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  • Late Bloomer Lang Ba? Telltale Signs Your Child Might Have Speech Delay

    Knowing what signs to look for can help you determine whether your child needs professional help or not.
    by Kaydee Dela Buena .
Late Bloomer Lang Ba? Telltale Signs Your Child Might Have Speech Delay
PHOTO BY iStock
  • While all children grow and develop in similar patterns, each child hits milestones at their own pace. However, if you begin to notice that your child’s progress is off-target for his age, then a little intervention may be needed.

    Language is the best indicator of intelligence,” begins Dr. Francis Xavier Dimalanta, MD, FPPS, FPSDBP, one of Asia’s top behavioral and developmental pediatricians at the recent Smart Parenting Masterclass Toddler Expertips titled "LEARN: How To Nurture Your Child’s Thinking Skills," which was co-presented with NIDO.

     Speech and language development are the primary means of communication, and Communication skills are a vital skill in society. It’s been studied that children with good speech and language skills do succeed in school and in life,” he adds.

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    5 signs your child may have speech delay

    Your child’s first few words represent an exciting milestone. While some slight delays are normal, you may want to intervene and have your child checked by a professional if you suspect a delay. Here are some questions to ask and behaviors to observe before scheduling a consultation.

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    Does your child react when music is played? 

    According to Dr. Dimalanta, your child should be able to react to loud sounds during his first three months. The child may also start to remember his or her parents’ voices, and will calm down and smile when being talked to. They should also be able to respond to sounds. If they don't, either your child has difficulty in hearing or everyone's fear: autism.

    Dimalanta stresses that during this stage, parents should familiarize themselves to the cries of their children because it can mean different things: hunger, he has soiled himself, or he might have stomach gas.

    From ages four to six months, the child should be able to follow sounds with his or her eyes. “Meaning that if you change the tone of your voice  whether it goes up, down, when you’re yelling or laughing, your child should be responding accordingly," Dr. Dimalanta says.

    Try using music to stimulate your child’s speech and language development. Sing to them, so that they may learn rhythm of speech. Gestures such as clapping, swaying, humming when music is played means that the toddler is responding normally.

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    Does your child show interest in others?

    By the time the child is seven months to a year old, he or she should be able to notice and react to his surroundings. For instance, when you play with them and you pretend to hide a toy, their immediate reaction should be to look for it. The child should be interested in what other people are doing and reacting appropriately. Reactions can include smiling, trailing behind, or pointing using one finger. 

    Does your child make any attempt to speak?   

    At one year old, your child should be attempting to communicate verbally with you. Grunts and partial words do count like mama, dada, etc. By the time the child is two, they should be learning new words and should also be able to answer two-word questions and follow two-step commands. Allow and assess your child if they’re able to follow simple verbal requests like “Come here,” or “Bring your toy.”

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    Dr. Dimalanta also advises parents to not introduce gadgets and technology to their kids before they turn two. He explains, “Gadgets should be prohibited, or limited, because kids learn to swipe first rather than write. We have learned that gadgets do not work in helping kids learn faster. In fact, it’s been found to be the cause of delays, especially when you teach them to use gadgets. What your child needs is play; talk to them and play with them.”

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    Is your child able to make coherent sentences?

    From the ages three to four, your child should know at least 50 words, excluding the alphabet. At 4 years old, the child should be able to answer who, what, where, and how questions. Ask your kid how his day went to stimulate conversation. Intervention should only occur if the child doesn’t answer correctly. One instance is called echolalia or when they only repeat what you say. That shouldn’t happen by this age.

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    Do others understand your child?

    At 5 years old, you should be able to understand your child 50% of the time. This goes both ways. The child can now hold a decent conversation with other kids and even adults. Although there is a certain level of understanding that parents have with their kids that strangers don’t have, if you're still acting as a translator for them by the time they reach this age, then it may be a cause for concern.

    Speech and language impairments in children have to do with difficulty in understanding and articulating themselves through oral communication. It’s worth mentioning again that each child learns and grows at their own pace. But if you do notice that there is significant delay and your child is missing some of their milestones, it is best to get proper assessment, diagnosis, and therapy from a medical expert.

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