Speech Therapy For Toddlers

Welcome to speech therapy for toddlers overview! Many parents have the same questions and due to the internet (love/hate relationship), there is a lot of misinformation out there. We created this page to give parents REAL and HONEST information! Below, you will find answers to some frequently asked questions.

Speech Therapy For Toddlers

Does My Child Need Speech Therapy?

This is the most asked and the most difficult question to answer. We have free speech and language screening tools that I recommend every parent read. It has some good information on what speech and language skills are expected at which age. HOWEVER, there is a range for what is considered normal. Not every child follows the developmental norms the same, and if your child is one of those children, it DOES NOT mean he/she necessarily needs speech therapy.

This is what I tell most parents….If you have a concern, seek out advice. Why not? It doesn’t hurt. It can only help!

How Do I Get a Referral/Evaluation?

If you have a concern and you live in the United States, you have 3 options.

  1. Call your pediatrician and voice your concerns. Your doctor will have recommendations on what to do. You may receive a prescription for speech therapy.
  2. Call your local school district. If your child is less than 3 years of age, he or she may qualify for the birth to three program. This program is a state run program. If your child qualifies for speech, physical, or occupational therapy, therapists will come to your house weekly for therapy. Once you call your local school district, a case manager will contact you and help you with the next steps. Note: There is a sliding scale in some states. It isn’t always free! Many people, including myself, thought it was free :) If your child is over 3 years of age, the process starts the same. However, if your child qualifies, he/she would be enrolled in early childhood or receive speech itinerant services.
  3. Call your insurance company and ask if speech therapy is a covered service. If it is, look up providers in your network and/or ask around for recommendations for a private speech therapist. Schedule a consultation or evaluation with this therapist. Make sure to discuss fees!

What Does Speech Therapy for Toddlers Look Like?

Many parents will say to me…."my child’s speech therapist just plays with him/her. Should she be doing more?"

I understand this concern; however, if your child’s speech therapist is playing with your child, that is GREAT news! This is exactly what she should be doing. Speech therapy for toddlers is all about play since play is how a toddler learns best. Remember that toddlers don’t learn like adults learn. They learn when information is functional, natural, and interesting. There is nothing more functional, natural, or interesting than play for a toddler!

HOWEVER, the “play” is extremely purposeful and a lot of work for the therapist. She is continually assessing your child’s progress, adjusting activities to your child's interests, and working on developing speech and language skills.

Your therapist should be on the ground, playing with whatever interests your child and targeting speech and language skills. He/she may be:

  • Modeling target sounds
  • Modeling language structures/vocabulary
  • Creating opportunities for language
  • Practicing turn taking skills
  • Etc…

Please ASK what your therapist is doing and why so you can learn what to do when she leaves!

What Can I Do At Home?

There is A LOT you can do at home! What you should do at home will depend on the needs of your child. Below is a list of ideas so you can get started today!

How Long Will My Child Be In Therapy?

This question is impossible to answer. No one knows! Every child is different and progresses at a different rate.

Check out our speech therapy for toddlers tips for faster progress to help things along!

Should my child learn sign language or use an alternative communication device?

The answer to this question will highly depend on your child’s needs and abilities. These options aren’t necessary for all children who have a speech and language delay or disorder; however, they can’t hurt!

Many people think that using sign language or an alternative communication device will delay a child from talking. There is nothing that could be further from the truth. Instead, anything that sparks communication whether it be verbal or nonverbal, is a GREAT thing. Talking is the path of least resistance and a child will always choose the path of least resistance if possible.

However, if a child is not able to speak for whatever reason, he/she NEEDS another way to communicate wants, needs, and ideas in the meantime. Once a child is able to speak, he/she will, I promise! 

If you have any other questions, please contact us!

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Parent Handouts:

This page is condensed into an easily printable handout for parents. Enjoy an English and Spanish version!

Screening Forms By Age: Print and attach to handout above

Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference.

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