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Delayed Speech
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 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My son is 6 years of age and he had jaundice at the time of birth because of which he has not developed physically and speaking problems. We need to do something about this and hence require your advice.

Mansi (SF, USA)

A: Your child has to be evaluated for developmental assessment and speech therapist. Based on the results, consult a child psychiatrist and a speech therapist.

Dr. Subba Rao


Q: My daughter is 3. The results of her Bera test indicated that everything was normal but she has speaking problems. Please suggest a doctor who I can visit for this porpose in Mumbai.

Reeta Singh (Mumbai, India)

A: Please contact Dr. Raju Kubchandani at Jaslok hospital. He will be able to guide you.

Dr. Subba Rao


Q: My son is 2 years. He attainted all his milestones on time but has a problem with his speesh. He speaks only a few words. He can hear clearly and otherwise communicated through actions which we comprehend.What I would like to add is that currently he is exposed to almost 4 languages, can this be the reason?

Swati (Chandigarh, India)

A: Children are great learners. I do not think four languages is a problem, however, if you feel your child is lagging behind you could try exposing him to fewer languages. There is really no need to try and make him learn four languages. Two should be enough. Your child also needs exposure to children of the same age to learn to speak. Your child is only 2 years old. Give him some time.


Q: My daughter is almost two years old and understands what is said to her, but she babbles incoherently, and throws tantrums as she cannot express himself. What is the problem and what should I do?

Suresh (Bhubaneswar, India)

A: Children are expected to speak at least 10 - 15 words at this age. But, this is not always the case. But, I am not sure whether she can understand you properly. She may understand you when you actually show her what to do. You have to make sure her hearing is OK. Make some slight noises when her back is turned to you - or whisper her name from the back and see whether she turns. Only when children do not understand or hear the commands do they get frustrated and start to have behavioural problems. If you are not very sure about her hearing, please have her ears checked by an ENT specialist. Most children this age have lots of wax in their ears - or fluid, following a mild ear infection. Anyway, these are only temporary. You have to make sure she does not have any other serious problems. Please remember, her hearing might be alright and she may be throwing tantrums because she is not able to express herself as she is not ready to speak. Don't be angry with her. This will only make things worse. Give her a lot of support and love.

Dr. Balasubramanian


Q: My son does not speak too much. We speak to him in two languages. He had ear tubes put in at 15 months due to recurrent ear infections. He is doing fine now. We had his hearing test done 2 days ago, and he was found to be normal. The speech therapist also found no problem with his muscle coordination etc, but said we can take him for speech therapy if we wished. What do you suggest? He does not have children around him to communicate with. What should we do?

Suraj (Chicago, U.S.A.)

A: I think you are worrying too much. The main reason he is not talking is because there are no other small children to learn from. Give him some time. I would advise you wait until he is 3 years old, before taking action - especially since his hearing is normal. Meanwhile, keep talking to him. Teach him songs and encourage him to sing. Do not push him.

Dr. Balasubramaniam


Q: My 2 year old son does not speak. I am a working mother. However he understands all the words and responds by actions. He otherwise is a very boisterous child - he shouts, screams, talks continuously in baby language and dances to music. He has no siblings. Even on repeatedly asking him to repeat simple words he refuses to speak, cries and indicates no by shaking his head. Does he have a medical problem, Should we take him to a doctor?

Arpita Javeri (Chicago, Dubai)

A: Please be a little patient. Children learn to speak faster if there are other children in the family. Do not impose yourself on the child. Your child will learn to talk naturally. There should be someone at home who keeps speaking to him all day, without pressurizing him to speak back. If your child does not talk by the age of 4, then you should show him to a speech therapist.


Q: My 3 year old son has delayed speech. What should I do?

Subhash (Baroda, India)

A: Keep talking to your child. He will pick up phrases. Please be patient. Do not impose yourself on the child. He will learn to talk naturally. If he does not speak by 4 years, you should show him to a speech therapist.


Q: My 2.5 years old daughter hears and understands everything but she hardly speaks. What should I do so she starts speaking at least a few words? She doesn't even let us know when she wants to go to the toilet. Otherwise she is playful and naughty. Also she does does not in a correct position and refuses to listen to us when we correct her.

Duru Sharma (Mumbai, India)

A: Your child is too young. Please do not put her in so much of stress. She will gradually learn. Keep talking to her. She will slowly start picking up sentences and words. Even if she doesn't repeat them after you, you should still keep talking. The next time she sits in the wrong position, call her to you so she gets up, and distract her.

Mrs. Maya Sanghi, Speech Patho


Q: My 2 year old son speaks just a few words, though he can understand everything. He expresses himself through sign language. What should I do?

Palkar Kumar (Dhanbad, India)

A: It would be best if you would furnish us with the following information: 1. Were his motor milestones age-appropriate - head support, sitting, standing 2. Is there any history of late communication in your family 3. Does he really comprehend age-appropriate spoken language (without the use of gestures from your side) 4. Is there any medical history of illnesses during your pregnancy or during birth or in the child since birth 5. Does he consistently respond to his name? 6. When the TV is put on, does he come running from the other room?

Mrs. Maya Sanghi, Speech Patho


Q: My son's motor-milestones were age appropriate. There is a history of late communication in our family. He understands what we talk to him and what is spoken about him The childs birth was normal though my wife had some stress and pregnancy related issues. He responds to his name as well as to the T.V. and music system.

Palkar Kumar (Dhanbad, India)

A: It seems from your answers that the child is pretty intelligent. Delayed speech in the family could also to some extent affect his speech patterns. I am suggesting a few tips to help your child enhance his speech and language development. But I also suggest that you visit a local speech pathologist. 1. Try to speak only in one language, with the child as well as between yourselves - so the child is only exposed to one language. 2. Is your child being taken care of by a maid or a nanny? If so, ensure that the child is not exposed to yet another language. Although the child may understand different languages, he may get confused when he has to decide which language he should answer in. 3. DO NOT nag your child to talk. Instead, focus on increasing his comprehension, speech will automatically follow. 4. Speak in simple sentences. 5. Speak slowly so he understands everything you say. 6. Try to play games where he has to point the objects that you mention. Such as where is the fan, etc. 7. Then you can also play simple games such as the mother hiding behind a door, and where the child has to call out to her. The mother should come out as soon as he says her name. This is enjoyable, and it provides positive reinforcement.

Mrs. Maya Sanghi, Speech Patho


Q: My 3 year old daughter isn't talking yet. She just says a few words. She is otherwise very active. She does not seem to have any problem with her hearing either. What should we do?

Kamla (Mangalore, India)

A: It would be very difficult to opine with regard to your child unless I have the following information: 1. Are you/is your wife a working mother? 2. Is there any history of late communication in your family? 3. Is the child's spoken vocabulary increasing every month? 4. Is there any medical history of illnesses during your pregnancy or during birth or in the child since birth? 5. Has she been exposed to one language or to multiple languages?

Mrs. Maya Sanghi, Speech Patho


Q: My daughter is 2 years old, but is not yet speaking properly. At what age should a child start speaking properly?

Hetal Mehra (Mangalore, U.S.A )

A: By the age of 2 years, most children typically speak in 2-3 word phrases to express themselves. If (a) your child comprehends everything (spoken language) without the help of any gestures; (b) is gradually picking up words every month (vocabulary is expanding); and (c) all other motor milestones have been normal, then there is little cause for concern. You can undertake the following activities that will help facilitate further development: 1. Speak only in one language to your child, so she doesn't get confused. 2. Show her a lot of picture books and help her identify the pictures. 3. Speak in short sentences with small words to allow her to understand what you are saying. 4. Be a role model by first asking a question and answering it in one word. While you are in the kitchen you can ask "What is mummy doing?" Then you can answer it saying "Cooking". Then later ask her the question and have HER give the answer. You should see a gradual but definite progress if you follow these guidelines. You may also want to check the article on speech development.

Mrs. Maya Sanghi, Speech Patho


Q: My son is 2 years old. He understands everything we say and he also follows orders, but he does not talk and communicates more by actions. He loves to listen to music and recognizes movie songs. A child of his age should know to speak at least a few words. Is this something to worry about? How should I encourage him to talk?

Malini Khanna (Mangalore, India)

A: By the age of 2 years, most children typically speak in 2-3 word phrases to express themselves. If (a) your child comprehends everything (spoken language) without the help of any gestures; (b) is gradually picking up words every month (vocabulary is expanding); and (c) all other motor milestones have been normal, then there is little cause for concern. You can undertake the following activities that will help facilitate further development: 1. Speak only in one language to your child, so she doesn't get confused. 2. Show her a lot of picture books and help her identify the pictures. 3. Speak in short sentences with small words to allow her to understand what you are saying. 4. Be a role model by first asking a question and answering it in one word. While you are in the kitchen you can ask "What is mummy doing?" Then you can answer it saying "Cooking". Then later ask her the question and have HER give the answer. You should see a gradual but definite progress if you follow these guidelines. You may also want to check the article on speech development.

Mrs. Maya Sanghi, Speech Patho


Q: My 2 year old son is very active. The only thing I'm worried about is his speech. He can hear properly. Everyone says that by now he should be speaking a few sentences, but he just speaks a few words at a time.

Sunaina (New York, U.S.A.)

A: Learning to speak depends on how you stimulate your child. If your child has a sibling of around the same age, he would learn to speak faster. If all other developments are normal and your child's hearing is normal, you need not worry. Be patient. Keep speaking to your child.

Dr. Subba Rao


Q: My daughter is almost 2 years and still she doesn't speak much. She makes a lot of gurgling sounds. Is she late in speaking? Otherwise her development seems fine. She started walking at the right age.

Gargi (Hyderabad, India)

A: Your child's vocabulary is perfectly alright. Children will learn to speak faster if there are other children of same age in the house. You should keep speaking to your child. This will help her pick up the language faster.

Dr. Subba Rao


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