Language: Part 1

“Ay, dootz.” That was, apparently, early “Chuck-speak” meaning “I want juice”. Gd bless my beloved father – gone 6 years – his favorite recollection was always of my first words. The time when our children begin to speak is one of our most cherished memories.  It’s a validation point – this beautiful, formerly mute (except for screaming!) little creature is blossoming into an intelligent human being whose potential and possibilities are limitless.

A cursory overview of milestones:

  • Many parents can differentiate a 3 month old’s cries.  “I’m tired” sounds different from “I’m wet”.
  • By 4 or 5 months – “oohs” and “aahs”
  • 6 months – babbles, “mama”, “gaga” (consonants using lips and tongue to make sound)
  • 12-15 months – first specific words, follows simple instructions (“come here”)
  • 18 months – >3 words other than “mama”, “dada”
  • 2 years – 2 word phrases/sentences, more complex instructions (“bring your shoes to me”)

The above is quite variable, so no cause for alarm if your child isn’t doing it exactly as I’ve presented. Also, we should remember that language is the ability to express/understand thoughts and concepts using symbols.  So all “speech” is “language”, but not necessarily the other way around. Also note that there is “expressive language” (telling) and “receptive” language (understanding). So there are lots of other things you can look for to gauge your child’s developing language skills. (Note that I am refraining from using the word “normal”. There is “normal” and “abnormal” – but again, it’s so variable that I don’t want to drive you, dear reader, crazy if junior doesn’t “do it” exactly as listed here!.):

  • Does your toddler point to things, or will he or she look at things that you point to?
  • Does your toddler look over to you for approval?
  • Does he look at people when you name them?
  • Does she identify body parts (“where’s mommy’s nose?”), animal sounds (“what does a doggy say – woof woof?”)
  • Does he know hand gestures? (Wave bye-bye, blow kisses) (Note: response to your saying it is understanding languageRepeating a gesture after you perform it is merely imitation.)
  • Same for interactive games (“so big!,” “eensy weensy spider”)

An important component is to be sure your child hears – does she turn or startle to sudden loud sounds (not from vibrations)?  Please contact me with any questions or concerns.

A 3rd time – language/speech acquisition is quite variable, so try not to let your fears run away too fast/far from your imagination.

This is a very large topic. I will return to it again next time. Thanks for following.


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