Do you know what's “normal” and what's not when it comes to your child’s speech and language development? MH helps you figure out if your child is right on the right track.
WORDS ANNA FERNANDEZ
While children develop speech and language abilities at their own pace, there are certain milestones which should be reached by a specific age. When they aren’t, it can be very confusing for parents who are unsure whether they should seek professional help or wait to see if their child is just a late bloomer.
According to Wenggie Fong, principal speech therapist at MindChamps Allied Care, most kids with language delays struggle because what they want to say is in their head (i.e. receptive language), but they can’t put it in words (i.e. expressive language).
How are Speech and Language Different?
There are two types of language: receptive and expressive. Fong explains, “Receptive language is when a child understands what you say to them or understands questions you ask. Expressive language is when your child engages in conversation with you or asks you for something. Your child uses their expressive language to verbally communicate their wants and needs. Speech, on the other hand, is how your child pronounces and articulates sounds, letters, and words.”
Who is a Late Talker?
A late talker is between 18 to 30 months of age and is developing normal social, cognitive, and motor skills, but has limited spoken vocabulary. Late-talking children speak less than 10 words by the twentieth month or fewer than 50 words by the thirtieth month. In comparison, a typical two-year-old should be able to identify common objects (in person and in pictures), point to their body parts when asked, and follow two-step commands (“Please pick up the toy and give it to me,” for example).
Most late talkers have difficulty with spoken or expressive
language, which is used by toddlers when they are
communicating their wants and needs.
Crucial Language Development Milestones to Look Out For
Baby pointing is a key body language development milestone. According to Tee Suat Chin, therapist at Little Chatterbox, one of the ways in which toddlers communicate is through pointing. Your child may point to an object with the intention of drawing your attention to it or wanting you to get it for her.
She will eventually use a word to label this object and the ability to point at things is a valuable indicator of communicative development. Children who point a lot from an early age tend to learn words earlier too.
About 70 to 80 per cent of late-talking toddlers will outgrow a language delay if it is solely an expressive delay (i.e. it involves only spoken language, without any delays in comprehension and social use of language).
By the time your child is 18 months old, they should be able to
use at least 2O different types of words, including nouns, verbs, prepositions,
adjectives, and social words like “hi” and “bye”.
You should also monitor your child’s expressive vocabulary, which refers to the words that they use to communicate. Between ages two and three, a child's expressive vocabulary will expand to about 300 words. They should be using sentences with two or more words. These word combinations should not be memorised chunks of language, like “thank you”, “bye bye”, or “all gone”. Examples of true word combinations include “more juice,” “eat cookie,” or “dirty hands”.