The first years of our lives are by the most formative. In the span of a few years, babies go from crawling on all fours to walking and talking. Hearing a baby’s first words is always an exciting moment, but what if they aren’t saying words after a year? What if they are still struggling to pronounce words when they are 5? If you are worried that your child might be falling behind, the first thing to remember is that all kids grow at their own pace. If you find your child is falling behind, this isn’t necessarily cause for alarm. Some kids may need special attention in the classroom one year and then be top of their class the next. If you think that your child may benefit from speech therapy, follow these steps before enrolling them in therapy.
Check your Child’s Verbal Development
Though there is no golden ruler to determine exactly who needs therapy and who doesn’t, there are a few developmental milestones that you can look out for to help you gauge how your child is coming along linguistically. If your child doesn’t speak by 18 months and isn’t making eye contact, these are indicators that you should schedule a screening. At 2 years of age, your child should be able to say at least 50 words, combining a few of them to form short sentences. By three, they should be able to pronounce the ‘t’, ‘d’, and ‘n’ sounds. By age five, your child should be able to communicate effectively with those around them. If you notice that your child is not meeting milestones, do not wait to talk to a doctor about it. The best time to begin speech therapy is as soon as you realize your child could benefit from it. The early years of development are the most impactful when it comes to speech, so your child must get as much help as they can while they are as young as possible.
Consult a Professional
If you believe your child is failing to meet these milestones, consult their pediatrician about referring you to an evaluation specialist. This evaluation can provide insight into your child’s speech development process, and determine some potential causes for the delay. This evaluation will help you decide whether speech therapy is the right choice for you and your child and what the best course of action would be.
Practice at Home
The best way to help your child develop their speech is by practicing at home. Speech therapy can help your child discover new skill sets, and the best way to reinforce these skills is through consistent practice. The more dialogue you have with your children, the more opportunity they will have to both learn from you, and apply what they have been learning in therapy. Reading together, limiting screen times, or just talking as you go about your day are all good ways that you can help your child develop their speech.
Speech Therapy for Kids at Excellence Rehab
One of the most rewarding parts of parenting is seeing our children develop and succeed. At Excellence Rehab and Physical Therapy, our pediatric therapy services are designed to help children develop and strengthen the tools that they will need later in life. If you have any questions or are ready to take the next step, contact our team to schedule an appointment. The best time to start is now.