Early Detection of Communication Disorders

Early Detection of Communication Disorders

“My child is almost 3 and he is still not talking. My aunty told me not to worry because her brother started talking at 4 and now he’s fine.”

Comments like the one above are one of the most frequent we come across. We often receive enquiries from concerned parents with children age 18 months or older expressing concerns about their children “not talking”. Although it is true that children develop at varying rates because every child is unique, there are certain indicators that your child’s “problem” may be more than just a difference. Early detection of a genuine problem leads to early intervention which is crucial if your child has a communication disorder. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can help with language disorders, speech sound disorders, stuttering (disfluency), and voice disorders.

How do you decide if you should wait or if you should seek professional help? Here are some signs (adapted from Early Detection of Speech, Language and Hearing Disorders):

Sign of a Language Disorder

By 12 months:

  • Doesn’t smile or babble
  • Doesn’t look at you or show interest in what others are doing
  • Does not use gestures

By 2 years:

  • Doesn’t understand what others say or follow simple directions
  • Says less than 10 words
  • Does not know how to play with toys or use real objects
  • Has trouble playing and talking with other children

Sign of a Speech Sound Disorder

By 2 years:

  • Makes only a few consonant sounds
  • Cannot produce more than one syllable at a time
  • Produces speech that is more than 50% unclear, even to familiar people

Signs of Stuttering (Disfluency)

  • Repeats first sounds of words—”b-b-b-ball” for “ball”
  • Pauses a lot while talking
  • Stretches sounds out—”f-f-f-f-farm” for “farm”

Signs of a Voice Disorder

  • Uses a hoarse or breathy voice
  • Uses a nasal-sounding voice

If you are concerned about your child’s development, an SLP can help determine if your child has a communication disorder or a delay. Your SLP may be able to determine factors that may be hindering your child’s development and provide you with tips and strategies to stimulate your child’s development. In some cases, the child and parent may only need to return for a follow-up to monitor the child’s development. In other cases, a follow-up evaluation to obtain further information may be required and a treatment plan will be developed together with all parties involved.

Meet our SLPs here. Want to read more about Early Detection of Communication Disorders? Click the following articles:

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