The most common concern that parents express to me as a Speech and Language Pathologist is that their child is not talking yet. In this post, Part 1, I will discuss the different forms of communication that your child might already be using if they are not talking. In my next post, Part 2, I will advise strategies that you can implement to help your child further their language development and start using words.
Children typically start to say their first words at 12 months old, and start to combine two words together by the age of two. However, for some children it may take longer than this which can spark feelings of worry and anxiety among parents.
Nevertheless, it is important to point out that communication involves much more than talking. In fact, non-verbal communication is the foundation upon which verbal communication develops. Therefore, as a parent, try to be aware of the different ways that your child communicates with you so that you can respond in a manner which encourages and facilitates communication using words.
Some of the different ways your child might already be communicating with you include:
1. Your child may point to objects to draw your attention to them.
2. Your child might use their head (e.g. shake head for “no”) or hands (e.g. wave for “hello”) to convey a message.
3. Your child establishes and maintains eye contact.
4. Your child may bring objects to you.
5. Your child may pull you to objects.
6. Your child might display joint attention by looking at an object, then at you, then back at the object again.
7. Your child might be babbling (e.g. “mama”, “dada”).
8. Your child may try to imitate words you say at times but only produce a sound or a syllable.
9. Your child might make sounds during play.
10. Your child uses facial expressions to show you how they feel.
If your child has not started saying their first words yet but is using some of the above forms of communication, you can help them with their language development by using some very simple strategies. These strategies will be discussed in my next article – Part2: My Child Is Not Talking Yet!
Importantly, if your child is not using words yet and is also not using most of the different communication methods outlined above, I strongly recommend that you consult with a Speech and Language Pathologist.
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