Speech Therapy For Kids – When To Start and Red Flag Signs
Speech therapy for kids has been around for a long time to help a child with talking challenges. What is speech therapy and how does it work? More importantly, what signs do you need to look for to know if your kiddo needs help? You may oftentimes wonder about these things.
This post answers these common questions in simple detail along with what to expect if your child needs speech therapy, tips on how to help your child’s speaking skills, and more. Let’s take a look!
First, What Is A Speech Therapist?
A speech therapist is also called a speech-language pathologist (SLP).
SLPs help people who have trouble speaking, as well as those with communication issues like auditory processing disorder or dyslexia. To work in this industry, you need a Master’s degree as well as a license to practice this field of work.
So you may be wondering what to expect during a therapy session. Here are some target issues an SLP focuses on.
What Does A Child Do In Speech Therapy?
An SLP treats a child based on the situation, diagnosis, or other issues and problems with communication the child is having.
Children are usually worked within a classroom, a small group, or one-on-one.
You may be surprised, but speech therapy focuses to improve a WIDE range of things.
Work on thinking, memory, and paying attention issues.
Improve fluency problems, like stuttering.
Often known as “articulation”, if there are difficulties forming or sounding out words, this can be another focus during therapy.
The ability to understand your fluent language both written and spoken.
An SLP will use or try out a variety of oral exercises to strengthen the mouth muscles so it’s easier to eat, drink, and/or swallow.
Different textured or temperatures of foods may also be used during these exercises to develop awareness in the mouth.
Helping you to overcome the underlying issues that are causing difficulties in swallowing. The therapist may work to strengthen the muscles involved in swallowing, develop better breathing techniques, and/or teach efficient coordination between muscles necessary for swallowing.
Kids who are born with conditions like cleft lips, cerebral palsy, or down syndrome may benefit a lot from using speech therapy.
To help change the sounds of your voice.
How Do I Know If My Child Needs Speech Therapy?
It can be hard to know if your child needs help with speech since kids develop at their own pace. For instance, if your kiddo has trouble understanding language or saying words other people can’t understand, this may point toward speech therapy being needed.
Again, keep in mind each child blossoms in their own way and on their own time. Just because your child isn’t speaking right away doesn’t necessarily mean they need speech therapy. As the parent, always follow your gut.
With that said, here are signs to look out for if your child may need speech therapy.
Red Flag Signs To Look For By Age (Infant to 4 Years)
The earlier the better when it comes to treating a child with speech difficulties. If you notice any of these signs we are about to cover and are concerned about it, follow up with your pediatrician or healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Under 1 Year
Does not respond to sounds, babble, cry, or fuss.
Not using the body to communicate such as waving hello or bye-bye or pointing at people, objects, or things.
Prefers to communicate using body language or gestures over vocalizing words, has trouble understanding certain vocal requests, or has difficulty imitating sounds.
By this age, you should be able to understand at least 50% of the words your child is saying, phrases, and sentences they are forming.
- Does not vocalize or communicate anything but immediate needs.
- Nasal or raspy sounding when talking and trying to form words.
- Does not say any words, phrases, or sentences spontaneously.
- Unable to respond to simple words, phrases, or commands.
By this age, you should be able to understand at least 75% of the words your child is saying, phrases, and sentences they are forming.
You (and even strangers) should be able to understand most of the words and sentences your child is saying.
4 Easy Ways To Improve Your Child’s Speech
Aside from using a speech therapist, working with your child one-on-one can greatly improve their speech.
Your child’s SLP should provide a list of things that you can do with your child to work with them and help them communicate better.
Here are 4 things you can do with your kiddo to improve their communication:
Talk frequently with your child.
Do this by narrating your day such as “We’re going to eat lunch now”, “I made peanut butter and jelly”, “You’re going to take a bath now”…” The water is nice and warm with lots of bubbles.”
Listen to music and sing to your sweetie.
When your babe, listens to music and hears you sing, it may just get them motivated enough to join in on the fun or sing along with you.
Tell stories about your day, something funny that happened, past events, future events, etc.
This isn’t just a bedtime ritual, storytelling is a fun way to develop your child’s communication skills and imagination!
Start off with using simple books to read to your child and then work up to bigger books. Doing this may spark their love for reading. Hit up free activities that promote storytime like going to a library or bookstore, as these places often have free reading events for kids.
To Wrap It Up
Speech therapy for kids is an extremely important tool to help them learn how to communicate better. Sometimes, it may feel intimidating to start the process but remember your child’s pediatrician and speech therapist are there to help your kiddo excel in all areas of their development. Plus, there are TONS of online resources and support groups out there to help answer your questions or give advice.
As parents, we are our child’s #1 advocate to support them with what they need to thrive. Your efforts give your child permission to express themselves which opens doors for their confidence and communication skills to soar.
So don’t wait – start exploring what speech therapy for kids may look like for your little one and seek advice from the professionals who are there to help your child succeed!
Until the next post, I’m sending you all the positive parenting vibes!
Do you have anything to add or share about speech therapy that wasn’t covered in this post? Let me know in the comments below. Your input means a lot and helps other fellow parents who read this!
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About The Author
Linds is the proud mom of two little miracles, Mono Mono twin girls, and one AMAZING older brother! She is the founder and content creator of Mono Mono Twins, Intensive Therapy for Kids, and Co-Founder of The LENN Foundation (a 510c3 that helps children with cerebral palsy receive grants for intensive therapies to thrive). ♥
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