Although children develop at their own paces, there is an age range where most children learn certain skills.
If a child is taking longer to learn a skill, this may be an indication of a delay.
If you are wondering whether your child has speech delay or needs speech therapy, there are signs to look for. The first five years are important in catching the delay early.
The following are some of the indications that your child should be evaluated by a speech language pathologist.
Speech Delay: What is Normal and What is a Concern?
Learning begins from birth. Babies perceive sounds and language, and learn to distinguish between sounds from an early age.
By the age of 3 months, babies acquire pre-linguistic skills.
But it is difficult to exactly know when the child will get to the speaking phase. It varies.
They learn imitation, attention, requesting, and turn-taking. These are the foundation of language as well as communication. There is a range that is considered “normal” in terms of reaching each stage. This also varies.
Your child’s language development depends on:
- How much talking the child hears every day
- Their natural ability to learn language
- Other skills learned at the same time
- How people respond to their speech
For this reason, it is difficult to say where your child will be in terms of their speech and language development in months or even a year.
There are some risk factors that can indicate risk for language problems. If you think your child is not talking as well as you think they should between the ages of 18 months to 2 years, you can look out for these risk factors.
It is normal for a child to be slow on their talk. They may use new words slower than their peers.
But they should be trying to use new words every month while growing up.
They may play with the words, use them together to ask questions and form sentences.
If you don’t hear the use of new words every month, your child may have a language problem.
Receptive language is when the child understands language, what they hear before using the words.
At this stage, your child may be able to point to objects when you name them. They should be able to follow simple instructions.
If your child seems to understand what is being said, they are likely to catch up with their language.
However, if they seem like they do not understand what others are saying, they may have a language delay.
Your child may use gestures to communicate. This may happen especially before they can say many words. Using gestures may help them get out the words.
Lack of or less gestures compared to those done by other children their age can mean that the child is not learning the language.
Having one of the problems listed does not necessarily mean that your child has a delayed speech.
But they are risk factors. Which means that they are at more risk of having one.
If you encountered one of them, you may want to get your child’s speech and language tested.
In addition to risk factors, there are indicators that could be observed. A speech-language pathologist and a parent herself, Jill Shook shared in her post some of the indications of speech delay that can be seen at any age.
You may want to seek out professional help:
- If you can’t understand what your child is saying
- If your child cannot distinguish between sounds or get frustrated when they can’t control their speech
- If your child speaks loudly, in a high-pitched voice
- If your child’s speech is slurred.
As Beth Cooper Howell stated in her blog post , some speech errors are actually age appropriate.
Not being able to produce the sound “r” and saying “wabbit” is alright. But some are not.
If a child is leaving out the initial sound in a word like saying “ee” instead of “tree”, speech-language pathologist assessment may be needed.
- At 0-3 months, babies generally respond by cooing, smiling at parents.
- At 6 months, babies babble and turn to look at sounds they hear.
- At 8 months, babies respond when their names are called.
- At 10 months, babies try to attract attention and can say a syllable.
- At 12 months, babies make and imitate sounds, use simple gestures.
- At 18 months, toddlers understand simple instructions, say several words.
- At 2 years, toddlers say sentences, have over 50 words, follow simple instructions.
- At 3 years, toddlers can tell stories, know their last name, and can name a friend.
- At 4 years, children can use past tense, know colors and shapes, ask many questions.
- At 5 years, children can speak clearly, know about everyday things like money.
If you feel like your child is not hitting a certain milestone at the right time, you may want to seek out professional help from a speech-language pathologist.
Causes of Stuttering in Children with Autism
Stuttering is another normal process. Most people pause or repeat a sound while speaking. This may cause stuttering. Young children may also stutter for a little while.
There are no specific statistics on the number of children with ASD who stutter. There have been a number of documented cases of stuttering in ASDs.
These can range from typical forms of stuttering, like repetitions, to less typical ones, such as repeating the last syllable of a word.
The cause of the stuttering is still being researched.
Although the exact cause is not known, certain therapy methods are used by SLPs so as to increase the communication and quality of life for autistic individuals.
There may be several reasons for stuttering in children with ASD. Most autistic children have some sort of difficulty in speech.
According to statements from parents and caregivers, autistic children’s thoughts may be quicker than their ability to interpret them into speech, causing delays in speech.
Also, children can stutter more when they are overwhelmed. Anxiety can be a factor in stuttering. Feeling out of control, processing emotions and ideas and turning them into speech may cause them to stutter.
Although it is normal, stuttering may indicate speech problems if it doesn’t go away after a while.
The following may be an indication that stuttering might not go away and could be signs of speech delay.
- Having difficulty in saying sounds or words
- Repeating the first sounds of words
- Waiting and pausing a lot while speaking
- Stretching the sounds out, like “sssssalt” instead of “salt”
Treatment for stuttering depends on the child’s needs. An autistic child with stutters may find social interactions and communication more difficult than it is.
If you feel like your child is having a particularly difficult time with stuttering, you should consult a speech language pathologist.
There are also things that can be done at home to help out your child:
- Have a schedule
- Give simple and clear instructions
- Use visual cues and drawings to increase understanding
- Be patient and allow the child to finish their thoughts
- Apply good speaking habits yourself like listening to what your child is saying instead of how they are saying it
Cost of Speech Therapy
The cost of speech therapy varies from one place to another. There are a lot of options with a number of sessions that could be received.
According to MDSave.com, the estimated national average cost of speech therapy is $236. While purchasing sessions in bulk could be cheaper, the cost still averages $794 for 12 sessions.
Private clinics also offer speech therapy, which may have a higher rate per hour. If the speech language pathologist is connected with a hospital, the cost even be higher.
The rate of an SLP also depends on the location and their experience. If the SLP speaks more than one language or is bilingual, the cost per hour increases.
Some require a minimum number of sessions. In addition, some insurance companies cover speech therapy services, while others don’t.
Before even speech therapy begins, your child goes through an initial evaluation. This would determine whether the child needs the service.
This process may also cost a lot of money depending on the location.
On top of everything, the cost of speech therapy depends on a lot of factors:
- Severity of the case
- Age of the child
- How often the therapy is needed
- Type of the treatment
- The experience and expertise of the SLP
- Response of the child
All in all, speech therapy is a continuous process that needs monitoring. The cost of the therapy can be a great burden on the caregivers and families in the long term.
At-Home Speech Therapy Programs
Unfortunately, not all parents and caregivers have the same resources and access to quality speech therapy for their child.
They may not have the time to drive your kid to therapy due to working, or it may be too expensive for your budget at a difficult time.
There may even not be any speech-language pathologists near you.
Thankfully, there are alternatives to support your child’s speech development at home. Technology has developed enough to be able to provide speech therapy over video chat.
If you don’t have time or resources to take your child to speech therapy, you may try this option.
In the comfort of your home, you can support your child’s education and entertain them at the same time.
There are applications available on your mobile phones and tables that offer speech therapy practices.
One of them is Otsimo | Speech Therapy SLP. Through video-modelling, a scientifically proven technique, Otsimo teaches how to articulate words and expands the vocabulary of your child.
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At-home speech therapy can be as effective as speech therapy sessions done at the office of professionals.
With the right resources, your child can learn to pronounce words more clearly, learn concepts, and have fun at the same time.
Developed under the guidance of SLPs and professionals, as well as the feedback from caregivers and parents, Otsimo is an easy to use, convenient app that will help your child in their speech therapy journey.
Practicing speech therapy at home also provides an ease of setting a schedule specifically suited for the child.
You can adjust the frequency of the practices, keeping an eye out for the development of the skills.
You can also focus more on what the child enjoys during the sessions to increase engagement.
In addition, there are simple exercises that you can try at home with your kid to help with their speech skills.
Evaluation of Your Kid’s Speech Development
It is important to keep track of your child’s development. This can help see where your child needs support the most and what they have achieved in the process. You can keep an eye out for your child’s speech development.
Take notice of the milestones. This way you can see if your child needs speech therapy.
As mentioned before, speech therapy can be a costly process for many caregivers. In the event that you don’t have the resources or access to an SLP, there are online options.
The Otsimo | Speech Therapy app provides a screening test at the beginning. This quick test will give the caregivers and parents an idea on their child’s speech therapy needs.
The app also helps individuals with tracking the speech development of the child by providing reports on the speech therapy progress.
How Effective is Child Speech Therapy
As development varies from one child to another, success rates and the time period it is achieved also depends on the kid.
The rate of success for speech therapy also varies from one child to another depending on many factors.
Speech therapy can be effective immediately, or it may very well take some time to see some results.
However, it is important to note that child speech therapy has been shown to be successful, especially when started early.
Practice at home with the involvement of caregivers or parents is also significant.
A range of speech and language delays in children as well as in adults can be treated with speech therapy. The key here is early intervention.
The practice has proven to improve communication. Better communication means a higher quality of life for the individual with speech delay.
The amount of speech therapy needed depends on various factors, including the following:
- The age of the individual
- Severity of the speech disorder
- Therapy frequency
- Existence of other behavioral disorders
Although sometimes certain speech delays improve with age, some continue into adulthood. This means that the person may need long-term therapy.
The effectiveness of speech therapy also depends on the involvement of the caregivers and parents.
Parents and speech-language pathologists should work together to develop strategies and routines that will best suit the child.
Parents know the best when it comes to figuring out what motivates the kid. This is a significant piece in terms of achieving success as speech therapy will be an ongoing progress.
Study results showed that parent involvement in speech therapy as well as language interventions had a huge impact.
It produced a significant, positive effect on receptive and expressive language of the child with speech delays.
The effects of speech therapy on children on the spectrum is scientifically proven.
However, it is difficult to say with certainty how long it takes speech therapy to work.