When it comes to helping your child learn how to speak and enunciate properly, early intervention is key. Your toddler is relying on you to recognize that they're having difficulty speaking and for you to do something about it. The longer you wait, the longer your child's development will be delayed. But how can you tell if your child has an issue with speech? After all, kids, especially young ones, are difficult to understand even if there isn't anything wrong. So how can you tell what's normal and what's not normal when it comes to toddler speak? The following signs will help you determine if your child needs speech therapy.
12 to 18 Months
Shortly before and after their first birthday, your child should be trying to socially interact with others. If they keep to themselves or don't try to utter a single word, they may have an issue with language comprehension and speech. At the very least, your child should be able to say a few words at this age even if they are simple ones, such as "mom" and "dad."
18 Months to 2 Years
Children between the ages of 18 months and 2 years usually don't speak clearly enough for strangers to understand everything they're saying. However, people who hear them speak all the time should be able to decipher what they're saying. If you as a parent can't understand your child, it may be time to speak to an expert in speech development.
2 Years to 3 Years
Things really start getting fun between the ages of 2 and 3. During this time, your child should start to pair words together to make short sentences or, at the very least, grammatically incorrect clauses. For example, a child might say "drink juice" when asking for juice or "Sissy bad" when upset with their sibling. If your child hasn't started pairing related words, there may be an issue.
2 1/2 Years to 4 Years
Speech difficulties in this age group are usually harder to detect because this is when you really have to start paying attention to how your child is saying something. If your child's makes an "N" sound when they should be making an "L" sound, there may be an issue. Of course, children on the younger end of the spectrum will make innocent mistakes. However, if your child's speech doesn't improve as they age and are corrected, you should talk to someone.
Identifying speech problems in toddlers can be difficult. The key is to really listen to your child, which can be difficult after you've gotten used to their speech idiosyncrasies. If you have even the slightest doubt, however, you should er on the side of caution and take your child to see a specialist.
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