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When does my child need speech therapy?

There are many reasons why a child would need to see a speech-language pathologist.

It is recommended that instead of a "wait and see" approach, that children be recommended to speech-language pathologists when they are not meeting their milestones. Research has shown that there is a portion (~10-20%) of children who are late talkers. Late talkers are children who have limited vocabulary for their age, but other aspects of development are developing typically.

Although 50-70% of children who are late talkers appear to "catch up", these children continue to have weaker language related skills into adolescence. Additionally, being a late talker is a risk factor for a language disorder. The later that children are identified (e.g., after 2 years of age), the more likely they are to persist in a language delay.

What does this mean for parents? Early intervention! Many studies have shown that parent-implemented intervention results in positive expressive (talking) language gains.

So wait, what are these language milestones?

- At 18 months, we expect children to be using at least 10-15 words.

- At 24 months, we expect children to be using at least 50 words and two-word utterances.

We want to start early because children's brains are more "plastic". This is fancy word for they learn easier when they are younger. Their brains can adapt easier compared to when they are older. We can create opportunities for children to learn while they are young so that they don't miss out on these opportunities!

If you child is not meeting these milestones or you are concerned about your child's speech and language development, contact you local speech-language pathologist for a consultation!

Singleton, N.C. (2018). Late talkers: why the wait and see approach is outdated. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 65(1), 13-29.