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Five important signs your child needs to see a speech therapist

This post is in collaboration with Brand Meets Blog. 

It can be cute when kids pronounce things in the wrong way and as a parent you may be hesitant to correct them. And incorrect pronunciation of words can just be a normal part of development as children learn language and reach milestones around certain ages. But how do you know when their speech is becoming a problem? Here are five signs your child needs speech therapy.

They aren’t meeting speech and language milestones

Similar to developmental milestones such as learning to walk or learning to roll, there are also age-based speech and language milestones. While not every child will hit these at exactly the same time, they are good to keep in mind as a guide and provide insight into typical expectations.

Speech Pathology The Animated Series published by Speech Clinic is a great set of resources for understanding some of these milestones. For example, in the first 12 months babies are beginning to respond to sounds, commands, communicating through gestures (e.g. pointing and reaching) and exploring their voice through sounds and babbling. By their first birthday they will be saying their first meaningful words.

As they enter their second 12 months, a child will start to reduce their babbling as they master more words. By 12 months of age they will generally understand 10 words and by 18 months this jumps to about 50 words, as well being able to identify several body parts.

Other people have trouble understanding them

You are listening to your child speaking every day so you probably don’t have trouble understanding them. If other people really struggle to understand what they are saying then it may be time to take stock. If your child goes to daycare or preschool, ask one of their teachers, as they are usually a great sense check for how your child is progressing. Remember that it is normal for a child to mispronounce some sounds and words but if these aren’t correcting themselves over time then it may be time to look into speech therapy.

They seem to struggle with what to say

We all have those moments where we can’t think of the words that we need to express how we are feeling, but often kids who require speech therapy will really struggle with what to say. This can lead to much frustration for them so may appear more as a behavioural issue but watch for how they are using their words and if they are having difficulty finding the words in the first place then this may be a sign of a language delay. Likewise, if they struggle to understand simple directions or questions this could also indicate a problem.

Your child has a stutter

A stutter is one of the more obvious child speech delay symptoms. A stutter can either be a child repeating a sound multiple times at the start of the word, prolonging the first sound of the word or almost like they are separating the first letter from the rest of the word. We can all stutter occasionally, perhaps we go to say one word and then decide to use another, but regular stuttering is not a sign of normal speech.

Their social skills are different to their friends

Language is a big part of how we develop friendships so if your child is suffering a speech delay they may find it difficult to make friends. If you are observing unusual or inappropriate play or behaviour from your child (they struggle with taking turns and regular social interactions, or find eye contact difficult) and this is perhaps paired with one or more of the other signs then speech therapy may be required.

As with anything to do with children, they do progress at different speeds. Some kids are good at drawing while others learn to read early. This is completely normal for development. If you have concerns about your child’s speech, whether it is because of the signs listed above or for any other reason, talk to your GP, your child’s teacher or a kids speech therapist.

Speech Clinic, founded by speech pathologist Lauren Crumlish, is a mobile clinic offering house visits across Brisbane, Bayside, Redland City, Logan City and the Northern Gold Coast. They are a health service that is passionate about creating engaging and informative content to support parents, educators and other health professionals.

“Early intervention is such a proactive step to take to support your child’s development. If you have any concerns about your child’s communication, we always recommend that you touch base with your GP or local speech pathologist to have your questions answered”.

Image: DepositPhotos.com/belchonock

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signs your child needs speech therapy