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Does my child have developmental delays?

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Are you concerned about your toddler’s development?

Are you wondering what should a typical 2-year old’s speech look like? What words should they be saying? When should I start to be concerned about my toddler’s speech?

If something seems wrong, what should I do?

Background on speech delays

Speech delays are a common situation that many parents can find themselves in. On average, roughly 10% of children ages 2-7 have a language delay. And though some of these children will “catch up” with their peers, many would benefit from speech therapy to support their development. Still, others may have a more global condition like autism that benefits from even more support.  It’s important to tell the difference.

What is normal for language in a toddler?

Though every child is different, there are common milestones for language that most toddlers meet.

For instance, a 2-year-old should be able to speak roughly 50 words and use 2- or 3-word sentences (“Drink juice”). A 3-year-old should be able to speak 250-1,000 words and speak in 4- to 6-word sentences (“Where’s the ball, Daddy?”).

There are several other milestones related to language development beyond just the number of words spoken. The CDC has great free resources, including listing the milestones at each age, showing videos of children with the milestones in action, and offering an app you can download to track milestones for your child. Soar Autism Center also has a page for local Denver families on language milestones.

Use these tools to understand what is normal at a given age, and compare that against what you’re noticing as a parent for your child.

My child’s speech development seems slow, what is going on?

There are a wide range of potential causes of a speech delay, and you should work with a healthcare provider to understand what could be causing a speech delay in your child.

A first category is isolated speech or language delays, where speech/language are the only delayed child milestones. A second category is more global developmental conditions like autism where other milestones are also delayed. There can be other possible causes too, including things like hearing loss, emotional or behavioral disorders like ADHD, or others.

Distinguishing between the various causes of a speech delay requires an expert, so talk to your pediatrician or another specialized healthcare provider about what you’re noticing in your child.

Is it just a speech delay or something broader like autism? How do I tell?

Look for other potential milestone delays beyond speech. For instance, children with autism often show other signs beyond a speech delay such as avoiding eye contact, having repetitive behaviors, or wanting to be alone.

Above all, make sure you aren’t handling this on your own and are getting advice from a professional. It’s okay to ask for help!

I’m worried about my toddler’s development; what should I do?

Above all, act early! There are many options. Talk to your pediatrician, seek out Early Intervention services, or get an assessment at a specialized provider.

There’s a wide body of research to support the benefits of early intervention in children. And if you talk to your doctor or a provider and they tell you not to worry, but you’re still concerned about how your child is developing, it’s okay to ask for a second opinion.

You are the expert on your child – be their advocate!

I’m worried about autism, what should I do?

First and foremost, get your child a diagnostic assessment for autism.

There are many local options to get psychologic testing for your child. If you want a list of options, Soar Autism Center has created a list of local Denver providers for autism diagnostic services. You can download it in their New Parent Kit on their website.

I’m looking for a therapy provider to help my child – what should I be looking for?

While there are many therapies that can support a young child’s development, the most common options are speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavior therapy. 

Regardless of the therapy, here are some questions you can ask a provider for your child:

  • What types of services will my child need, and who offers them? Do I want things all coordinated together in one integrated center, or do therapy a la carte different providers?
  • Do I want my child to receive services in our home or a clinic-based setting?
  • What support will I get as a parent?
  • Is my insurance accepted?

If your child is diagnosed with autism and needs therapy, Soar Autism Center is a great new local option to consider. They are an integrated provider with diagnostics assessments and naturalistic therapy options in one location, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, mental health support, and Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) services. There are many local options to consider and ask around to fellow moms on where they recommend!

In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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