kids need a speech assessment

How to know if your kids need a speech assessment

When a child says “mama” or “dada” for the first time, it is such an exciting moment! We wonder what the next new word will be. But, what if your child starts saying “tat” for “cat”? Or maybe they aren’t saying any new words. When should you think about your kids need a speech assessment?

Check for key communication milestones

Each child develops communication skills at different rates. You might see a speech pathologist if:

  • At 12 months, your child does not babble, make sounds, gestures, or say a few words
  • At 18 months, your child does not say 6 to 20 words
  • At 2 years, your child does not put two words together (e.g. ‘bye teddy’)
  • At 3 years, you can’t understand your child at least 75% of the time
  • At 4 years, your child doesn’t use many sounds including ‘t’, ‘f’, ‘k’, and ‘sh’
  • At 5 years, your child isn’t using full sentences and is difficult to understand

The Speech Pathology Australia website has free resources on communication milestones between 0 to 5 years of age. Follow the link at the bottom of the page to access these documents.

Check for other communication difficulties

Apart from making sounds and saying words, there are other areas of communication to consider. Here are some extra signs that your child might need a speech pathology assessment:

  • Your child is stuttering stuttering, or stammering, can be common in children. Consider an assessment if your child is repeating sounds or words or getting stuck when talking.
  • Your child prefers to play alone or has trouble playing with other children – playing with others is important for social skills to develop. If your child prefers to play alone, it could mean that they struggle to interact with others.
  • Your child has trouble appropriately responding to nonverbal cues and social situations  you might notice that your child isn’t waving to say ‘hi’ or ‘bye’, or isn’t reacting to your facial expressions or tone of voice.
  • Your child has a hoarse or rough voice quality some children who talk loudly all the time may develop a hoarse voice. This can be harmful to their vocal cords.
  • Your child only talks in certain settings if your child can only talk to you at home, but not at daycare, school, or in public.
  • Your child has difficulty with reading or writing children that have difficulty sounding out letters and spelling simple words may need additional support with their literacy skills. There may also be an underlying difficulty with language.
  • Your child has a diagnosis a diagnosis of Global Developmental Delay (GDD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, or Intellectual Impairment often directly impacts speech and language development. Early intervention is recommended to maximise their developmental outcomes.
  • Your child has difficulty feeding or is an extremely picky eater  if your child has had a history of feeding difficulties as an infant, or you’re concerned about your child’s ability to chew and swallow or nutrition intake, it may be helpful for your child to see a speech pathologist.

Should I wait and see if my child will “catch up” before getting a speech assessment?

If you are concerned about your child’s communication development, it is better to get a kid need a speech assessment early. The earlier a speech-language delay is diagnosed, the more likely that your child will have better academic and social outcomes.

What do I need to get a speech assessment on the Gold Coast?

To see a speech pathologist on the Gold Coast, you don’t need any referrals. However, it might be helpful to:

  • See a paediatrician about your child’s development
  • Get a hearing test sometimes, speech-language delays are caused by temporary hearing loss
  • Write down or video record some examples of what your child’s speech sounds like to show the speech pathologist

If you are concerned about your child’s speech-language development, make an appointment with a speech therapist on the Gold Coast. A speech pathologist will talk to you about your concerns and do an assessment with your child before making recommendations for ongoing speech therapy sessions.