As I’ve mentioned before, all children develop at different rates and in slightly different ways. There are differences in development and they may be contributed to individual personality, temperament, our experiences or even cultural differences. Some children are born with special needs that are identified at birth and these can impact their health, growth and development. Other children, however, may not show developmental deficits, delays, or differences until a bit later on in childhood.

In terms of speech and language development, the important thing to remember is how to determine early warning signs if and when they do appear so that children can get the support and help they need early on if they do have a communication delay. The sooner a concern is identified, the sooner the child can be evaluated, and, if needed, the child and their family can get the individualized, developmental support and guidance they so need and deserve – that extra Special Advantage.

Reasons for concern that your child or a child in your care may need extra support and help with their communication skills would be if the child displays any of the following signs:

  • By four months of age child does not look at the source of sounds or voices or react to loud noises
  • By six months of age child avoids being held or talked to or resists being soothed and comforted
  • Rarely makes sounds like cooing or gurgling by six months of age; is unusually quiet
  • Does not pay attention or stay focused on an activity for as long a time as other children of the same age do
  • Avoids or rarely makes eye contact with others
  • Acts out often; appears to be stubborn or overly aggressive
  • Acts extremely shy, withdrawn or non-communicative with others
  • Displays violent behaviors on a daily basis such as tantrums, fighting, screaming, or hitting other children regularly
  • Concerns about hearing would include having frequent earaches, many ear, nose, or throat infections or allergies (hearing issues have a direct affect on speech and language skills)
  • Talks in a very loud or very soft voice
  • Has difficulty responding when they are called from across the room or acts as if they might be deaf or hard of hearing
  • Breathes through their mouth; has an open mouthed posture the majority of the time
  • Excessive drooling
  • Has difficulty understanding what is said to him/her
  • Has difficulty following objects or people using his/her eyes as they walk/move around the room
  • Does not shake their head “no”
  • By age one, does not understand first words such as “milk,” “bottle,” or “bye-bye;” is not using the words “mama” or “dada”
  • By age two, doesn’t speak in two-word phrases, does not point to objects or people to indicate what they need or want
  • By age three, does not know if they are a boy or a girl, does not know their last name, cannot recite common rhymes, is not following simple directions or speaking in 3 or 4-word sentences
  • By age four, does not tell stories, either real or make-believe, does not ask frequent questions, is not speaking in 4 or 5-word sentences and has speech that is not easily understood by unfamiliar adults
  • By age five, does not know their own age and cannot answer “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” or “why” questions and is not using various types of sentences
  • Often times the child shows signs of feeding difficulties because the same muscles used for eating are needed in order to form words; oral motor difficulties

These are only a few developmental milestones or red flags I watch for in children up to age 5. If you suspect that your child, or a child in your care, might be experiencing a developmental delay or may need some extra help or support in the area of communication skills, I invite you to contact me to discuss your concerns in a complimentary “Little Hero Success” phone or Skype session. I’d be honored to hear your story and your concerns. Even children who have serious delays can make big improvements when the right kind of support begins as early as possible. I know your child can succeed!  😀

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Twitter: @DeniseCarbon