In honor of the month May being Better Speech and Hearing Month, I am sneaking in a post before the month is over! As a pediatric speech language pathologist, my main obvious job is to help children learn to speak and communicate functionally. My not so always obvious job is to educate caregivers on typical language and speech progression and provide support for implementing strategies in their home. Sometimes my job is assuring a parent that he/she is making the right choice by seeking intervention.
I feel lucky that I work with children birth through 3 years (Early Intervention) because every parent that I work with has made “The Choice.” My parents have made “The Choice” to ignore the doctors that have assured them that their child will catch up, or that nothing was out of the ordinary. They have made “The Choice” to advocate on behalf of their non-verbal kiddos who did not have a voice of their own. They have made “The Choice” to seek second and third opinions. They have made “The Choice” to seek a professional evaluation and accept Early Intervention services. They have jumped through hoops to get the best for their children and abandoned their own schedules to accommodate their child’s therapy schedules. For some, it has been at the referral of an awesome developmental pediatrician and for others it has solely been following their Mommy (or Daddy) gut and realizing that something was different about their child’s development.
This blog post is to salute my parents and also to serve as a guide for parents who are just not sure or just not ready for their child to begin receiving therapy. I need to stress the urgency of action during your child’s early years (think as early as 12-18 months). Please, please, please do not make the OTHER choice: “wait it out.” You are very likely placing your child at a disadvantage. An unnecessary disadvantage. And your child may be missing out on services that could have a huge impact on his/her future. For children with motor speech disorders, dysarthria or language disorders/delays -- NOW IS THE TIME!
Now is the time for an evaluation, at the very least. Do some children walk before they talk? Sure do! Are boys later talkers than girls? Sometimes! But is your child progressing on his own in the absence of professional intervention? Is his vocabulary continually growing? Do you notice that she is demonstrating new communication skills on a weekly or even monthly basis?
Additionally, all this time you let your child wait to catch up, she is potentially falling further and further behind her typically progressing peers. The gap will widen and it may widen quickly! Children with speech and language disorders that are unresolved often have difficulties in the academic arena as well as in socialization. In addition, although this post is primarily focused on speech and language development, much of what I have written applies to developmental delays in other domains as well. This is the time to intervene and make “The Choice” to let a professional help you and your child!
This post is not meant to scare you—it is simply meant to urge you to follow your parental instincts, to listen to your gut, and to pay attention to that little voice in the back of your mind. If you have any concerns about your child’s development in any area, please get an evaluation and find out if your child may benefit from some extra help! That’s what we’re here for, after all -- just make "The Choice!"
Subscribe to follow our blog via e-mail here (we won't spam you, promise!)