Raising children is not child’s play, adding late talking children to the mix can make it much more tasking for you. It becomes a cause for concern and can be very frustrating for you and your child because of the lack of proper communication.
When your young child is not talking or meeting milestones of speech or language a lot of possibilities start to run through your mind “does my child have Einstein syndrome?” “is my baby autistic?” “does my baby have hearing problems?” And the list continues.
In this article we will discuss all these and give you remedies and activities that you can do at home with your child to help them speak and meet speech and language milestones.
Is my child a late talker?
Generally 15%-25% of children have one form of communication problem/disorder or the other when they were toddlers. Girls tends to be a little bit ahead of boys in developing communication skills but boys eventually catch up.
If your toddler speaks less than 10 words by age 18-20 months, or speaks less than 50 words by age 21-30 months then he or she can be labeled a “late talker”.
If there’s a delay in your child’s speech it doesn’t always hint at a problem. Sometimes you toddler may just be a late bloomer who catches up later so if your child doesn’t meet the developmental milestones don’t be too worried because children develop at different rates.
Best Home Remedies For Late Talking Child
If your child is a late talker there are series of activities that you can engage in with your child to aid their speech, some of them are;
- Music: every child is unique and acts differently, so while some children learn to talk before learning how to sing others learn how to sing before they learn how to talk. Singing and talking are controlled by different parts of the brain so even if your child can’t speak yet they may be able to sing, why not try to develop one skill before another.
Some children respond to music better then to speech, so it can help if you sing to them or use rhymes when you are communicating to them. You may try making a song about everyday situations like bathing, eating and playing for example to help them. You can also sing some easy songs or rhymes that they will be able to copy
- Speak slowly: some children especially those with speech delays or late talkers in general have trouble understanding a part of some words or the whole word. It’s very helpful to such children when the adult speaking to them speaks slowly because this will give them time to understand and respond to you. Sometimes it helps when the child sees the adult’s face when they are spoken to so that they know how the sounds or words are formed. you can also touch their face gently to give them directives on how to make the sounds.
- Use of imitation: when you think of using imitation to encourage your toddler to talk, the first thing that comes to mind is telling them to repeat anything you say but this wouldn’t work; it’s more effective to repeat every thing they say. You can also add more words to whatever they say for example if your toddler says “cat” you can repeat “cat” then say “cute black cat” this will encourage them to talk more.
Another example is using words they say to start songs or rhymes, for instance if your child says “stars” at night you can reply “twinkle twinkle Little Star……”
- Use of declarative statements: although questions give rise to response it may make your child annoyed or irritated when they are asked series of questions at once; it becomes worse when the line of questioning is aggressive because it makes them to have performance anxiety and therefore fail to give replies or responses.
Declarative statements on the other hand doesn’t require any response so declarative statements are more effective because they take away the pressure to speak from the child and as a result they begin to speak freely. Examples of declarative statements you can use to communicate with late talkers are, “ooh you’re eating an apple, I love apples” or “you’re wearing a black shirt, black is my favorite color”
- Encourage social encounters: if your child is a late talker it very important not to isolate them, let them meet their peers so that they gradually learn how to communicate and interact with their mates and then with adults.
- Create a support system for them: if your child is a late talker try to talk to certain people that are a fixture in their lives and therefore instrumental in their development like their teachers, babysitters or relatives because they may be unable to properly express themselves and as such need people who will be able to understand them. This helps to take away the pressure of talking and allows speech to flow freely.
- The use of quality sensory experiences: sensory integration can prove to be a very valuable tool to assist late talkers because. This is because the brains of children who have speech disorders especially “childhood apraxia of speech” processes sensory inputs differently.
You can use lots of fun filled activities like play dough, cotton balls, slides, swings, body stick, water, and so on to aid your child’s speech.
- Use of vitamins: research has shown a direct link between deficiency of vitamin D and language and speech delays. Giving you children vitamins and minerals especially vitamin D (which is important for the development and functions of the brain as well at the blood) will not only help with their growth but also help with speech and language development.
Other things that you can do to aid your toddler speech are:
- Pay them rapt attention wherever you’re interacting with them.
- Speak to your toddlers lovingly.
- Spend time with them, read to them ( especially picture books), sing to them.
- Let them speak for themselves, try not to answer for them whenever someone tries to talk to them or ask them questions.
Allow them to ask for things even when you know what they want.
- Try to be patient whenever you’re interacting with your toddler.
- Avoid criticism; even when they don’t say the words properly or use the wrong grammar, just repeat the correct version. This way you’re gently correcting errors without putting pressure on them.
- Give them a chance to make choices rather than choosing for them and wait for their response.
What causes speech delays?
Speech delays can be caused by a variety of things, some of them are;
- Autism spectrum disorder: it’s very common for children with autism to have problems with speech and language. Other signs that indicate that a child is autistic are; language and speech regression, repetitive behaviors, defective social interaction skills, defective communication (non-verbal and verbal), repeating phrases instead of making phrases or sentences.
- Neurological problems/disorders: children suffering from speech delays may have neurological disorders. Neurological disorders affect the muscles that are required or used for speech. Examples of neurological disorders that can affect speech are; cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, muscular dystrophy etc.
- Einstein syndrome: if your toddler isn’t talking they may have Einstein syndrome. The Einstein syndrome is characterized by children showing delayed language skills while being extremely gifted in other aspects/areas of analytical thinking or reasoning. Such children eventually catch up with speech/language millstones but remain ahead of other children in the areas of analytical thinking and reasoning.
- Problems with the palate, mouth or tongue: some children have speech delays because they have problems with their palate, mouth or tongue, a very common condition that causes speech delay is “ankyloglossia” also called tongue-tie.
This is a condition makes the tongue to be connected to the floor if the mouth. It makes it hard for people with this condition to pronounce or create some sounds especially the sounds;
This condition also makes it difficult for infants to breastfeed.
- Loss of hearing: Loss of hearing can make your child to have speech delays. Because they do not hear well they find it difficult to understand and form words.
A signs that your toddler has hearing Loss or doesn’t hear well is that they don’t seem to acknowledge or pay attention when you try to speak to them or point things out but they do so when you use gestures. Hearing loss is very difficult to notice because the signs are subtle so in many cases a language or speech delay is the most noticeable sign.
- Lack of communication: Lack of communication makes it difficult for a child to pick up on speech, after all they learn too speak because they want to communicate or express themselves. If there’s seems to be no need for them to express themselves then they may not learn to do so.
The environment of a child is an important factor of their growth and development, so any form of neglect, abuse or lack of verbal interactions can prevent children from meeting up with developmental milestones.
- Intellectual disabilities: the presence of intellectual disabilities can lead to speech delays. If your toddler is unable to speak it may be as a result of cognitive disabilities rather than the inability to actually form the words.
If your toddler isn’t speaking or is not meeting language/ speech milestones then it may be as a result of an underlying condition that requires treatment or be because they are simply a late bloomer. Whichever is the case it’s important to assess your child early so as to determine and treat the cause of the delay if necessary.
Children grow at different rates so your toddler may speak later or earlier than the average toddler, but if you’re concerned you should see a speech-language pathologist who will carry out standardized test to check for speech or language delays and the causes.
The will also check your child’s expressive language (what they can say), their receptive language ( what they can understand) and their oral-motor skills ( how their mouths, palate and tongue work for eating, speaking and swallowing). With the results of these tests they help you decide on a suitable treatment if there is a problem or ease your worries if there’s none.