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Why the Wait and See Approach Does Not Work

All parents look forward to sending those exciting first word videos to grandparents and friends, then inevitable social media post telling the world just how proud you are of your little one.

But what happens when your child is 2 or 3 years old and has little to no words?

You begin to notice that peers are surpassing those speech and language milestones that your little one hasn’t reached yet. And when you look for answers you begin to get advice from some friends and professionals such as, “It’ll happen, don’t worry, just give it time” or “It’s not really a problem until they are three.” which is the go-to age to begin to seek intervention assistance.

Unfortunately, while these words can feel like a sigh of relief, it’s NOT the way to approach a concern such as a speech delay.

What is a “late talker” and how do I know there is a problem?

By 12 months, most children will have babbling and single sounds. It’s at around 7-12 months that they begin to connect sounds to make simple words such as “ma-ma” or “da-da”. If by 18 months your child is not doing things such as babbling, responding to their names, combining sounds, or interested in what others are doing, this is certainly indication of a speech delay concern also known as a “late talker”. Identifying a late talker at an older age, over 18 months and not seeking intervention makes them less likely to catch up with their peers (Late Talkers p.16).

Many parents have other children to compare developmental milestones to, but if you are a first-time parent keeping track of developmental milestones through websites such as the American Academy of Pediatrics or the Center for Disease Control would be a great way to keep track of milestones. Keeping track of your child’s milestones is very important, this helps determine if there are any other delays in other areas that could possibly be tied to a speech delay. You can also find more information on out web page Life Skills Therapy – Speech Delay.

While all children develop differently, the best professional to consult would be a speech-language pathologist who is the expert in the field as early as a concern is noticed.

What causes a speech delay?

There are many things that can contribute to the source of a speech delay; gender, family history, issues during birth, quality of parenting, daycare vs stay-at-home parents, males, etc. (Late Talker Box 5) While at times the source can be difficult to determine, it is more important to examine what you can do to help your child instead of trying to find the root. The important thing to take away from this portion is that sometimes everything is done right, but sometimes we just need extra help from a professional.

What can I do? The Parents Role

Speaking to a professional about your concerns is a great start, a pediatrician and/or a speech-language pathologist. Taking part in everyday language exposure such as conversation, reading books, and music time. Minimizing exposure to electronics such iPad’s and television and instead having real people interaction. Exposure to speech and language begins in the womb, by the time your child arrives they can already recognize your voice, this itself says so much about just how early children pick up language. It is never too early, but it can become too late if you do not seek help.

There are three major things that should be done as soon as you have a concern.

  1. Talk to your pediatrician. When looking at a speech delay it is very important to look at the entire child to make sure there are no other delays or issues that can contribute to a speech delay. We want to make sure they are healthy overall.
  2. Always seek an evaluation from a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). While a pediatrician offers us so much medical support, a SLP is the expert and will let you know if there is a delay and something to be concerned about.
  3. Talk to your child, engage with them, talk about what you see in the environment. Anything you can do to help them develop their language skills.

At Life Skills Therapy we have fully licensed SLP’s on staff ready to complete a formal speech and language evaluation to help and guide you through these questions. There is no need for a referral from your pediatrician. If you have a concern, we are available via email, phone and text.

Sources:
Late Talkers – Why the Wait-and-See Approach Is Outdated. Nina Capone Singleton, PhD, CCC-SLP