Good afternoon, everyone. Speech-language pathologist/momma here. I talk to several parents along the way, inside and outside of my therapy room, that talk about their child’s “speech problems” or how they are “finally starting to make some sounds and words” and how their pediatrician says they’ll “grow out of it.” Or there are some children who are not talking yet or meltdown when transitioning from one environment to another, but the pediatrician says their child is just “stubborn” or will “talk when they’re ready” or “they will grow out of it.”
If you are going along with this theory, I am asking you to seriously rethink this theory. Here’s why.
First of all, I’m not a pediatrician. I don’t know what medicines to prescribe if your child has strep or how to tell if a bone is broken and how long they should wear a cast to correct it. I am, however, a speech-language pathologist and I know how to perform evaluations to determine if your child does or does not have a speech or language delay or disorder, as well as what treatments to prescribe if there is an issue.
Do not trust a speech-language pathologist to assess your child’s broken leg. Do not trust a pediatrician to assess your child for a possible speech or language delay/disorder.
To see typical speech development, click HERE. To see typical language development, click HERE. There are many children out there, ya’ll, many that I treat, have treated, or will treat that never “grew out of it” and never stopped being “stubborn.” Several parents of children on my caseload have specifically said, “The pediatrician said they would talk when they’re ready, but they’re still not talking yet.” I remember that statement so well because I just heard it a few weeks ago. Her child is 3 years old and can say, “Ma-ma,” “Daddy,” and “no.” Those three words are not a recent development.
I do NOT blame “ma-ma” and daddy.
First of all, just like you, this child’s parents are very involved parents. Unless they are very good at acting, they are nurturing and continuously seeking information that will best help their two children succeed. Second reason no blame is being placed is if you have a pediatrician you trust, you are convinced they hung the sun and moon because perhaps, you have had to literally trust them with your child’s life at some point or another. I know I have and I do not question my child’s pediatrician.
What about the pediatrician?
I do NOT want you to fire your child’s pediatrician if you feel comfortable and confident in their abilities to assess and treat your child’s overall wellness! I DO want you, however, to request a referral for a speech-language evaluation from your child’s doctor. Also, please trust your gut’s instincts. Your child’s pediatrician knows your child well, but will never know your child that way you do.
What if they are not in school yet?
If your child is below the age of 3, they may be referred for an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist that contracts with an early intervention services provider, such as First Steps. Therapists and providers that contract with First Steps perform evaluations and treatments in your home or another community site. If that’s not your or your child’s cup of tea, you can also have your child evaluated by an outpatient speech-language pathologist.
If your child is above the age of 3, you can take them to an outpatient speech-language pathologist or contact your local school district and ask to speak with their speech-language pathologist about the referral.
What if the evaluation shows that my child has a speech or language delay?
Then they do for now. It doesn’t mean they will forever. If your child is very young, then start NOW. If your child is not what is considered “young,” start NOW. Ask your child’s speech-language pathologist for home activities. There are many many things you can do at home to improve your child’s speech and language skills. I’m not talking complex activities that require a training manual. I’m talking about using everyday activities that you’ve already been doing. Your child’s therapist can show you how to put a “therapy twist” on those activities.
Are you or your significant other not ready for your child to begin therapy?
Please at least have an evaluation done and request consultation and advice as to what you can do at home. If you and your significant other are at odds with each in regards to whether or not your child should begin therapy and your child is in school, please read this: Some Things to Consider if You or Your Significant Other is Hesitant for Your Child to Receive Speech-language Therapy at School
My child is so young though. Why not just wait a little longer?
The follow excerpt comes from https://www.firstthingsfirst.org/early-childhood-matters/brain-development/
At birth, the average baby’s brain is about a quarter of the size of the average adult brain. Incredibly, it doubles in size in the first year. It keeps growing to about 80% of adult size by age 3 and 90% – nearly full grown – by age 5.
The early years are the best opportunity for a child’s brain to develop the connections they need to be healthy, capable, successful adults. The connections needed for many important, higher-level abilities like motivation, self-regulation, problem solving and communication are formed in these early years – or not formed. It’s much harder for these essential brain connections to be formed later in life.
Aaaaagh! My child is older than 5!! I waited TOO long!!
NO. Yes, it is easier to develop and apply new skills when you are younger. Do NOT, however, think that wrecks your older child’s chances of developing new skills. It may be “easier” when your child is younger, but not impossible. The size of the brain is “nearly full grown by age 5,” but that does not mean the ability to learn new things stops at age 5. Check this out from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/signs-symptoms/developmental-milestones/how-kids-develop-thinking-and-learning-skills
Each brain cell (neuron) looks a bit like a baby tree. As babies take in information about the world, their neurons branch out and create connections with each other. Called neural pathways, these connections are like an electrical wiring system. Each neuron can have multiple connections to other neurons.
Each neural pathway is a circuit. When electricity goes through a circuit, it powers a response. For example, when you flip a light switch, a light comes on. Some brain circuits, like the ones for breathing and circulation, are already developed at birth.
And look at what this says:
Other circuits are “activity-dependent.” They need input to work, and the more input they get, the better they work.
The neural pathways that are used more often get stronger.
Between ages 2 and 7 years, language development takes off as kids learn more words, use more complex sentences and even read a little. This is a critical time to provide children with a language-rich environment. The more words and ideas they’re exposed to, the more neural pathways they’ll develop.
Remember if your child is older, such as older than 7, don’t panic! The above excerpt did NOT say that new neural pathways stop developing after 7. Think about yourself. How many new things did you learn during your teens? Um, I’m not, er, talking about new things you learned in the dating world …
How many new things have you learned as an adult? New baby? New job? New responsibilities? New hobby? If you hadn’t developed new neural pathways and/or strengthened the ones you had/have, you wouldn’t be sitting here reading this post and hopefully, learning something you didn’t know before.
- Don’t wait any longer
- Trust your gut instincts and have your child’s speech and/or language evaluated by a speech-language pathologist
- Never think it’s too late
Posts That May Relate To Your Concerns:
How to Improve Your Child’s Speech at Home Using Everyday Activities
What Does It Mean if My Child Has A Language Delay or Disorder?
Everyday Activities to do at Home to Help Your Child Start Talking
How to Expand Your Child’s Vocabulary to Improve Their Communication
How to Teach Your Nonverbal Child to Communicate Without Using Words
How to Help Your Child Talk More
How To Help Your Child With Sensory Issues Cope With Holidays and Social Gatherings
What You Need to Do if Your Child Needs Speech-Language Therapy
Teaching Your Child to Communicate When They Are Sick or Hurt if They Are Communication Impaired
The “Little Things” That May Be Hurting Your Child’s Speech and Language Development
Why Is My Child’s School Saying My Child Needs Speech Therapy? They Talk Just Fine.
I hope everyone finds something in here that is helpful. If you do not see something that relates to your child, please leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to create a post, no names mentioned of course, that will hopefully help your child.
This article was written by a speech-language pathologist, but is not meant to replace a speech-language evaluation or speech-language therapy. If your child is already receiving speech-language therapy at this time, please continue to work on improving your child’s communication at home. Therapy is so much more effective when we all work together with the same goal in mind!