Children who may be using baby talks for longer times than others may be having developmental problems or mental disorders, warns scientists.
Linda Crowe, associate professor in the communication sciences and disorders program at Kansas State University, said that it's important for the parents to identify if their children are having any language delays. Language delays can range from a child being slow to begin talking, slow to develop vocabulary or slow to acquire proper sentence structure and word endings to slow to understanding the language. Children with language delays may repeat words but not understand them. Language delays also encompass children from different cultural environments who may be slow to acquire use of any particular language.
Researchers said there are many milestones to check off to ensure a child's language is progressing at a proper rate. General guidelines include that children should be able to speak using as many words as their age -- one-word utterances for 1-year-olds, etc.
Parents should be concerned if their 18-month-old isn't acquiring new words or that 50 intelligible words are not acquired by 2 years of age. Children entering kindergarten should be able to count to five or 10, know their basic colors, know and can say their own name, be able to ask questions, use complex sentences and attend for longer periods of time to stories.
Although there are many red flags to look out for, there are also many things parents may mistake for a language delay. Crowe said parents should not be concerned if their toddler has trouble saying "r" or "l" sounds. She also said children will not typically put multi-syllable words or complex sentences together at young ages. Children up until 3 years of age also can't sit and focus on things for a long period of time, such as books, even though they may enjoy hearing stories and interacting with books.
That said, if parents suspect their child has a language delay, Crowe advises contacting early intervention services through the school district. They will screen or evaluate the child and determine if the problem is significant enough to warrant services. If they do not find a significant problem but the parent is still concerned, Crowe said parents could seek independent services, like those provided by private practitioners or through the K-State Speech and Hearing Center.
Treatment, whether through a school district or an independent provider, would include a combination of parent education and service. Home or clinic visits would range from weekly to monthly. Parents can encourage language and literacy in children from birth. Reading stories is also a good way to foster language development. Researchers recommend active books, with things to touch and manipulate.
Medindia on Developmental delays: Further information
Developmental delays: A developmental delay happens when the children fail to achieve the developmental milestones at the right age. This can affect the language skills, motor skills and social skills development of the children. Incase the children are having overall developmental delays, this may signal the causes being deep rooted like premature birth, chromosomal disorders, progressive metabolic diseases, hypothyroidism, Rett syndrome and many other conditions that must be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.