Does My Child Need Speech Therapy?

Want to find out whether your child needs speech therapy, but don’t understand what to look out for? When it comes to speech delay, you’re certainly not alone.
It’s always a pleasure to watch your child develop and learn new things, especially when they start to speak. But how would you tell if your child is developing normally, or if you should seek a speech-language therapist’s help?
Fortunately, there are developmental milestones that you can follow to measure your child’s progress. We’ll talk about what they are and what you can do to help them if they have speech issues, so let’s get started.

I feel like my child is falling behind! What should I do?

Don’t jump to conclusions about specific language disorders just because your child isn’t meeting his or her developmental expectations. These warning signs may be good starting points. If your child shows any of these signs, they may be experiencing a speech delay and could benefit from speech therapy. They may…

  • … not speak unless explicitly asked to speak
  • … use gestures to communicate more so than speaking
  • … have very few responses when spoken to

Development varies from child to child. Some children may experience delays in their development that cause concern. Other times, some kids may be quiet but are doing well.
Speaking milestones are clearly observable at certain ages, and are good indicators if your child needs speech therapy. Let’s take a look at these milestones.

Speech Therapy Milestones for Parents to Look Out For

If you’re seeing delays or gaps in these milestones, it’s important to observe and consider getting an evaluation:

In their first year…

Parents can usually expect to hear their child say its first words at this point. Your child should begin using gestures, such as nods, points, or waves, as a basic way of communicating.

At 18 months…

As your child grows, they will gradually develop their vocabulary reaching around twenty words. They should also be capable of speaking short two-word sentences, asking simple questions (e.g., “What’s this?”).
Children can recognize and identify basic body parts when asked and follow simple directions. They also listen more attentively to music, short stories, and rhymes.

At 2 years old…

Children should be able to follow basic verbal commands or directions. They should know at least fifty words, and understand more than 300 words. They should be able to combine these words into simple sentences.
It’s also at this stage where parents can see that their children are listening and understanding simple conversations with them.

When they get to preschool age (3 years – 5 years)…

At age three, parents or caregivers should be able understand 75 percent of what their children are saying. As far as language skills go, you’ll need to focus more on their grammar and vocabulary than on pronunciation.
At this point, focus on how they are communicating rather than their ability to speak clearly or make correct sounds. When they reach five years old, your child should be able to produce almost all speech sounds correctly.
The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) has an excellent summary for early language milestones for both hearing and talking skills in children. You can check it out here.
Milestones are a good standard in finding out if your child has speech and language gaps. However, it’s important to remember that all children learn differently. Some children may pick-up skills a bit faster or slower.
To be sure about your child’s development, they may need professional intervention. Here is what you can do next.

Consult with your child’s pediatrician or your family physician

Your first step should be talking to your family doctor or pediatrician. Speech skills may come up during regular checkups, alongside questions about their language development.
Your pediatrician may ask questions about your child’s social skills and communication abilities. Language development skills are also highly related to their play skills.




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