by Suzie Chafin
Should you be concerned when your toddler multiples say “love you” and it sounds like “lub ou”? Do your twins jabber to each other in a language that no one understands except them? Are your multiples’ communication skills worrying you?
As a parent, it is often difficult to discern when language skills are developing normally and when a child might need some outside help. Multiples tend to experience a higher rate of speech and language development disorders. Many factors contribute to a speech and/or language delay in multiples.
• Multiples often engage in twin talk, a spoken language or a language of gestures and body language. Multiples are often so effective at communicating with each other that their speech and language development can be delayed.
• Personality differences and the gender of a child often influence the rate of speech and language development. Girls tend to be more verbal than boys. Shy and apprehensive children tend to be quieter.
• Multiples place increased demands on parents limiting the amount of one-on-one attention and interaction each child receives.
• One multiple may “talk” for another multiple reducing the need for the “quiet” child to talk. This can also occur with older siblings who are quick to talk for the child instead of having the child verbalize their feelings.
These general guidelines can help you determine if your child could be experiencing a delay:
Between 12-24 months, your children should:
Combine two simple words
Have a working vocabulary of between 10 – 20 words
Be able to imitate some animal sounds
Be understood approximately 25% of time by non-family members
Between 24-36 months, your children should:
Ask simple “what” and “why” questions
Have a 450 word vocabulary
Be able to tell their name
Answer “where” questions
Match 3-4 colors
Identify body parts
Use 3-4 word combinations
Follow simple instructions
Be understood at least 50% of time by non-family members
Between 3-4 years your children should:
Use 4-5 word combinations, talking regularly in sentences
Have a vocabulary of about 1,000 words
Begin to name colors
Be able to tell a story
Be able to repeat a nursery rhyme
Be understood at least 75% of time by non-family members
Be able to follow 2-3 step instructions
Understand most of what is spoken to them
Between 4-5 years, your children should:
Use past tense correctly
Have a vocabulary of about 1,500 words
Be able to identify major colors
Understand concepts of opposites
Use more than 5 words in a sentence
Re-tell a story in own words
Though speech/language delays may be common in multiples, they can have a profound affects on their success in school. Proper speech and language development are building blocks for good reading and writing skills. So what do you do if one or all of your multiples are not meeting these guidelines? The next page of this article explains how to get help.
Suzie Chafin is a Dallas, Texas mom of four children, including identical twin boys. She writes and lectures about family topics such as postpartum depression, managing multiples and Christian parenting. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.