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Does My Child Need Speech-Language Therapy?

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A child’s speech and language development begins at birth, and hearing our children babbling and then using their first words is a very exciting time. It is natural that we, as parents, worry about whether or not our children are doing what they should for their age. It is vitally important that we consider and monitor our children’s speech and language development, even though every child develops at their own pace.

Speech and Language Therapists are trained in supporting the development of our children’s listening, communication, play, language and literacy skills. Here are some of the things you can look out for, and consult a speech therapist on:

If your child is having difficulties with understanding language, as well as:

  • Listening to, and paying attention to others.
  • Understanding the meaning of new words / vocabulary.
  • Following instructions and the routine of the classroom.
  • Understanding stories, with and without pictures.
  • Learning new concepts (colours, shapes, numbers, sounds, letters, etc).

If your child is struggling to express themselves using language, and also:

  • Developing vocabulary / words / gestures they are able to use.
  • Answering different types of questions (‘who’, ‘where’, ‘when’, etc.)
  • Building sentences using different word types (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.)
  • Describing and explaining things to others, and retelling stories.

If your child doesn’t articulate or pronounce sounds accurately, and is:

  • Not using their speech sounds (like /s/, /th/, /r/, /l/, /y/, etc.) correctly.
  • Struggling to get others to understand what they are saying.

If your child has difficulty processing auditory information (what they hear), for example:

  • Needing a longer response (processing) time during conversation.
  • Telling where a sound is coming from.
  • Distinguishing between similar sounds.
  • Understanding speech when there is background noise.
  • Remembering a list or sequence.

If your child struggles to socialize with others, and isn’t:

  • Paying joint attention to the same thing and at the same time as someone else.
  • Communicating with other children or familiar adults.
  • Asking and answering questions.
  • Making and keeping friends.
  • Taking turns with others in play and conversation.
  • Regulating own emotions and responding to the emotions of others.

Other difficulties, for example:

  • Stuttering / fluency
  • Voice
  • Feeding
  • Oral motor skills

If you have any of the above concerns about your child, the ‘wait and see’ approach is usually not the best option. Rather speak to your local speech and language therapist who can offer guidance and support on the way forward.


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