Children who show signs of delayed speech can benefit significantly from early intervention speech therapy.
No idea what it is?
This method of treatment relies on parents working together with speech language pathologists and pediatricians.
They work together to devise home programs or activities that help improve verbal and non-verbal communication.
What Is Early Intervention Speech Therapy?
Through this process, parents are given the tools to improve their child’s speech and language abilities when there’s still a high chance to “right” them at home.
If it turns out that your kids were going to catch up anyway, then no harm, no foul, right?
What’s important is, you didn’t put your child’s future up to the chance that things were going to fall into place because the fact is: they might not.
Today, we will examine how early intervention helps kids with articulation delays.
This is so you don’t have to take the “wait-and-see” approach, which could put your late-talking child at risk for more serious communication problems in the future.
Speech Delay and Its Causes
While each child takes a unique journey in speech, there are milestones that they must meet.
If they don’t accomplish these milestones by a certain age, you might need to be worried.
An area that parents should pay close attention to is speech development.
In reality, children progress differently in this area.
Some might make their milestones on time, while others could take a little bit longer and still develop normally.
This can make it difficult for parents to figure out if there truly is something wrong.
Speech delays in kids can stem from various root causes, namely:
Tongue, Palate, and Frenulum Problems
Children with speech delays could have problems with their tongue or palate.
Issues with the short frenulum or the fold beneath the tongue can also result in speech delay.
This is because it limits the tongue’s movements.
Oral Motor Issues
Oral motor problems can also lead to speech delays.
Children with these disorders find it hard to coordinate their tongues and lips to create speech sounds.
Then, of course, there are hearing issues.
A child with impaired auditory senses won’t be able to get a good understanding of sounds, which makes copying the sounds difficult.
Related: Speech Therapy Activities
How Do I Know if My Kid Needs Speech Therapy?
If speech milestones aren’t met on time, you may want to consider taking your child to see a speech therapist.
At three years old, your little ones should already be able to pronounce the /n/, /d/, and /t/ consonants.
Moreover, the way they communicate should be 75 percent understandable by the adults they spend most of their time with.
If a child barely speaks, then he or she could have a language delay.
This is likely the case if, by two years old, your youngster still does not have anywhere near a 50-word vocabulary or is still unable to combine words to get a message across.
Does Early Intervention Work for Speech Delay?
Services geared towards early intervention can alleviate the effects of developmental delays considerably.
However, they may need to be provided in conjunction with occupational and physical therapy services to promote motor skills.
It has been suggested that 70 percent of late talkers outgrow expressive language delays.
That leaves 30 percent, which is still a significant number of late-talking children who won’t be able to catch up to their peers.
Kids who are unable to catch up are vulnerable to a host of language difficulties, including reading and writing challenges at school.
That said, while 70 percent is still much larger than 30 percent, you won’t know for sure which category your child will fall in.
That is why it is important to not be too reliant on statistics and be proactive when it comes to your child’s speech and language development.
Intervene as early as possible since this can make all the difference for your child in a lot of ways.
What Does Early Intervention Do for Speech?
The aim of early intervention isn’t just to “treat” children but to educate, guide, and support parents or guardians.
It can impact a child’s emotional and social development significantly.
There is a host of reasons to intervene early, with the top five being the following:
1. Eliminates Articulation Delays
Parents often aren’t aware of the causes of late-talking and the path it takes with their children.
Although a child’s speech could develop normally, it can be difficult to tell for sure if this would be the case for your little one.
Early intervention can help bring peace of mind.
Through it, a child can have a better chance of catching up with his or her peers before the start of school.
That is because treatments for articulation delays administered earlier usually have more impact and may eliminate speech and sound disorders quickly.
2. Improves Communication
This is the most expected outcome of speech intervention for late-talkers.
Intervening early can improve how a child communicates during play and everyday routines.
It involves parents and guardians being effective communicators to help their kids communicate better with peers and adults.
More importantly, it reduces the child’s frustration about their situation.
3. Higher Chance for Normal Brain Development
The first three years of a child’s life are when most of their speech and language skills develop.
An infant or toddler’s developing brain is designed to learn communication skills best.
That said, if speech and language development problems are discovered during the early childhood stage, parents need to consider addressing them as soon as possible.
You want to make sure treatment administration falls between the window of fast brain development to reduce the risk of future issues.
4. Helps Set Compensatory Strategies
Children who aren’t using any form of verbal language can benefit significantly from compensatory strategies.
These strategies allow them a functional means of getting their points across.
Instead of verbalizing, a child can use pictures or signs to communicate what they want to do or what they want to eat.
As such, a child is given an immediate means of communicating while long-term strategies are being developed.
5. Gives Parents More Control
The last thing parents want to feel when it comes to their child’s problems is helpless.
Parents play a crucial role in early intervention.
During this process, they are handed the tools necessary to facilitate speech development.
Parents and guardians serve as the focus of early intervention because of their roles as language models to the children.
Early intervention teaches parents strategies that ease their child’s speech during daily routines, play, and learning.
They can also learn about feedback approaches for specific sounds in speech.
How Early Can You Start Speech Therapy?
Signs of developmental delays may start to surface at three months old.
While that does seem too early to consult a speech therapist, it’s not too early to keep a close eye on the signs.
If you notice anything concerning, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your child’s doctor.
Is It Advisable to Wait and See?
If your little one is developing normally, for the most part, you might not have any reason to think he or she won’t eventually catch up in the speech department.
Some are probably telling you to just “wait and see” if your child outgrows the speech delays.
While it’s highly likely they will, the chance that they might not, without the advantages of early intervention, may spell huge communication challenges in the future.
Conclusion: It Is Never Too Early
Is your child talking late? Is he having a hard time understanding questions or following directions?
Are specific speech sounds difficult for your little one to pronounce?
Do you think your child is falling behind in speech and language compared to other kids his or her age?
If you tick all the boxes next to these questions, then you’ll want to go see a speech language pathologist right away.
This professional can assess your little one’s speech and language skills and devise a care plan to address any delays and disorders they may have.
Remember that no age is too young to consult experts about early intervention speech therapy.