Has your child passed their second birthday, and haven’t yet said their first word?
If so, it’s possible they may have a speech disorder.
However, there are many signs of a speech disorder that begin much earlier. Being able to properly spot these signs is crucial to getting the best results out of speech therapy treatment for your child.
Regardless of age, however, if your child is showing signs of a speech disorder, New Horizons Wellness Services can help.
Read on to find out more about the type of kids’ speech therapy services offered at New Horizons Wellness Services.
Why Is Early Intervention So Important?
Studies have shown that when a child has a speech or language disorder, the results tend to be better with earlier intervention.
This has to do with how our brains develop.
A child’s mind is like a blank slate. As a result, they can do nothing else but absorb information, which they do in an unconscious way. Information comes at them, they learn it, and they add it to their collection of knowledge.
Around age five, however, this openness pivots, and they begin having to consciously learn the information given to them, like adults do. This is why it’s so easy for a child to pick up their first language, or their second or third if they learn it at a young enough age. It’s also where a lot of bad habits in speech form.
The more time your child has had to form their bad habits, the more work your speech therapist – and your child – will have to do to un-learn those habits.
As a result, it’s always a good idea to begin speech therapy at as young an age as possible. While some may suggest a “wait and see” approach to your child’s speech and language development, it’s a better idea to have your child assessed as soon as you notice potential signs.
The New Horizons Wellness Services Difference
When it comes to speech therapy services for your child, you naturally want to make sure you’re giving them the best available. But with so many different options available, how do you decide where to go?
At New Horizons Wellness Services, we recognize the importance of early intervention in kids’ speech and language disorders. That’s why we work hard to keep our waiting lists short. Whereas other places may take up to several months before you get a chance to see a specialist, you can book your appointment in a much shorter time.
And once you arrive, you’ll find the environment to be less frantic, and more calming. It’s a family-oriented environment where your child can feel at ease.
You can also find a wide range of other services that can help your child depending on their diagnosis. If, for example, you find your child is struggling with low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression as a result of their speech or language disorder, you’ll find other therapeutic services at the clinic that can help them with those issues as well. The same goes for many other issues, including:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Problematic behavior
- Sensory processing issues
- Self regulation issues
- Social skills issues
- Developmental delays
- Intellectual disability
- Selective mutism
- History of trauma
- Fetal alcohol syndrome
- Cerebral palsy
- Traumatic brain injury
- Feeding and eating
This is important, as the therapy process can be a stressful one. Bringing your child to the same clinic for multiple services can help them feel more at ease.
Here at New Horizons Wellness Services, your child will find a variety of speech therapy, behavioral therapy, and mental and emotional support.
The goal is to address the underlying issues holding your child back, to give them the strongest start to life.
To find out how New Horizons Wellness Services can help your child, contact us today.
What Are The Signs Of A Speech Disorder In Infants/Toddlers?
As mentioned above, an easy sign of a speech disorder in a child is a delayed development of speech. However, there are signs you may be able to notice earlier – sometimes as early as just a few months old.
Your Child Is Not Interacting Socially
Difficulty socializing is a hallmark of a speech disorder in older children and adults. However, this can be a sign in even a small infant.
Babies begin socializing before they’re even born. While they’re still in the womb, they can learn to recognize and respond to familiar voices. And once they’re born, they should generally start responding to baby talk with you, your co-parent(s), and other caregivers.
If they aren’t, this is the earliest warning sign that there might be something wrong. Reach out to New Horizons Wellness Services to book an appointment.
Your Child Doesn’t Understand What You Say To Them
Even if your child isn’t speaking yet, they tend to start understanding simple questions and commands from a young age. Experiments have shown that babies tend to understand the meaning of basic, common words – toy, ball, food – by the time they’re about six months old.
There’s some wiggle room to this based on individual differences in development, but if they aren’t able to do so by the time they reach a year old, this could be a sign that something is wrong.
Your Child Hasn’t Started Speaking Yet
Many children have begun babbling something that sounds like it might be a word of some sort by around six months. They’ve usually said their first word between six months and a year after that, and from there they begin to build their vocabulary.
If they aren’t speaking by the time they reach 18 months, or haven’t expressed more than a few rudimentary gestures or words, it’s a good sign you should see a speech therapist.
Your Child Has Trouble Pronouncing Their Words
Kids often pronounce things in a strange way, at least at first. For some parents, it’s a running joke long into adulthood, especially if you accidentally mispronounce a word in a way that becomes a little… distasteful.
However, most children can be taught the right way to pronounce a word after a while. If they’re having trouble, though, it may be a result of a speech disorder.
In particular, watch for the letters B, D, F, G, H, K, M, N, P, T, and W. These can be particularly problematic for children with speech disorders.
Speech Therapy For Preschool/School Age Kids
By the time your child is getting ready for preschool, they should have advanced significantly farther in their speech and language skills. If they’re still showing any of the above symptoms, that’s a definite sign you should see a speech language pathologist.
However, if you begin to notice some of the following symptoms in your child, it may be a sign of a speech or language disorder:
Your Child Is Not Assembling Sentences, Even Simple Ones
As children learn to talk, they often can’t do much more than say a single word. This, combined with gestures, is the only way they’re able to communicate what they mean. Pointing to a toy on a shelf and saying “truck” will have to stand in for “would you please pass me the toy truck on the shelf over there” because they’re just not capable of constructing sentences that complex.
By the time they reach age two, however, they should be learning how to construct sentences of two or three words to express more complex ideas. If they aren’t, this is a sign you should bring them to see a speech language pathologist.
Your Child Has Difficulty With Plural, Pronouns, Or Verb Tenses
It may seem simple as an adult, but for a child, learning the difference between an apple and two apples is a significant step in their linguistic advancement. Likewise with pronouns, or differentiating between first, second, and third person – as in, I, you, and he/she/they.
If your child is having difficulty with their singular/plurals or pronouns on a consistent basis, it could be a sign they’re experiencing a speech or language disorder.
Recognizing the difference between an event currently occurring, something that happened in the past, or something that will happen in the future, can also be a complex and confusing thing at first. However, if they’re consistently confusing them, consider seeing a speech language pathologist.
Your Child Has Difficulty Telling Stories
By about four years of age, your child should be able to tell a simple story. If you read a nursery rhyme, or a short picture book, they should be able to recall most of the details, if not a word for word retelling.
Having difficulty doing so may be a sign of a speech or language disorder.
Your Child Struggles To Formulate Who/What/Where/When/Why/How Questions
As a toddler, your child may only be able to give single-word commands in place of asking questions. For example, instead of asking “where is my ball?” they may simply say “ball”. By the time they’re reaching preschool age, though, they should be able to formulate more complex questions.
If they struggle to do so, it may be a sign they have a speech or language disorder.
Speech Therapy For Teenagers
When it comes to speech therapy for children, the focus is usually on children of a younger age. There’s a good reason for that – catching speech issues as soon as possible will give your child the best chance at overcoming them effectively.
However, speech therapy for teenagers is important too.
A speech therapist’s focus is often on more than just speech, but communication as well. That’s why, officially, a speech therapist is called a speech language pathologist – it’s about language, period.
Teenagers who struggle in school may be doing so as a result of a learning disability – dyslexia, undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder, or other language-based learning disabilities.
When a child reaches their teen years, their world focuses more and more on written and spoken language. If they have a speech, language, or communication disorder, they may have difficulty with what we call social, or pragmatic, communication. This is language used in a social context, which involves social interaction, cognition, and language processing skills.
This might look like difficulty with:
- Following along with conversations
- Keeping up with topic changes
- Understanding humour, sarcasm and ‘in-jokes’
- Making inferences based on context
- Understanding others’ perspectives
- Responding to verbal and nonverbal social cues
- Understanding social subtleties
Without the development of these skills, teens have added difficulty with navigating in social situations and interacting with peers. This can happen when someone with a disorder doesn’t follow the traditional rules of conversation, is ambiguous, or doesn’t understand what’s stated.
Another hallmark of these disorders is the inability to tailor a conversation to a specific social setting. Instead of altering the way they communicate to get a point across, they might fail to make sense to the listener.
The list of conditions you’ll see in the next paragraph can affect a teenager as well if they aren’t addressed at a younger age. But if your teenager is having trouble in school or with peer interactions, it may be time to take them to a speech therapist.
What Sort Of Conditions Can A Speech Therapist For Children Help With?
There are a wide variety of different speech disorders that can affect children. Read below for an incomplete list:
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
- Cognition and attention
- Early language development
- Feeding and Swallowing
- Literacy and pre-literacy skills
- Phonological difficulties
- Reading fluency
- Social communication and pragmatic skills
- Stuttering or disfluent speech
- Tongue thrust
- Voice and resonance
- Resonance disorders
- Articulation disorders
- Receptive disorders
- Expressive disorders
- Cognitive-communication disorders
- Hearing loss
It’s important to note as well that a speech disorder can be linked with a hearing disorder. Because hearing and speech are so closely related, an issue with one may affect the other. As a result, it’s a good idea to get a hearing screening done before you see a speech language pathologist.
Speak to your doctor, your school nurse, or an audiologist for more information, or contact us if you have any questions.
Book An Appointment With New Horizons Wellness Services
Has your doctor recommended you see a speech therapist for your child?
Or, having read the above list of possible signs of speech disorders, did you recognize some signs in your own child?
If so, New Horizons Wellness Services can help.
Book an appointment today to find out how.