Is your child saying enough?

Children usually begin saying their first words between 10 and 18 months old, and most have acquired around 50 words by the age of 2 years. It is then normal for them to put start putting two words together between the ages of 2 and 3 years old.

If your child is saying less than this, they may require some help to begin acquiring language. Speech and language therapists call this LANGUAGE DELAY, which means that they are developing language in the normal pattern, but that these skills are delayed. Older children with language delay may present with immature grammar, e.g. "I getted that", "look at the mouses", or "him's going outside". Speech and language assessment would be beneficial to determine the level of your child's language delay, and offer help if required.

How much does your child understand?

It is normal for children to understand more than what they say, i.e. they will understand many more words than they use themselves (this is the same for adults). Children should be able to follow instructions, e.g. by the age of 2, "find your shoes and your hat", by the age of 3, "put your shoes and your hat in the bag". They should be able to follow the instructions out of context, which means that they have no help or clues such as pointing, or watching someone else put on shoes. Children who verbally repeat the instruction often do this as they have not understood what they have been asked to do.

If you have concerns about how much your child can understand in comparison to how much they can say, they may have a LANGUAGE DISORDER. This means that their language is not following the normal developmental pattern. Language disorder can also present in a variety of other ways, for example, using one word when they mean another one (e.g. when meaning "sheep", saying "dog", or "sheet"), or putting words in a sentence in the wrong order. Speech and language assessment would be beneficial to determine the level of your child's language disorder, and offer help if required.

Does your child speak clearly?

Although babies produce the full range of speech sounds in their babble, when they are learning words, children develop speech sounds gradually. Initially they use the simplest sounds, and gradually introduce other sounds to their speech as they mature. The following chart shows the order of normal speech sound development.



Speech Pattern

18 mth vowels p, b, m, n some clear words, many unclear words
2 yrs t, d, h, w parents can understand, but many words still unclear
3-4 yrs s, f, v, k, g, z many new sounds develop, and speech becomes clearer
4-5 yrs sh, y, ch, j most people should understand most of the time
5-7 yrs l, r, th last of the sounds develop, although this can take a few more years

If your child has not yet developed the speech sounds expected for their age, they may have SPEECH DELAY. If your child has gaps in their speech sounds (i.e. if they have missed out some of the sounds expected by their age), they may have a SPEECH DISORDER. Speech and language assessment would be beneficial to determine the extent of your child's speech delay or disorder, and offer help if required.

Although there is often no reason for these speech difficulties, children can experience problems saying specific speech sounds as a direct result of a physical impairment, for example a hearing loss, cleft palate, muscle weakness, or difficulty co-ordinating muscles. In this case, speech and language assessment would be beneficial to determine the extent of your child's articulation disorder. Your child may need onward referrals for medical assessment before appropriate therapy could be offered.

Other issues

There are many other areas of development which could benefit from speech and language therapy input. These include dysfluency (stammering/stuttering), voice disorders, and communication difficulties (including autistic spectrum disorder).

If your child experiences difficulties not described above, please use the CONTACTS tab to contact me to discuss your concerns.