Communication is an essential component of early childhood development, but sometimes things don’t come as easily as we expect with 8.3% of children born in the US diagnosed with a speech or language issue each year. Thankfully there are now many services available to help children who suffer from speech or language issues including speech therapy.
What is speech therapy?
Speech therapy is an interventional service in which a speech therapist, sometimes also referred to as a speech pathologist, will work with your child to improve their speech and to help them understand and express language. This treatment usually focused on two key areas, firstly the movement and coordination of the child’s mouth to help them form sounds, words and sentences, and secondly helping them to understand and express language both spoken, pictorial, written and expressed through body language. In some cases, speech therapists also help to treat swallowing disorders which may cause a child to choke on their food or drink.
5 signs your child may benefit from speech therapy
Children develop at different rates and so it can be difficult to know when to intervene and seek the help of a specialist in order to improve your child’s health. To help, here are 5 things that can indicate a speech or language issue which would benefit from professional assistance.
Your child does not gesture
Hand signals such as pointing are often one of the earliest forms of communication used by young children and typically develops between the ages of 7-12 months. If your child does not seem to be making any attempt to gesture by this age then this could indicate a language disorder.
Your child does not babble to themselves
Between the agest of 4-7 months, babies usually begin to find their voice and start experimenting with oral sounds in the form of babbling. Silent babies or those which do not attempt to babble after 7 months may be showing signs of a speech or language disorder.
Your child has difficulties with the alphabet
Certain sounds and letters of the alphabet are more difficult than others, such as p, b, m, h, o w. It’s perfectly normal for a child to mispronounce these letters in their first 24 months, however, if they are approaching 3 and still struggling with certain alphabetical sounds or letters then this is a strong indication that they may have a speech impediment which and would benefit from speech therapy.
Your child doesn’t respond to spoken requests
Children who seem to ignore spoken requests aged between 1-2 years old may not simply be ignoring you but could have a language disorder.
Your child does not speak in sentences
When children first start to speak it is common for them to stick to single words or very short phrases, such as ‘milk’, ‘more milk’ or ‘I want milk’. But as they approach 2 they should begin to start stringing together slightly longer sentences such as ‘I would like some milk, please” An inability to put together a longer coherent sentence could be an indication of a speech disorder.