When thinking about speech therapy, most people think of fixing specific sounds. However, speech therapists do so much more. Yes, we do fix speech sounds, but we also work on understanding, speaking, supporting social communication, stuttering, reading, and writing just to name a few.
When my son was born in 2018, I was convinced that he was going to be an early talker. I’m a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), of course, he’ll be using full sentences at a year! Well, that was not the case. Lucas was extremely communicative and social in his facial expressions and vocalizations but he didn’t have any words. By 14 months he only had five words. I waited, I spoke to him, and I read to him, but still no words. At 18 months, I was distraught. I’m an SLP, I should know what to do. But in this case, I was also a mom and I realized that I needed an expert.
There is a wealth of information on the internet about increasing your child’s communication skills. While these articles and tips are really helpful, I firmly believe is no substitute for an expert (admittedly, I might be a little biased).
Here are 5 reasons why you may want to speak to a Speech-Language Pathologist.
1. Not Enough Words:
This is where I struggled! There is a lot of variability in what is considered age-appropriate for young kids. Everyone has a story about when their child spoke and advice on what you should do. As a parent, you know your child best, so go with your gut. An SLP may tell you that your child is at age expected levels, but give you tips about how to facilitate language at home. Or you may get a recommendation for further assessment. With Lucas, we got him a full evaluation at two and a half years old and he is happily receiving speech therapy twice a week.
2. I can’t understand anything my child says.
This happened to my brother when he was younger. He had ear infections and the fluid clogged up his ears so much that he couldn’t hear most sounds. What resulted were some very interesting and funny speech patterns. Not all pronunciation difficulties are due to ear infections, but you should get your child’s hearing checked first. There are percentages for how much you should understand what your child says based on their age, but my rule of thumb is if you can’t understand more than 50% of what your child says and/or they are getting frustrated that they can’t be understood, call in an SLP.
3. My child is having difficulty learning to read.
Learning how to read (decoding) is a language-based skill. If your child struggles with recalling letter sounds and or names, has trouble sequencing sounds, or does not read fluently, you should call an SLP who specializes in reading. The majority of kids who have difficulties learning to read often exhibit subtle spoken language deficits. Similarly, if your child can read words but is having difficulty understanding or recalling what they have read, they may be struggling with difficulties understanding language.
4. My child speaks eloquently, but he can’t get his ideas down on paper
I have a large number of kids in my own practice that struggles with this. Writing is a complex integration of language skills. It places many demands on language and memory. An SLP can help a child organize and express themselves in writing in a way that matches their verbal abilities. Many times children with writing struggles are performing poorly in school because they can’t show what they know in writing even though they understand the material.
5. My child doesn’t follow my directions
Yes, kids are stubborn and yes they often don’t want to do what you say. However, sometimes kids might not understand. Some kids have difficulties processing large amounts of language. We often tend to give three directions in a row (get up, get your shoes, and grab your coat) without even realizing it. If you are seeing your child struggle to follow directives or answer questions in a variety of situations. (not just when you are asking them to do chores). It will help to have a speech pathologist assess your child’s receptive language skills.
Ready to take the next step? Contact Jenn to learn more.