I am getting increasingly concerned about the “wait and see” approach in the area of speech and language development of young children. The effects of this attitude are surfacing in our clinics, with the age of referral becoming later and later. Instead of children being referred for an assessment at age 3 or 4 years old, they are coming to us at age 6, 7 or 8 years!

The “wait and see” approach has achieved nothing expect contributed to the child lagging further behind in accessing the curriculum, reading, writing and forming essential peer relationships. We know that early and frequent assessment and intervention works!

A child's failure to reach speech and language milestones as expected may be a "red flag," or warning, indicating a speech and language development problem. If your child does not reach developmental milestones on schedule, it does not necessarily mean there is a problem. But what I strongly recommends it does mean, is that at the very least you seek the advice or an assessment from a Speech + Language Therapist. The earlier a child is assessed, the greater and more successful the outcome is likely to be.

Receptive Language delays include problems understanding what is heard or read.

Expressive Language delays are or problems putting words together to form meaning. Some children have both speech and language delays.

Speech delays are difficulties with the production of speech sounds. The errors may be sound substitutions, omissions or distortions.

Red flags for a speech or language delay include:

  • No babbling by 9 months.
  • No first words by 15 months.
  • No consistent words by 18 months.
  • No word combinations by 24 months.
  • Slowed or stagnant speech development.
  • Problems understanding your child's speech at 24 months of age; strangers having problems understanding your child's speech by 36 months of age.
  • Not showing an interest in communicating.
  • Stuttering that causes a child embarrassment, frustration, or difficulty with peers.
  • Failure to respond normally, such as not responding when spoken to.
  • A sudden loss of speech and language skills. Loss of abilities at any age should be addressed immediately.
  • Not speaking clearly or well by age 3.

It is important to talk to a Speech Therapist anytime you or another person has concerns about your child's speech and language development. DON’T “WAIT & SEE”! Early and frequent assessment and intervention works. Addressing your concerns early reduces the likelihood your child will have ongoing learning difficulties. The earlier a child is assessed and treated, the greater and more successful the outcome is likely to be. 

Posted: Sunday 4 June 2017