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How can we help our child learn to speak?

Q: My son is 19 months old. Though he seems to be hearing alright (wakes up on the ring of the phone, comes from another room when the TV is switched on, etc.) he has not started speaking till now. He does say 'papa' or 'mummun', but does not say that by identifying me or his mother. His concentration also seems to be weak as he does not want to listen to us when we try and teach him new words. He does play with his building blocks and interacts with outsiders. The fact that he is not speaking by this age is making us worry a lot. We visited a renowned paediatrician yesterday who suggested a BERA test. Kindly let us know if the facts stated above are enough to worry. What should be the steps to be followed by us to hasten our child's speech and increase his level of concentration?

A:The BERA test is for hearing. According to your letter, he does not have a problem in hearing. Many children speak around 18 to 24 months of age. Some start early, of course and parents get worried when they compare one child with another. Read story books to your child and let him listen to childrens music on CDs.There is no advantage in forcing him to speak. Rather you should provide the setting and games he enjoys in situations where he has to use some words. Get him other toys. Let him ask for what he wants. Let everything be gradual and paced at a level suitable for him. If he does not talk in another 6 months, you might wish to seek some expert advice in person.

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