What 3-year-olds can’t talk?

According to a recent article, British ‘children are reaching the age of 3 without being able to say a word’. 

I found this rather amusing, thinking that it was some kind of tongue-in-cheek account, but alas it’s based on a survey with all sorts of interesting conclusions. Got me thinking if South African kids are brighter than their Brit counterparts.

Maddison’s vocabulary continues to astound me daily, most recently I was told ‘How dare you throw my pictures in the dustbin?’ This after she discovered some of her 450 million school drawings in the trash.

She’s also been able to use ‘actually’ and ‘including’ in proper context for about a year now. I’ve also noticed that her little buddies at preschool are quite the chatty bunch, always having something to say, or tell me when I fetch Maddi from school. Apparently the child’s background was not a factor in how quickly they learned to talk.

I think it’s pretty darn distressing if your kid can’t speak when it’s supposed to. Although sometimes trying to get a word in edgewise with Maddi, I find myself wistfully waiting for the day they develop a mute enabled remote device for kids.

I’m sure most of us can relate to spending hours talking to our babies, especially when they could not speak yet, and we remember the delightful smiles they gave us in return. The evolution from gaa-gaa-goo-goo to actual words (apparently the most spoken first word is  dada), is a natural process. At around age 2 they should be able to make some kind of sense when communicating verbally. Parental stimulation via talking to the baby, reading, interacting etc is vital to speech development.

What was worrying about one of the case studies in the article is that a little kid had to go for 12 months of therapy when it was discovered that he only had a vocabulary of 5 words at age 3. There was nothing wrong with him medically in relation to his lack of speech. His parents also thought that his development was ‘normal’ since they had no other point of reference.

Could this be a trend in developed countries where parents are just not spending enough time chatting to their offspring? Could it be that they are so busy trying to provide for themselves and their families materially that they’re beginning to forget the basics?

The scary thing about trends in the UK and US is that they eventually make their way down South. Should we be worried? The other question is do we in fact have the same problem here, just waiting for a survey to expose?

When would you worry about your child’s speech development?

Read more by Marlon Abrahams
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