By: Blair Gorenberg MA, CCC-SLP
From recording videos to filling out a journal, parents are overcome with joy at the opportunity to document every milestone their child hits. But when children don’t follow the “normal” path of development, parents are left wondering when they will catch up to their peers. Children of all ages can benefit greatly from participation in speech-language therapy, and research has consistently shown that early intervention is key in managing a speech or language disorder.
The Difference Between Speech & Language
So what is the difference between speech and language? Speech is defined as the physical production of verbal output or the sound that is produced. For example, when discussing how a child produces the “R” sound, this refers to the child’s speech. Language is defined as the understanding and choice of words, gestures, and body language used to communicate. For example, when discussing how many words a child says or understands, this refers to the child’s language.
How Do Speech & Language Concerns Present In Young Children?
There are a variety of speech and language concerns that may arise during childhood. A child’s first words may be delayed, his/her vocabulary may be limited, or your child may not be producing any words at all. Maybe your child is talking but it is difficult to understand due to impaired production of speech. Perhaps your child isn’t demonstrating an understanding of basic directions or conversation. All of these issues are best addressed by a speech-language pathologist!
What Does A Speech & Language Evaluation Look Like?
When a young child comes in for a speech and language evaluation, the speech-language pathologist completes both formal and informal assessments in addition to obtaining a full case history from the child’s parent or guardian. Formal testing is used to collect concrete data about the child in order to compare the child’s development to same-age peers. Informal testing allows the speech therapist to see firsthand how the child interacts, communicates, and plays both alone and with others. The case history includes a variety of questions regarding the child’s development, family, concerns, and goals.
What Happens In Speech Therapy For Two-Year-Olds?
For young children, speech therapy tends to be play-based with a focus on carrying over strategies into your home! The speech therapist carefully crafts a therapy environment full of toys and books that the child enjoys and helps facilitate speech and language stimulation while the child plays. Either during or at the conclusion of the session, the speech therapist reviews techniques with parents to help them facilitate the same stimulation in the child’s natural environment.
Stimulating Speech & Language At Home
Here are some helpful tips to stimulate speech and language at home:
Get On The Child’s Level
Playing on the ground with your child removes the physical divide that exists between a tall adult and a small child.
Follow Your Child’s Lead
Watch your child and see what he/she wants to play with or talk about and follow rather than directing them to a toy or scenario he/she may not want to engage in. When children like what they are doing, they have more to say about it!
For every question, you ask your child, provide 3 comments before asking another question. Using comments when talking to your child allows for your child to respond with more freedom rather than feeling the need to provide a specific answer to a question.
When adults are silent, it allows children to talk on their own time. Talk to your child while playing but remember to include a moment of silence from time to time to encourage your child to talk on their own!
If you have any concerns about your child’s speech or language, request an order for speech therapy from your child’s pediatrician and call The Therapy Place for a consultation and assessment!
“Early Intervention.” American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, https://www.asha.org/public/speech/early-intervention/.
Focustherapy. “Child Too Young for Speech Therapy? No Such Thing!” Focus Therapy, 22 Sept. 2018, https://focusflorida.com/speech-therapy/child-too-young-for-speech-therapy-no-such-thing/
Goorhuis-Brouwer, Siena M, and Wilma A Knijff. “Language Disorders in Young Children: When Is Speech Therapy Recommended?” International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, vol. 67, no. 5, 2003, pp. 525–529., https://doi.org/10.1016/s0165-5876(03)00014-4. “What Is Speech? What Is Language?” American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/speech-and-language/.