Does My Child Need Speech Therapy?
Ray Smith
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

Does My Child Need Speech Therapy?

What to do when your child has difficulty with communication.

When it comes to recognizing if your child needs speech therapy, there’s more to it than what they say or don’t say.

Speech therapy addresses both speech and language challenges. Speech involves forming sounds and words, while language encompasses the broader process of understanding others and getting your wants and needs met through verbal and non-verbal communication. A child may have difficulty with one or more aspects of communication.

The good news is speech therapy can effectively address speech and language challenges, in a fun and friendly manner that your child will actually enjoy and benefit from doing.

It can sometimes be a challenge for parents to recognize if their child needs help.

Some of the common difficulties and struggles that can point to a speech or language difficulty include:

  • Not smiling or interacting with others 
  • Not babbling (4-10 months)
  • Making only a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (7-12 months)
  • Saying only a few words (12-18 months)
  • Saying p, b, m, h, and w incorrectly in words (1-2 years)
  • Not easily understanding directions or what others say (7 months-2 years)
  • Not putting together sentences (1.5-3 years)
  • Saying k, g, f, t, d, and n incorrectly in words (2-3 years)
  • Struggling to play and talk with other children (2-3 years)
  • Producing speech that’s unclear, even to familiar people (2-3 years)

Other signs that may appear after toddlerhood include:

  • Difficulty finding the right word when speaking or frequently using placeholder words such as “um”
  • Using tenses (past, present, future) incorrectly 
  • Difficulty understanding what other people have said
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts when recounting an event 
  • Mispronouncing certain sounds 
  • Seeming overly shy or awkward when approaching others
  • Struggling when conversing and interacting appropriately with peers
  • Struggles when following directions

Challenges with communication can lead to your child having moments of frustration—resulting from not being understood or understanding others.

Through speech therapy, children and their caregivers can find ways to connect and communicate with each other.

Speech therapy intervention programs are designed to fit a child’s specific needs. During each session, your child will be encouraged to engage in activities (that feel a lot like play to them) that focus on developing their communication skills. Caregivers are encouraged to observe, participate and ask questions, so that they can provide carryover techniques at home to keep their child on track and progressing forward. The goal is always to help your child become a capable, engaged, and eager communicator.

If you are concerned that your child might be showing signs of a speech or language delay, contact your pediatrician to schedule a speech and language evaluation. You should never be concerned that you’re overreacting. Early intervention is key to getting and keeping your child on track.


Rebecca Carey, MS, CCC-SLP and Melissa Morrissey, MS CCC-SLP, are speech-language pathologists at SVMC Outpatient Rehabilitation, part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington.


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