Language is the ability to understand words and the way they relate together to give meaning and the ability to put ideas into words to communicate with others. Children learn to understand language a long time before they learn to speak. From an early age they respond to familiar people and noises and enjoy people games like ‘peek-a-boo’. Before their first birthday children will respond to their name and enjoy sharing music and books with others.
Many children say their first words between 12 and 18 months of age. At the age of two years, we usually expect children to be able to say about 50 words and start combining words together. If a child has no words or very few words by the age of two years they are considered to be ‘late talkers’ and may benefit from a Speech Pathology assessment.
Some ‘late talkers’ will catch up to their peers but for others there may be an underlying problem with language development. We know that by identifying children with language problems as early as possible that we can give them the best opportunities to progress.
After assessment of a child’s language development the parents and Speech Pathologist will agree about any action that needs to be taken. This could be a plan to monitor the child’s progress together or to start some language therapy. Language therapy uses toys, books and games to show parents the best ways to interact with their child and to use ‘everyday’ activities and routines to promote language development.