Every child develops at their own pace and this is very clear when it comes to speech. It can be a worry if all of your friends are celebrating their child’s first word but your child is still struggling to speak. But there’s no need to panic because all kids go at their own pace and this doesn’t mean that your child isn’t going to learn to speak eventually.
However, once they are a toddler, you should pay more attention to their speech patterns. If they are still struggling there could be something wrong and it is important that you address issues early on. If speech problems are not dealt with from a young age, they can develop into long term difficulties with speech that are harder to manage. If you notice that your toddler is having difficulty speaking, these are some of the things that could be causing it.
Children need to be able to hear well to learn to speak. If they struggle to hear what the adults around them are saying, they won’t be able to learn and repeat those words themselves. You will notice that your child has trouble using words at all and they may often mispronounce words, even ones that they say and hear very often. Many young children experience hearing difficulties because of ear infections, which are very common in toddlers. In time, they will usually grow out of this and their speech should improve, but if it becomes a consistent problem, you should speak to a doctor.
Unfortunately, some children will suffer from hearing loss due to an underlying condition and it may not be reversible. In that case, you need to see an audiologist and potentially get them a hearing aid. Once you start dealing with the hearing problems, their speech issues should correct themselves.
Hypotonia is a condition that affects the muscles in young children and it can have a big impact on the body. Low muscle tone in toddlers is often linked to speech problems as well as poor motor functions and lack of activity. If you notice that your child is also struggling with basic tasks like holding a crayon, they may have hypotonia. It’s important that you get them checked out because this can be caused by more serious conditions like cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, or muscular dystrophy. It can also be a sign of brain damage. These conditions are usually picked up at birth, but they may not be, so if you think that your child has hypotonia, get them to a doctor right away.
Apraxia Of Speech
If your child has difficulty with the rhythm of their speech and they often put stress on certain words for no reason, they may be suffering from apraxia of speech. This occurs when the part of their brain responsible for speech has trouble coordinating the muscle movements required to form words. So, the child’s speech muscles are perfectly fine but the brain doesn’t know how to control them. In some cases, children are born with this condition but older children and adults can develop it after a brain injury.
You shouldn’t automatically panic if your child is a little slower than others with their first word. However, as your child gets older, you should seek the advice of a doctor and check for these issues if they are still not speaking properly.