As a child, I attended Speech Therapy due to a terrible stuttering habit I developed. The memories of my time spent in the small classroom with my therapist, Mr. Baptiste, are positive ones. Mr. Baptist was incredibly patient and kind which made a world of difference. Our sessions were fun and didn’t feel like work at all.
When my youngest child displayed some speech issues I was quick to enlist the help of his school and pediatrician. I knew that Early Intervention was key in getting him on track and didn’t want to delay getting him the help he needed.
For over a year my son attended both in-school sessions that were supplemented by a private weekly session. I’m proud to say he graduated out of needing speech services after two years.
I reached out to Ashley B. Scott of ChatterNola who provided us with helpful signs that may indicate your child may need to enlist the help of a Speech-Language Pathologist.
Top 3 Reasons to See a Speech-Language Pathologist
Feeding/Swallowing Concerns- This includes infants who have trouble taking nutrition from the breast or bottle.
Difficulties could include maternal pain (sore, cracked, lipstick shaped nipples while nursing, chronic mastitis, thrush), coughing/choking/gagging at the breast/bottle, trouble transitioning to solid foods, excessive drooling or drinking while eating, picky eating.
Delayed speech and/or language-
This includes babies that don’t smile big by 3 months of age.
Doesn’t respond to his/her name by 9 months.
Doesn’t wave or point by 12 months.
Fails to follow simple directions by 1 year.
Has less than 25 words by 18 months.
Doesn’t speak in phrases by 24 months.
The child doesn't use sentences of 3,4,5 words by age three.
Doesn’t use his/her words to make requests or gain attention.
Concerns with social skills-
Difficulty engaging in play. Limits or avoids eye contact.
Plays alone in the presence of peers and doesn’t initiate contact with peers.
The child doesn’t bring items to show or play with caregivers.
Plays with the same toys in a very specific way.
Shows more interest in objects than people.
The American Speech-Speech-Language Association has wonderful tips to help you and your child understand and use words. Below are just a few from their website.
Birth to 2 Years
Say sound like "ma," "da," and "ba." Try to get your baby to say them back to you.
Look at your baby when he makes sounds. Talkback to him, and say what he says. Pretend to have a conversation.
Respond when your baby laughs or makes faces. Make the same faces back to her.
Teach your baby to do what you do, like clapping your hands and playing peek-a-boo.
Talk to your baby as you give him a bath, feed him, and get him dressed. Talk about what you are doing and where you are going. Tell him who or what you will see.
Point out colors and shapes.
Count what you see.
2 to 4 Years
Speak clearly to your child. Model good speech.
Repeat what your child says to show that you understand. Add on to what she says. Use words like, "Want juice? I have juice. I have apple juice. Do you want apple juice?"
It's okay to use baby talk sometimes. Be sure to use the adult word too. For example, "It is time for din-din. We will have dinner now."
4 to 6 Years
Pay attention when your child talks to you.
Get your child's attention before you talk.
Praise your child when she tells you something. Show that you understand her words.
Pause after speaking. This gives your child a chance to respond.
Keep helping your child learn new words. Say a new word, and tell him what it means, or use it in a way that helps him understand. For example, you can use the word "vehicle" instead of "car." You can say, "I think I will drive the vehicle to the store. I am too tired to walk."
Talk about where things are, using words like "first," "middle," and "last" or "right" and "left." Talk about opposites like "up" and "down" or "on" and "off."
You can read more of American Speech-Hearing-Language tips here.
We know and understand all children grow and develop at their own rate, however, if you have any concerns don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician and/or a licensed Speech Pathologist.
Accolades: Voted New Orleans Best SLP for 3 consecutive years
To learn more about Ashley's services at ChatterNola click here.
Kirstie Myvett is a Nola mom and author of the newly released children’s book, “PRALINE LADY.” You can learn more about her at kirstiemyvett.com.