Speech Language Pathologists Q&A: Answering Common Questions about Communication Development
May is Better Hearing & Speech Month.
By Sydney Hanes
All children learn to babble and talk at different times. Before you know it, they can read their favorite book or tell you what they want for their birthday. But, when they can't tell you what they want to eat for breakfast or the daycare teacher can't understand what they say, parents need somewhere to turn.
At Cook Children's Rehabilitation Services, our speech language pathologists (SLPs) are highly skilled and experienced in children's communication development. They work with parents to help empower their children to achieve their goals.
We have about 40 SLPs who serve our patients in our medical center and outpatient clinics. They have expertise in:
- Speech/language skills
- Augmentative and alternative communication
- Hearing loss
- Traumatic brain injury and so much more!
As we celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month this May, Jonathan Suarez, Rehabilitation Services clinic lead, and Suzanne Bonifert, Rehabilitation Services manager, provide answers to commonly asked questions about speech and hearing.
What can I do to get my child to speak more?
Model words for your child, even if he/she doesn’t repeat them. For example, if he/she vocalizes and points to juice, you can say, “juice” or “you want juice.” That way the child is hearing the words even though he/she cannot say them yet.
It’s also good to use comments (i.e. “You want juice.”), rather than questions (i.e. “What do you want?”). Doing so can be less stressful for kids, especially those having some challenges learning to talk.
We also recommend talking to your pediatrician about a referral to see a SLP for an evaluation. The SLP can help you identify your child’s strengths and challenges and may recommend therapy to help give your child a boost!
Is it OK to speak more than one language to my child throughout the day?
Yes, yes and yes! Every child is different and the amount of time they spend using each language can vary, depending on exposure in school, at home or during extracurricular activities.
Sometimes a child may understand multiple languages but will only use one. Keep practicing each language!
Some children may “code switch,” or use both languages when they speak. This is not a disorder. The child is learning how to use the rules of both languages.
How do I know when to be concerned about my child’s communication or when to see a speech therapist?
By the time your child is 12 months old, he/she should be able to speak two to three words. By the time he/she is 2 years old, he/she should be able to speak at least 200 words. By age 3, he/she should be able to speak 900 words.
Trust your gut. If you feel there is a concern, you can ask your pediatrician for a speech therapy referral and have your child evaluated.
Once the evaluation is complete, an SLP can provide information to help with your child’s communication.
Here are links to two helpful speech and language milestone charts:
- Speech and Language Milestone Chart, LD Online
- Speech and Language Developmental Milestones, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Is there something I could have done as a parent to prevent my child’s speech delay?
No. We often hear parents say, “We never had to worry about my older children talking.” But there is nothing you could have done to prevent your child’s speech delay. In most cases, there are steps you can take now to help your child’s language skills grow.
Since your child has a language delay, we need to be intentional in the language we are using with them.
How long will my child need to be in speech therapy to gain the skills they need to communicate?
Progress can vary from child to child. Our goal is to improve the child’s language while also teaching the parent or caregiver some interaction and language strategies to elicit communication.
What can a speech therapist do with a toddler who cannot sit still?
We can teach language in a variety of ways! Activities involving movement are great for keeping children interested. Sometimes, children are having so much fun that they do not realize they are actually doing a language activity!
Instead of sitting at a table for activities, you could:
- Stand up and sing songs using motions and actions
- Play hide-and-seek
- Play chase while running, jumping or skipping
- Read a book while acting each part out
To learn more about the Cook Children’s speech therapy program, please visit our website.
Speech Therapy at Cook Children's
At Cook Children's Rehabilitation Services, our speech-language pathologists are highly skilled and experienced in children's communication development. They work with parents and families to help their children communicate their wants and needs. Many of our therapists have additional training and experience in specialty areas. We also have bilingual therapists on staff that treat a variety of communication and feeding difficulties.