One of the most common questions brought to the doors of professional speech therapists every day is that of when exactly it is necessary to seek intervention. Given the fact that each and every child across the board will always be 100% unique in terms of their development, it can be difficult to know when and where any given child requires assistance. Comparing one child to the next is definitely not the way of going about things and nor is measuring their progress against ‘normal’ benchmarks and milestones.
It doesn’t help that there is so much conflicting information currently doing the rounds online, which can make it even more difficult to know where to turn and when. The simple fact of the matter, however, is that there is always the option of getting in touch with the professionals for a brief consultation, even if only to clarify a few points and put your mind at rest.
But in terms of seeking the assistance of speech therapists to help with the child’s development, what are the kinds of signs, symptoms and prompts you should be looking for?
1 – Obvious Signs of Issues with Speech
Well, first of all there are the kinds of relatively obvious indicators of issues with speech and communication. It could be that your child is clearly having trouble making specific sounds, forming specific words or effectively communicating what it is they want to say. There will always be certain challenges and obstacles faced by every child during their development, but in this instance what you are looking for is specific issues that present on a repeat basis. It may be that every time they try to formulate a ‘th’ sound, they struggle. Or perhaps there could be certain sounds or words that cause them to stutter. In all such instances, it is advisable to seek professional advice as early as possible.
2 – Reluctance to Speech or Shyness
When a child encounters any kinds of difficulties in communicating whatsoever, it is inevitable that some will put up their defenses and actively avoid speaking. On the surface, it may come across as a problem with shyness and confidence, as opposed to a speech and language development issue. Nevertheless, it is worth considering the fact that if they appear reluctant to speak on a regular basis, it is perfectly possible that their confidence and shyness issues are the result of a speech and language problem. So along with noting obvious and audible communication issues, it is also important to be on the lookout for those that are rather more silent.
3 – Frustration or Anger When Communicating
It can be extremely frustrating not to be able to effectively communicate what it is you want to say. This is true even as an adult, but for a child going through such an extraordinary developmental process and dealing with difficult emotions, it can be exponentially more upsetting. Which is precisely why it is common for children affected by speech and language development issues to display signs of anger and frustration when communicating with others. As mentioned above, they may simply retreat back into their proverbial shell and avoid communicating altogether, or perhaps become frustrated and angry due to their difficulties.
4 – Slow Performance or Development in School
If the child has a speech or language development issue that is affecting their performance in school, this will more often than not be brought to the attention of the parents by those providing tuition. However, this cannot necessarily be counted on and it is therefore a good idea to watch over their performance personally. There are literally thousands of reasons why any given child may develop at a slower than expected rate or experience difficulties in school. Statistically speaking, it is unlikely that a speech or language development issue will be the root cause, but it is always worth investigating the possibility, just in case.
5 – Any Doubts or Concerns Whatsoever
Last but not least, the single most important piece of advice professional speech and language therapists offer is to never wait too long to seek advice and assistance. One of the few things that rings true for each and every speech and language issue across the board is that the earlier it is addressed, the higher the likelihood of a fast and effective outcome. Which is why if there’s even a shred of doubt or concern whatsoever, it is advisable to bring it to the attention of the professional straight away, rather than giving what could turn out to be a serious problem any more time to grow and intensify.