Does Your Child Need Speech Therapy?

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Can you imagine going through life without being able to communicate? It is a vital part of our everyday lives, but one that we sometimes take for granted.  In our early years, a lot of effort goes into attempting to verbalise our thoughts and wants. but eventually, you don’t even have to think about it. 

Everyone learns to speak and communicate in their own time, but when your child hits a certain age, and key milestones are not being reached, it may indicate that they may need some help along the way. Now, let’s explore speech!

Understanding how speech develops

Children learn to speak much the same way they learn to walk, in baby steps!  It starts off with the small nonsensical mumbling and cooing, which later turn into the long-anticipated “mama” or “dada”. 

Not only do these incredible moments melt your heart, but they mark major milestones in a person’s life! They indicate that we’ve developed the ability to communicate. Around five years old, children should normally be able to communicate in full sentences, but the road there is marked by many small steps. 

Does my child need to be assessed?

Some children may require help with their speech development. By detecting problems early and assisting the child, they may have the opportunity to develop normally, which would otherwise not be possible. 

Children typically reach certain milestones within a certain age range. For example, babies will normally try to imitate sounds between six and nine months of age. They will say their first words by around 12 months old. By keeping an eye on when they reach these milestones, you will have an indication of whether the child is falling behind and may require assistance. 

If your child does not reach the following milestones, it may be a sign they are falling behind:

Not babbling ( around 5 to 10 months)

Not using any words, or only a few (12 to 18 months)

Not being able to say the letters p, b, m, h and w correctly (1-2 years)

Not being able to say the letters d, f, g, k and t correctly (2 to 3 years)

Not using sentences or stringing words together (2 to 3 years)

While speech is a big part of effective communication, other signs that your child may need to go for a visit to a speech therapist can include:

A lack of interest in interacting with others

Struggling to understand what others are saying (18 months to 2 years)

Struggling to name objects or pictures (2 to 3 years)

What are the different types of speech delays?

There are two main types of speech delays: articulation and phonological. It’s possible that a child may be diagnosed with both. Let’s take a look at them:

Articulation delays

Articulation refers to the way sounds are pronounced, and an articulation error occurs when the tongue position or movement for a sound is imprecise

Phonological delays

Phonology refers to how sounds are chosen when producing words. Phonological errors occur when sounds are added, substituted or altogether deleted. 

Are you worried your child may be missing any of these critical milestones? It may be a good idea to have a speech and language evaluation test done. The evaluation will clarify if your child needs help with speech development. The earlier problems are detected, the better! So, if you have any doubts about your child’s speech development, don’t hesitate to have them evaluated.

Tips to help develop your child’s speech at home

There are many things that parents or caregivers can do at home, in order to help children along when it comes to learning and practising speech. Here are some tips on what to do with your toddler:

Talk to them. Simply tell them about your day or tell them what you are busy doing. You can show them the items you are using or read picture books to them and name the objects in pictures as you talk about them. 

Speak slowly and clearly. By speaking slowly and separating words in a sentence, you will help the child identify each one more easily. 

Play games with them. The games can start with something simple, like “peekaboo”, and become more interactive as they get older. 

Repetition, repetition, repetition. By repeating a word and allowing them to hear how to say it correctly, you allow them to practise without feeling discouraged. No need to point out that you have said it differently. Saying different words repetitively, in different orders and layouts, allows your child to compare, sort, decipher, and learn how to use and say them correctly.

Use slightly longer sentences than they do. If your little one is using four or five-word sentences, you can try using six or seven-word sentences. Slowly, allow them to construct more complex sentences themselves. 

Give them plenty of opportunity to speak! Practice is key here.

Final Thoughts

Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can share detailed thoughts or ideas with each other? We can share opinions, instructions, experiences, or feelings in just a few words. We can learn from the mistakes of others, all because of our ability to communicate, something we take for granted most of the time and without which life would not be the same.

For anyone who is concerned about your child’s speech development, do not hesitate to book an evaluation for them. Professional help is available, should they need it, and lessons can be tailored to your child’s specific requirements, ensuring they get the help they need to share in this amazing ability. 

The post Does Your Child Need Speech Therapy? appeared first on Wellbeing Magazine.

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