Speech and language development is every parent’s first concern. How your child receives, processes, and expresses information can be a huge determining factor affecting the rest of his or her life. This is one reason why hospitals give hearing tests to newborns, and why parents are encouraged to follow up with additional speech and language tests in the following couple of years.
According to the the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), development peaks early: “The first 3 years of life, when the brain is developing and maturing, is the most intensive period for acquiring speech and language skills.”
So, during this time, expose your child to everything: sights, sounds, speech, any productive stimulation you can think of. Take note of what’s grabbing hold, and try to replicate any positive sight-and-sound environments. Developmental “…skills develop best in a world that is rich with sounds, sights, and consistent exposure to the speech and language of others.”
Speech and Language Disorders
Unfortunately, sometimes there are problems. So, what should you do if any issues present? Or how can you tell if there are issues in the first place?
Naturally this is a big topic, too big to cover in a single blog. But there are rough guidelines. The Mayo Clinic has a useful rundown by age, covering everything from speech sounds and simple word recognition (1st year), to imitation and actual speech (year 2).
If you notice anything wrong, or are worried about your child not hitting commonly accepted milestones, see your doctor! “Speech delays occur for many reasons, including hearing loss and developmental disorder,” the Mayo Clinic says, and you won’t know what can be done until you follow up.