1. My 4-yearold is very talkative, but every time he speaks, I can’t seem to understand what he’s saying. Is he suffering from a speech delay? By the time your child reaches age 1, he should have already uttered his first word—even if it’s as simple as “mama” or “papa.” As he reaches the toddler years, his vocabulary will expand, and by age 4 to 6, a preschooler should be able to speak clearly, and in sentences consisting of at least five to six words. If your child can’t speak audibly, then there is a possibility that he is going through a speech delay. Take note of other signs like the inability to follow three related instructions or answer basic questions such as “What do you do when you’re thirsty?”
2. My 5-yearold daughter can’t seem to follow basic instructions. Who can I consult about this? Your pediatrician can recommend you to a speech language pathologist or a developmental pediatrician for an evaluation. If the results of the evaluation show that your preschooler does have a difficulty, especially with speech, don’t panic. This means that your child’s development is delayed, but with the help of a professional, she can get the help she needs. The sooner the delay is identified, the better. That way, your child can start therapy sessions immediately.
3. I have a sister who couldn’t speak clearly until she was age 4. I’m worried that my child may inherit this. Is this a possibility? Remember that a child’s intelligence, as well as his language and speech development is affected by his genetic make-up. But do know that there are many other causes for speech delay, which a developmental pediatrician can tell you about. It is both nature and nurture that will determine how a child’s speech develops, so do your part in making sure that you foster an environment of learning and communication at home.
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4. What’s the difference between speech and language delay? Speech and language delays are common difficulties that children experience. When your child has been diagnosed with a speech delay, this could mean that he stutters when talking, is not able to speak clearly, or may pronounce words incorrectly. Language delay, on the other hand, covers a broader scope that goes beyond the basic sounding of words.
How a child chooses to express himself through words, whether written or spoken is indicativeof his mastery of the language. A delay in this aspect, for example, means your child is able to speak clearly, but he is not capable of putting together two words or a complete thought.
Landa Bautista, curriculum director, The Learning Center, Inc., Parañaque City • Websites: speechdelay.com; howkidsdevelop.com; kidshealth.
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