Speech is a small part of Communication skills, which may be verbal or non-verbal. One should identify these issues specifically when a parent is concerned for speech delay or speech related issues. A child may be having only speech issues or may be having a communication disorder of which speech is a part only and is being reported by parents. Many times a child with a speech delay needs just a modification of the environment for a proper stimulation.
Look for the Red Flags of speech delay ( upper limits)
- No babbling by 1 year
- No single meaningful words by 18 months
- Word vocabulary of < 15-20 words by 2 years
- Not joining phrases (two word ) by 2.5 years
One should screen but should not be in a hurry to put labels.
Milder cases may be observed with environmental modifications.
Merely referring to a speech therapist is not the solution.
Timely referral to a developmental specialist for further assessment should be done.
Dr Shambhavi Seth, who is a Consultant in Developmental Pediatrics, has discussed the basic approach to a child with a speech delay in a brief and crisp presentation below.