Parents of young children are often concerned about their child’s speech and language development. In many cases, it’s only a matter of time before a child’s speech and language skills are fully developed, and his or her utterances can be clearly understood. However, when in doubt, it’s always best to get some professional advice as early as possible.
Unfortunately, as this article in The Economist points out, some 60 percent of speech and language disorders go undiagnosed until a child attends school. If only these problems were identified and addressed sooner, the child would be less likely to experience frustration, bullying, loss of self-esteem, and academic and social struggles. And in some cases, such as stuttering, early identification and intervention may even help prevent a lifelong condition.
Although there is promising research that may enable parents in the future to identify whether their child has a speech or language disorder, such a system may not be available for years. In the meantime, physicians, preschool teachers and others may be able to recognize that a problem exists – but these individuals do not have the professional training of a certified speech language pathologist to provide an accurate diagnosis.
Regardless, parents who are concerned should not wait until an elementary teacher or speech language specialist identifies a potential problem with their child’s speech or language skills. Instead, they should seek the professional guidance of a certified speech language pathologist as soon as they begin to have concerns. Many speech language pathologists provide complimentary speech and language screenings.
Joanne Summer, MA, CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathologist based in Morristown, NJ, has helped hundreds of children improve their speech sound production and language skills. She founded Well Spoken Speech Therapy, LLC, in 2014 after spending 12 years providing therapy to children (K-5) in the New Jersey public school system. In private practice, her clients also include younger children and adolescents. In addition, she treats people of all ages who stutter or otherwise find it difficult to speak fluently—an area in which she has received extensive specialized training.