Kids Health: How to Know If Your Kid Needs Speech Therapy

Kids Health: How to Know If Your Kid Needs Speech Therapy

Naturally, as a parent, you want only the best for your kids! Everything you do for them is in hopes of seeing them live their lives to the fullest. So, when something seems wrong, of course, you're going to take it seriously. While their little bumps and scrapes can be overlooked, bigger developmental issues should always be treated seriously as soon as they arise, especially when it comes to their speech and hearing.   


Even if your baby passed the newborn hearing screening, it's still possible for issues to occur that can impact their speech development. In this article, we'll give you a few things to look out for to know if you should take your child to speech therapy. 

What is speech therapy?

Speech therapy is a type of treatment that aims to improve a person's ability to talk and use other language skills. The goal is to help people communicate better by expressing their thoughts and understanding what other people are saying. Other benefits of speech therapy can also include improving memory and problem-solving skills. 


Those in speech therapy will work closely with a speech-language pathologist who will help to find exercises and treatments that address a patient's specific needs. 

Is your kid meeting the milestones? 

All kids develop at their own pace, it's true. However, there are a few milestones everyone needs to meet to show that they are developing well. There are a few signs to look for in children who might be experiencing speech or language development delays. 


Sometimes, it's challenging to identify if your child is simply taking longer to reach a milestone or if they are experiencing communication difficulties. The first two years of your child's life are critical, and here are a few key signs of speech and language delay:


  • No babbling (around 5 to 10 months)
  • Not using any words, or only a few (12 to 18 months)
  • Not being able to say the letters p, b, m, h and w correctly (1-2 years)
  • Not being able to say the letters d, f, g, k and t correctly (2 to 3 years)
  • Not using sentences or stringing words together (2 to 3 years)
  • Disinterest in interacting with others
  • Difficulty understanding others (18 months to 2 years)
  • Difficulty naming objects (2 to 3 years)

Initially, suppose you notice your child is not meeting these milestones, and it becomes a concern. In that case, your doctor will recommend doing some screenings to determine if there are any underlying issues. 

How is a speech delay diagnosed?

For those concerned about their child's speech development, you can send them to see a speech pathologist, like those at Hear & See, for a speech assessment. Your sessions with the speech pathologist may include a brief screening or a detailed, comprehensive assessment depending on the following:

  • The age of your child
  • The nature of their difficulties
  • The areas of your concern


The assessment for babies and young children will often include observations of their speech while they are playing or communicating. When older children are being assessed, they will be asked to complete more formal assessment activities to evaluate their pronunciation of different sounds.

Classification of errors:

Once your child's speech production has been assessed, their errors will be classified as:

  • Age-appropriate - typical development and your child's speech is normal for their age
  • Delayed - typical development, but your child's speech is no longer considered normal for their age
  • Unusual or disordered - your child's speech does not follow typical development

Different types of speech delays

Articulation and phonological delays are the two common types of speech delays your child may have, and it is possible to be diagnosed with both.

  • Articulation delays refer to an error that occurs when the tongue position or movement for a sound is imprecise.
  • Phonological delays occur when sounds are added, substituted or deleted. 

What is dyspraxia and dysarthria?

Dyspraxia and dysarthria are motor speech disorders that result in severe difficulty in speech production. Both of these speech disorders describe when a child experiences challenges planning and/or executing the movements of the tongue and mouth to produce individual speech sounds.

  • Dyspraxia refers to the difficulty of planning and programming speech movements. Generally, in people with Dyspraxia, the language and motor systems work well, but there is a disconnect. This hinders the ability to convert what they want to say into the physical movements needed to say it out loud
  • Dysarthria refers to the difficulty when forming and executing speech movements. The language system works well, but the nerves or muscles in the motor system are weak and/or restricted, and they move in a slow and/or uncoordinated way. Some children may have both dyspraxia and dysarthria. 

Children with Dyspraxia or Dysarthia, depending on the severity of the condition, may be challenging to understand, and they may have very limited verbal speech. Both disorders require intensive therapy sessions and take a substantial time to remediate. While they are learning to speak clearly, it's normal for some kids to develop an alternative form of communication, such as using a picture book or signing.

Final Thoughts

It's always a good idea to be vigilant about your child's development in every sense of the word. Communication is a tool that most take for granted, but as soon as there is an issue, life becomes a lot more difficult. So, to give your child every advantage and keep an eye on their speech development. The earlier issues are picked up, the better!



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