Throughout your child’s life, you monitor their development in various ways. The first time they roll over independently, their first step, and their first word. Every child develops at their own speed, and each is more skilled in some areas than others. Some kids are great at math, and others are artists or athletes. While we don’t want to pressure children to fit into some perfectionistic image of childhood, we do want to keep a careful watch on the ways in which they appear to be falling behind the curve so that we can provide adequate support early in their development.
The ability to speak is a skill that evolves over time. Children first learn how to babble, and with time and encouragement, they eventually learn to say words and phrases, and before you know it, they’re speaking in full sentences. But what happens when your child isn’t meeting the appropriate speech milestones?
Speech therapy is a type of therapy that helps patients communicate better. We treat a large variety of speech issues in our practice, and one of the questions we’re asked most commonly is what signs a parent should look out for to determine whether or not their child needs speech therapy. We find that many parents have some intuition about their child’s speech. Pediatricians and teachers hear children speak all day long and are great resources when it comes to determining if your child could benefit from speech therapy. But it’s also important to trust your gut and seek support if you think you need it. Here are some hints that your child is in need of speech therapy.
If Your Child Doesn’t Speak
There is a difference between children who struggle to articulate their words and those who choose not to use words at all. If your child is of the age where they should be learning to communicate with words and you’re concerned they haven’t started speaking, it is likely time to talk with a speech therapist.
Often, children who don’t speak find other ways to communicate their needs, so it’s easy to brush past your concerns because they’ve figured out how to communicate using hand gestures, facial expressions, or grunts. However, if you notice your child doesn’t interact with others or doesn’t understand what’s being communicated to them, they may have a communication disorder.
If Your Child Struggles to Speak
On the other hand, many children struggle with the application of language. They know the words in their head, but they struggle to create the right sounds with their mouth. Speech disorders are often easy to recognize and can come in the form of stutter, unclear speech, and mispronouncing certain letters like r and l. Children develop the ability to form certain consonant sounds at different ages in their development. If your child struggles to speak after the age of 3, it is possible they’re experiencing a speech disorder.
If Speech Issues Are Impacting Their Life
The ability to communicate is an essential part of becoming a member of any community. If your child is struggling to make or keep friends, participate fully in their academics, or is embarrassed to speak because of an undiagnosed speech disorder, we would love to help restore their confidence so they can reap all of the benefits of social and emotional connections found in school, sports, or other community activities.
Lasting speech disorders occur in 1 of 12 developmentally normal children. That means there is a good chance that your child’s adorable mispronunciation of “wasbewwy” rather than raspberry will resolve itself. However, if you become concerned that your child isn’t becoming more adept at verbal communication, we urge you to contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our speech therapists.