There may be any number of reasons why you are concerned about your child’s speech and language skills, but do you need to go and see a Speech Pathologist?
Of course, as with everything, there is no clear cut answer, but there are some general guidelines that Speech Pathologists follow that I think should be common knowledge to all parents, teachers, child health nurses, paediatricians. Here they are:
Developmental expectations: Extensive research has been completed with large samples of children to determine the typical development of children in most speech and language areas. This means that we know that children tend to follow a pattern of development and achieve milestones at similar ages (with large amounts of variance being allowed). If a child is too young to be achieving a skill and is following typical development then we can generally just monitor that child as they approach the age of acquisition of the skill. However, if a child should have developed a skill by their age, therapy is generally recommended. See these fantastic Developmental Expectations for free developmental milestones by area to see how your child is doing.
Impact: Regardless of developmental expectations, is the speech and language issue impacting upon your child’s social interactions with other kids, play skills, ability to make basic requests, make themselves understood and their general communicative abilities. Is it making them extremely frustrated and are they being teased?
Typical Errors versus Disordered Errors: This is somewhat similar to the developmental expectations, however we also know that some errors are to be expected at certain ages, e.g. when your two year old always says ‘wocks’ instead of ‘rocks’ or says ‘me like’ instead of ‘I like.’ Speech Pathologists are generally not concerned if they know it is a typical error, however will encourage Speech Pathology sessions if the error is atypical. At home, ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of copying errors, always speak to your child with the language that you will expect them to start using.
Pauses in Development: Did your child seem to be developing his/her speech and language skills and then stop for a long time, seemingly stuck in a developmental stage? If so, Speech Pathology services is recommended to complete an assessment and determine strategies that will assist you in helping your child to get moving again with their speech and language skills.
Stuttering: Is your child showing signs of a stutter? Are they repeating sounds, words, sentences, or even getting blocked when they try to speak. If your child is stuttering, do NOT use the ‘wait and see’ approach at all. It is essential that children with a stutter are seen immediately. Therapy is highly effective at a young age, however the effectiveness of therapies decreases after the age of 6, and significantly decreases after the age of 12. Contact a Speech Pathologist now if this is your concern.
Other diagnoses: many Speech Pathologists are well trained in working with children with other diagnoses and can help you to implement strategies early on if your child has a diagnosis of hearing impairment, auditory processing difficulties, dyslexia, autism, Cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome, developmental delay, ADHD and many more.
Generally, I would recommend that if you are concerned as a parent about your child’s abilities, it is a good idea to see a Speech Pathologist for an assessment for your own peace of mind that you either don’t need to worry or that you have identified issues early on. However, with waitlists being very long, and costs of sessions being high, use this information to make a more informed decision as to whether this is something that you feel you need to pursue.
Contact us here at Grow Therapy Services if you would like to talk to us about Speech Pathology services for your child.
[Post adapted with permission from www.thespeel.com]