All children grow and develop at their own pace, and this is definitely true when it comes to speech development. While it's normal for children to learn to speak at slightly different rates, it's also important to notice if significant delays do occur. The sooner speech delays are recognized, the sooner your child can be helped, and the sooner they can learn to speak fluently and clearly. Here are five signs of speech delay in toddlers:
Lack of Words
Most babies say their first word by age one or so. By age 18 months, most toddlers know five to twenty words, and this jumps to hundreds of words by age two. If your child seems far behind this general timeline, for example an 18-month-old who hasn't spoken their first word yet, you should probably consult your doctor about a potential speech delay.
Lack of Nonverbal Socializing
Speech disorders aren't just characterized by a lack of speech--nonverbal communication also plays a role. A lack of proper nonverbal social skills can be an indicator of a speech delay or other speech issues. Examples include babies or toddlers who don't babble or make other sounds, make gestures, or respond to smiling, waving, or clapping.
Toddler speech can be famously difficult to decipher and it's perfectly normal for strangers and those who don't spend much time with your child to struggle to understand them. However, by the time your child is two years old anyone who spends a lot of time with the child should be able to understand most of what they are saying. If your child's speech is mostly impossible to understand, even for you, it might be a sign of a speech delay.
Lack of Word Combinations
By age two, most toddlers start to string words together in combinations as precursors to sentences. For example, when they want to get your attention in order to get picked up, they might say "Mama, up!" If your two-year-old is only saying isolated, unrelated words with no attempt to link them together, they may be speech delayed.
If you notice these warning signs, be sure to speak to your pediatrician or pediatric speech therapist as soon as possible. It's better to be safe than sorry, and if your child does turn out to have a speech delay they'll be able to work through it with a professional. Speech therapy can help your child go from speech delayed to communicating clearly.
For more information, contact a professional like ABC Pediatric Therapy.