Speech and language development is a critical part of a child's overall growth and development. By the time children reach preschool age, they should be able to communicate their needs and wants effectively, both verbally and nonverbally. However, some children experience delays or difficulties with speech and language development.
If you are concerned that your child may need a speech and language evaluation, there are a few things you can look for. Here are some common signs that a child may need to be evaluated:
Not babbling by 7 months
Not saying any words by 15 months
Not using two-word phrases by 24 months
Having difficulty pronouncing certain sounds
Stuttering (especially if it is persistent or severe)
Not understanding simple directions
Having difficulty following conversations
Not using words or gestures to communicate needs and wants
Using the same words or phrases over and over again
Having difficulty expressing thoughts and feelings
If you notice any of these signs in your child, it is important to talk to your pediatrician. They can refer you to a speech-language pathologist (SLP) for a comprehensive evaluation.
What to expect from a speech and language evaluation
A speech and language evaluation typically includes a variety of activities and assessments, such as:
Interview with the parent: The SLP will ask you questions about your child's developmental history, medical history, and communication skills.
Observation of the child: The SLP will observe your child's play and communication interactions.
Formal testing: The SLP may use standardized tests to assess your child's speech and language skills.
Once the evaluation is complete, the SLP will discuss their findings with you and make recommendations for next steps. This may include speech therapy, additional testing, or referrals to other specialists.
Benefits of a speech and language evaluation
Early intervention is key for children with speech and language delays or disorders. Speech therapy can help children improve their communication skills in a variety of ways, including:
Improving speech production: Speech therapy can help children learn to pronounce sounds correctly and produce clear speech.
Expanding vocabulary: Speech therapy can help children learn new words and use them in context.
Improving language comprehension: Speech therapy can help children understand what others are saying and follow instructions.
Improving social communication skills: Speech therapy can help children develop the skills they need to communicate effectively in social situations.
If you are concerned about your child's speech and language development, don't hesitate to talk to your pediatrician. A speech and language evaluation can help you determine if your child needs additional support.