Do you wonder if your child is too young to begin speech and language services? Children are referred for speech therapy for many different reasons. Infants may see a speech pathologist if they are having difficulty feeding or swallowing (latching to the breast/nipple), if they struggle to easily transition from the breast to bottle/cup or solids, coughing or choking during feeding) or if their sound production is narrow or limited. Toddlers may benefit from therapy if they begin to display frustration due to limited or impaired articulation or language development. Signs of that your child may be frustrated include increased tantrums, refusal to repeat themselves or reduced attempts to communicate.
A parent is often the first to identify a problem or have a concern for their child’s speech, language and or feeding development. You might begin by talking to your child’s pediatrician. Additionally, a phone consult with a speech pathologist might be helpful in determining the need to pursue an evaluation or to obtain strategies to facilitate speech and language.
Developing intelligible speech is not so easy. It means that your child has to correctly produce enough sounds to be understood. So what could be causing your child’s difficulty in producing intelligible speech?
There can be several causes. It may be because he hasn’t learned the correct placement or manner of production for certain sounds. It could be because he is only able to inconsistently produce the sounds he has mastered. It is also possible that your child’s speech is difficult to understand because of structural problems or oral weakness.
The role of a speech pathologist is to evaluate why your child’s speech is difficult to understand. Finding the underlying cause/s for your child’s reduced speech intelligibility is essential to correctly treating the condition. Understanding the cause should aid in the rate of progress toward improved articulation.
If your child is over the age of 3 and their speech remains difficult to understand by you or others, consider consulting with a speech pathologist.
It is common for infants to drool. Although less common in the very young child, mild drooling is still considered normal. Drooling in infants and children to age 2 is generally due to an immature neurological system and or teething. Over the age of 2, drooling is no longer considered typical and further assessment is warranted.
After age 2, drooling is less socially accepted. If there is no direct medical cause, drooling may be secondary to the poor development of oral motor skill and or strength of the muscles of the head and trunk. This lack of development can lead to difficulty managing saliva. Chronic droolers may show minimal or reduced awareness of saliva loss.
When to seek help:
Does your child drool beyond his lower lip?
How frequently do you need to wipe his/her chin?
Change their shirt?
Is your child aware that he/she is drooling?
Is your child’s mouth most often in an open position?
Is your child able to completely close both lips during swallowing?
Does your child have difficulty managing foods or liquids?
Where to seek help:
If you have concerns about your child’s drooling, consider an oral motor evaluation of his/her oral motor skills, conducted by a speech and language pathologist. Treatment of drooling may improve your child’s feeding, speech and hygiene.
As speech and language pathologists it is our job to evaluate your child to determine the need for therapy. But how do you know when your child should be evaluated?
Dr. Ann Kummer , speech and language pathologist and child psychologist, Dr. Leslie Rescorla conducted a study to assess children who were considered “late talkers”. Late talkers were children between the ages of 24-31 months. These children were followed until 17 years of age. Results revealed that most children “caught up” by the age of 5 years. However, in comparing these children to a comparison group, the majority of late talkers continued to have significant weakness in language skills.
It is recommended that parents monitor their child’s language skills from birth. Your infant should be vocalizing at 2 months, babbling (e.g. baba, dada) at 8-9 months, jargoning at 9-12 months and producing several first words between 1 year and 15 months. At 2 years of age, your child should be combining 2-3 words to produce short utterances. As speech and language pathologists, it is our role to evaluate your child’s speech and language skills when the expected skills are either not developing, developing slowly or appear atypical in development.
If your child is in treatment, research shows that families who participate in treatment and are able to practice what their child is learning, show the greatest success. It’s never too late for intervention. However, we do know that the earlier we provide intervention the easier it is for the child to learn language.
If you have questions about your child’s speech and language development, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summer is a time for picnics, barbeques, sandwiches and light meals. It is exciting to explore the foods that can be a part of our summer meals. Taking a trip to the grocery store and the farmer’s market can be educational for the child who is picky about eating. Teach your child where fresh fruits and vegetables come from and the ways in which they can be prepared and eaten. Allow your child to smell and touch foods without having to eat them. Fruits and vegetables are plentiful and generously offered at one or more meals daily. These offerings can be new opportunities to try new foods or learn to eat familiar foods in new ways. For example, maybe your child is willing to eat pureed or canned peaches. This time of year is perfect to offer the peach perhaps whole or in small pieces. It may take a picky eater many opportunities to look at, touch and smell a food before they are willing to taste it. Let your child help you pick fruit to be brought home, wash the fruit, cut fruit and even play with the food. Be creative! Be playful! Help your child make faces, train cars, beach balls, etc. using a variety of food shapes and textures. Soon your child may be willing to lick his fingers or even taste the foods you never thought they would eat!
Good luck! Remember, learning should be fun. Let me know how these ideas have worked in your home. Now hurry..the farmer’s market closes at 12!