As children grow and learn to speak, they can often be hard to understand. That’s a normal thing, as they are learning to communicate. But as they grow older and begin to speak more, it should readily become apparent whether or not they might have some form of communication disorder and could benefit from the assistance of a speech pathologist and speech therapy.
By the time a child is between three and five, or in preschool, they should be communicating clearly enough to understand most of what they are saying. If, for whatever reason though, they are not and are instead doing things such as a constant mispronunciation of vowels, leaving out vowels entirely, showing signs of a restricted vocabulary, or even communicating only through the use of single words, these are all signs of what is probably a speech disorder and a parent should strongly consider seeking out the help of a speech and language therapist.
Often, speech therapists can be found at hospitals or clinics, but more and more these days they are being used at schools and preschools where their services are offered and where they even do regular testing to help catch communication disorders early on. With specialised testing, most children who might be showing they are developing a form of speech impediment can be put into a form of speech therapy to help assist them in growing out of it. These forms of therapy can be done singly or as a group. If these services are not readily available at a child’s school, it is typically not much of a problem to locate a certified speech pathologist.
If the child is showing more severe signs earlier than school-age, such as a complete inability to communicate, some parents may think going to a paediatrician would be fine, but it really is most important to seek out a genuine speech pathologist, someone who has trained and specialises in communication disorders who can evaluate the child. Often, even when first going to a paediatrician, the parents will be referred to a speech therapist for their child.
With the assistance of a speech and language therapist and their specialised practices, most children can overcome their speech impediments in a matter of years, at which point they will be able to communicate clearly, effectively and properly without the restriction of a communication disorder to impede the quality of their life.