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Does My Child Need Speech Therapy?

Young children are notoriously fast learners. As early as 7 months, children begin to put sounds together and mimic Mom and Dad's language to express themselves and create meaning. However, not all children develop at the same pace - some children don't begin speaking until they're 18 months old. It's not always easy to determine whether your child is on a normal track to speech development, or if there may be something hindering their ability to communicate.

When children do begin putting sounds together and creating words, most will make mistakes. Typical speech errors can include leaving out a sound in a word beginning with two consonants (saying "neakers" instead of "sneakers") or shortening multisyllabic words (from "banana" to "nana"). However, children usually achieve mastery of most speech sounds by age 6 and generally by age 3 most people should be able to understand most of what your child is saying (asha.org).

If you think that your child might be behind in their speech and language development, you're not alone. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 1 in 12 children have had a speech or communication disorder during the past 12 months. If you're wondering "Does my child need speech therapy?" then it might be time to start looking into what disorders speech pathologists treat and what some typical warning signs of speech and language disorders look like.

What Speech-Language Pathologists Do

When you bring in your child to a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), the first thing they will do is screen or complete an evaluation with your child for speech problems and their communication ability with respect to their age.

In their education, SLPs study anatomy and physiology relating to speech and language development, as well as neuroanatomy, genetics, linguistics, psychology and acoustics. Speech-language pathologists, including the ones at Speech Connections, are trained and certified to evaluate and treat a broad range of speech delays and disorders, including:

  • Speech disorders, such as articulation, phonology, and motor speech disorders.
  • Language processing disorders, such as problems with expression and comprehension both verbal and non-verbal.
  • Auditory processing disorders.
  • Fluency disorders, such as stuttering.
  • Swallowing and feeding disorders.
  • Social and pragmatic disorders, including social communication, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making.
  • Speech disorders resulting from autism, cleft lip, and cleft palate.

Some Typical Warning Signs of Speech & Language Disorders

What made you consider that your child may have a speech or language disorder? If they are mispronouncing certain words or their vocabulary isn't as large as their friends', they could just be a bit slower at developing - which is completely normal. That being said, if you're concerned about your child's communication skills or if your child experiences any of the following, you may want to ask your pediatrician about visiting a Speech-Language Pathologist.

  • Doesn't understand most of what others say
  • Doesn't babble or smile
  • Only says a few words or echoes what you're saying
  • Refuses to talk, resorting to gestures like pointing
  • Isn't using short sentences by 3 years
  • Doesn't understand simple commands and/or doesn't use basic words like "Mommy" by 18 months

If you're asking yourself "Does my child need speech therapy?" then it's probably a good idea to speak with your child's pediatrician about a referral to a speech-language pathologist.

Speech Connections offers speech therapy for children in the Richmond, VA area. If you're not sure whether your child needs help with their communication skills, we can schedule an appointment to screen or evaluate your child.

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