Signs Your Child Needs a Speech Therapy Evaluation
For parents, one of the greatest thrills is hearing your child say, “mama” or “dada” for the first time. It can be even more exciting to start communicating with your child, especially when they begin speaking with that adorable “baby talk.” But… What if they aren’t talking? Or what if they aren’t saying the words right? What if they don’t appear to understand what you’re saying? How do you know you should begin exploring speech therapy?
The first thing our Brecksville speech therapy team explains to concerned parents is that every child develops at a different pace. There are certain verbal development milestones that pediatricians outline by age, but it’s not cause for panic if your child doesn’t hit it on the mark. That said, “wait-and-see” is generally inadvisable. If there is a delay or disability, the longer you wait to take action, the more difficult it’s going to be for your child to catch up to their peers.
Few children make zero errors when they’re learning to talk. But if you suspect your child may have a speech delay or speech-language disorder, having a speech therapy evaluation is the first step toward determining if treatment would be beneficial.
What Conditions Can Speech Therapy Treat?
Speech therapists can treat a wide range of conditions, delays and disabilities. Our team has proven especially beneficial for children with co-morbidity (more than one diagnosis or disability) because we offer speech, occupational, physical and ABA therapy, as well as homeschooling, tutoring and vocational services. Having everything under one roof – and available to meet your needs where you are – is invaluable for many of our families.
Some of the diagnoses we treat include:
- Childhood apraxia of speech
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Articulation disorders
- Cleft palate
- Early language delays
- Expressive/receptive language disorders
- Feeding/swallowing disorders
- Fluency disorders
- Reading/writing challenges
- Voice disorders
This list isn’t exhaustive. If you have questions about whether our team can help, we’re available to answer.
It’s important if you’re unsure to seek answers because speech and language disorders can snowball into ongoing issues, not just in social development but academic as well. The correlation between speech issues and school performance is significant and well-documented. That’s because so much of what is done in the classroom starts with the ability to communicate.
When Should I Be Concerned?
Signs that your child may need speech therapy are likely to be subtle, but it’s also probable that you’ll notice. We recommend checking with your pediatrician if you have concerns, but some indicators by age include:
- Makes only a few sounds.
- Fails to use gestures like waving or pointing.
- Yet to say his or her first word.
- Points and grunts as opposed to communicating with words when they want something.
- Not using two-word combinations or using them infrequently.
- Leaves off the ends of words.
- Not putting together two- and three-word combination sentences.
- Says fewer than 50 words.
- Speech is mostly unintelligible.
- Cannot follow simple directions in class (i.e., “Draw a square on your paper around something you wear.”).
- Repeats certain sounds of words, such as “c-c-c-cat” for “cat.”
- Repetition of word sounds occurring most of the time.
What Can Speech Therapy Do for My Child?
Pediatric speech therapy can help children conquer numerous communication challenges. We’re going to look not just at how they speak (articulation), but how they understand communication (auditory processing) and how they express it.
We’ll also evaluate and treat oral motor concerns, which can include chewing and swallowing. ‘
Step 1 is having a speech-language pathologist (SLP for short) ascertain the specific challenges your child is facing. This may include a diagnosis, but we can treat a child’s symptoms without one. Step 2 is creating a customized plan that will help address those issues. Step 3 is working out a schedule that is going to be best for you and your child. We’re able to provide services in the clinic, in your home and even via teletherapy.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Improve My Child’s Speech?
You don’t have to be a speech therapist to encourage speech and language development with their children. Some general ways you can help your child bolster their language skills include:
- Reading, talking and playing with your child.
- Listening to your child and responding to what he or she says.
- Discussing what you and your child do during the day – either as your doing it or after.
- Give your child time to talk (no interrupting while they’re trying to speak).
- Mix up the words you use with your child.
- As your child gets older, use longer sentences.
- Create opportunities for your child to play with other children.
Once we conduct an evaluation, our Brecksville speech therapy team can offer you specific ideas of how to get your child talking.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
How to Know if Your Child Needs a Speech Evaluation, July 24, 2014, The Cleveland Clinic
More Blog Entries:
Speech Therapy Tips to Make the Most of Reading With Your Child, May 28, 2020, Brecksville Speech Therapy Blog