This is a touchy subject, I know. I have several friends and even family members who dragged their feet or did not know their child needed help with their speech development. I have possibly lost friends for bringing up the idea of having speech evaluated or asking for speech therapy. While it makes me sad that my concern alienated me, I don’t regret it.
I have been right to be concerned in every single case. It appears that many people are not aware of what “normal” speech development in babies and children looks like. Furthermore, many people are completely oblivious to “red flags” that indicate speech issues.
I am by no means an expert on the subject, my own children (thus far) have developed speech normally. However, it is an area that I have researched extensively because I know how important early detection and intervention with speech development issues is for an optimal outcome.
Below is a simple list I have compiled of some key milestones and red flags. If you have concerns your child isn’t hitting near these milestones or that he or she is exhibiting any of the red flags, discuss it with your trusted healthcare provider.
Go with your instincts. Children do all develop differently, including in the area of speech development; however, a speech evaluation is completely non-invasive so there’s no harm in erring on the side of caution if you have concerns.
5 Signs Your Child Should Have a Speech Evaluation:
- Your baby does not coo, babble or string together vocalizations (i.e. mamamama, dadadada) outside of crying by 9 months of age.
- Your child does not have consistent words by 18 months of age. Generally 20+ words should be in their vocabulary.
- Your child does not make simple sentences by 2 years of age. Generally 50+ words should be in their vocabulary.
- Immediate family and caregivers struggle to understand your child’s speech at 2 years of age. Between ages of 2-3 years a child’s vocabulary should grow well beyond what parents can easily count.
- People outside of immediate family and caregivers struggle to understand your child’s speech at 3 years of age.
Additional Warning Signs:
- Disinterest in communicating.
- Regression or stagnation in speaking abilities.
- Lack of response to being spoken to or noises in their surroundings.
- Inability to speak clearly by age 3.
This list is by no means fully comprehensive. If you have concerns your child isn’t hitting speech milestones or is displaying any of these warning signs, take the time to have the cause investigated.
If your concerns are valid and an issue with your child’s speech development is found, it can be properly addressed. If it turns out you’ve been worrying for nothing, the weight of the worry will be lifted off your shoulders.
You can’t go wrong getting your concerns checked out. The only mistake you can make is putting off an evaluation if your child needs help. Speech therapy is most effective when started before age 3 and most (if not all) states have programs to give all children access to speech therapy before age 3.
Do you have a child whose speech seems to be developing differently? Was this post helpful for you?
Have you had a child who needed speech therapy? What prompted you to seek an evaluation and/or speech therapy? I would love to hear about your experiences!
Until next time,