How Do I Know If My Child Needs Speech Therapy?

If your child needs speech therapy but you don’t know what to look out for, you’re not alone.

It’s great to see your child get better at speech and language skills as they grow older. How can you tell if your child is progressing normally or if you need a speech-language pathologist to help?

You can benchmark your child’s development with proven milestones. Let’s talk about what they are and how to help your child if they have speech issues.

Milestones for Speech Development

Children grow at their own pace, but speaking milestones are clearly observed at certain age ranges. Children have different behaviors and ways of learning, so these skills are not hard-lined to a specific age. There may be cause for concern if you’re seeing a delay or gap in these milestones.

For Their First Year

In the first year of your child’s life, they should start using gestures to communicate. Parents can expect to hear that exciting first word at this time.

After 18 Months

When asked, children can identify basic body parts and follow simple directions. They also sing songs and listen to rhymes or short stories.

Your child will grow their vocabulary to 20 words. They should know how to speak two-word sentences (“Dog run”) and ask simple questions.

2 years-old

At this point they know how to use 50 words and understand more than 300. Simple sentences should be created by combining these words. At this time, other people can see that your child is listening and understanding. Your child should also be able to follow simple verbal requests once they reach 2 years old.

Preschool Age (3 years – 5 years)

At age 3, 75% of what children say should be understood by parents or caregivers. At this point in your child’s life, language skills are more important than perfect speech. They should be able to make most speech sounds at age 5, but it’s better to focus on what they are communicating instead of how they say things.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has a detailed summary of specific early language milestones in both hearing and talking skills that you can use.

My Child Isn’t Reaching Milestones. What Do I Do?

Don’t rush to conclude specific language disorders if your child isn’t meeting their expected milestones. There may be differences in development progress between children. Some children have delays in their development. Some children are progressing despite being quiet.

If your child is having a speech delay or needs speech therapy, there may be some warning signs that you can look out for. If they don’t react when spoken to, rely heavily on gestures to communicate, or need to be coerced to speak, you may need professional help to assess if speech disorders are present.

Talk to Your Pediatrician/Family Doctor

You should talk to your family doctor/pediatrician first. Questions about their language development are a factor in determining if they need speech therapy, along with the subject of speech skills.

Your child’s communication and social skills may also be inquired about by your doctor. Their language skills are also related to their play skills, so they may ask about that too.

If your doctor recommends seeking a speech-language pathologist, they may give you a referral for free, public services. The time on the waiting list may be long or short, depending on where you are located.

Contact a Speech Therapist

You can still directly look for a private speech-language pathologist. It’s possible for them to help without a doctor’s referral, which will make it easier for you to get help for your child.

Your child will be assessed by a speech pathologist when you contact them. To find out what’s difficult for your child, your therapist could ask them to say different sounds and words. They will work with your child’s speech and language skills once they have identified the issues.

Therapy sessions are not the only times where exercises can be performed. Constant practice is required to improve speech and language skills. Your speech therapist will show you how to help your child with speech delay.

You should contact a speech therapist in the early stages of your child’s development. Early intervention is a key part of speech therapy. It is possible to prevent further speech difficulties by doing speech therapy on time. As well as improving your child’s school performance, it might improve their self-confidence.

You can sign up for this free consultation below to reach out to our therapists today.