Speech issues in early childhood can be missed or overlooked because children all develop differently. For example, some milestones are agreed on for ages 2 and 5 years and upwards. These milestones are critical for assessing where your child is developmental. Milestones can be as simple as putting two words together or telling you their name when asked, or more complex depending on how old the child is.
When a child misses these milestones, sometimes parents or even pediatricians will pass it off as the child just being a little behind. Often, they take the let’s wait and see approach to deal with it. However, this may be the wrong course of action for speech development. Speech therapy can make a world of difference for a child. When a child struggles to communicate, especially a young child, behavioural problems usually follow closely behind. That’s because they can’t share what they want or need. Getting speech therapy as soon as you notice issues can help prevent these behavioural issues from developing in the first place.
If you have concerns about your child’s ability to communicate at an age-appropriate level, you may want to consider early intervention speech therapy. Usually, you’ll need to discuss this with your primary care provider or pediatrician for a referral, but it can make a huge difference in how your child learns going forward.
Here are a few reasons we think that getting speech therapy at a young age can benefit your child.
Early childhood brain development
From birth until five years old, children’s brains grow and develop faster than they will at any point in their lives. It doubles in size from birth to age two. By age five, a child’s brain is nearly 90% developed. If you have a child struggling with speech development early on, it’s best to address it when they are still in this expansive phase.
By seeking out speech therapy for your child at an early stage, you’ll ensure that they won’t have to spend longer in speech therapy when they are older.
Children get both joy and help from sSpeech therapy
Speech therapists are highly trained professionals who know that you have to make things fun to get a child’s attention. Most children absolutely adore going to speech therapy. The sessions are done with engagement in mind. Speech therapy from the outside often looks like a play session, but each activity is designed to help your child develop the skills needed to express themselves more clearly.
Motor patterns and speech therapy
For some parents, it can be difficult to decipher all the noises their young child makes. However, those noises are critical to developing proper speech. How they move their mouths to make those sounds and words are called motor patterns. Parents can find saying a sound wrong cute and ignore it when it should be addressed because, at the early stages, children are building memories of how that noise is created.
If a child repeatedly says the word wrong, they will have difficulty correcting it as they get older because they’ve only developed the motor pattern to say the word wrong.
Early intervention on large-scale versions of this problem is essential because, at this stage, the motor patterns are flexible and can be corrected. In contrast, in an adult, for example, it’s significantly more challenging to re-learn.
Speech therapy directly tied to academic success
Children’s language skills development during the first five years will directly impact their ability to perform academically as they get older. By tackling any setbacks or difficulties early on, you’re helping to set your child up for academic success.
For example, if a child is delayed in their language and speech development when starting kindergarten, they are more likely to struggle throughout their academic career. Children who start kindergarten with language delays will often have difficulty sometimes all the way through high school with subjects like reading and writing.
If the language delays and struggle persist into adulthood, it can even impact their ability to have good social relationships. Speech therapy early on can prevent these problems.
Speech therapy can help parents be better
Interacting with children doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Many parents need a little guidance, especially when dealing with a child with some developmental delays. Children learn through interaction, especially when it comes to language.
When children have trouble communicating, they can miss out on other essential learning opportunities from interacting with those who care for them. It’s not just about the language. If a child isn’t communicating well, it can be difficult to try and teach them anything else. Speech therapy can help you overcome these issues.
You’ll find that speech therapy is as much for you as for your child. Your child’s speech therapist can only be there for a small portion of the time your child. Their success in overcoming these delays will primarily come from what you take away from the sessions.
When you seek early intervention, you’re also getting an education. Therapists will work with you and your child so that you know what techniques, tricks, and methods will help them overcome their language delays.
Speech therapy cannot hurt anything
Overall, speech therapy has no negative side. The worst that can happen by seeking speech therapy for a child who doesn’t need it is your child is assessed by a professional in the language development industry. If your child does not require the service, the therapist will simply inform you that your concerns were just concerns and that your child is developing just fine.
However, as we’ve discussed, there is a range of negative impacts on not seeking speech therapy when needed, from the difficulties they will face academically to missing other critical learning opportunities at home. If you have concerns about your child’s development, you should always bring them up with your pediatrician and ask about speech therapy.