You might not have even noticed it yourself, but if your child’s teacher or your pediatrician has ever noticed a speech impediment such as a lisp or a stutter, it may be time to consider speech therapy. Similarly, if your child is missing their speech-related milestones, a therapist can help.
Issues with speech can be caused by everything from anatomy, such as lip and tongue ties, to developmental delays such as trouble processing language.
Speech therapy can help kids learn how to formulate their words properly, better communicate their ideas, and use their tongue and other facial muscles appropriately.
Signs Your Child May Need Speech Therapy
In general, your child could benefit from speech therapy if any of the following signs and symptoms are present:
- Missing verbal milestones
- Talking with a stutter or a lisp
- Trouble with articulation
- A visible tongue or lip tie
- Unusual oral motor habits such as tongue thrusting
- Inadequate volume control
- Mouth breathing
- Frustration and trouble communicating
- Limited understanding of language
- Trouble eating or swallowing
While every child develops the ability to use and understand language at their own pace, if your child is not using at least 20 words at 18 months and at least 50 words by age 2, it may be time to seek speech therapy intervention.
How Speech Therapy Works
Speech therapists work with children of all ages to evaluate, improve and monitor any speech-related delays or conditions.
During a speech therapy session, your child’s therapist will interact with them through songs, games, and play. They will evaluate your child’s oral muscles, language development skills, and articulation, as well as assess any overlapping swallowing, eating, or breathing issues.
Your child’s therapist will work with you and your child to develop a personalized treatment plan. Treatment plans will vary widely from child to child. Often, parents and children are given “homework” in the form of special assignments to continue working on at home. The more these new skills are reinforced, the better the success of your speech therapy program will be.
How to Obtain Speech Therapy
Speech therapy services can typically be obtained privately or through state-run and district-run programs. Depending on your location, services may be available at home or at your child’s school for no cost. Other parents receive referrals to speech therapy through their child’s dentist or pediatrician. Many insurance companies do cover speech therapy sessions.
Speech therapy is often performed in conjunction with other types of therapy for developmental delays or with myofunctional therapy for disordered tongue and oral function.
Other Tips Related to Speech Therapy
If you are experiencing speech-related issues with your child, there are a few other considerations that may need to be checked or ruled out as well.
For example, a child who appears to have trouble responding to comments may actually have a hearing issue. Children with lisps and other speech impediments may benefit from having a tongue or lip tie removed. Kids with many different developmental delays may be evaluated for other disorders such as autism.
Working in conjunction with your child’s pediatrician can help identify and act on any other factors that need to be dealt with in addressing your child’s speech concerns.
If you think your child could benefit from pediatric speech therapy, please give us a call today to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly board-certified pediatricians and discuss a referral.