Some kids are non-verbal until they are fully ready to talk. They prefer to observe and absorb everything first, and when it is the right time; the non-verbal toddler is now a non-stop talker. Of course, parents are the one who is dreaded the most when the child keeps on being silent or cannot utter any words properly. Some might advise them to not worry too much as the child might only be a late bloomer. Though this advice might be good, but if your child still hasn't properly uttered many words after a certain age, you should start to be more concerned. It might be a sign of speech delay. Speech Delay VS Language Delay Image credit: https:\/\/news.cancerconnect.com\/ Speech delay and language delay are the two terms that are often confused by parents as both have quite similar meaning, but actually, both have a slightly different meaning. \t Speech delay Speech delay happens when a child has a problem in pronouncing the words. The child might understand the meaning of the word, but find it difficult to enunciate it. \t Language delay Different from speech delay, kids with language delay can\u2019t comprehend the meaning of the word. They might be able to pronounce the word correctly but unable to form a correct and meaningful sentence using the word. Speech and language delay though are two different problems but often overlap. For example, a speech delay child could tell a story but hard to be understood without proper pronunciation while a child with language delay can pronounce a lot of words but find it difficult to construct a sentence. Speech Delay: When you should start to be worried? Every child moves at a different pace. However, there is some guideline that you could refer to identify the sign of speech delay in your kids. It is important to know the speech delay and when you should start to be worried. Keep in mind that below are only some guidelines for initial reference. It is highly advised that you to seek your paediatrician for correct diagnose. Image credit: https:\/\/sleepingshouldbeeasy.com\/ #1 Early Phase (0-2 months) Cooing and babbling are actually the early phases before the baby could talk. Hence if your baby does not make any of these sounds by the age of two months, that is a possible sign of speech delay. #2 Age 2 to 3 years old These are the signs that you should look out for and start to be worried if your kid is between two to three years old: \tNot able to construct a sentence of three to four words. However, if he is able to construct a word with grammatically incorrect, it still okay. \tDoes not repeatedly singing nursery rhymes or re-tell the stories from books. \tOnly imitate the action if he wants to ask something instead of pronouncing the action. \tFail to express his feeling verbally such as \u2018I\u2019m hungry\u2019. \tCould not understand concepts such as more or less or big versus small. At this age, it is okay if strangers can\u2019t understand what your child is trying to say. But, parents should be able to understand at least 50% of their \u2018language\u2019 and up to 75% when they reach three years old. By 4 years old, children should be able to enunciate the word properly enough to be understood even by strangers. The Causes of Speech Delay 1. Tongue-tie Image credit: https:\/\/www.dentalcarextra.com.au\/ Tongue-tie is actually oral impairment where your child\u2019s tongue is connected to the floor of his mouth. It would make it difficult for him to pronounce certain words. However, tongue-tie is usually diagnosed early, as it will be hard for the baby to breastfeed. 2. Lack of Simulation A child won\u2019t be able to construct or even make any sound if no one ever teaches them. Toddlers learn many words from us. It is important for parents to continuously speak with your children starting from an early age to stimulate their ability to talk. Though you might find it an only one-way conversation, your baby is actually grasping and processing every word said by you. 3. Hearing loss\/problem Kids with hearing loss or hearing problem would have difficulties in understanding, imitating and forming words. Newborn in Malaysia has to undergo hearing test monitored by audiologist to identify hearing problem infant. Hearing problem could begin while growing up. You may start to suspect your child is suffering hearing problem if he only be able to understand you by gesture instead of word instruction. 4. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Speech problem is often associated with ASD though not necessarily. ASD children comes with other symptoms such as: \tAlmost never imitate others \tFail to respond to their name \tUnable to communicate verbally and non-verbally \tFail to understand gestures \tRepetitive behaviour and keeps on repeating the same words but fail to construct phrases 5. Brain problems Kids with brain problems may find it hard to coordinate oral-motor such as lips, tongue and jar movement. Like a tongue-tie baby, toddlers with brain problems also have difficulties in breastfeeding. Treatment for Speech Delay Image credit: https:\/\/www.babycenter.com\/ Development problem If the cause is development problem, speech-language therapy is the only treatment. Usually, appointment will be set with both parents and child and they are advised to religiously follow the treatment. The therapist will directly work with the children and parents would be given advises on how they could help in improving the condition. Usually with proper treatment, a child is expected to be able to speak normally by the age of 7 years old. Treating other medical condition For child that is suffering speech delay due to medical condition, they will be treated according to their problems. Treatments include surgeries, occupational therapy, physical therapy as well as aids for hearing problems. Parents' Role: How Parents Could Help to Enhance Speech on Kids? \t Enhance communication One important thing is to never dismiss when your child is trying to talk to you. Try to sing along with them and encourage them to imitate sounds like animals or vehicles. You may keep on asking them simple question such as \u2018what kind of animal is this?\u2019 or \u2018what is your name?\u2019 and allow them to answer without giving hint first. \t Reading time! Read aloud to your child would be beneficial in enhancing their vocabulary. Your children might not seem interested with your story but please, don\u2019t stop reading. Secretly, they are actually grabbing a word or two from your story and save it in their memories. \t Have a conversation Try to have a conversation with them, even on the simplest of things. For example, when your child is tagging along at the groceries store, introduce them all the fruits and their names. You may ask them to repeat the word over and over again for them to remember, as well as increase their vocabularies. Image credit: https:\/\/fathers.com\/ It is normal to be worried if your child is showing symptoms of speech delay. However, it is important to get the proper diagnosed first before making own assumption, as you might be worried for nothing. Stay tuned with Motherhood Story for more info on children's health.