Last updated Jan. 22, 2019
Speech delay is one difficult problem many young parents deal with. Even older parents still find it as a very difficult situation. The major problem with speech delay in children is that it is very difficult to detect.
It is really hard for parents and caregivers to determine what is normal and what is not when it comes to the speech development of their little ones.
The fact that some children develop at a pace that is quite different from that of their peers makes it even more difficult for many to understand whether their kids have speech delay and when they need to start worrying about speech development.
It is important, however, for parents and caregivers to familiarize themselves with speech and language development, and watch their kids closely when they show any sign of speech delay. Parents play an important role in the speech development of their children.
This is because it is often better when speech issues are detected at the early stage of life and given the appropriate attention.
When this is the case, it is easier to correct whatever problem the child has and prevent the potential problems that often accompany speech delay and disorders.
The first thing to understand is that the speech and language development of a child is continually evolving.
There are different stages in the long process and a child in the right developmental path should be able to do what is considered age appropriate. Professional speech therapists use age-based milestone to check if a child is developing at the right level and you can research further to understand more about these developmental milestones.
If you suspect your child has speech delay, it is always better to get the child to a speech therapist for intervention.
If, on the other hand, you feel your child is on the right path, there are some things you need to be mindful of. These tips will help you to make the best out of your time with your child and help him/her develop communication skills at the right pace.
Read with yYour Child Consistently
One of the greatest ways to help your child with speech development is to tap into his/her inquisitive nature.
By nature, children are very inquisitive. They are willing, most of the time, to explore ideas in books and you should certainly take advantage of this. Read with your child from a tender age in the friendliest manner.
You will definitely have to pick the books at the initial stage but once the child is 18 months, let him/her pick the books you should read together.
Even if it is the same book over and over, use it as it will be the best for your child.
It may be repetitive or boring to you but it will be most beneficial for your child as reinforcing the same concepts and repeating the same sounds will make it easier for your child to learn.
You also need to be consistent with your reading if you want to get the best result. Your child will want that too and you shouldn’t let the quench his/her zeal.
If you suspect your child may have speech delay, there are some helpful books you can read with the child to get him/her going.
There are books that will help the child speak his/her first word as well as books that encourage children to talk through the use of easy words, repetitions, and cute photos.
Make Reading Interactive
Reading to your child is not often enough to correct speech delay if it is an issue.
Even when you are just reading to get your child develop his/her communication skills at the right pace, simply reading to your child will not have the desired effect.
You need to make reading interactive: this means you need to make your child an active participant in the story.
Once your child has developed an interest in any particular book, it is time to get him/her to be part of the story.
Point to the pictures in the book and ask your child what he/she sees. The way they respond to the gesture at the initial stage doesn’t matter.
The aim is to get the child to understand that you want him/her to start communicating with you and it will be a matter of time before you start getting back positive feedbacks.
You may not understand what the child babbles once he/she starts responding but you need to be happy and applaud this as it can be the beginning of better things.
At the stage you start understanding the child, there may not be any need to correct or refine the child’s interpretation of the pictures and activities you point out. The aim is to get him/her talking, and with time, there will be lots of improvement.
Sing to Your Child
There are good reasons why nursery rhymes are so important; children learn better with music. Even when they are not capable of speaking fluently, children are always able to express themselves through music and singing. You can take advantage of this at home to teach your child to talk. Sing at every given opportunity to the child and observe when they pick interest in the songs. Once they attempt to sing along or sing after you do, applaud and celebrate it.
The first song a child attempts to sing should be very important to you. It is likely the song that captures his/her attention the most and can play a significant role in his/her speech development.
Sing the song often and applaud when the child sings along. It will take time for the child to pronounce the right words but any attempt at singing, no matter how the words sound, is a huge progress you should cherish.
As has been stated earlier, there are some speech and communication developmental milestones children are expected to meet as they grow.
Failure to meet these milestones at different stages of life may indicate speech delay.
During the first 12 months of life, some children may not meet these milestones but once they are two years and still not meeting the milestones, it may be a case of speech delay and you need to seek professional help for them.
A speech therapist can help a child with speech delay and it helps when the problem is detected in time and given the appropriate treatment in a timely manner.