My child is not saying many words or is not linking words together

Children learn to communicate by being responded to and interacted with. This happens during everyday situations. Children learn words by hearing adults talk about what the child can see, hear and feel. 

Mum offering toddler two different bottles Copyright Children's Speech and Language Therapy, Cardiff and Vale UHB

For example, if they hear the word ‘book’ when they pick a book up or when an adult shows them a book, they can start to make the link between the word ‘book’ and the object.

Children need to hear a word many times before they start to understand it and to hear the word even more times before they are ready to try to say the word themselves. It is normal for children to understand words but not to use the words themselves. This is a typical stage of language development.

Your child will be able to communicate before they can use words. Looking, using gestures, making sounds and using facial expressions are all ways we use to express ourselves to others. Communication and interaction can happen without words. Helping your child learn about communication by spending time together and interacting together is the best way to support language and communication skills.

'What role do parents play in early language development?'

This short video called ‘What role do parents play in early language development?’ produced by the Hanen Centre, gives some ideas on how you can help in everyday activities.

We have several therapists trained in this approach (Hanen) in our service, however if your child needs support we will always discuss with you the different options and approaches available to see which would help you and your child the most. This short video from the Hanen Centre shows how ‘Conversations pave the way for first words’.

Children learn to talk at their own rate, so try not to compare them to other children. Instead, think about how they currently communicate and focus on those skills when playing and interacting together. Responding to your child’s attempts at communication will encourage them to keep trying. Focusing on what they can do will help you communicate at the right level for you child, rather than trying to teach them to do something that is too difficult – which may cause frustration for both of you!

How can I help?

The ‘10 tips to help me learn to talk‘ booklet and ‘Top 10 tips poster‘ from the Talk with Me (opens a new window) website give lots of helpful ideas that you can use at home.

Please click on the links below to see our leaflets to give you ideas on how you can support your child’s language development at home. These leaflets also contain links to videos to help demonstrate the strategies for you.

Fun with Sounds

(using first sounds and words)

Let's talk and play every day

(helping your child use more words)

Children usually need to have a spoken vocabulary of around 50 words before they start to link words together. If your child is trying to say a range of words but is not linking words together, have a look at the following leaflet to give you some ideas. The leaflet also contain links to videos to help demonstrate the strategies for you.

When children are learning to talk it can sometimes be difficult to know what they are trying to tell us. This can lead to feelings of frustration for both you and your child. Focusing on the ways your child is already communicating can help.

Our Reducing Frustration leaflet gives some top tips for how you can help to reduce the frustration for you and your child.

What should I do if I'm worried?

Think about how your child is communicating now.

Does this impact your child or the family? What would you like to change about your child's skills?

Have a look at the advice and strategies on this page to give you ideas on how to support your child's language and communication skills.

Try these strategies at home for two or three months to give you and your child time to get used to them.

After trying the advice and activities for a couple of months, if you are still worried about your child's development...

Has your child started full-time school?

No.

If your child is preschool age (not yet started full time school) and you live within the Cardiff and Vale area please contact our service on 029 2183 6585 to request further advice.

No.

If you live within the Cardiff and Vale area please contact our service on 029 2183 6585 to request further assistance.

Yes.

Please discuss your concerns with your child's teacher (or the ALNCo at school). Schools may be able to provide some additional support to help your child. If you and the school continue to be concerned about your child's language skills, we recommend the school makes the referral to our service as they can include information about how their language skills are impacting on their learning.

Yes.

If your child is of school age, please discuss your concerns with your child's teacher (or the ALNCo at school). Schools may be able to provide some additional support to help your child. If you and the school continue to be concerned about your child's language skills, we recommend the school makes the referral to our service as they can include information about how their language skills are impacting on their learning.

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