We all want the best for our children, but how can we know when they need extra help? When a child is young it can be difficult to know if they're on track. Children learn and develop in different timeframes, so when can you question whether or not there's a problem?
While children all develop speaking abilities at different rates, if you're worried that things aren't quite normal, seeking a speech evaluation is a great way to either get peace of mind or set your child on the right path.
Do you know the signs to look for to see if a speech evaluation (and then speech therapy for children) is right for your child?
Keep reading to learn about a few things that you can look for to find out.
1. Your Pediatrician Notes A Problem
This one is the most obvious but it relies on the frequency of your pediatrician visits. If you're not seeing your pediatrician regularly, they may not pick up on something being out of the ordinary.
It's normal for a child to be shy or uncomfortable around their doctor, especially if this is something that they're still adapting to. Your pediatrician may note, however, that something seems off.
Your doctor may ask you to look out for warning signs or to check whether or not your child is meeting milestones to get a better idea of what the problem may be. They may also make a referral for you to get a speech evaluation for your child.
Again, your pediatrician mentioning their concerns isn't a surefire sign that your child is in need of speech therapy. There are other answers. It is, however, a great place to start deciding whether or not you should be pursuing treatment.
2. Your Child Isn't Meeting Milestones
Children progress at different rates but there are overall time suggestions for when a child should be meeting certain milestones.
Your child should be babbling at around a half year. They should be responding to verbal requests between 1 and 2 years depending on their development. By 2, your child should be able to construct simple sentences even though their language is still early in its development.
If these things aren't happening you may want to consider why. Are you not speaking to or around your child enough? Are you engaging in too much baby talk, or not enough?
Check your own behavior first and if you decide that there's a cause for concern, contact someone for a speech evaluation so that you can learn more about your child's delay.
3. Your Child Doesn't Gesture for Attention
Before a child begins to successfully talk they will gesture to express themselves. This can be something like pointing, waving, or even full sign language for those children who are taught by their parents.
If your child isn't showing any interest in meaningful gesturing at all they may have an issue with their comprehension or hearing.
These gestures, while not verbal, are a form of communication. They are reacting to verbal stimuli and they have clear intentions.
Even though this isn't "speech" in the way that we think of it conventionally, it is speech in the way the child can communicate.
4. Certain Sounds Come Out "Wrong"
Your child might be talking, but are they speaking properly? Does your child have some sounds that just sound a bit off?
Many parents shrug this off as the residue of baby speak, but it could be indicative of a problem that will stay with the child into adulthood if it's not corrected.
Many children have trouble with "r" sounds at the end of words, for example. They may sound more like "uh" sounds ("power" turns into "powuh"). While this is cute for a child, if this continues into the child's adult life it's no longer a sweet remnant of childhood.
Many sounds can be subject to this, so listen carefully to how your child speaks. Try to correct it on your own first (everyone makes mistakes, after all) and then reach out to a speech therapist near you.
5. Your Child Becomes Frustrated When Communicating
Does your child have trouble getting what they need? Do you often find them getting cranky, crying, or even throwing a tantrum when they're trying to communicate their thoughts?
Communication is stressful and when your child is failing without knowing the reason why they may get emotional. They can lash out and hit others or themselves, throw things, or just cry it out.
If you've noticed these behaviors in your child, seek out a speech evaluation.
6. Your Child Has a Small Word Bank
By the age of 2, a toddler should have a working knowledge of about 50 words that they can string together and use in sentences. This might not seem like that many, but they're essential words that can get the child's needs, wants, and thoughts across to their parents.
If your child's word bank is smaller than this, question why this is the case.
Sometimes children in bilingual households are slower to adapt language skills because they're processing 2 languages at once (the reward for this, however, is growing up with an extra language).
Children who are often alone or not being talked or read to may also have a slower process of gathering new words.
If these things don't apply to you, reach out for help.
Does Your Child Need a Speech Evaluation?
If you're unsure of your child's development, getting a speech evaluation can set you on the right track toward progress. Your child may need extra help reaching their milestones but there's no reason that they can't succeed. The most important thing for you to do is to take the first step.
For more information about helping your child thrive, or to find helpful reading and schooling materials for your child, visit our site.