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Toddler Developing Own Language

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: Is a child at the age of just before the age of 2 develops their own language I think because of lack of attention from her parents be a sign of giftedness? She speaks it like she knows what she is saying but you have no clue.

A: It is hard to tell just from this if it is a sign of giftedness; and certainly not a distinct characteristic of gifted toddlers. However, research indicates that the number and quality of the conversations that adults have with infants and toddlers directly affects how they learn to talk. If a parent is paying enough attention to the child, it is likely that the child would learn the language quickly, be it only understanding or both understanding and responding.

The number of total words and different words that children hear daily, the number of conversations, and positive affirmations are all related to a toddlers' language development. Typically a two-year-old child should be able to reach the following milestones:

  • Responds to simple directions

  • Pretends play with her dolls/teddies (e.g, brushing dolls hair or feeding the doll)

  • Imitates the actions or words of others

  • Points to named pictures in a book

  • Able to join two words together

  • Knows the function of common household objects (like a toothbrush or fork)

By providing a language rich environment and engaging in many responsive give-and-take conversations, a tremendous growth can be seen in a child's communication skills. This means giving enough attention to the child. Therefore, lack of attention and company could be a reason for a toddler to speak gibberish.

It would also be a good idea to test the child's hearing. Understanding speech does not mean she is hearing correctly. Instead of hearing words clearly it could be a muffled sound. This may lead her to understand, but hard to learn how to speak. Have her speech evaluated. By age of two, she should be able to say about 50 words that make sense in any particular language. If this has not happened, help is definitely required. Good luck and best wishes.


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