During their first few months, infants communicate by crying. At approximately 7–9 months, they start babbling and using gestures (e.g., open-handed reaching, reaching to be picked up, pushing away to indicate refusal) to make meanings. At around their first birthday, they speak their first word, and by 18 months, most can speak10 or more words. By the time they celebrate their second birthday, they have a vocabulary of 50 or more words, and they start combing words to produce utterances such as “Mommy go” or “blue fish.”

What is EarlyLanguage Delay (ELD)?

Approximately 10% to15% of 2-year-old children learn new words slower and start combining words later than their peers do. These children show language delay, but their sensory and cognitive development is normal. In addition, these late-talking children normally have no significant difficulties with gross and fine motor and self-help skills.Such children, with their limited spoken ability, may use early communicative gestures with higher frequency or for longer than their peers do.

For some children, the development of receptive vocabulary is not affected, and their understanding of the common words of daily living is comparable to children of same age. ELD may exist without receptive(understanding) language delay, but most often they co-exist as a mixed spoken/receptive language delay.

Children with ELD produce only approximately 20 words at age two, whereas typical children have a spoken vocabulary of more than 200 words and start combining words at his age.If early intervention is not provided, children with ELD are at risk of language and learning difficulties as they start schooling.
Language problems can involve difficulty with, vocabulary (a restricted number of words), the rules and system for speech sound production (e.g., “bye” for bike), word structures(e.g., not using plurals), grammar (e.g., “Me want water.”)and the use of language in social contexts (e.g., too shy to answer questions).Studies have indicated that children who show language delay at age two are at a high risk for reading difficulties when they reach second grade.

Why doesELD Occur?

ELD may occur with or without the presence of other conditions, such as autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), traumatic brain injury (TBI),psychological/emotional disorders, and hearing loss.It is not known what causes language delay in most cases, but genetic or biological factors are likely involved.

What is the treatment for ELD?

Various studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of early intervention for enhancing speech and language skills. The treatment for ELD in toddlers focuses on developing the following:

  • Communicative intents (e.g., asking for an object or an activity)
  • Functional vocabulary for daily activities
  • Short sentences used during play or child-initiated activities

Recent studies have suggested that parent-implemented language activities at home during activities of daily living are more effective in improving language skills.

What Services Do You Provide?

We provide the following services:

  • The assessment of speech and language skills, using parental questionnaires, observations during daily routines, and standardized tests
  • A Communication and Language Intervention Program (CLIP), based on the needs of the child and his or her family and evidence-based clinical research
  • A parent-implemented language program to improve the child’s language skills in home and community environments
  • Regular follow-ups to monitor improvements in communication, language, and emergent literacy skills
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