Do ear infections cause language or articulation problems?

Not always, but often they do. If your child has had frequent ear infections, the result can be a delay in language acquisition. Even if he only had fluid behind the eardrum, hearing can be compromised – think hearing when you are underwater. Not only might this inhibit vocabulary acquisition, but it may also affect a child’s ability to form sounds appropriately. Once medical issues are resolved, a speech-language pathologist can work with young children to help improve communication skills.

Do you have some suggestions for helping my toddler increase his language?

Yes, there are many things you can try before contacting a speech pathologist.
1. Label or name everything you see using one word – this is a great way to increase receptive vocabulary
2. Keep instructions simple using short phrases (i.e. “put in,” “go bye-bye,” “all done play-doh”)
3. Facilitate anticipatory communication by setting up fun, repetitive routines (such as pushing cars off a table, swinging him in the air, etc.) Once he knows and understands the routine, cue him to verbalize or gesture for continuation of the activity (i.e. “car fall,” “up,” or “more”)
4. Establish visual attention when talking to him
5. Do not anticipate his needs but rather reward his communication attempts by giving him the desired objects or actions once he uses a vocalization or a word.

If communication doesn’t improve, it may be time to have a speech-language pathologist evaluate your child. This is generally accomplished in a play-like environment, so it is not a traumatic event! A therapist will assess his ability to name items while playing, but also his comprehension skills or receptive language (i.e. follow directions, play with items in a typical manner, answer yes/no questions, demonstrate knowledge of familiar items, etc.) The therapist will then compare his communication skills with that of a typically developing child of his age and determine if therapy is warranted.

My child’s friend talks much more than he does. Is this normal?

From birth to the age of five, language develops at a very rapid pace, but the age and the pace at which a child reaches each milestone of language development can vary greatly. If you are concerned about your child’s expressive or receptive language, you can contact our office and we will be happy to discuss your concerns.