Does My Child Need Speech Therapy?

Most parents listen expectantly and celebrate enthusiastically when they hear actual words like ma-ma or da-da mixed in with their baby’s babbling. And rightly so. It’s the ability to express themselves through speech that helps define children as unique and valuable individuals with minds of their own.

However, when speech doesn’t progress and words are unclear, it can affect your child’s ability to communicate with peers, develop social relationships, and advance at school. The good news is that speech and language therapy can help even toddlers learn to speak clearly and make their wishes known. But when should you consider speech therapy for your child?

Our speech and language experts at Little Wonders Pediatric Therapy in Charlotte, North Carolina, offer valuable insight regarding what is normal speech for your child’s age and when it may be time for speech therapy.

Understanding the difference between speech and language

Speech and language are not the same. Speech is the verbal expression of language and includes how words sound and the way they’re formed. Language is giving and gathering information in a meaningful way and includes verbal, nonverbal, and written communication.

With a language delay, for instance, your child might be able to pronounce words clearly but only be able to put two words together. A child with a speech delay typically uses phrases to express thoughts or ideas but is difficult to understand. Speech and language therapy focuses on teaching your child to articulate sounds correctly and communicate effectively.

Using the milestones chart

One way of determining whether your child would benefit from speech therapy is to follow the guidelines on a milestones chart, which are available through your pediatrician or here at the Little Wonders office.

Remember, however, that these are guidelines with broad ranges. Children develop speech skills in the same stages, meaning they start with cooing and babbling before stringing sounds together. But the age at which kids develop speech skills can vary by several months.

Some signs that might indicate a speech or language delay include:

Generally, parents and familiar caregivers should understand half of what your child says at 2 years and about three-fourths at 3 years. By age 4, people who are familiar or unfamiliar to your child should understand what they’re saying most of the time.

When in doubt

If you’re concerned about your child’s speech and language development, the easiest way to ease your fears is to schedule an evaluation at Little Wonders Pediatric Therapy. Our expertly trained therapists make you and your child feel welcome and use playful exercises to evaluate your child’s speech.

Some of our focus during a speech and language evaluation includes whether your child:

Speech delays may also signal a problem with oral-motor development and difficulty coordinating movement of the lips, tongue, or jaw. This may show up first as feeding difficulties, so we also review your child’s history of choking or gagging on food or problems switching from bottle feeding to solid foods.

Once we’ve evaluated your child, we’ll share our findings with you. If there are concerns, we may recommend a therapy program to help your child learn to communicate more effectively. We’ll also provide instructions for what you can do at home to help.

If you’re worried your child may have a speech or language delay, schedule a visit with us at Little Wonders Pediatric Therapy. Call the office or book your appointment online.

 

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