Every parent looks forward to their child’s first words and for them to eventually produce longer sentences. So, if by the age of 5, your child is still unable to pronounce certain words or still speaks too much like s/he did when s/he first began to speak, should you be worried? Most of the time, you don’t have to jump to the conclusion that your kid needs a speech therapist. However, you certainly want and have to do your best to help your children if they aren’t speaking as well as other children their age.
If there is a speech impediment, it’s important that you work early on with a speech-language pathologist so that it won’t have a heavy negative impact on your child’s social or academic life. The discipline of speech pathology studies, diagnoses and treats communication disorders, which include difficulties with speech, language, fluency and voice. Experts in this field work with people of all ages, find strategies to develop communication, and make use of communication aids and other assistive technologies.
There are some red flags to watch out for, such as the following:
Within the first year, your child should be socializing and able to react to other people’s actions. Obviously, for a 1-year-old, we’re not talking about social skills, but a child that age will giggle, for example, during a simple game of peek-a-boo. If your child shows no reaction or very little eye contact, or if s/he doesn’t produce a lot of different sounds, and doesn’t engage in anything you do, that could be a sign.
Inability to develop words:
Between 12-18 months, a child should begin to develop real and short words. ‘Real’ means these words shouldn’t just sound like they are babbling. It’s normal at that age to babble, but there are different kinds of babbling. If they are saying, for instance, “ma, ma, ma” in an attempt to say “mama,” that’s a healthy kind of babbling, as opposed to just making a series of random babbling sounds, such as “ma, boo, bla, boop,” etc. Typically, babies this age only have one or two sounds or syllables that they keep repeating over and over again.