This is the most common question we get at Bayside Pediatric Therapy. According to the American Speech and Hearing Association if a child does not have at least 50 words, they should be evaluated for a speech and language delay. At the age of two, they should be putting 2-3 words together, answering questions, asking simple questions (where’s mommy?), and greeting with “hi” and “bye“ independently.
At two years old, words do not need to be clear and understood by everyone . In fact, if you only understand about 50-75% of what they say that is normal. It’s okay if people unfamiliar with your child’s speech only understand 25% of what they say. For the most part, at the age of two we aren’t too concerned about how their words sound, but more importantly that they are trying to use words to communicate.
Your two year old should be trying to use short word phrases to request items (i.e. more bubbles), protest (i.e. don’t want), call out (i.e. help me), and greet (i.e. hi/bye). They should be using language for different pragmatic functions. A two year old who can label all their letters, shapes, colors, and numbers but still isn’t using words functionally would still be considered to have a language delay.
If your two year old is trying to talk but only using a few sounds and appears frustrated, this may also be a sign of either speech apraxia or a phonological processing disorder. Many times these children talk in mostly vowels and have only a few consonants. They usually have one sound for everything (i.e. “eh” or “sss”).
Having a speech delay could also be because they aren’t hearing, so we may recommend an audiological evaluation. If your child was premature it may also take them some time to catch up. If your child is bilingual it may also cause them to be delayed initially but catch up by 3-4 years of age. It could also be a sign of medical conditions such as autism, global developmental delays, sensory processing disorder, chromosomal disorders, seizure disorder, or apraxia.
In short, if your child is not talking by the age of 2, it is definitely a reason to schedule a speech and language evaluation. Early intervention is proven to make a huge difference in the future success of your child. You don’t want to hold off.