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When to be Concerned about Your Child's Speech and Language DevelopmentOne of the most frequent questions I receive when people find out I am a pediatric speech-language pathologist is, "How do I know when to be concerned about my child's speech and language development?" This is a difficult question to answer because the exact age at which children will master developmental milestones varies greatly. However, I generally like to educate parents on some of the key signs and symptoms that may indicate a need for closer evaluation by a speech-language pathologist. Speech-language pathologists (often referred to as speech therapists) are the professionals who are educated to assess speech and language development and to treat speech and language disorders.
Kimberly A. Bell, M.S.,CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist, SPEECH PATHways, Maryland
It is important for parents to realize that both social and academic success depends on well-developed speech and language skills. Certain factors often place children at a higher risk for having speech and language delays. These include, but are not limited to:
- Your child is experiencing or has experienced frequent ear infections.
- Your child has had an extended stay in the hospital (six months or more).
- Your child is not understood by playmates or others outside of the immediate family.
- Your child is frustrated when trying to communicate and this does not improve in 1-2 months
- Your child has a delay of one year or more in developing speech & language skills.
- Your child is a "picky" eater and/or has limited food preferences.
Common indications that your child may be having a speech and/or language delay include, but are not limited to:
The 3-year old who:Article submitted by: Kimberly A. Bell, M.S.,CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist and owner of SPEECH PATHways. For more information, readers can contact her at 410-374-0555 or www.speechpathways.net.
- Says only one or two words at a time.
- Cannot answer "what" or "who" questions.
- Speech is not intelligible except in context.
- Does not seem to hear or understand all that is said ("tunes out").
- Does not start conversations (speaks only when spoken to).
- Does not understand spoken directions without visual assistance from pointing and other gestures.
- Repeats what others say rather than responding.
The 4-year old who:
- Talks in only 2 or 3 word phrases. Word order is poor.
- Cannot answer simple "what," "where," or "why" questions.
- Sentences or words are jumbled and disordered (hard to understand).
- Does not talk to peers or adults without being prodded and then talks as little as possible.
- Does not respond to simple 2-step directions: "Go to the kitchen. Bring me a spoon."
- Cannot listen to 2 or 3 lines of a story and answer simple questions about what was read.
The 5-year old who:
- Talks in only 3 or 4 word sentences about present events.
- Cannot answer questions about "yesterday" or "tomorrow." Cannot answer "how" questions.
- Poor articulation is still a problem. Child’s speech is unclear.
- Talks a great deal but remarks may not be relevant to the situation.
- Has trouble sitting & listening to a story of more than 4 or 5 sentences without "tuning out."
If any of these problems exist, it is recommended that you contact a pediatric speech-language pathologist and have your child's speech and language skills evaluated. Early identification and treatment of speech and language delays is critical. Children with speech and language delays are at higher risk for social and academic difficulties. Proper intervention and treatment can greatly improve your child's social and academic experiences. For more information or a referral visit the American Speech-Language Hearing Association at www.asha.org or the Maryland Speech-Language Hearing Association at www.mdslha.org.
on ISER at: http://www.iser.com/speechpathways-MD.html.
Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.
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