Children gradually learn new words until they master the language well enough to describe what they see, hear, feel, think. Speech development is a very important step because it helps them to evolve both emotionally and behaviorally. When children can communicate their feelings and feelings, there is a spectacular progress in the interaction of the child with the rest of the world.
Language learning occurs in the first two years of life. This process starts from the first months, when the baby explores the possibilities of communication using his tongue, lips and, subsequently, milk teeth. But behind this natural progress of the child are more complex processes.
Brain structure indicates early speech
The moment when children begin to speak does not produce spectacular changes in the brain, the brain's already existing structure being the one that determines, for the first time, the first language acquisition, researchers at Brown University and King's College in London have discovered. So far, scientists have been of the opinion that, as children learn to speak, structural changes occur in the brain, reflecting the respective acquisitions. However, this premise was contradicted after scientists analyzed myelin, an insulator of nerve fibers that envelops axons and helps transmit electrical signals to the brain. Mielina should have been in larger quantities in the left area of the brain, where the center of the language is. To the researchers' surprise, the amount of myelin did not increase and did not cause asymmetry compared to the right side of the brain, even though the little ones were making great progress in speech learning.
Thus it was concluded that the pre-existing structure of the brain is the one that determines the ability of each child to learn to speak. Basically, asymmetry already exists and was useful for language learning. "In the study I found that the asymmetry was there, even in children younger than one year old, who had not yet learned to speak," said study coordinator Jonathan O'Muircheartaigh, of King's College, London.
The results of this study are based on MRI brain scan imaging analyzes that investigated myelin formation in infants and children. The newborns had a small amount of myelin in the brain, but the amount increased rapidly in the first year of life. But things were different in the language region. The research focused on the evaluation of myelin in brain areas known for language development and comprised 108 children between 0 and 6 years old. To assess brain changes as the child's language evolves, the researchers compared brain scans at different ages, along with the results that children had in language assessment tests.
Among the conclusions of the study were other interesting results. "Regions of the brain that are not important for language acquisition of young children become important for older children when they start school," O'Muircheartaigh says. As children speak better, they start using other regions of the brain to support language development.
The most important conclusion of the researchers was that, since the brain structure is the basis that provides information about the onset of speech, but not about the evolution of language acquisition, then the environment may have a greater influence. In other words, a stimulating environment in which the child is helped to communicate is very important in the period 1-4 years. On the other hand, the researchers also drew attention to the fact that the brain architecture of the child less than one year old is able to indicate future language development problems.
It is important to know that any problem in language development requires specialist intervention to minimize the effects on the further development of the child. Therefore, it is useful to know what to expect between certain age ranges, considered key to the development of communication.
From one month to three months is a period of accommodation of the baby with the world, and yours with the baby. In order to control what is happening to her and to communicate to her parents her needs, the baby expresses itself through the movements of the body and by crying. So, crying can mean that the little one is hungry, needs to be changed, or wants to be around him to encourage him.
As it grows, it creates a whole repertoire of gangs and screams, developing its ability to interact and understand the language. Some research shows that babies of 4 weeks old make the difference between similar syllables such as "ma" and "na". This is not unimportant because, as this ability of understanding develops, the child becomes sufficiently evolved to voluntarily emit different sounds.
From 4 months to 6 months, the child has passed from simple sounds like "aaaa", "ooo", "brrr" and gets to form syllables. From these first "stunts" appear "mother" and "father", along with "baba", "iaia" and "baby". Even though mother and father can tell, the child does not consciously address it to parents. The vocalization, that is, the joining of sounds, screams and syllables will continue, and the child can spend important time "speaking his language". The specialists say that this stage is one that precedes the speech and represents for the child a play. This explains why many babies laugh when they hear "talking".
Between 6 and 9 months, when he whistles and when he vocalizes, the child exercises his muscles and prepares for speech, the stage that will follow when, and from a neurological point of view, his development will be complete. Learning the language through imitation has its funny stages: the child will imitate the tones of the adult voice, sing and impose his point of view in his own language. This lasts until around the age of 1 year when the child begins to say the first words consciously.
From one year to 17 months, the words the child uses are words he understands. This does not mean that he will speak correctly and intelligibly. You will have to guess what most of the words mean and you have to interpret them together with the gestures that accompany the words, so that you understand their intentions. It is certain that at this age, children are perfectly aware of the importance of language and the power to express their needs using verbal and gestural language.
Between 18 and 20 months, children learn words very quickly, some of them learn new words every 90 minutes. Until the age of 3, the child will say a lot of new words and will be able to use them in sentences consisting of 3 words. Some children have already developed "receptive speech", that is, I understand very well what you say, even if they do not have as well developed expressive speech, that is, they do not express themselves as well as they understand. An example of what receptive speech means is that when you tell your child to sit down or come to you, he does what you tell him. Even if you do not keep up with the expressive chapter, this is perfectly normal until the age of 30 months.
Between one and two years, the child will know about 300 words. He will be able to join the subject and the predicate to form sentences and he will be able to use the personal pronoun correctly to create a sentence such as: "I want to go".
After the age of three, the child will become a sophisticated speaker. He will be able to initiate and sustain a conversation and adjust his tone and vocabulary depending on the conversation partner. In other words, he will speak differently to an adult and quite another to another child. At this stage, the words he utters will be almost completely understandable, he will be fluent in stating his name and age and will be pleased to interact verbally with others.
If up to 30 months your child has not developed his or her language, it is advisable to schedule a specialized consultation to identify the reason for this developmental delay. Often, these problems can be solved with very little specialized help.
How can you help him develop his speech?
The most important help you give your child to develop their speech is to encourage them to communicate. If you raise your hands to hold him, don't ignore him, but show him that you understand what he wants. This is why you encourage him to communicate and he will be motivated to explore and talk. You also need to listen carefully to what the child is "stuttering" and contextualize what he is saying. If you still do not understand what he is saying, try to help him maintain visual contact for as long as possible and propose words to him. It helps if you constantly tell them what you are doing. In this way the child connects between words and actions. Equally important is to play with the child and encourage him to socialize with other children by organizing play meetings.
If he is late to speak, you will have to test his hearing. Statistics show that three out of 1,000 children have hearing problems, and this causes language delays. Screening for the detection of hearing problems can be done from birth. If hearing problems are not detected, you will need to consult a language delay specialist who will be able to identify the reason. Some developmental problems such as autism, ADHD and retardation may be associated with language delay.
Children can be supported to make language acquisition at a natural pace using specific therapies led by specialists and with adjuvants that optimize brain functions.
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