Will My Child Outgrow His Speech Problem?
Many parents worry about their child’s speech, language or social communication skills but are often told by family, friends or even other professionals to wait and see if he outgrows it. Unfortunately, waiting often delays diagnosis of a disorder that is highly treatable—particularly when caught early.
It is especially important to be vigilant now. Some children who would have been recommended for speech and language services by a daycare provider or pediatrician may have been missed. During the pandemic, many kids remained at home with limited interaction with these professionals.
Now is the time to act on any concern. Early intervention services are still available, even if they have been modified because of the pandemic. The Mississippi State Department of Health’s First Steps Early Intervention program and outpatient speech-language pathologists who continue to practice in person offer these services.
Watch for Signs
Look for these signs of a speech or language disorder in children age 3 and under:
- Does not smile or interact with others (birth and older)
- Does not babble (4-7 months)
- Makes only a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (7-12 months)
- Does not understand what others say (7 months-2 years)
- Says only a few words (12-18 months)
- Says words that are not easily understood by others (18 months – 2 years)
- Does not put words together to make sentences (1.5 -3 years)
- Produces speech that is unclear, even to familiar people (2-3 years)
Benefits of Treatment
Early treatment offers several benefits:
- Maximizes a child’s success. Treatment at any age is worthwhile, but earlier is usually most effective. Early treatment can reduce the need for school-based services later.
- Saves time and money. It can take less time to treat a communication delay or disorder when you act on the early warning signs.
- Fewer treatment sessions can also mean fewer out-of-pocket expenses. Many early intervention programs offer free or low-cost services for children from birth to 3 years of age. They can also link you to other community support services.
- Prepares a child for kindergarten. What happens between birth and age 3 lays the foundation for kindergarten readiness. Strong speech, language, cognitive and social skills are necessary for reading, writing and academic success—as well as all the other demands of school.
- Sets up a child for school, social and life success. You want what’s best for your child. Acting early can have positive, long-lasting effects on your child’s communication, social relationships, learning and daily life activities well into adulthood.
Learn more about the benefits of early identification and treatment at www.IdentifytheSigns.org. Take the first step by contacting your child’s pediatrician to request an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist at NMMC Outpatient Rehabilitation Services.
Waiting to see if your child outgrows a speech problem may delay diagnosis of a disorder that is highly treatable, especially if caught early.