November 20, 2017
ARTICLE:

Does my child need to see a speech pathologist?

By Sarah Nicholas

The first five years of your child’s life are critical for brain development. Early stimulation from all senses create the foundations for learning and behaviour. As children grow, they develop skills and reach milestones that we are able to observe and compare to determine their progress.

Before a child begins to speak, they use listening and basic communication skills to help them develop language. Consistent exposure to speech and language is important during this intensive developmental period.

From a very young age, children communicate in all sorts of ways. They use smiling, laughing and crying to let you know how they are feeling.  This communication begins very early and before you know it they are a preschooler, speaking in sentences and telling you very clearly what they think and want.

There are many things that parents can do to help encourage and track speech and language development. This includes making sure you interact while facing your child, following your child’s lead in play and waiting to ensure you provide opportunities for them to respond.

Every child begins using words at different times, even within the same family, however there are milestones which can provide a guide as to whether your child may need extra help. Most children are able to say about 20 words by 18 months and they understand many more. By the time they are ready to start school, their vocabulary will be in the thousands of words.

Being able to understand a child’s speech is important and whilst their parents and siblings may be able to decipher their early words, intelligible speech that is understood by others is a good indicator of speech development. By 3-4 years of age, your child should be understood by unfamiliar listeners at least 75% of the time, and by 5 years, your child’s speech should be intelligible to all listeners.

A speech pathologist can assess and monitor your child’s speech and language development as they approach milestones. Areas including speech clarity, comprehension skills, spoken language and social use of language skills can be assessed to give you a clearer picture of how your child is tracking. Working with a speech pathologist can help your child build important skills for effective communication as well as improve behavior and social interactions.

If you are concerned about your child’s language development, make an appointment to speak to a speech pathologist today. Paeds in a Pod is a paediatric medical practice that specialises in working with children experiencing a variety of developmental delays.

For more information about recommended developmental milestones, visit http://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/

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