Among the many discoveries that the twenty-first century has brought along, the discovery of developmental delays, especially those related to cognitive development, has been of great significance.
When babies do not develop physical and cognitive capabilities according to their age, they may face developmental delays. We can therefore detect developmental delays early on during infancy when the child cannot meet his or her age-appropriate physical milestones.
Sometimes, not being able to meet a physical milestone may also show a delay in the cognitive development of a child. For example, a child being unable to make eye contact by the age of six-nine months could be a sign that the child’s brain has not developed enough for it to control the muscles in the child’s eyes.
While there are many areas of developmental delay in children, in this article, we will focus on speech delay. Speech delay is present when a child lags in developing and learning vocabulary as per his or her expected age. And hence, the child is facing difficulty in expressing their feelings and in making conversation.
Speech delays are very common. Worldwide, almost 10% of toddlers face them. Behavioral issues, such as attention deficit and hyperactivity (ADHD), often accompany speech delays.
In order to understand what steps to take, we have to explore the root causes. However, it is often hard to identify or pinpoint a specific cause of speech delays. We can attribute speech delays to any of the following reasons:
Although each child has his or her own pace of developing language and speech skills, we can use the standard developmental milestones as basic guidelines to keep a check on your child’s development. If your child is:
- Unable to say words like mama or baba by 1.5years of age
- Able to comprehend and express their needs but unable to form words
- Unable to understand short words such as yes or no
- Unable to speak using short sentences by three years of age
- Unable to comprehend and tell short stories by age five years
Your child may experience a speech delay.
You can take your child for a professional examination by your pediatrician, who would help diagnose if the speech delay actually exists. The pediatrician will also help detect the cause of the speech delay by running physical (mouth and hearing) and cognitive ability tests and will then refer you to specialized practitioners.
Here are the dos and don’ts of tackling a child with speech delay.
As a parent, you can adopt the following strategies to help improve your child’s speech:
If you notice your child is not meeting their age-appropriate developmental milestones, consult a pediatrician. Speech delay is not an incurable disorder. You can treat speech delays using various therapies based on the root cause. We can treat cognitive or behavioral lags by using physical therapy, occupational therapy, neurological treatment, or behavioral therapy (if required).
Remember that each child reacts to therapy and treatment at their own unique pace and requires our patience and continued support along the way.