The Importance of Early Intervention for Speech and Language Disorders
Perhaps your child is a late talker or maybe your child has difficulty following directions or answering questions. Or perhaps your child has difficulty pronouncing specific speech sounds. Have you ever wondered whether your child might be delayed in their speech or language skills relative to other children their age? If you have agreed with any of the above statements, you should connect with an experienced Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) to assess your child’s speech and language skills.
When it comes to speech and language skill development, early intervention offers the best outcome for children who may be behind in these skills. It is never too early to meet with a speech and language pathologist to identify whether speech therapy would be beneficial for your child.
If you are unsure about whether your child is on track with their speech and language skill development, don’t wait for your child to fall behind. Getting started with speech therapy as early as possible means that your child will receive the support and guidance they need before any communication challenges appear, ensuring they continue to develop as they should. Don’t wait to get your child started with speech therapy, getting started is as easy as scheduling your free introductory call today!
What is Early Intervention?
Each individual child grows and develops at their own rate. While some children may walk and talk early, others may learn certain skills at a delayed rate. If a parent has any concerns about their child’s development, the earlier they seek help for their child, the better. Early intervention for speech and language development is available in every state under federal law. In some states, early intervention programs can continue until the child reaches the age of 5.
Loved ones, caregivers, and care professionals, including audiologists and speech and language pathologists, are typical elements of an early intervention team. Speech therapy for early intervention can help children develop skills such as:
- Cognitive Skills (Learning, Thinking, Problem-Solving)
- Communication Skills (Speaking, Listening, Comprehension, Gesturing)
- Social Communication Skills (Conversation, Understanding and Interpreting Others)
- Nonverbal Communication (Gestures, Tone of Voice, Facial Expressions, etc.)
Early intervention speech therapy is different for each individual child and their family and will depend on the specific needs of the child as well as the family’s priorities. The most important thing is to start speech therapy as early as possible.
The Problem with the “WAIT AND SEE” Approach
Many parents whose children are developing as they should in every other aspect (social skills, play skills, fine and gross motor skills, etc.), have been told by others “not to worry” about their child’s speech and language development. It is common for parents to be told to just “wait and see” if their child outgrows their speech or language delay and to simply ‘hope for the best.’
While it is true that children develop at their own pace, and acquire skills in varying order, speech, and language pathologists know when certain milestones should be reached by a specific age. When a child does not reach these milestones by a certain age, this can be cause for concern and, without the benefit of early intervention speech therapy, can cause more challenges further down the road. Get started with Great Speech by scheduling your free introductory call today!
What Does the Research Say about Early Intervention Speech Therapy? Why is language development so important in early childhood?
Studies have suggested that as many as 70-80% of delayed talking toddlers will outgrow a language delay if it is an expressive delay, which means that a significant number (20-30%) will not be able to catch up to their peers without intervention. Research has shown that when children aren’t able to catch up in their language skills, they may experience persistent language difficulties, as well as difficulties related to reading and writing when they reach school age. It can be very difficult to identify which late talkers will catch up and which will not be able to catch up on their own. Experts have suggested that the “wait-and-see approach” is not a recommended approach when it comes to language development. Waiting to seek intervention can put off important treatment that can make a major difference to a child in a wide variety of ways.
What are the Benefits of Early Intervention?
Early intervention does not just involve a treatment plan for the child, but also it involves education, support, and guidance for parents and caregivers. Early intervention can have a profound effect on your child’s speech and language development. Early intervention can help to improve the child’s ability to communicate, effectively interact with others, and strengthen their social skills and emotional regulation. There are many important reasons to intervene early.
Brain Development – The majority of young children will develop most of their speech and language skills by the age of three. During this time, learning and developing communication skills can influence how the brain develops. Early intervention is highly important because infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children have developing brains that are configured to learn and adopt communication skills. If there is a problem with the development of these skills, speech therapy should begin as soon as possible to capitalize on this essential period of normal brain development.
Elimination – A young child may be able to develop appropriate speech or language skills, although this is almost impossible to predict for the majority of young children. The cause of delayed speech and language skills isn’t always easily identified and the speech and language pathologist can’t accurately predict the course of development for each child. With early intervention, many children will develop their speech and language skills and will be able to catch up to their peers before beginning school. The speech and language pathologist can effectively assess and provide treatment for specific speech and language disorders which can in turn be quickly eliminated through early intervention.
Remediation – This element of early intervention speech therapy involves improving communication skills through play and practicing daily routines with the child. Remediation is the most common outcome and goal through speech therapy intervention for young children with potential communication delays. Working to become a more effective communicator will help the child to effectively and confidently communicate with adults and peers and can also reduce frustration and negative behaviors.
Parents Play An Essential Role – During early intervention speech therapy, parents are supplied with the tools and techniques that they need to facilitate speech and language development at home. Parents and/or caregivers are at the heart of early intervention as they provide the necessary language models every day that children require in order to develop language and communicate effectively. Through early intervention, parents can also be taught essential early language strategies to equip them to facilitate their child’s speech and language development through play, reading books, and during daily routines such as mealtimes and bedtime. Parents may also be taught specific cueing or feedback strategies to support their child’s production of specific speech sounds.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s speech and language skills, don’t wait to seek the support of a speech and language pathologist. Getting started with Great Speech is as simple as scheduling your free introductory call today!