Babbling, smiling, gesturing, and putting words together are just a few examples of language your child will start to learn in their first few years of life. Language is the way we communicate with others; verbally or nonverbally. It is the way we share ideas, tell what we want, and so many other things. Speech is how we pronounce sounds and words. All children develop at their own rate so it is important to remember that not all children will develop at the same pace. May is Better Hearing and Speech Awareness Month so there is no better time to talk about the importance of early intervention with speech!
While the two might seem to be the same, they make up two completely different parts in a child’s development. Speech is the oral form of communication, aka the physical act of talking. It is the process of producing words which includes articulation, fluency, and voice. Language is a system of communication that consists of sounds and gestures. It can be spoken, written, or communicated as body language. There are two areas of language; receptive (what you hear/understand) and expressive (communicating wants/needs).
Speech is how we say sounds and words. It is made up of the following:
–Articulation: This is how we make sounds with the use of our mouth, lips, and tongue.
–Fluency: Fluency is the rhythm of our speech such as repeating sounds, pausing, and stuttering.
–Voice: This is how we use our vocal cords and breath to make sounds. It is how we talk, yell, cough, etc.
Language refers to words that we use and how we are using them to share ideas and what we want. Our language makes up a variety of things such as:
–How to Make New Words: This is how we take one word and add things on to make it mean something else. For example, “friend”, “friendly”, and “unfriendly” all have a different meaning but the same root.
–How to Put Words Together: Learning how to put words together to form sentences.
–What We Should Say: This is when we learn what we should say in certain situations. For example, learning how to politely ask someone to do something versus rudely demanding something.
–What Words Mean: Many words have different meanings but the same spelling and/or sound. For example, fair can mean two different things: the fun outdoor event or a reasonable feeling.
Because every child develops at their own rate, it’s important to do your research and know what to expect. Doctors follow an expected age range to tell if a child might have a developmental delay and could benefit from therapy. It’s important to remember that this is just a guideline to follow. Your pediatrician can give you a better idea if there is a concern for your child. Language and speech disorders will have different signs and you’ll tend to notice language difficulties before you notice speech.
Speech Disorder Signs
For young children, it is perfectly normal to say some things incorrectly while they are learning. Many times they will grow out of this! Typically between ages 1 to 3 years there are certain sounds we are looking for them to say correctly such as:
1 to 2 years: Not saying p,b,m,h, and w the right way most times
2 to 3 years: Not saying k,g,f,t,d, and n the right way most times.
Stuttering is relatively normal in young children as they are learning to speak. Most of the time children grow out of this as well. Signs to look for that show that a child might benefit from speech therapy such as:
2.5 to 3 years: Trouble saying sounds or words, repeating the first sounds of words, pausing a lot, and stretching sounds out.
Language Disorder Signs
Below are possible signs of a language problem. If a child has a language disorder, they may have trouble with one of more of these skills.
Birth to 3 months: Not smiling or playing with others
4 to 7 months: Not babbling
7 to 12 months: Only making a few sounds. Not using gestures such as pointing or waving
7 months to 2 years: Unable to understand what others say
12 months to 18 months: Only saying a few words
1.5 to 2 years: Unable to put two words together
2 years: Saying fewer than 50 words
2 to 3 years: Has trouble playing/talking with other children
2.5 to 3 years: Has trouble with early reading/writing
The earlier that you spot signs the sooner you can get the proper help for your child. Children with speech and language delays can benefit from pediatric speech therapy. In an initial evaluation, a speech therapist will be able to tell you if your child is on track or will need to receive speech therapy. Speech therapy can equip children with the skills they need to succeed and feel more confident. A child’s speech is how they speak, listen, read, write, and socialize. It’s important to grow their speech skills while they are young so they can properly communicate as they get older.
If you think that your child might have a speech or language disorder, contact PediaPlex! We have locations in Frisco, Fort Worth, and Southlake with pediatric speech therapists who would love to help! Visit our website today to learn more about speech therapy and fill out an intake form.
-The PediaPlex Family