Episode 11. My Opinion about How to Identify whether Your Child needs Speech and Language Therapy
In today’s My Opinion About…Series, I will review 4 signs that your child may need speech and language therapy or at the very least, to be evaluated by a speech therapist.
Now, if you consider that the scope of speech therapists is pretty wide, your child may require speech and language therapy if they’re having;
– Speech difficulties
– Language difficulties
– Reading difficulties
– Fluency disorders
– Auditory processing difficulties
– Swallowing; or
– Voice disorders
And these difficulties may appear at any time during their development- from birth, they could be developmental or acquired.
Research advocates for early intervention, which is remediating any difficulties as soon as they appear and preferably when the child is 3 years and below.
I would like to emphasise that again, preferrably when the child is 3 years and below.
Or at the earliest discovery of an issue.
The following 4 signs can be sure red flags that your child may need speech and language therapy or an evaluation by a speech therapist:
1. Birth Trauma
Birth trauma is a general term describing any injury to a newborn that is as a result of the birth process.
This may include eventualities of a prolonged, obstructed labour, premature birth, foetal distress in-utero or as a result of the birthing process.
A child’s apgar score at 5 minutes is the first indication of the physical condition of your baby.
The apgar score stands for appearance, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration.
It is a score out of a possible 10, in which 5 things are measured with each being scored on a scale of 0 to 2 therefore giving a possible score of 10.
The apgar score is given at 1 minute of life, then again at 5 minutes.
A score of 7 and below at the 5th minute is usually considered low, but a low score at 1 minute and a score of 7 and above at minute 5 should be fine if the doctors are not concerned.
The second sign that your child may need to see a speech therapist is…
2. Delayed Motorical and Speech Milestones
May have medically diagnosed conditions or no apparent ones
So what are the motorical milestones we’re referring to;
Anything to do with the big muscles- holding the neck, sitting, walking
If these are not met at the expected times, then they may be red flags to other delays including communication.
– So, if your baby has not held their neck by 6 weeks
– Hasn’t sat independently
– Not babbling by 9 months
-No first words by 15 months
– Less than 20 words by 18 months
– Less than 100 words by 2 years
– Not combining words by 3 years
– Difficult to understand by 4 years
3. Difficult to Engage
Difficulty to engage means;
– They don’t respond when they are called
– They don’t seem to crave social interaction, they prefer their own company
Chances are that such a child has social communication difficulties and they need to see a speech therapist
4. Parental concern
If you as a parent feels concerned, if you have a gut feeling that not everything is right, there is no harm in seeking out an evaluation by a speech therapist.
The worst that would come out of seeking an evaluation is the financial cost which is a small cost compared to the time that you can’t recover by deciding to wait it out thus losing the advantage of early intervention.
Taking a wait and see approach only delays the inevitable.