We called it "Alexese." It had all the sounds and rhythms of a lilting Caribbean language, except that it was English ? as spoken by my 2-year-old son. Even though I was often Alex?s interpreter, I never considered his speech a problem until a preschool screening revealed the need for speech therapy.
Children learn to speak at different rates. Some seem to add a new word each day while others chatter in bursts of new phrases. Still others stay pretty quiet until the end of their second year and then fire away, speaking in near perfect sentences.
So how is a parent to know what?s normal and what?s not? According to Lori Stanevicius, a registered speech/ language pathologist, there are some warning signs parents can look for to identify speech problems early on.
Take note if:
- Your child is frustrated because he can?t communicate his needs.
- Your child?s speech is markedly behind that of her peers.
- Non-family members have difficulty understanding your child.
- Your child is unable to form certain common consonant sounds.
Stanevicius says by age 2 1¼2, your child should be able to make the p, b, m, w, h and n sounds. However, other sounds are more difficult for his little mouth to form: l and th don?t fully develop until age 5 or 6. And the spoken sounds for r, s and z may not come until even later.
It?s important to remember that as your child is learning to talk, it?s likely she?ll experience some sort of speech disfluency like stuttering. This is not a cause for immediate alarm. "Between the ages of 2 and 5, kids generally experience rapid growth in their vocabulary," says Stanevicius. "Their speech just can?t keep up with their language explosion."1