Speech therapy for children...does my child need therapy?
I am asked almost on a daily by friends, parents, or strangers off the street (once they learn my profession of course)...
Every child and family is unique with their own needs and dynamics. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
To know if your child needs speech therapy, consider:
This page will give you insight into what to do for your specific situation.
I created free checklists you can read through and/or fill out.
Screening measures of speech and language milestones give parents and professionals a general baseline of a child's skill level.
If a child hasn't reached a milestone yet, it raises concern. It DOES NOT mean a child needs an evaluation. Instead, it means there might be something going on that needs to be investigated a little further.
Answer a few questions to help improve this site and the speech and language checklists are all yours forever and ever!
If a parent ever has a concern, I recommend an evaluation. Why not?! There is no harm in completing one.
Evaluations are important to pinpoint a child's unique strengths and areas of need concerning speech, language, voice, and pragmatic skills.
HOWEVER, what you DO with the evaluation is another story.
For more information on evaluations read:
This is not a straightforward answer.
The ball in is your court (to some degree.) This makes a few parents a little uncomfortable because they are used to being told what to do by medical professionals. However, parents play a BIG part of the therapy team. YOU and YOUR CHILD are the ones attending therapy after all.
If your child attends public school or you are pursuing early childhood or early intervention, the decision to attend speech therapy is not entirely up to you. There are rules and regulations based on standardized scores as well as other factors. However, if you are pursing the private route, the decision is up to you!
Okay, you have your results, now what?! Read my answers below to some FAQ.
My child's scores indicate she should attend therapy?
If you are ready to commit to a speech therapy program, then my advice is to do it! However, for speech therapy for children to be successful, you need to be involved in every step of the process including the important home program. 30 minutes of therapy per week is not enough to make a change.
The speech-language pathologists designs unique goals and learning activities for your child depending on needs and progress. As your child's abilities improve and evolve, the therapist is there to assess and re-evaluate and guide the intervention. However, parents implement this intervention at home!
The standardized scores indicate my child does not need therapy but I still feel she does?
If this is the case, then pursue it. Standardized tests are good but they are not perfect. Some children test well; however, in the classroom, their performance declines due to distractions, memory difficulties, language breakdowns, etc... You may need to pursue the private route though.
When a person faces decisions about anything, especially children, everyone is ready with solicited and/or unsolicited advice. Every person on this planet seems to be an expert on childcare even speech therapy for children. While most advice comes from genuine love and concern, my advice is to take everything with a grain of salt. This goes for advice found on blogs. Parents sharing advice and support is fantastic, but just be careful about comparing one child to another. No two children develop the same! A person's personal experience with their own child does not mean they understand yours. If you are comfortable with your decisions, be strong and stick by them!
Beware of gimmicks!
There are a lot of websites on the internet that promise a quick fix and some can be very expensive. Parents.... I'm sorry to break the bad news... there is no quick fix. If there were, I would use it.
Be leery of flashcards, apps, and computer programs especially if you have a young child. If anyone wants to limit screen time, it is a child who has a speech and/or language delay. The best way to learn language skills is to be immersed in language rich environments. Apps and computer programs can't provide this! You may see a lot of progress made while playing a game but it doesn't generalize to real life.
When a person has trouble learning language skills, it takes work and time. That's the truth! However, with the right program, progress can be made.
Sometimes a child needs therapy, but due to the system, he/she doesn't qualify due to test scores, funding, insurance problems, etc... This is FRUSTRATING for a parent and for a therapist. I see this happen ALL THE TIME. That is why we created a membership program. For only $5.99 per month, you get an entire home program that targets many different areas of speech and language development. Read more about our membership program here.
Speech therapists are experts on speech and language development and speech therapy for children. Parents are experts concerning their own children. If you combine the two, great things can happen!
However, no evaluation is perfect. It is a small slice in time in an unnatural environment. Therefore, therapists depend on the input from parents to get a bigger picture on a child's speech and language abilities in action!!
Therefore, if you think something is wrong, trust your instincts and schedule an evaluation! If you think your child is doing fine, stick by your gut. If you have any concerns, seek advice. You can always take it or leave it!
If you want more information on therapy itself, check out speech therapy for children: types of therapy.