Progressive growth and development – From being a toddler to preschool and then grade school.by Elanda Diaz (Speech & Language Pathologist)

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Parents will often find themselves caught up in doing their best to comprehend just what it is their child is trying to say, and intently you’ll be looking at their little lips and hand gestures to give you an idea…and yet you still find yourself scratching your head (“hmm, what are they saying now?“)
Though this is quite common, it may also need to be addressed through sessions of speech therapy and/or occupational therapy.

Many toddlers will often have difficulty with pronunciation as well, in putting somewhat complete sentences together. Toddlers – Children between 18 months and approaching 4 years of age will more often than not mispronounce words, so we want our children to have a good headstart in life with communication and being able to communicate their thoughts into words – this is very important.

Children will have enough hurdles to deal with, and playing “catch up” later in life should not be one of them when these issues can be addressed early on.

Some indicators;

Many toddlers substitute the wrong letter or combination of letters to form a sound, and some will eventually grow out of this, some will carry it forward into later years;

Common Examples;

  • “w” sound for an “l” (“wook (look) daddy”).
  • “f” sound for “th” (“I doh (don’t)  want a baf (bath) mommy”)

This is cute to hear of course but once children start to approach age 2, the cuteness factor should begin to take a backseat to the progression factor.

Consonant blends (also called consonant clusters) are groups of two or three consonants in words that makes a distinct consonant sound, such as “bl” or “spl.” and are generally more difficult to pronounce;
(“pay bocks?” for “play blocks?“). Toddlers will often mix up multi-syllabic words and simply reduce them to form shorter words since their little brains are working faster than their oral motor-skills;

Sample multi-syllabic words;

  • 2 syllable words: baby, bedroom (be-voom), butter (bupper), good-bye (g’bye)
  • 3 syllable words: bicycle (bi’call), piano (‘ano), blueberry (bo’berry)

Many of these mispronunciations are common, and they could stay common up until age 5-6, however what a parent will want to do is to stay vigilant on watching to see if your toddler’s speech is improving over time, and by age 3  much of what your child says should be fairly understandable (fairly).

However (and this is a BIG HOWEVER), others outside of yourself should understand what your child is saying, and not just yourself since we as parents will adopt and adjust to better understand our youngsters – and last we checked, “Toddler” is not an official language!

However, what if the immediate problem is not pronunciation but rather that your child isn’t talking or is talking very little? You should act a little more quickly;

  • Chatterbox or lips sealed? Your children should be talking, your children should be expressing and pointing  – if you observe that they are a bit quieter than other children it is imperative that you address this right away, as it could be signs of not understanding words or frustration and lack of confidence and sometimes hearing impairment. We want our children to talk and do it constantly, we want our children being amazed by picture books and pointing to identify want the picture is; (you may hear; “wook dat da ca” – and as parents you’ll respond with; “yes, look-at-the-cat“)
    –> Repetition, and a friendly responsive correction is important.
  • Progression is the focus (for you)
  • Progression is the key  (for them)
  • Progression is the reward  (for everyone!)

—- so our children should be getting better at pronouncing words, using complete sentences instead of sparse words, using multi-syllabic words and by age 5 there should be a very noticeable and very considerable improvement.

Good habits for parents;

  • Don’t get frustrated when you don’t quite understand what your child is trying to say
  • Play word games – make it fun
  • Use picture books – point and passively show your child how to form the word or words.

other articles: Autism – the early signs

Autism; If you find your child is more often than not, answering a question by repeating part of your question;
Example: If you ask; “Do you want some juice?” responds by saying “duice!” instead of simply saying; “yes”  – this is called echolalia, and it could but certainly not always, be an early sign of autism.

  • Contact TheraChoice today if you have any questions or concerns, remember early intervention is important.