Is it a Speech Disorder?

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“Use your words,” you may say to your child. But sometimes that’s not so easy.

“Up, mommy.” “Hi, daddy.” “More please.”

These are some of those sweet, long-awaited phrases parents look forward to hearing from their toddler. But what if they’re not saying them?

“It’s important to go to well-child visits, because your child’s primary care provider uses questionnaires to determine if certain milestones, such as understanding and talking, are being met,” says Brian Fisher, a speech language pathologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. “Remember, too, that you are your child’s best advocate. If you are worried, tell your child’s doctor and ask for more information or for a referral for a speech and language evaluation.”

IDENTIFYING SPEECH DISORDERS

It’s hard to say when a speech disorder develops — it may be present at birth or present itself later on down the road. Fisher says speech pathologists look for certain milestones when evaluating children for a possible disorder.

“There are foundation skills, like taking turns, playing simple imitation games, smiling and looking at familiar people during interactions,” says Fisher. Another thing to consider, is the gender of your tot. Girls tend to have a larger vocabulary than boys, according to Fisher. “We can expect a 1-year-old girl to have about seven words and for a 1-year-old boy to have about two,” Fisher says. “By 2 years of age, we can expect girls to have almost 350 words and boys to have around 250. And by 2 years of age, we can expect both boys and girls to be putting some short phrases together.”

HELP WITH SPEECH THERAPY

Speech therapy is about more than helping a child pronounce words. It’s for a variety of disorders such as receptive language difficulties (understanding language/ following directions); expressive language difficulties (using words, putting words together, grammar); pragmatic difficulties (turn taking, social communication skills); and more.

To help your child at home, model good language.

“For children who are having difficulty communicating, it is important to model good language at home,” says Fisher. “Get down on the floor and play with your child. Let him see your face. Keep language simple by using single words or short phrases.”

Amanda Hayward is editor of this publication. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio, a military wife and mom of two. If you don't see her writing for Cincinnati Family, you'll find her running, juggling kids, teaching group fitness classes and cooking up healthy recipes.

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