I was clearing off the top of my fridge the other day when I found a wrinkled strip of paper, up there since who-knows-when. It was full of neatly written words each one dated and with a word count next to it. “2/14/12. Three words! Mama, milk (signed), ball.” It all came back—the nervousness about exactly how many words we needed at exactly which stage, and all the time we spent worrying about whether we needed to be worrying.
Pediatric speech pathologist Melanie Potock has 5 red flags for parents to watch out for. Is your child frustrated? Are strangers able to understand her fairly well? Does family struggle to understand as well? Does your child sound immature in comparison to her peers? Finally, are there eating issues that may signify motor problems? If your child is diagnosed with a speech disorder, early intervention is key, either through private therapies or your local school district.
—Don’t be shy to go to your pediatrician right away if you see that your child has eating issues, sounds immature, is difficult to understand, or is often frustrated.
—Each state has early intervention services; after age three, this takes place through the school district.
—Speech therapy isn’t boring repetition—speech language pathologists have lots of fun, age-appropriate methods to teach children the language skills they need to succeed.