Speech and language developmental concerns
For many parents, worrying is a part of the job description. After all, you have the responsibility of caring for and making sure your child is happy, healthy, and safe. But what happens when you notice something that you think is wrong, and the experts don’t seem nearly as concerned as you do? Trust your gut! Advocating for your child is not always easy, but is definitely necessary.
Speech and language development
Young children reach milestones quickly as they grow and develop, and one area where they reach milestones is in speech and language development. This is often an area where parents have questions and concerns about their child’s progress.
Leigh Carr, a certified Speech Language Pathologist, has spent many years providing evaluations and treatment for children from birth to 18 years old with communication disorders. “Children begin communicating from the moment they are born with their first cry,” she said. “It is extremely important to be aware of speech and language developmental milestones children reach by various ages in order to ensure your child is demonstrating those skills.”
One of the first milestones is reached at just 2 months. At that age, children are typically cooing, crying for attention, turning their heads towards sounds and smiling. Throughout the rest of their very early childhood, children develop quickly and reach other language and speech milestones relatively quickly.
An easy resource for those wanting to learn more about specific milestones is the Milestone Tracker mobile app which explains what is expected at each age and allows you to determine if your child is on track, developmentally.
Stimulating language skills
Some children develop more quickly, or more slowly, than others. If parents are concerned about their child’s speech and language development, Carr suggests that parents try to stimulate those skills. One way to do this is by simply reading to the child every day. Another good way is by labeling objects and actions. For instance, at bathtime if the child is looking at the soap, you might say “Here is the soap”. This helps them connect the object with the word for the object. It also can help children’s language skills develop when you hold objects close to the mouth while explaining what they are. Young children then have a visual of the mouth movement which helps them imitate the sounds.
Carr explained “We know that many children who demonstrate delays in development will catch up in time without skilled intervention… however, children who receive early intervention have better outcomes due to skilled therapy, facilitating your child’s progress and maximizing their potential.”
Advocating for your child
Despite the fact that many children with delays will eventually catch up to their peers, it is difficult for parents to see their child struggling. Carr recommends communicating any concerns with the child’s pediatrician right away and scheduling an appointment sooner rather than waiting for the next check-up. Often, pediatricians may not be as concerned with the perceived developmental delays as the parents. Sometimes a pediatrician may just recommend a “wait and see” approach.
“As a parent, they can request a referral for an evaluation by a speech language pathologist, physical or occupational therapist or audiologist, as appropriate based on concerns,” said Carr.
Knowing your child best, do what you believe is right for your child, even if that means disagreeing with the pediatrician’s “wait and see” approach.
Leigh Carr can be contacted at 567-343-0073 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To download the Milestone Tracker mobile app, please visit cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones-app.html.