Speech and Language
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A child who has atypical language acquisition i.e. has not spoken their first word by the time they are 1 years old may be considered to be a ‘late talker’ or be diagnosed by their paediatrician to have a language delay.
These words often send parents into a frenzy of worry. Some people may advise you to wait and see. However, in my experience it is never too early to get some help and advice from a professional. A speech therapist probably won’t give you intensive therapy at this stage but will provide you with an assessment and guide you in areas that would promote language development.
The ‘talking’ is just the tip of the iceberg – what we can see and hear. However, there are a whole host of pre-verbal skills that children need to acquire before they learn how to speak. These include joint attention, eye contact, taking turns, play (symbolic, imaginative, creative) and comprehension of words, the way things work and following simple instructions.
Some key elements in promoting language is SPEAK to your child all the time and explain what you are doing.
Use simple language (not baby talk)
Interact, communicate with words, varied intonation.
Engage children in simple play – rolling a ball, building blocks, pushing cars, pretend play with animals, food, vehicles, peek-a-boo, board books, finger painting, play dough, singing, playing with musical instruments – creating your own drum, xylophone, bells, tambourines, going to the playground and exploring slides, tunnels, running.
Below the age of 5, there is no need for devices – TV, iPad, iPhones and it is far better to engage in good old fashioned play to develop your child’s social and language skills.
If your child has limitations in any of the pre-verbal skills it is always a good idea to book an appointment with a speech and language therapist.
Click here for a checklist on speech, language and communication for children from Birth to 5years.