Parents often worry that their child is not developing normally. Learning that one’s child is not following a traditional trajectory for development can be difficult to contend with, but the good news is that speech therapy services are available.
Speech delays are not uncommon in children, but toddlers who do not hit the marks on the checklist consistently may require some extra help.
What Are Signs a Child Needs a Speech Evaluation?
One of the first things to determine is the parameters for healthy development. By their first birthdays, children are well into babbling and cooing. By the ninth month of life, a child typically begins to string sounds together in an attempt to make words. They also react to sounds and familiar words, like “mama” and “binky.”
By one-and-a-half, children should begin using more speech sounds when they babble. They may also frequently use nouns they are familiar with and even understand short instructions. By this time, children should also be saying about 20 words.
Most toddlers should be able to speak about 50 words by the time they turn 2. They can even come up with their own simple sentences, often with just two or three words. The most significant gains in speech come in the following year when children increase their vocabularies immensely.
The symptoms of speech disorders may first become apparent in toddlerhood. If your child exhibits these characteristics, you may consider a speech evaluation:
- Reaction to sounds is inconsistent
- Often mispronounces vowels
- Demonstrates lack of progress in speech
- Lack of frustration with an inability to communicate
- Shows trouble imitating sounds
- Fails to vocalize, instead preferring gestures
- Imitates but does not create sounds
What Is a Speech Evaluation?
A speech evaluation typically includes checking for speech delays. Children with speech delays express themselves with words and phrases, but they may not be easy to understand. Speech therapists or speech-language pathologists can evaluate a child to determine the cause of the problems.
During the evaluation, professionals will examine the child’s ability to understand and express language. The evaluator will also assess the child’s oral-motor skills.
How Can Speech Therapists Help Toddlers?
Speech therapy involves exercises that facilitate better communication. Speech therapists often use simple sounds and syllables to promote more effective speech. Much of speech therapy with toddlers may involve play therapy.
Speech therapy often provides children with the comfort or skills necessary to begin communicating with the rest of the world. Children on the autism spectrum may struggle to communicate effectively.
Some impairments are physically caused in the mouth. For instance, a child may have a short frenulum, limiting tongue movement, or perhaps the child’s palate is not developing correctly.
Children with oral-motor problems may struggle with coordination. They may not be able to produce proper sounds because the jaw, tongue, and lips do not move together.
Speech Therapy Continuing Education Helps Young Patients
One of the best things professionals can do for their young patients is to stay up to date with speech therapy continuing education. Speech-Language Pathology Courses are even available on the web.