Factors that may cause the language delay in children are numerous. They may have either biological or socio-pedagogical background (or even both). 3-10% of children delay in speech and language development so, whatever its origin is you always have to pay utmost attention to any signs of language or speech delay and disorders in your kid.
10 main reasons of language delay
1. Impaired hearing. If there are any hearing issues (including constant earwax blockage), speech issues will not be slow in coming.
2. Serious lack of communication. If no one really talks to a kid, if parents constantly try to guess their child’s wishes and needs by the sounds and gestures he makes, the little one feels no need to use language.
3. High speed of speech. A child just doesn’t have time to grasp the meaning of what is said or to understand any separate words. After losing all hope to understand, the kid will choose to stay silent.
4. Genetic predisposition. It’s quite likely that if a child’s parents (or other relatives) had a speech delay in their childhood, the kid will start talking late too.
5. Illnesses or brain damage (head injuries, accidental falls, hypoxia, intrauterine infections or those occurred during labor or the first year of a child’s life).
6. Psychological trauma (fright, frequent quarrelling and fighting in the family and others). In time, this may lead to stuttering.
7. Too high expectations parents have for their child, increasingly strict demands to repeat everything the they say without creating any comfortable, playful, emotionally positive environment.
8. Alcoholism of parents.
9. Language delay is also common among kids with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, early childhood autism or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
10. This issue also frequently occurs in bilingual families.
Warning signs of child speech and language delay
1. By the time your child turns 8 months old, he should actively attempt to “talk”: your kid watches the way your lips move and tries imitating your speech by cooing and babbling. If this is not the case, you’ve got the reason for seeing a neurologist.
2. Your one-year-old doesn’t turn around on hearing sounds or someone talking to him and uses crying to attract your attention.
3. Your 1, 5 year old child finds it hard to suck or chew food or chokes even on the smallest morsels.
4. By the time your child turns 18 months old he can’t complete a simple verbal task, for example a request to find something on a picture: “Where’s kitty?”
5. Your 1, 5-2 year old kid can’t understand or respond to a simple request (“take a ball”, “give me a toy”).
6. Your kid aged 2-3 can’t pronounce separate words of build phrases (“let’s walk”, “let’s play”).
7. Your child aged 3-4 can’t pronounce sentences containing a subject, a predicate and a complement (“I have a red ball”).
8. Your 4-year old kid pronounces most of the sounds incorrectly.
9. Your 3 years old kid talks too fast swallowing the word endings (or just the opposite: his speech is too slow, though no one at home speaks like this).
10. Your 3 year old toddler only uses phrases he got from books or cartoons and doesn’t try to build his own phrases and sentences. If he just repeats your words instead of using his own ones, it’s a serious reason to see a doctor too.
11. In case your child’s mouth is constantly slightly open and you notice excessive salivation that’s not attributable to teeth growth, you have a reason to worry as well.
Don’t think that all the language delay issues will pass with a wave of a magic wand. If you’re in doubt, see a doctor (neurologist, psychologist, speech pathologist or therapist, ENT specialist and, in some cases, mental specialist). But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take any actions too! Create a motivational environment that will help your child develop his speech, be generous with emotional rewards for your kid when he makes progress. And, last but not the least, watch the way you talk and try to speak clearly, without mumbling and without any haste.
Play games with your kid; especially those that involve using his hands and fingers actively. Do daily articulation exercises, help your child develop fine motor skills and don’t talk to your kid while looking down at him. Listen to various sounds and help your kid repeat them, ask questions and help him answer them: a bit later you can ask the same question and tell your child you forgot the right answer. If your child can’t answer, repeat the exercise again.
Motivate, never stop, never give up. And, what’s more important, never neglect any speech issues that may arise – it may be too late.