Babies as young as 6 months old can benefit from speech therapy, although most start around 1 to 3 years old when they start. Keep in mind that there, it often takes time to go through the process of getting a referral, performing an evaluation, and then setting up a therapy schedule. Your child should say his first word before his first birthday and should know about 20 words by 18 months. If your child is behind these goals, don't press the panic button.
Your child may only slowly develop language skills and could benefit from working with a speech therapist. Around 18 months to two years of age, some signs of speech development problems may appear. Being aware of these signs can help parents know when it's time to seek speech therapy for a young child. Young children should start speech therapy as soon as a delay or difficulty is identified; it's never too late or too early to start.
Starting speech therapy for young children is as soon as you or your child's pediatrician notice a delay. To start speech therapy, you'll first need a speech and language evaluation to take a closer look at the development of your child's speech and language skills. As soon as you notice something strange, see a speech therapist to help you change it before it's too late. Speech-language pathologists (SLP) are there to help your child improve their speech before it's too late.
Children who don't speak at all are usually referred for speech and language tests around 18 months of age. Pediatricians often refer young children for a speech and language evaluation because they haven't started speaking at 18 months. The best age for speech therapy is the age when your child begins to fall behind schedule or when you notice that you are not meeting milestones. However, if they're constantly quiet at social gatherings or if they have trouble expressing themselves, you might want to consider taking them to speech therapy for young children.
When they first meet with a speech therapist, they'll want to understand the issues that need to be addressed. Every child is different, so it can be difficult to know when a child isn't developing on a regular schedule, and it's time to start speech therapy for a toddler and ask for help. The pediatric speech therapist who completes the evaluation of the young child may recommend speech therapy. Some children learn words well, but they have speech delays that make it difficult for them to pronounce those words.
However, as speech therapists with more than 22 years of experience under our belt, we can assure you that it's really just about gathering information and learning about your child. A speech and language evaluation is a one- to two-hour appointment with a licensed speech therapist designed to determine if your child needs speech therapy. Speech therapists are trained professionals who help children and adults with different speech-related problems.