The moment a child is born, he or she will begin to communicate with the outside world spending a considerable amount of energy advancing their communication skills. It truly is amazing to watch a child hone their ability to express themselves and learn and use new words! But what if your child's speech isn't developing as expected? What if she or he is not pronouncing words correctly—or not even using them at all? Maximizing your child's speech and language development sometimes requires professional help. But there are many things you can do on your own to support your toddler. Keep reading to learn how!
Does My Child Have a Toddler Speech Delay or Autism?
Children develop at their own pace. It's normal and acceptable for there to be communication differences between children within the same age group and even within the same family. But sometimes a child's delay in speech is significant enough to be suggestive of a toddler speech delay or autism. Getting an official diagnosis is only possible through your family pediatrician or other specialists, especially if other health conditions (such as hearing loss) need to be ruled out. The following toddler speech development chart details some simple things your child "should" be able to do at various ages. You can use this chart to help you decide if you should call a doctor or get a referral to a speech and language therapist:
Typical Speech Development Milestones Source: Mott Children
2-3 months • Coos in response to you • Smiles
6 months • Babbles • Turns and looks at new sounds
8 months • Responds to name • Pats self in mirror
10 months • Shouts to attract attention • Says a syllable repeatedly
12 months • Says 1-2 words • Recognizes name
12-17 months • Understands simple instructions • Imitates familiar words •Understands “no” uses “mama” and “dada” and a
few other words
18 months • Uses 10-20 words, including names • knows body parts • starts to combine 2 words “all gone” “bye bye” • uses words to make wants known “up” “all done” or “more”
2 years • Says 2-3 word sentences • Has > 50 words • asks “what’s this” and “where’s my” • identifies body parts • names pictures in book • forms some plurals by adding “s”
2 ½ years • Gives first name • Calls self “me” instead of name • Combines nouns and verbs • Has a 450 word vocabulary • Uses short sentences • Matches 3-4 colors • Knows big and little • Likes to hear same story repeated
3 years • Can tell a story • Sentence length of 3-4 words • Vocabulary of about 1000 words • Knows last name • Name of street • Several nursery rhymes • Can sing songs
4 years • Sentence length of 4-5 words • Uses past tense • Identifies colors, shapes • Asks many questions like “why?” and “who?” • Can speak of imaginary conditions “I hope” • Uses following sounds correctly: b, d, f, g, h, m, n, ng, t, w, y (as in yes)
Fun and Engaging Toddler Speech Delay Exercises
Whether your child is already diagnosed with a speech delay disorder, or if you'd simply like to support the growth of speech and language, the following toddler speech delay exercises can help. They can also help you bond with your child and may even help you remain more conscious of your own communication skills!
Count what you see.
Point out and name colors and shapes.
Talk about animals and the sounds they make.
Repeat what your child says to show him or her that you understand.
Help your child understand questions by playing a yes-no game. "Are you purple? Are you a horse?" Feel free to be silly and encourage your child to ask questions, too!
Sing simple songs and rhymes together.
Explain to your child what a word means when he or she asks, or when you use a new word. If you aren't sure what a word means, tell them. "I'm not sure what that word means. Let's go look it up."
Play guessing games by describing a familiar item in your home and having him or her figure out what it is.
Perhaps most importantly, model good speech and good active listening skills! When in doubt, consult with a pediatric speech and language therapist. He or she can provide you and your little one with expert and individualized coaching that are a "best fit" for your toddler's needs.
Every child develops physically, mentally, and emotionally at his or her own pace. However, there are certain norms and milestones that can help you determine if your child's language is developing in an age-appropriate.
Toddler speech delay disorders may include autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders. Sometimes, they can be caused by auditory issues like hearing loss. Consulting with a pediatrician or getting a referral to a specialist is the only way to get a full diagnosis.
With or without a diagnosis, there are plenty of things you can do with your toddler to promote his language and speech. These exercises can be fun and a great bonding opportunity for the whole family!
Are you concerned about your child's speech and language development? Are you questioning if he or he is exhibiting signs of toddler speech delay disorders? If you live near the Bayonne and West Orange areas of New Jersey, we invite you to contact Infinite Therapy Solutions with your questions. Our experienced and highly trained speech and language therapy team would be honored to help your child express themselves and communicate more effectively!