What To Do If You Suspect Speech Delay In Your Toddler
Is your child a late bloomer? You may have brought up your concerns with a pediatrician or friends and relatives, but perhaps you feel there is a deeper issue with your non-speaking toddler. When everyone is telling you not to worry, that your child is just a late bloomer, but you continue to have concerns, consider taking the routes outlined below.
Get a Hearing Test
While your child's hearing may seem just fine, it's a good idea to have a formal audiological exam done by a speech-language pathologist. Humans are adaptive creatures; so even if hearing is an issue, your toddler may have come up with ways to cope with the loss.
An audiological exam will tell you whether your child is hearing things properly, and if not, how much they're hearing. Certain hearing loss can be treated with tubes to drain fluid that's built up in the ear. Other types are related to the hearing nerve or canal and may require a hearing aid or other assistive device.
Have Them Evaluated
Is your child only a late bloomer in speech development, or are there other signs of an issue? If your child has trouble communicating with gestures, eye contact, and other tools, there may be a more complex issue at play.
An early intervention evaluation can set your mind at ease, and catch any developmental delays early on. Early intervention can help your child to catch up with their peers, as well as teach them adaptive tools to use to communicate. This can reduce frustration on your part, as well as your child's.
Work With a Speech Therapist
The early intervention evaluation may have found no delays beyond speech development, or the hearing evaluation might have shown signs of speech delay, which means your child will most likely be referred to work with a speech-language pathologist. Speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, work with children to develop their receptive (understanding and processing) and expressive (use of language to communicate) language skills.
Working one-on-one with your child, a speech therapist will perform language intervention activities, as well as teach you things that you can do at home with your child. The therapist will make goals for your child, and as each goal is met, they'll become one step closer to graduating from the speech therapy program.
If you're not satisfied with the answer that your child is just a late bloomer, insist on a speech-language evaluation. If there are more than just concerns with speech, request an early intervention evaluation. Both evaluations can be helpful in the diagnosis and treatment of developmental delays.