Children have their own pace of development, so you may feel confused if your child does not have good language skills by the time he is 20 months old . If your 20-month-old is barely speaking words, there may be an underlying problem, such as a hearing problem or a developmental delay. But if he seems to listen and understand, and also follows directions despite not speaking much and there are no other developmental signs, he may simply be within his normal developmental rate.
In fact, one in five children learns to speak and use a greater variety of words later than other children their age. These are often minor, temporary delays.
NORMAL LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
A child’s ability to communicate typically grows enormously between the ages of 1 and 2 . During this time, their vocabulary expands to 100 words, and young children go from simple words (“mama,” “dada,” and “bye”) to saying two-word sentences and questions, such as, “What’s that? ” and “more water”, for example.
Around 20 months, a child is able to:
- Follow simple instructions
- Point out parts of the body when asked
- Say more words each month, an average of one or two new words per week
- Is able to put two words together: more water, or more cookies
- Ask short questions: where is dad?
- Use consonant sounds in front of words
While it may be normal for your child to have his own learning pace in terms of language, if he does not have any benchmarks, it may be due to some possible language problems. Some are as follows:
- Delayed language development. Language delays do not have to be bad, a child with a language delay may later have a good level of speech without remembering that he had language problems in childhood .
- Hearing loss. You need to determine if your child is listening correctly. It may be from ear infections or if there is a family history of hearing loss it should also be checked. It is necessary to discuss it with the pediatrician to rule out any hearing problem.
- Oral problems. If your child is a good listener or wants to speak but has trouble forming words, it may be because he has a mouth or tongue problem. Oral deficiencies include problems with the tongue or palate (roof of the mouth), such as a tongue knot (a short frenulum, the crease under the tongue) or cleft palate. An oral-motor problem occurs when the areas of the brain responsible for speech have difficulty coordinating the lips, tongue, and jaw to produce speech sounds. Children with oral and motor problems may also have difficulty feeding. If you suspect a problem with oral motor or other oral deficiencies, your pediatrician may recommend an evaluation by a pathologist speech and language .
HOW TO IMPROVE A YOUNG CHILD’S SPEECH DEVELOPMENT
If you think the only problem your child has is expressive language, there are things you can do to improve speech development. You need to talk to your child throughout the day, narrate what you do, and use lots of words . It is also important that you read stories to him every day, that you sing songs, that you make sounds, etc.
To help your child use more words, the ideal is that you never ask them like: “Do you want a glass of milk or water?”, In this way you can expect a response that encourages communication. When you begin to offer options, you may notice how little by little your child is improving the language. If your child is 3 years old and still not talking, then see your pediatrician.