Friday, November 24, 2006

My child is not speaking yet!

Chatty little 3 year old

"Doctor, my son is already 2 years old and he doesn't speak much, just a few words. Should I be worried?"

One of the frequently encountered problems in family practice is the question of whether there is any speech delay in the child.

Being a parent of 2 kids myself, I can understand how distressing it is when your child is still struggling with a few words, but your best friends child of the same age is already reciting Shakespeare in Queen's English!

Speech delay may mean that the child has an underlying problem like hearing difficulties or some other neurological problem. These should be assessed by your doctor. But it may also just mean that the child may be just slow to start speaking. So the question is when do you need to bring him to the doctor for an assessment.

In a nutshell, you should bring him to the doctor if he is:
  1. Not turning his head to sounds by 6 months
  2. Saying only 6 single words by 21 months
  3. Unable to speak in 2 word phrases by 2 years
  4. Speaking unintelligibly to the family at 2 1/2 years
  5. Not speaking in short sentences by 3 years
Please do not use your friends child as a comparison. Kids develop at their own pace. I remember that last year's top scorer for PSLE was this boy who did not start talking until quite late! On the other hand, do be cautious if he fails to meet the milestones as highlighted above.

For a detailed look at the milestones, please click here

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