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An article in “Science Times” by Perri Klass suggests that earlier detection means earlier help with speech delay.
Parents nervously watch to see how many words a child can say, or whether he can string together a sentence, or whether other people besides you can understand him.
The important thing is to seek help early.
Guidelines by age can be found on the Web site of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association at http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/chart.htm.
According to Diane R Paul, the group’s director of clinical issues, children begin to understand the world around them within the first year. One-year-olds start to use single words and follow simple directions and point body parts and listen to simple stories.
At two, they begin to put words together; by three they should be using sentences of about three words.
Dr. James Coplan, who created the Early Language Milestone Scale, says that when a child is not meeting milestones, there can be a multitude of reasons, because of the complexity of language making.
He looks at speech delay in a very broad context, from cognition to communication. Is it due to problems with speech and language, or some more global delay? Are social connections intact? Is there a hearing concern?
(Dr. James Coplan is the author of “Making Sense of Autistic Spectrum Disorders,” Random House, 2010.)
What about the rest of the child’s development? Are there neurodevelopmental disorders, including the various forms of autism? (Not all children with autism have delayed speech, although they may not be using speech to communicate.)
But one key question is: is anyone talking to this baby?
Dr. Paul offers general tips:
Talk to your child about what they’re focused on. Read to your child often. If they’re in a bilingual home, speak to the child in the language you’re most comfortable with. Speak clearly and naturally and use real words. Show excitement when the child speaks.
You can read Perri Klass’s NY Times article at http://tinyurl.com/y9effw3
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