Understanding Speech Delay In Toddlers

A speech delay in toddlers can be frustrating. As a parent, you want to understand what is wrong and how to help your toddler.
Speech Delay In Toddlers

First, let's talk about it. What causes speech delay in toddlers? This is a common question when it comes to children. Usually, speech delay is seen around 18 months and comes along with a lot of other symptoms.

What's more, there is a wide range of reasons why your child might be having a developmental issue with talking. Some kids just take longer than others to develop their language skills. In contrast, others struggle because they're not getting enough practice at home. And some kids simply don't speak until later on in life, have hearing loss, or there could be a family history of difficulties with speech.

This article will explore the different causes of speech delay in toddlers and what you should do if you suspect your child is struggling with learning to talk.

What is a speech delay in Toddlers?

A speech delay is when a child has trouble with typical speech development. It could mean that your child isn't able to understand certain types of words or sentences. Or maybe he struggles to use his voice correctly.

The most important thing to remember is that communication or language delays do NOT affect how well your child understands you. Your child should know exactly what you want them to do! Also, keep in mind that it's infrequent for a child who has a delay in speech development to actually lose the ability to communicate effectively long term unless they have an unlaying medical condition such as a child with autism, a traumatic brain injury, or a hearing impairment.

speech delay in Toddlers (AR Books)
Understanding Speech delay in Toddlers (AR Books)

What are Speech Milestones?

Speech milestones are the moments in a child's life when they reach a certain level of speech. These milestones can be physical, emotional, or intellectual, and they can also be achieved at different ages.

First Milestone

The first speech milestone occurs when the child begins speaking one-word sentences. At this point, they may have been talking for a while, but they haven't yet developed their vocabulary. They may use words that are known to them, like "mama," "dad," "ball," or even "car."

Furthermore, it is essential to note that some toddlers will not speak until after their second birthday. This means that if you see your baby-making noises, they might still need more time before being able to say their first words.

Second Milestone

The second speech milestone occurs when children begin to use simple sentences. They may have been saying simple phrases like "I want a cookie" or "I am hungry." This milestone is significant because it shows that children are beginning to learn the language. It's also an exciting time because parents can see their child's progress.

What Are the Signs of a Speech or Language Delay?

There are many signs that there may be a speech or language delay in children. It can be challenging for parents to tell when their child needs help with their speech. 

A health professional should check a baby that doesn't respond to sound or speak. However, it's hard for parents to know if their child has a problem or takes a bit longer to reach their developmental milestones.

Here are some milestones in speech and signs that you need to be aware of:

12 Months:

 They don't do such things as waving bye-bye or pointing.

18 Months:

Your child has trouble making sounds. They prefer gestures over vocalizations or use nonverbal communication to communicate. 

2 Years In Age:

  • Has trouble understanding simple verbal requests. This could be a sign of a hearing issue.
  • They can't use oral language to communicate their immediate needs.
  • Repeatedly say sounds or one-word sentences.
  • They can't follow simple directions.
  • They have an unusual tone of voice (such as raspy or nasal sounding).

3 Years In Age:

  • Most children aged two to three years use about 200 words or more using a two or three-word phase.
  • A child should be primarily understood, even by people who don't know the child.
  • If your child shows signs of a developmental delay, as indicated above, please seek the help of a health professional or speech therapist.

Source: Kidshealth.org

speech delay in toddlers and health professionals (ar books)
Speech Delay in Toddlers and Health Professionals (AR Books)

What Causes Speech or Language Delays in toddlers?

The most common causes of a child with speech delay are:

  • Hearing Loss (chronic infections)
  • Slow Development in Children
  • Elective Mutism ( when a child chooses not to talk)
  • Lack of Social Skills (not much interaction with adults or other children)

Other causes of Children with speech delays

Oral Impairments

Many different issues can cause a speech impediment in a toddler. Some toddlers may have tongue thrust, where the tongue is pushed out of the mouth and touches the bottom or top of the teeth. This can cause them to mispronounce certain sounds such as "th" and "s." Other children may have a lisp, where they say words with an "s" sound instead of a "th" sound.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Apraxia of speech is a neurological disorder that makes it challenging to produce speech sounds, usually due to damage to the brain's motor cortex. The disorder typically causes difficulty with articulating consonants. Toddlers with childhood apraxia of speech may have trouble forming words, pronouncing sounds correctly, or using grammar. The condition usually appears between 18 months and three years of age.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Speech delay in toddlers is often caused by autism which is a developmental disorder. Children who suffer from this condition also struggle with social skills and language development. 

 Also, a child with autism have repetitive behaviors, a lack of eye contact, and difficulty understanding others' emotions. These behaviors can cause speech delays in toddlers.

Intellectual disability 

Intellectual disability speech in toddlers is when children start talking about things they don't quite understand. This happens at around 18 months of age and usually lasts for two years. The child may say "no" instead of "yes" or use words like "I want" instead of "I need."

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects the brain and spinal cord. It can cause difficulty moving, speaking, or other motor functions. It is usually diagnosed in children under the age of two.

How to Help a Child with Speech Delay? 

Parents should always involve themselves in their children's speech development.

Early intervention and possible speech therapy are crucial to helping kids with speech delays and language skills issues.

  1. Create a lot of opportunities for the child to talk.
  2. Let the child lead the conversation.
  3. Limit the background noise.
  4. Give lots of praises and positives.
  5. Correct, don't criticize.

Another form of help is Augmented Reality Books and Language Development.

Believe it or not, you can use augmented reality books to enhance your child's language development. An AR book is the perfect way to bring literature and reading into children's lives, where they can reach into a character's world with just a smartphone or tablet. This interactive picture book comes to life with animated characters and nursery rhyme-like voice narration, which encourage social interaction and communication verbal skills such as pronouncing their letter and words. 

In conclusion, speech and language delays in toddlers may be a symptom of a more serious issue. When your child is not meeting milestones or starts to develop speech at a slower pace, you should be concerned. Child speech delays can be caused by hearing loss, speech disorders, or developmental disabilities. If your child is not meeting a language milestone or is developing at a slower pace, seek professional help. Early intervention is the key to getting your toddler on the right track.

FAQ Speech Delay in Toddlers (AR Books)

What are Speech and language disorders?

Speech and language disorders are conditions that affect how we speak, hear, understand, and produce speech. They may be caused by hearing loss, brain damage, or other medical conditions. Children who suffer from these disorders have trouble communicating with others, especially when tired, stressed, or anxious.

How Are Speech or Language Delays Diagnosed?

The speech-language pathologist will assess your child's speech and communication skills. Your child's speech-language pathologist may also recommend speech therapy if needed.

 Is Late Speech a Sign of Autism?

Not necessary, but here are some key points to consider:

• ASD is a developmental disorder characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication.
• Children with ASD often have receptive language and have trouble communicating their needs.
• Speech delays are common in children with ASD.
• Some children with ASD will develop speech delays later in life.

When should I worry about my toddler not talking?

There are many reasons why a toddler may not be talking. In the first three years of childhood, your child should be speaking in complete sentences. By the age of 3, your child should have at least 200 words or more. Communication milestones should be reached by one year of age. If you're concerned about your toddler's speech and language development, you should consult a health professional or speech pathologist.

What are the signs a non-verbal autistic child will talk in the future?

There are several signs a nonverbal autistic child will talk in the future. Here are a few of them:

1. Positive response to external incentives
2. Good eye contact
3. Child can respond to higher frequency sounds
4. Interest in books and stories
5. Child can respond to direct questions from teachers
6. Engagement in pretend play
7. If you have a non-verbal autistic child, it is essential to have them evaluated by a pediatrician.