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Health Team

Parents Should Track Child's Speech Development

Posted October 10, 2007 5:07 p.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2007 5:59 p.m. EDT

— Some children speak in a way only their parents understand. That can really become a problem when they begin school.

There are many possible causes of a child's speech delay. It could be rooted in a hearing problem, chronic ear infections or a birth defect that affects a child’s ability to make sounds.

For many kids, their speech just doesn't develop as quickly and they might need professional help to catch up.

WakeMed Speech Language Pathologist Crystal Downs has worked with Jonathan Feeley, 6, over the past year. His parents, Angela and Jeff Feeley, said they weren't sure he had a speech problem until Jonathan’s assessment for kindergarten.

“There were some things we couldn't understand. He would talk so fast that we didn't even know what he said," Angela Feeley said.

“He wasn't slowing down [and] enunciating,” Jeff Feeley said.

Downs said pediatricians often help parents track their child's speech development.

“Usually by the first year, by the time the child turns one, you should expect to hear some words being imitated,” she said.

At a year and a half, a child's vocabulary should develop quickly. By age 2, they should use two word phrases. By age 3, three word phrases. By 4, they should be talking more clearly and in full sentences.

Regular therapy for Jonathan, reinforced with drills at home, has made a world of difference in his self-esteem and school work, Downs said.

“Once his speech kind of took off, everything else came together for him,” Angela Feeley said.