- Your child has difficulty answering questions about a story or event
Does your child have trouble explaining what happened when they got hurt on the playground? Do they struggle to answer wh- questions (who/what/where/when/why) after you read a story to them, or watch a movie together?
Difficulty answering questions about an event, or short story can indicate that your child may be struggling in the area of language comprehension. This may apply to areas such as understanding new vocabulary words, varied sentence structures, or written words. Your child may be forming full sentences, or using words often, but have difficulty answering questions to show understanding of information.
A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) is trained to target these particular areas of language processing and comprehension, as well as literacy, through research-based techniques geared towards your child’s specific needs.
- Your child has difficulty interacting in social situations
Do you see your child struggle to take turns when having a conversation with their friends, use appropriate tone and body language, or problem-solve in social scenarios?
These can be signs of Social Communication Disorder (SCD), also known as Pragmatic Language Disorder, which impacts many aspects of a child’s social language comprehension and expression, and has the potential to continue impacting a child’s social communication throughout their life starting as early as 3 years and going into adulthood.
Therapy with an SLP can have a crucial impact on a child with SCD, by providing them with the tools and resources to live a healthy social life, which in turn can have lasting benefits to their social development, personal and professional life, and overall sense of self-identity.
You may have very recent concerns about your child’s social interactions given the impacts of the pandemic. These concerns are valid and should be addressed, as many children have never experienced such an unprecedented change of lifestyle (virtual schooling, lockdown, etc.) in such a short period of time, impacting their social and daily routines. An SLP can address these concerns and help you to understand any significant changes in your child’s social skills that may be affecting their overall social communication development.
- Your child has difficulty organizing and carrying out thoughts when communicating with others
Does your child struggle to remember to complete thoughts using verbal or written communication, organize and sequence a story, or execute projects?
This may be indicative of language impairment. Aspects of higher-level language functions can coincide with cognitive functioning and include skill areas such as organization of thoughts, planning ahead, and using aspects of executive functioning when communicating in daily routines.
Deficits in these areas may have subtle impacts on an elementary school-aged child’s academic, social, and extracurricular activities, however, can become more apparent in middle and high school-aged children with steadily increasing demands.
A Speech-Language Pathologist can directly target these areas of cognition and language, and work to strengthen areas of challenge which are significantly impacting the child’s communication and language development, in turn benefiting the child across academic, and non-academic settings.
- Your child or toddler uses words only in familiar situations
Does your child usually say words to ask for something at home (for example, “Mom – water” or “Dad – milk!” but does not use words for other purposes like answering questions, asking questions, or commenting about a familiar toy or topic?
A common early indicator of developmental language delay can be restricted use of language across various purposes – in other words, the use of language for a limited variety of pragmatic (social) functions.
Language functions mean using language to gain attention (“Mom/Dad, look!”), ask for help (“Can you help me up?”) request an item (“Give me the water”), request for repetition (“Push me again”), and protest (“No more water”).
It is common for children to use a wide range of language functions as early as the age of 2 years, when they are combining words, learning new words, and starting to use phrases.
A Speech-Language Pathologist can help by evaluating and analyzing your child’s language and any signs of early indicators, to determine the need for intervention and what the appropriate next steps may be.
- Your child seems to use a limited vocabulary or improper sentences in conversation
Does your child have difficulty using appropriate words in different settings, using new vocabulary words, or using correct grammar when communicating?
These are common signs of language impairment, which can have lasting impacts on a child’s overall language and communication development. It is sometimes difficult for a parent or caregiver to pinpoint what the problem is – grammar, vocabulary, both? This is where the SLP comes in.
An SLP can address aspects of language that your child may be experiencing difficulty with – whether it be grammatical, semantic-related, or hard to pinpoint the exact problem – through fun and engaging activities with your child. SLPs can also give you ideas for how you can carry over these activities at home in their familiar environment while maintaining the fun and engaging factors that keep children motivated to participate.
- Your child or toddler has trouble imitating and using new words and sentences
Do you see your child struggling to properly imitate full words or sentences?
Difficulty imitating words or phrases can be an early indicator of speech delay and can make it difficult for your child to be understood when they are trying to communicate with family or friends. Imitation is an important part of language development and begins as early as infancy.
A licensed SLP can perform a full comprehensive evaluation to determine what areas of speech and/or language are impacting your child’s communication, and can provide the tools and resources that your child will use to strengthen those skillsets, in a collaborative and interactive environment.
- Your child has trouble remembering spoken information or stories
When you give your child a multiple-step direction, (for example, “Please go to the car, get your water bottle, then bring me the keys”) do they ask you for repetitions or complete only one task before needing additional reminders?
For parents, sometimes the apparent cause is “my child is just not listening to me,” or “they’re just being lazy,” and it may be that your child is displaying behaviors related to factors outside of language processing. However, if your child is having difficulty across settings (i.e., recalling details from a story, following your directions at home, and holding onto the teacher’s instruction during class time), these may be early signs of language impairment.
A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) can evaluate your child based on your specific concerns, and determine the need for a treatment plan tailored to you and your child’s needs.
- New friends or extended family have difficulty understanding your toddler or child when they talk
Do you see your child struggle to produce specific sounds, or pronounce words in a way that others are able to understand them?
This can be a sign of a speech sound disorder and can have significant impacts on a child’s ability to be understood by new people, as well as their self-esteem and confidence when interacting with peers.
SLPs have specialized education and training to support your child’s speech sound development and help you to understand the strategies that you as a parent can utilize to help your child along the way.
- Your child is not using words yet at the age of 1-3 years old
Do you have concerns that your child may be struggling to use their first words, or start combining words on time?
Children typically begin to say their first words around the age of 12 months and start to combine words around the age of 24 months. Although age ranges can sometimes vary between children, it is important for parents to be aware of the early signs of a delay, as well as the resources available to them in the presence of a concern.
An SLP can not only provide parent education to support speech and language enhancement at home, but they can also be the missing link between parents and other specialists to address any ongoing developmental concerns.
An SLP can provide appropriate referrals to health practitioners, such as developmental pediatricians, early interventionists, child psychologists, or occupational and physical therapists. SLPs can also collaborate with any health or educational professionals (teachers, nannies, behavioral specialists, etc.) your child may already be seeing, to align goals and provide quality care that will generalize across settings.
- Your child is already receiving Speech Therapy at school, but you are not seeing progress at home
Has your child been receiving services at school for speech and/or language therapy, but you’re having trouble noticing them have a huge impact on your child?
If your child is receiving services in the school setting, you may be seeing limited progress for a number of reasons. These may include limited SLP staffing at the school, Speech Therapy administered within a group setting, and limited time increments for therapy sessions. In contrast, private Speech and Language services can provide the exceptional benefit of:
- Individual one-on-one focused therapy sessions
- Consistent check-ins with specifically tailored carry-over activities
- The ability for parents to be present and involved in all therapy sessions
- No time taken out of academic class time
- Frequent meetings and collaboration with the family to keep up-to-date with Speech Therapy goals
Knowing what is available to you outside of public or private school services can make a huge difference to your child’s speech and language development over the span of their school years and beyond.
If you would like to gain more information, please visit heatherismay.com. If you have concerns for your child’s communication, language, or speech, and would like to request a consultation with a private Speech-Language Pathologist, please contact Heather Ismay, MS, CCC-SLP at [email protected].