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Language Development for Better Speech

Written on the 22 March 2012

How would you decide whether your child's Language is on track? As communication is the basis of success in life and at work, emphasis should be given early on to assess the level of your child's control over his or her strength in managing language. This is especially true for special needs children who have Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Learning Disabilities, ADHD or Down Syndrome. Many may also have learning problems and intelligence that is below average.

Children with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) have milder symptoms affecting social interaction and behaviour. Their language development is usually alright but they can have problems with certain aspects of language, for example, understanding humour. Their intelligence is usually above average. Some are skilful in memory, logic and creativity, as well as music, art, and pure sciences. For children with learning disabilities and ADHD (sometimes these two conditions can occur together) paying attention and staying focussed is a problem. Those who are hyperactive will have trouble staying still and can turn classrooms into chaos. Dyslexic children cannot read very well, cannot construct sentences and have trouble spelling, usually with letters written backwards. With Down Syndrome children, you are looking at a different level of mental disability, though some children can speak quite well. Intelligence will unfortunately affect the way a person picks up language and learns new things. So overall we are looking at early detection and then intervention for children at a young age. Detecting problems early on has proven to be an effective way to manage and control language and other difficulties.

If you are unsure of your child's language development, these Red Flags may help put things in perspective. You can use the following information as a guideline, but for better understanding of your child's needs, it is always best to consult a professional.

  • By 12 months your child does not babble; does not use gestures like Waving "Bye- Bye" or shaking the head for "No"; does not respond to their name; does not communicate in some way when they need help.
  • By 15 months your child does not understand and respond to words like "No" and "Up" ; says no words; does not point to objects or pictures when asked : "Where is the --?" ; does not point to things of interest as if to say; "Look at that !" and then also look at you.
  • By 18 months your child does not understand simple commands like "Don't touch"; and is not using at least 20 single words like "Mummy" or "Up"; and doesn't respond with a word or gesture to a question such as "Where is your shoe?"; and if they cannot point to 2 or 3 major body parts such as head, nose, eyes or feet.
  • By 24 months your child says fewer than 100 words; is not consistently joining two words together like "Daddy go" or "No shoes"; does not imitate actions or words; does not pretend with toys, such as feeding a doll.
  • By 30 months your child says fewer than 300 words; is not using action words like "Run", "Eat"; is not using some adult grammar, like "Two babies" and "Doggie sleeping".
  • By 3 years your child does not ask questions; is not using sentences (e.g. "I don't want that" or "My truck is broken")
  • By 5 years your child is not able to tell a simple story.

If you are concerned about your child's language development, one of the things you can do is to consult a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) Research Data from the United States has shown that about 5 - 8% of Pre School Children experience language delays which continue into adulthood. So it is always best to get an Earlier Diagnosis and have a Program in place to help teach and guide your child as soon as possible.

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