One of the most common questions we get as speech therapists is… “is my child normal?” Between the internet, social media, and talking amongst your friends, it can be difficult to filter out exactly what your child should be doing and when they should be doing it.
Introduction: Understanding Speech Delays and Disorders
Let’s chat about the difference between these two diagnoses first. A speech delay is when a child’s language is developing in a typical manner, just more slowly than their same aged peers. You can think of it as an issue with “timing.” On the other hand, a speech disorder is when a child is developing language in a different way than we would typically expect. It is a DIFFERENCE rather than a DELAY. Speech and language disorders are a broad category that can encompass differences in articulation/sound production, stuttering, receptive and expressive language impairments, and differences in social skills.
Now that we’ve got that covered, the next question usually is…. Does my child need intervention? Our recommendation is YES! Even though a child with a language delay may catch, they also may not. And we can’t predict the future. Early intervention may provide parents and children with the tools that they need to foster language development. For speech and language disorders, we also recommend YES! Getting your child the support system they need, from an early age, is important in creating a supportive environment where your child can succeed in reaching their full potential!
What Are The Signs?
There are several areas where we might see signs or symptoms of speech delays and disorders. A great suggestion is to keep track of whether your child is meeting expected milestones using a milestone tracker! You can find one here! This is a great way to check and see that your child’s receptive and expressive language skills are developing typically, or if you should consult a speech therapist.
Some other areas that you may notice difficulties in include:
- Speech sound production/articulation:
Most children master the following sounds at the following ages:
- around3 years: p, b, d, h, n, m, w, t, k, g, f, j, y, ng (as in ‘sing’)
- around 4-5 years: f, sh, zh, ch, j, s, and cluster sounds tw, kw, gl, bl
- around 6 years: l, r, v, and cluster sounds pl, kl, kr, fl, tr, st, dr, br, fr, gr, sn, sk, sw, sp, str, spl
- around 7-8 years: th, z, and cluster sounds sm, sl, thr, skw, spr, skr.
- Fluency: such as developmental or persistent stuttering. If you notice that your child has developed a stutter that has persisted for 6-12 months, it may be beneficial to contact a speech pathologist.
- Social skills: do you notice that your child has difficulty playing with you for extended periods of time? Not responding to their name consistently? Do they have difficulty using non-verbal language such as gestures?
Should you have concerns in any of these areas, it can be beneficial to consult with a speech pathologist. Speaking with a professional can help guide you to make the best decision for you and your child and decide if intervention is recommended.
How Can You Help?
Parents and caregivers are a CRUCIAL ingredient in their child’s language development and even intervention. With the help of qualified professionals, you can learn how to best support your child’s speech, language, and communication development. You can help your child get the help your child learn by involving them in everyday routines, such as washing, cleaning, and cooking. Creating a safe and welcoming environment for your child to communicate with you and using their interests in play, can make a child feel VALIDATED and secure! Try engaging them with fun games such as peek-a-boo, hide and seek, or jumping on a bed, and incorporate their interests (Cars! Frozen! Dinosaurs!) into your play. Be silly, be loving, and have fun! Other resources include speech therapy, which can happen at no cost to parents if accessed through regional centers (for children under 3, click here for info) or local school districts (after age 3). In addition, you can seek out a speech pathologist at a private practice if you are looking for additional support. It can be scary initially to seek out a professional, but we are here to help your child be the most successful communicator possible!
How Can Speech Therapy Help?
Speech therapy sessions are tailored to each child, and incorporate each child’s interests, needs, and goals! A speech pathologist can provide both caregivers and children with tips, strategies, and direct intervention. Using their educational background and clinical decision-making skills, speech therapists will work with you to help diagnose, set, goals, and create effective treatment plans for your child.
Conclusion: We Are Here For You
Seeking speech therapy shouldn’t be intimidating or frustrating for you or your child. You should feel seen and validated every step of the way and at Uplift Therapy, we want to provide your family with healthy and fulfilling experiences in therapy. Creating a loving, supportive, and safe environment for children to communicate and shine is our priority! If are concerned that your child has a speech delay or disability, our speech pathologists are happy to help!