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When should I be concerned about my child's communication development?

This depends on what you are noticing in the home. A young child (9 months) who is not responding to sounds, alerting to his/her name, showing comprehension of simple words, or pointing to call attention to interesting objects, may be showing early signs of a hearing loss or language disorder. Other general guidelines:
• First Words by 12-15 months
• Frequent Two-Word Combinations Heard by 21-24 months
• Frequent Three-Word Combinations Heard by 36 months
• Intelligible speech in conversation 90% of the time by age 4 years
• Grammatically complete sentences most of the time by kindergarten age


What can I do at home to help my young child's speech-language development?

Generally speaking, understanding your child's current communication level (preverbal, single word communicator, phrase or sentence level communicator, etc.) is very important in terms of what to model at home. Try not to overuse questions to get your young child to talk, but rather model comments about events as they are unfolding. Try to avoid rapid and lengthy speaking turns, and encourage turn-taking. Praise your child's efforts to communicate using all possible means: gestures, pointing, gaze, and verbal attempts. 

What role do parents play in their child's therapy?

Parents play a significant role in the whole process of speech and language therapy.  Although the speech pathologist evaluates specific concerns, development, and delays, the parents ultimately know the most about their child.  Speech therapy is not successful without the involvement of the parents to carry out programs recommended at home and throughout their daily lives.

Will raising my child in a bilingual environment cause a delay in language development?

No. The bilingual environment will not cause a delay in your child's language development. In fact, bilinguals acquire two phonological systems in the same amount of time that monolinguals acquire one (Fabiano-Smith and Goldstein, 2010a). Furthermore, the research suggests that bilingual phonological development falls within normal limits if compared to monolinguals of the same age when assessed during the school years (Fabiano-Smith and Goldstein, 2010a).  During development, a child learning two languages needs to have strong inputs of each language, but the bilingual environment will not cause a delay. 

If my child has a language disorder, should we only speak to the child in one language?

No. It is important that the child receives strong language cues in each language during development. Limiting the child's language input may hinder the child's development of either language. Continue to speak to your child in the home language, and allow the child to experience the language of the classroom at school. Due to your child's language disorder, your child may need additional services to acquire language. Nevertheless, continue to speak to your child in both languages and continue to provide your child with strong models in each language.

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