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Why does my extremely talented child lag in her speech?

Q: My daughter is 3 years and 11 months old and finds it difficult to form sentences. My daughter started responding to songs from the age of 1 year and 4 months and by the time she was 2.5, she could sing bhajans and songs quite effortlessly. We were so amazed at her liking for songs and music in general, that we encouraged her at that. She learnt poetry fast. But her speech is still faulty. She does respond to her name and expresses her likes and dislikes with words and corrects herself when we ask her to speak properly. For example, if she wants a pencil, she says 'pencil' and then when asked to speak properly, she corrects herself and says 'mummy please give me pencil'. She is fond of watching TV and her memory is very good when it comes to films/serials and can identify a song when just a tune is playing. We were in Canada for a while where she went to a Montessori School. She improved her social skills very much after that, though she still doesn't mix a lot with the kids. It's more of that the other kids do not know how to get her to respond to them. She is good at poetry, writing and loves spellings. Since the Montessori course believes in phonetics, she can even guess the spelling of a strange word. She can rattle out our address, phone no. etc. There are a lot of things that she does better than other kids would at her age. But when it comes to speech, she is lagging. When I actually ask her about her activities in school or try to hold a general conversation or try to tell her a story, she seems uninterested. She reads story books, but its more of without understanding the meaning. We are basically Tamilians but my husband and I converse more freely in English. My daughter has always been more comfortable with English. She does understand Tamil and does say a few words (and sings fluently!!), but English is her mainstay. I have a 1.5 years old son who was born when she was 2.5 years old. Could that have psychologically affected her speech? She did avoid him earlier, but now she is at peace with him and plays with him. Did I make a mistake by encouraging her to sing at a young age when I should have help develop her language skills? Kindly reply and let me know if I should seek any kind of help?

A:I think you are very lucky to have such a talented child. There is nothing wrong in learning to sing at an early age. She seems fine, by the description of her activities. As long as she communicates (and is capable of getting understood) it doesn't matter that she does not speak in full sentences. She will do so when there is a need. Sometimes when a hew baby arrives, the older child may have a slight slowing down. That doesn't seem to have happened in her case. She knows two languages and music in addition! Surely not a cause for concern. But since you asked, you could add drama to her repertoire. She would have to speak the lines in order to play her part. But don't push her for achievement. Let her learn gradually and choose her own games. Enjoy your parenting!

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