How Will I know… if my child really needs speech?
Whitney Houston’s ballad runs through my head as I think how best to share when it’s time to get more information on a child’s speech and language development. Since children develop at their own rate, and as parents we understand our children even if no one else does, sometimes it's very hard to know when you need to make "the call". This has come up more often ever since schools were shut down for several weeks and moved to distance learning all due to COVID-19 for the end and beginning of the school year. The end of the school year is often a time to review a student’s areas of improvements and need and we missed that; if a teacher does not alert you to your child’s speech and language difficulties… how will you know?
As a Speech-Language Pathologist for over 15 years, I have seen cases when early intervention would have been extremely helpful in targeting a speech and/or language disorder but the child only begins to receive intervention when they are 7 or 8 years old. As parents, it is challenging to distinguish between an issue they will certainly “grow out of” and one that may require the attention of a specialist. We now find ourselves working from home, doing distance learning with simultaneous noise of 18 kindergarteners at once. Perhaps your child has returned to their school building, but accuracy of articulation is difficult to determine while a mask is being worn and a true impairment may be harder to hear.
Before diving into a full speech and language evaluation, many times a screener and consultation are helpful in determining if additional testing is necessary. I have offered these services to area preschools and it has identified moderate to severe articulation and/or language concerns in 20% of the screened population. Many times, parents will share they have been concerned with something they have noticed with their child’s development but didn’t know if it was significant enough to require therapy. A speech and language screener reviews developmentally appropriate speech sounds and expressive/receptive language elements in a fun quick way to let us know if we need to look further into any areas of communication.
For example, did you know at age 2, children’s speech is 50% intelligible to a stranger? This percentage of intelligibility continues to increase with age; by age 3 it should be 75% intelligible, at age 4 it should be 95%, and 100% intelligibility expected by age 5. If grandparents, teachers, neighbors, or friends cannot understand your child’s speech, this may be a great reason to check in with a Speech Language Pathologist and get your child screened. The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association is an excellent site in navigating developmental stages in communication. If you see some red flags, you have various options when consulting a speech-language pathologist; many which can be provided for free via early childhood interventions (children under age 3) and your local public school.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, screeners are now being offered via telehealth at Blue Skies Speech Therapy. Many times a telehealth appointment can be easier to accommodate during our busy lives and in the safety of your home and our office, we can observe your child's speech production without a mask. For a small fee that can be used towards a full evaluation if necessary, a Speech-Language Pathologist at Blue Skies Speech Therapy will provide consultation and live video interactions to help you determine if further evaluation is recommended. Our priority as Speech-Language Pathologists is to equip parents with the information and options they need to navigate their child’s communication skills when there are concerns.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (210) 259-7366 to schedule your child’s screener.