One of the joys of parenting is the having the chance to watch your child grow and develop their own talents and abilities. For instance, your little one may be an athletic protege, or a block-building star. Sometimes, however, those developments may lag a bit, and in those instances your kid may benefit from professional help. On that note, knowing the signs your toddler should see a speech therapist can help you and your kiddo communicate better.
For what it's worth, speech and language delays in toddlers are not uncommon. As noted by the University of Michigan's Michigan Medicine, speech and language disorders may be caused by anything from hearing loss to developmental disorders. Given the wide range of possible causes, it's especially important to seek help for these delays in language as soon as they become apparent.
In many cases, your help may arrive in the form of a speech therapist. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a speech-language pathologist can work to diagnose and treat these speech and language disorders. Everything from articulation difficulties to language disorders may be addressed by your speech therapist, as noted in Kids Health. In general, a speech therapist is an individual who might provide invaluable help for your toddler and her relationship with language. If you are worried that your child's language skills are developing as they should, here are a few signs that you should seek out the help of a speech therapist.
1. They Mispronounce Vowels
Plenty of consonants can cause difficulty, and it may take a while for your kid to master that "th" sound. But as noted on Baby Center, if your child has difficulty pronouncing vowel sounds, this may indicate the need for a speech therapist. Listen closely to your kid's ability to handle those vowels.
2. Their Speech Development Is Stalled
In general, your child's speech development may progress at a steady rate. But if your kid's ability to speak does not develop over time, and instead stays the same from month to month, then it may be a cause for concern, according to Baby Center. This may be a reason to seek out speech therapy.
3. They Have An "Unusual" Voice
Sure, most kid's voices are charmingly quirky. However, if your kid's voice sounds raspy or nasal, then it may be time for an evaluation, according to KidsHealth. This may point to a speech impediment.
4. They Have Trouble Imitating Sounds
Being imitated by your kid is one of the more endearing and sometimes hilarious aspects of parenting. Most toddlers are well into their "monkey see, monkey do" phase. So if your child does still has difficulty imitating sounds by the age of 18 months, then you may have reason for concern. Mentioning this to your pediatrician is likely a smart move.
5. They Don't Make Much Sound
Sure, there are plenty of occasions in which parents would love to have a relatively quiet child. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), however, children younger than 3 who only make a few sounds may be displaying signs of a speech, language, or hearing disorder. In some cases, children may have multiple communication disorders.
6. They Know Few Words
No one expects a toddler to rattle off hundreds of words. As noted by ASHA, however, if your child only says a few words by the age of 18 months, then this may signify a language disorder. Keeping track of your kid's general vocabulary can help you spot potential problems.
7. They Lose Language Skills
This could be a particularly concerning sign for most parents. If your 2 year old's vocabulary has decreased, or he no longer speaks much, then your kid may have a language delay, according to Parents. Fortunately, though, this is a good age to catch and address potential problems.
8. They Haven't Said A Word
Again, all children grow and develop at their own rates. But if your kid hasn't spoken a word by the age of 18 months, then a speech delay may be the problem, as noted by Parenting. Again, though, your kid is likely young enough for any help to be very effective.
9. They Can't Follow Basic Commands
Granted, plenty of toddlers follow their own will regardless of their language mastery. As noted in What To Expect, though, if your toddler cannot follow a basic command (such as "Bring me the ball."), then you may be dealing with a language delay. Thankfully, the early help of a speech therapist may be just what your kid needs to develop those crucial language skills.