case of delay in the general development of the child or autism. If the overall development of the child is normal but there is a delay in language learning skills only, then the problem could be related to the tongue or roof of the mouth. Presence of a fold beneath the tongue can restrict the movements of the tongue which makes speech development of the child difficult.
In some kids, it occurs because of improper functioning of the part of the brain that produces speech. As a result, these children fail to use their lips, tongue or jaw to develop the sound of speech. This problem is often described as oral-motor problem and it may cause feeding difficulties as well.
Hearing impairment is another cause behind delayed language in toddlers. These children find it difficult to understand, imitate or use the language as they are unable to hear properly. If the impairment is caused due to some serious ear infection, then it is likely to be a temporary issue. Once the infection is cured, the hearing ability of the child will improve. This kind of ear infections do not have any direct impact on the speech development of a child in the long run.
When you suspect that your child has delayed language development, you should consult your pediatrician as soon as possible. They often take the child to a speech-language pathologist. They are trained professional who can evaluate the cause and severity of the condition and provide suitable guidance to correct it. They conduct certain standardized tests for hearing, speech and sign language to identify the exact cause behind the problem.
They discuss with the parents about communication ability and other aspects of development of the child. They also try to find out if there is any swallowing or voice disorders. Based upon the results of the test, they suggest certain therapeutic activities that need to be done at home to help the child learn the speech language. If required, you can attend a few speech therapy sessions for learning the skill in a better manner.
Role of Parents
Parents play a vital role in language development of the child. Here are some useful tips that you can implement in order to help out your child:
- You have to spend a lot of time communicating with the child. Even if your child is not speaking anything, you have to continuously talk to your child. Make sure all your attention is on the child when you are talking to him or her, and at the same time the child should also listen to you.
- Encourage the child to imitate the sound. Reading books to the child is very helpful in this regard. Start with picture books and read out the names of each picture and make them imitate the sound. Then move on to rhythmic rhymes or songs and ask your child to repeat them after you.
- If your child is responding slowly, be patient and give them enough time to learn. Never try to finish off the sentences that the child is trying to say.
- Do not try to correct their pronunciation because it is more important to learn the words than the perfect way of uttering a word.
- Whenever the child wants to talk to you, give them undivided attention so that they feel the interest to speak to you.
- When the child is not speaking at all, encourage them to put their message across through gestures or sign language. Try to interpret them in words. This way they can develop their communication skill.
Delayed language development is often rectified within a very short period of time, provided the problem is recognized at an early stage and is followed by proper treatment. While the child is undergoing therapies, have realistic expectations from him/her or else, you may feel disappointed with your child’s progress. Most importantly, do not make your concerns on the delayed development obvious to them, who can sense that and get anxious. This will worsen the condition further.