Language and communication are an integral part of our lives. We use our language skills—understanding, speaking, reading, and writing—every single day to share our needs, wants, thoughts, and ideas with others. Connecting through language and communication helps us manage our careers and day-to-day lives as adults while also helping us form supportive and meaningful relationships.
Childhood is a critical period for language development and learning, particularly between early infancy and elementary school. As children grow, they begin to babble, to produce words, to speak in sentences, and to use the more advanced language needed in adulthood. Each developmental phase is mastered until a child becomes a competent communicator—able to express his or her thoughts and ideas freely. Failure to address delays in one stage can significantly impact later stages as children progress through school and into life as independent, successful adults.
HOW CAN YOU FIND OUT IF YOUR CHILD IS BEHIND OR AT-RISK FOR A DELAY?
There are several childhood language milestones that can be used to help determine if a child is developing language as expected. These questions can help one gain a better understanding of what to expect at different ages.
● Is your child’s speech clear enough for others to understand?
● Is your child becoming frustrated that others cannot understand him?
● Did your child say her first word by 15 months, with a rapid expansion of vocabulary of 100-150 words between 18-20 months?
● Did your child primarily communicate with 2-word combinations (e.g., “doggy go”) by 24 months and using short sentences by 3 years of age?
● Does your child use language for social communication with peers and adults?
● Does your child follow directions without gestures or visual cues to aid understanding?
● Does your child pay attention to a complete storybook reading in a group?
● Does your child listen, talk, read, and write to achieve good academic standing?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, or if you are unsure, a professional opinion by a speech-language pathologist may help put your mind at ease. For the CDC’S guide on age-specific milestones, visit: openlinesny.com/milestones.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NEXT?
The sooner you act, the better. The best thing you can do is to seek out professional advice and consider a speech and language assessment or intervention. Children’s brains are remarkably adaptive; neural networks are created and modified at an astonishing rate in the early years. This means that younger children can sometimes learn and change their habits more quickly than older children.
While the “wait and see” approach may be reassuring, there is no harm in seeking a professional opinion from a speech-language pathologist about your child’s development— but there may be harm in waiting to do so!
An evaluation only takes one hour and can help determine your child’s strengths and weaknesses. If your child demonstrates a need, targeted intervention can improve skills and provide the extra support for academic success and personal confidence.
If your child does not show a delay but would benefit from a program to strengthen social skills and school readiness, consider signing up for a toddler group program that uses research to directly target the development of critical thinking, speaking, pre-reading, and social skills. Small group settings allow for both fun, social interaction and individualized attention that is tailored to meet the needs of your child, and facilitate a head start for success in school.
If your child is developing as expected, you can leave the evaluation with confidence knowing that everything is okay.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Open Lines Speech and Communication PLLC is a premier practice in Speech Pathology located in Manhattan. Nationally and New York State licensed Speech-Language Pathologists offer the highest-quality services to children and adults with a variety of needs. Dr. Jessica Galgano founded Open Lines on the principle that an integrated, evidence-based approach to therapy is the ideal way to treat speech, language, voice and swallowing issues. Her affliations with NYU Langone School of Medicine, LSVT Global, Inc., and San Francisco State University allow for clinical application of the most current, peer-reviewed therapy applications and research. Unlike most practices, Open Lines features doctorate-level supervision and an integrated team-based staff structure. In addition to providing speech therapy and corporate speech services, Open Lines is also actively engaged in research, education, and political advocacy on national and international levels.
Open Lines Speech and Communication PLLC can be contacted at
212-430-6800 or through their website OpenLinesNY.com