Spread the love

Trotting through the murky waters of parenting sometimes feels like steering a ship through a storm blindfolded, especially when your toddler faces language and speech delays.

It’s a hard pill to swallow and dads like myself have to deal with it on the daily, yet talking about it openly can sometimes seem even harder. It is never easy to see your little one struggling to express their feelings.

Language and speech development are essential milestones in a toddler's growth, shaping their ability to communicate and interact with the world around them. However, some toddlers may experience delays in their speech, which can impact their overall development. Understanding the factors contributing to speech delay, recognizing speech milestones, and debunking myths about bilingualism are crucial for parents, especially dads, to navigate this aspect of their child's development effectively.

This post is designed to do two things, empower and offer support from dad to dad. Although my Ezra is 5 years old now, it is still a work in progress and consistency on my part to achieve that goal we’ve set for him.

In this article, I’ll offer some practical advice to help you and your toddler overcome some hurdles. Professionals recommend them and what I’ve instituted for a few years now.

What is Language and Speech Delay in Toddlers

Language and speech delay differ but may overlap in some areas:

  1. A child with language delay might be able to pronounce words well but can only put two or so words together.
  2. While a child with a speech delay might be able to form sentences it will be hard to understand them due to pronunciation.

What Causes Speech Delay

Speech and language delay in kids can come from all sorts of things. Some of the common causes include tongue-tie, issues with oral motor skills, and even the environment they’re growing up in.

Oral-motor issues are the difficulty with mouth muscles used for speech which can make it difficult for a toddler to articulate sounds clearly. Also, tongue-tie, where the lingual frenum (the tissue under the tongue) restricts movement affects speech production.

Subscribe to Email

The Difference in Speech Delay vs. Language Disorder

When kids start talking, they often mess up words and sounds. Usually, they grow out of it, but sometimes these slip-ups stick around if not addressed. This can turn into a lifelong issue, impacting self-esteem and confidence well into adulthood, which can lead to social challenges.

Speech Delay

Speech delay happens in toddlers and involves a lapse in reaching speech milestones. Children with a speech delay have a slower rate of speech development compared to their peers. In some instances, it may resolve on its own or it may require a specialist.

Language Disorder

In language disorder, the child finds it difficult to use and understand language effectively, affecting both verbal and nonverbal communication. In other words, children with this disorder would struggle with things like:

  • Learning new words and using them in sentences.
  • Have difficulty using the rules of grammar like plural and possessives.
  • Have trouble in social settings, when to talk or taking turns.
  • Difficulty in following directions or grasping the meaning of sentences.

To get a little deeper into the differences between both click Here.

What are the Causes of Speech Delay

Understanding the cause of speech delay in toddlers is the first step to treatment. It may stem from things or situations like hearing loss, oral issues, neurological conditions, or simply a slower development pace.

Here are a few things to keep an eye out for. Call a specialist if:

  • by 12 months isn’t using gestures like hi or bye.
  • by 18 months prefers to use gestures over speaking verbally.
  • by 18 months has problems understanding simple verbal requests.
  • by 2 years can only imitate speech and cannot spontaneously produce sentences.
  • by 2 years can’t follow simple directions and can only sound some words but cannot communicate any more than immediate needs.

The Role of Parental Involvement in Speech Delay

From a parent’s point of view, parents have the most important part in their child’s speech development. After contacting a speech-language pathologist it is mainly up to the parent to gauge improvement, have daily involvement and have constant contact with the therapist for advice and any questions.

These are a few ways to encourage your toddler to talk:

1. Focus on communication

Talk to your little one, let them imitate you, sing songs to and with them. Be intentional with correcting sentences and help them use different words.

2. Read to Your Child

Start reading age-appropriate books from a young age. Books with images that go along with the words.

3. Collaborating with Speech Professionals

A speech therapist or pediatrician is there to assess and provide a tailored intervention plan for the child. The parent then works closely with the therapist to keep the child on track and report anything unusual. Working closely together prevents any miscommunication and works in favor of your child.

4. Support and Guidance

Fatherhood and isolation are a real problem especially when dads are entangled in the daily routines. This is where sources like the private Facebook group Stay-at-home Dads Club shine. We come together and let it all hand out, we understand because we all have that commonality.

Emotional Challenges of Parenting a Child with Speech Delay

It’s no secret parenting is no walk in the park, although we would prefer doing that on really stressful days. It gets even more demanding when your child cannot express themselves due to limited speech. In these times being patient and not showing frustration is in turn showing you care and understand their situation.

The emotional challenge is only for a time, with every step you take it gets better and better for your child.

Building Stronger Connections

The typical ways to get closer to your child dealing with speech and language delay, try using non-verbal signals, hand gestures, and fun activities you can do together. These methods can help strengthen the bond between you and your little one.

You can:

  • Speak in simpler language.
  • Give them time to respond.
  • Use visual aids.
  • Encourgae nonverbal communication.
  • Repeat and rephrase to ensure understanding.

Bilingualism and Speech Delay: Myths and Facts

There has always been a misconception about speech delay and bilingualism although they intersect at times. Most times speech or language delay has no effect on a child learning multiple languages.

When kids are learning multiple languages at the same time, it actually helps with their cognitive speech development. Being exposed to two or more languages creates a rich learning environment that dads can use to promote bilingualism and support speech and language delay.

Debunking the Myth: Bilingualism and Speech Delay

Despite lingering misconceptions, research has shown that bilingual children typically reach their language milestones around the same time as their monolingual peers, even sometimes before.

This shows that the cognitive advantage of balancing two languages is an advantage and not the opposite.

Happy multiracial family playing with little cute baby at table with colorful toys at home

10 Speech Delay Activities for Toddlers at Home

Children enjoy learning even if they don’t realize it, we as parents need to inject a bit of knowledge into the activities to get their speech into motion. Spending time and home is a great way to introduce activities to promote stronger parent and child bonds while language learning. It is up to us to make these activities engaging and enjoyable to keep our children interested.

Interactive Activities

Playing fun games is a fantastic way to interact with your child and motivate them to speak. Games like pretend play and interactive encourages children to practice their speech in a creative and relaxed environment.

Family game nights are a great way to get everyone involved. Instead of having the kids just watch, let them participate in the funtivities. Even though taking turns might slow the game down a bit, it’s important to let the children have their turn too.

Photo by William Fortunato
Professional massage therapist doing massage for cute little black girl

Best Toys for Speech Delay in Toddlers

The main goal of helping children with speech and language delay is to promote speech, introduce new vocabulary and assist in pronunciation. The introduction of toys is a cool tool to help get there faster. Let’s discuss why toys can be important.

Encouraging Positive Communication Through Toys

  • Picture Books introduce new words and provide a visual context to words.
  • Toy Phones simulate real conversation making it good for practicing speech.
  • Flashcards are good for learning new words to strengthen vocabulary.
  • Pretend Play Sets make a good context for creative conversation.

All these toys have one thing in common, they are exciting for the kiddos to engage in and they will naturally make conversation while having fun.

Speech Therapy

10 Speech Therapy Apps for 2024: Assistive Technology

With the technology around us daily it would be a miss to not utilize them to facilitate the best learning it has to offer. There are many apps geared to assist in improving speech and language delay, in this article is a roundup of 10 apps. See the next line. 10 Speech Therapy Apps for 2024

Leveraging cutting-edge assistive technology you will be able to harness the power of speech through different ways. These apps offer interactive exercises, personalized features, and user-friendly interfaces, taking speech therapy to another level.

To mention a few:

1. Speech Blubs

Speech Blubs is an app that helps children improve their speech through fun activities and games. It has a variety of speech exercises and interactive features, this app makes learning speech a fun experience without the stress of learning.

2. Articulation Station

Articulation Station, its main focus is on speech sounds and articulation that targets in-depth speech sounds through engaging activities. With sound-loaded stories and flashcards, this app is a gold mine for children working on articulation skills.

3. Language Therapy 4-in-1

Language Therapy is a 4-in-1 app that takes a holistic approach and targets various language skills, including grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension. The lessons are interactive so your child works at their own pace and has features to track your progress.
Woman in White Dress Sitting on Brown Hay

Supporting your child with speech or language delays is in no case an overnight fix, this is a journey you both will be taking together. In order for your child to get the best opportunity, they need to feel supported and loved while in a safe space. That is the ideal learning environment.

Take it from me, don’t take it too seriously it might be a turnoff for your kids, just be cool. Encourage them at every turn and celebrate the small wins, they will appreciate you more.

With the right materials and a positive attitude we will get through this with no problem, well maybe a little bit, but hang in there. If you are ever overwhelmed reach out to someone, and never put your mental health on the back burner. It is just as important for you as it is for your child.

Let’s continue to empower our little ones and celebrate every step forward they take.

Want to stay connected? Follow us on social media for daily inspiration, tips, and updates.

Similar Posts