12 May Children who do not speak at two years of age or later
Many parents, when they see that their children do not utter meaningful words towards the age of 2 or later, get worried and fall into despair. So let’s see what phonological delay is, when instead it is simple laziness and why children do not speak.
The stages of language
The first form of communication is crying. In the third month, the social smile appears. Let’s give a try the wood baby walker.
Between four and six months, the baby starts spelling. This phenomenon, known as lallation, gradually becomes more complex and varied up to the repetition of syllables, which many parents mistake for proto-words. In reality, we cannot yet speak the language.
Typically in typical development, the first words appear between 9 and 13 months. Language gradually takes on its peculiar characteristic: that of being a symbolic and abstract system used to describe objects that are physically absent, as well as present or past and future events. At 16 months, the average vocabulary of an Italian child is about 50 words.
Then at 18 months, we witness the phenomenon of the explosion of the vocabulary: that is, children rapidly increase the number of words produced. They also learn more terms in a week, so much so that at 20 months, the number of words available to the child has tripled. In one year, the phenomenon of holophrases is noticed. That is, the child with a single word expresses a more complex sentence. For example, he can say “baby food” to express “I want baby food”. With the expansion of the vocabulary, starting from 18 months, the ability to compose sentences also increases, which contain, around the age of two, even two or three words.
Between 24 and 36 months, grammatical development accelerates rapidly, which leads to the acquisition of the salient morphosyntactic mechanisms in one’s mother tongue. The average sentence length also continues to increase. In the first declarative clauses that appear, the subject-verb agreement is present.
From the age of three onwards, the syntactic structure of the sentences becomes more and more complex, including the first subordinate clauses, even if there are still some difficulties from the grammatical point of view with the articles, the plurals of nouns and with the use of pronouns, which typically require schooling to be fully mastered.
In any case, especially since we are considering the developmental age, we must always remember the individual differences. In other words, there are more precocious children, such as children who, even if they begin to speak later at the same age of three, have an average linguistic development. Much in fact also depends on the environment and on the stimulations received within the specific evolutionary context.
When to worry if a child doesn’t speak
If 2 and a half year old child still cannot walk, we can be sure that there is something pathological in his motor development. If at 2 and a half years he doesn’t speak, we are allowed to worry, but not to be sure that there is something pathological.
It is important to remember that a delay in language development is by no means an indication of a delay in cognitive development.
It is still partly a mystery how the child manages to master and master such a complex system in a relatively short period of time. In fact, at six years of age, the child expresses himself correctly, demonstrating a linguistic competence comparable to that of an adult. In this sense, the school acts as a context of expansion and improvement of an already strongly present and structured skill.
Children who speak late
But what should a worried parent do if, at the age of two the child does not utter a word of complete meaning, not even the classic mom or dad? Is there any “symptom” that could tell a parent if their child will quickly catch up with the language delay?
Children who speak late are typically identified with this criterion: they produce fewer than 10 different words (in the age group 18-23 months) or they produce fewer than 50 different words and no combination of at least two words (in the age group of 24 -34 months).
It is important to exclude that there are cognitive, perceptual, and neurological factors at the basis of the linguistic delay. This is usually ascertained by administering an intellectual efficiency test, performing an audiological and neurological exam, and excluding that the child has had frequent episodes of purulent otitis, which could have resulted in occasional partial hearing loss. Even partial hearing loss could. In fact, it is a cause of linguistic delay.
“Late-speaking children” are defined as those who have normal intellectual and socio-affective development and who have no apparent neurological damage.
It must be said, however, that many children who speak little or nothing at the age of two seem to have caught up around the age of three: they have a rather broad lexicon, many of their utterances are understandable, and they begin to combine words. These babies are defined in English with a nice expression, late bloomers.
How to unlock a child who does not speak
It is certainly a stimulating factor for the development of language skills to speak and communicate a lot with your child. This is valid for all ages.
Among the advice of speech therapists, especially after the age of three, there is also that to read stories to the child by actively involving him in dialogue and asking him questions. We must not forget that in order for what is determined by the genetic patrimony of each one to reach its expression, the encounter with the environment is important. In this sense, being able to count on adequate environmental stimuli facilitates the acquisition of certain skills.
The first form, the most spontaneous, is that of nursery rhymes and lullabies that children listen to from an early age. The presence of rhymes and assonances is, at this stage, more useful than the meaning of the words themselves, but the simple concepts they express build a very first vocabulary of meanings.
When you talk to your children, try to use a language made up of real words existing in usage without falling into the so-called Mammese or Bambinese. Put everything you talk about by its name.
Always maintain eye contact when talking to your child. And try to have little interference around you: no to the television always on, no to the radio, no to the confusion that does not help the child to understand the correct pronunciation of words.
Every occasion is good to talk to your child, even from a very young age, he will know the world and the name of things through you, through your stories and your words. Talk, talk, talk, make an effort if you are not a great speaker. For him, it will be an intimate and wonderful language gymnasium, as well as very useful.
Songs also help a lot, and much more than a cartoon, because they don’t force you to passivity and also allow you to sing with your children. As for the choice, ok songs for children, but also pop or rock will do just fine!
Many bookstores and playrooms, but also kindergartens, organize meetings for collective reading of fairy tales and courses for parents in order to teach them the wonderful art of storytelling.
Encourage children to use words because they need them, or make life less easy for them: wait for them to ask you what they want using the right words and don’t be satisfied with a gesture, even if you understand what they want.