SLP’s Toddler Has Imperfect Speech

By Pam Marshalla

5652202248_e84591dba2_mQ: I am an SLP who works with preschoolers, and my own daughter has a slight problem at age 18 months. I am getting frantic about this and need advice. She uses more than 50 words, is beginning to put two-word combinations together, and she has consonant phonemes from each manner group (a few stops, glides, nasals, and fricated sounds). She has all her vowels except those that require lip rounding, and I cannot seem to get her to round her lips. Should I be worried about this and/or do something about it?

I get a lot of email from SLPs like you who are watching their own young children’s developing speech and language. An SLP knows what perfect speech is all about, and we are watching our own children struggle to get there.

I think most of us know too much and expect our children’s speech to be perfect too soon, and I would say this is the case here.

Your daughter has LOTS of speech and language––enough to pass a screening for a two-year-old at 18 months! Remember: The developmental norms describe large groups of average kids. That means that some of those average kids are way above average, and some are way below average. Together they form a group that has a middle.

Your child is way ABOVE the middle at this point, above average. But that does not mean that she is perfect.

Waiting for perfect speech in one’s own children is a very hard thing to do when you are an SLP. I remember doing it when my girls were toddlers 25 years ago.

My advice is to focus on what your child is doing and loves to do. YOU have made a career out of sounds and words, but SHE may not be verbally focused like that.

Your daughter may become a scientist, a dancer, a musician, a business tycoon, or a chef…and not an SLP. Focus on those things that make her unique, and celebrate them now and as she grows.

Do I sound like an SLP or a grandmother? Maybe a grandmother who is also an SLP 🙂

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