By the time your child turns 18 months old, she should be saying at least 20 unique words. And as she grows, so should her vocabulary too. But what should you do if she’s not even close to that? You might want to prepare yourself for the possibility that she has a speech delay. If speech delays are detected early enough, much can be done to help your child. You’ll also need to rule out a hearing problem. If you’re not sure whether or not your child has a speech delay, keep an eye out for these signs and talk to your child’s pediatrician with your concerns.
1. Can’t make certain sounds
If your child is ready for preschool and she can’t make all the sounds in our English language, you’ll want to have her evaluated. Making the right mouth movements is crucial for making these sounds and a speech therapist can help your child to make these movements properly.
2. Small vocabulary
By preschool age, your child should be able to use 500 words or so. Not sure if your child is falling too far short of that? Keep a tally on the words you hear her use. If it’s much less than 500, you should have your child checked out. Take this with a grain of salt though as some very intelligent people once started out with limited vocabularies, and one of those people was Albert Einstein.
3. Gestures instead of speaks
Sometimes, you can get your child to speak more if you ask open-ended questions. This is particularly true if your child tends to point and gesture for what they want instead of speaking. Try to draw them out with questions and make sure to wait for your child to give a response before trying to give them some suggestions.
4. Unable to compose simple sentences
Even children with a large vocabulary might experience problems putting words together to form sentences. At this age, your child should be able to make simple sentences with the words he knows. A speech therapist can help overcome this hurdle.
5. Difficult to understand
Think about when you’re out at the supermarket and your child speaks to the cashier. Is the cashier able to understand him? By preschool age, even people who don’t know your child should be able to understand what your child says. It is problematic if you are the only one who understands him at this age. The good news is that there are ways of correcting this issue as well as many others involved with speaking. The sooner you get help, the sooner your child can get back on track.