How Do I Know if My Child Needs Speech Therapy?

Every child is different.

All children develop at their own pace – from rolling over and learning to crawl, to eating solid foods. It’s a process which is different for every child.

When it comes to communication development, there are general communication milestones which determine if a child is progressing appropriately with their speech and understanding abilities. These communication milestones tell us whether their current skills are typical for their age.

If your child is having difficulty saying a range of speech sounds, unable to join words together to make sentences or struggles to follow instructions, then a speech pathology assessment will be valuable to determine if speech therapy may be beneficial for your child.

What speech milestones should I keep an eye out for?

There are a few critical speech development milestones which you can look out for – you can download the information sheets here.

At 12 months a child should be babbling, gesturing and starting to say a few words. They should be able to copy sounds and noises you make. In terms of understanding, they should be able to respond to their name, recognise greetings and acknowledge familiar people.

At 18 months the number of single words a child can say should have increased with these spoken words becoming easier to understand by family members and friends. They will understand simple instructions and point to both familiar objects and pictures in books.

At 2 years a child will have more than 50 words that they can say clearly and be using these words in two-word phrases eg. “Bye Mummy”. They can follow two-part instructions and respond appropriately to “what” and “where” questions.

At 3 years a child should be speaking using 4-5 word sentences. They should be asking questions and be able to talk about something that has happened in the past. They should be able to follow complex instructions, recognise colours and understand concepts such as ‘same’ and ‘different’.

At 4 years a child should be able to make longer sentences describing events, asking lots of questions and able to count. They should be able to answer questions and understand “why” questions.

At 5 years a child should use full sentence constructions, take turns in conversations appropriately and use most of their speech sounds correct. They can follow three-part instructions, understand time-related words eg. before and after, be thinking about the meaning of words and be able to recognise most letters and numbers.

Do I need to go to the doctor before taking my child to a speech therapist?

You don’t need a referral from a Doctor to make an initial speech pathology appointment.

The “wait and see” approach is not recommended regarding a child’s speech and language development. If a parent has concerns regarding their child’s communication abilities it is best to make an appointment to see a speech pathologist so that evaluation can take place to determine whether an issue or delay exists.
The sooner your child is seen by a speech therapist, the sooner we can work on helping your child with their speech.

What will the speech therapist do in our first appointment?

The speech pathologist will assess your child’s speech and language skills. Important developmental information will be taken and questions asked regarding your child’s communication abilities within the home and preschool/school environments as well as in the community.

Via play or by looking at pictures, the speech pathologist will determine whether the child’s speech skills are appropriate for their current age regarding both the speech sounds used and length of utterances spoken. The speech pathologist will also evaluate whether the child is able to understand different concepts and follow instructions appropriate to their chronological age.

The speech pathologist will then be able to give feedback as to whether speech pathology intervention is necessary or could be beneficial for the child.

How long does speech therapy take before it’s effective?

The amount of speech therapy required for each child will depend on a number of individual factors. The severity of the speech and/or language delay or disorder will determine how long speech therapy will be required to maximise a child’s communication abilities.

Harrison Speech Pathology tailors your child’s speech pathology intervention program to the individual needs of your child to ensure that efficient and effective intervention is provided to every client.

If you would like one of our experienced speech therapists to meet your child and assess their language development, get in touch with our office today. We would love to help you.

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Please get in touch with our team today, we would love to help you and your child.

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