Thursday, June 9, 2011

Toddler speech development: Are 2-year-olds understandable?

Having my twins early, there were some developmental delays for the first year or so. Still, at every "developmental assessment", I still get that same nervous feeling I used to get in the beginning when they were going every 4 months. I have always felt that it was ME, not them, who were being assessed. I'm their primary caregiver, and if they are falling behind in one area or another, that responsibility falls on my shoulders. It's MY fault.
They have their 3 year assessment at the end of July, and normally I am just CONSUMED with the idea of it...worrying that they won't do well. This year, however, I'm not worried for the first time EVER. I googled "toddler development", and found this from the Mayo Clinic. My twins are definitely doing the things that are expected at 3 years old...and more! So hopefully this time they'll just get a pat on the head and sent home without me being told that they're "behind" in something.
*Fingers crossed!!*

My 2-year-old uses sounds more than words. Should I be concerned that I can't understand anything he says?


from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.

If you're unable to understand any of your 2-year-old's words, a prompt evaluation with his or her doctor would be warranted.

Although every child grows and develops at his or her own pace, toddler speech development tends to follow a fairly predictable path. For example, the average 2-year-old:

  • Speaks about 50 words, but understands even more
  • Links two words together
  • Uses simple adjectives, such as "big" and "happy"
  • Speaks clearly enough for parents to understand some of the words

The average 3-year-old:

  • Speaks 250 to 500 or more words
  • Speaks in three- and four-word sentences
  • Uses pronouns (I, you, we, they) and some plurals
  • States first name

By age 4, most kids speak clearly enough for strangers to understand.

The doctor will likely consider possible underlying reasons for the speech delay, from hearing problems to developmental disorders. If necessary, the doctor may refer you to a speech-language pathologist. Treatment options for toddler speech development depend on what's causing the speech delay.

In the meantime, encourage toddler speech development. Read to your child. Talk to your child. Sing songs together. Ask your child questions, and acknowledge your child's responses — even if he or she is hard to understand.

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