So what do you do if your 12 month old isn't using gestures, such as pointing or waving bye-bye, or your 18 month old prefers gestures over vocalizations to communicate or has trouble imitating sounds and simple verbal commands? What if your 2 year old can only imitate speech or actions and doesn't produce words or phrases spontaneously or can’t follow simple directions? What if your child’s speech is harder to understand than expected for their age?
If you think your child has any kind of speech or language delay, you should contact a speech-language pathologist. Depending on your child’s age, you can either go through a federal and state run agency such as early intervention, you can find a private local speech therapist in your area, or contact your child’s health care provider to refer one to you. If your child is school aged, the school may provide the services if he/she is eligible.
The speech therapist will not only work with your child to improve his/her speech and language skills, but also provide support, education and guidance for the parents. It is never too early to meet with a speech therapist for an assessment to determine if treatment is needed.
Should you “wait and see?” Many times parents are told by family, friends, or even their pediatrician to wait and see if their child will “outgrow” their speech or language delay. Anytime a child is not reaching milestones, it can be a cause for concern. Without the benefit of receiving services as soon as possible, there could be challenges down the road, so why wait and see? Contact a local speech therapist to determine if your child does need services. If it's decided that your child doesn't need services, great! However, if there is a delay, not seeking intervention would put off important treatment that could make a big difference for your child.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child's speech and language skills, we'd be happy to chat with you! We also offer free screenings to determine if further assessment would be necessary.