Every child develops at their own pace. Children may say their first word as early as 11 months while others produce theirs at the age of 2. However, we follow a natural progression of development for mastering a certain skill. If you notice your child has difficulties, it is best to seek help immediately. Early intervention is intended for children ages birth to 3. It even extends until the age of 5. Together with the child’s family, early intervention highly benefits children with speech and language needs. To learn more about early intervention for speech therapy and the different language milestones, read more!
In this article we will discuss:
What is early intervention?
If you think your child is functioning differently from other children his/her age, he may or may not be delayed!
Early intervention is a type of intervention given to children in their formative years when speech and language difficulties are spotted. It is not just for the person who has a communication delay, but also for the families. It is also about educating and guiding everyone around them to maximize their speech and language potential.
Speech and language delay is common in children. Several children may outgrow their speech and language delay and speech delay treatment might not even be needed. However, a large portion of them may have persistent language difficulties when they grow old. That is why speech delay therapy for early intervention is important. Seeking help as soon as possible will help your child live their lives better without possible difficulties in the future!
For adults with language disorder, the first few months of recovery is crucial for better rehabilitative outcome! This is most applicable to adults who suffered from a stroke. Most speech and language improvements, given speech and language intervention, were significant in the first 6 months of post-stroke recovery.
Early intervention is crucial for speech development
The reason why early intervention is important
Accepting that your child needs help can be a bit frustrating, to say the least. Yes, it is normal to feel a roller coaster of emotions. However, there is no need to worry! We are here to help you and your child develop and outgrow their speech and language difficulties through early intervention for speech therapy. Let us explain five reasons why early intervention is very crucial to your child’s development.
1. It improves communication skills.
Research shows that a drastic change is noticed when speech and language difficulties are detected and treated early.
2. The development of the brain is at its peak in the first 3 years of a child’s life.
During a child’s formative years, the brain is like a sponge. They can easily acquire and develop speech and language skills during this intensive period of time. That is why early intervention is crucial in the first 3 years of life. The earlier you introduce language stimulation and learning opportunities, the better the outcome as the brain absorbs information better.
3. It improves your child’s mood.
If you are wondering why your child gets frustrated easily, it is highly a result of communicative frustration. They cannot communicate their wants and needs. Just like you, your child gets upset easily when you did not meet his/her demands. When your child learns how to use appropriate gestures or words, a dramatic amount of difference can be observed. There is a positive change in the overall well-being of the child when they realize how fun it is to communicate with words rather than just emotionally driven cries.
4. Parents become more involved.
Parents, you are your child’s first and best teacher. If you are a first-time mother or if you do not know where to start if your child is diagnosed with a disorder, it is best to ask for help. The sooner you ask for help, the more aware you can become.
It is not just your child who needs help. You are also crucial to your child’s development. You need to know the basics of where to start and how to support your child’s potential! Help your child, help your family.
5. Intervention works!
It is a no-brainer that speech therapy for early intervention really works! It’s just that early intervention works better. Seeking professional help from speech-language pathologists, early interventionists, teachers, and occupational therapists can give you a wide range of opportunities that can improve your child’s overall well-being.
Language Milestones to look out for
Now that you know how important early intervention is, let us talk about the language milestones you need to look out for. Language milestones are not here to scare us. It is there to guide us on whether your child falls under the range of normal language development.
When we were babies, we communicate first through crying. If we felt an urge to be carried or when we feel hungry, we express ourselves through crying to feel a sense of comfort.
Birth to 3 Months
He/she reacts to sounds in the environment
Your child calms down or reacts when spoken to a familiar person
During mealtime, your child starts or stops sucking in response to a loud sound
Starts to coo and make pleasure sounds such as “oohs” and “ahhs”
They have a specific way of crying to ask for different needs
Your child smiles when he/she sees a familiar person
4 to 6 Months
He or she follows the direction of a sound or object with his or her eyes
Your child responds to changes in the tone of your voice such as pitch and loudness
They prefer toys that make sounds
He or she likes to listen to music
They start to babble in speech-like sounds including sounds that begin with p, b, and m.
Your child starts to laugh
They start producing gurgling sounds when alone or playing with you
7 Months to 1 Year
Your child enjoys playing peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
They start listening when spoken to
He or she understands words for common words such as “milk” or “shoes”
They respond to simple commands and requests (“Come here”) in their daily routine
He or she plays with speech sounds and produces reduplicated babbling such as “mama” “tata” “baba.”
They babble to get mommy’s attention
Your child starts communicating through gestures such as waving or clapping of hands
He or she imitates different speech sounds
They produce word approximations or even their first word (“Hi,” “dog,” “Dada,” or “Mama”).
1 to 2 Years
They start identifying a few body parts when asked to point them (“Where is your nose?”, “Point to your eyes”).
Your child follows simple commands (“get the milk”) and understands simple questions (“where is mommy?”)
He or she enjoys simple stories, songs, and rhymes
They start learning how to point to pictures or toy
Your child can acquire new words regularly.
He or she tries to connect two words to ask a question (“Where kitty?” or “Go bye-bye?”)
They put two words together (“Eat cookie”) to label
2 to 3 Years
They can label almost everything around him/her
He or she uses two- or three-word phrases to talk and ask for things
Your child uses other different sounds such as k, g, f, t, d, and n.
They tend to speak in a way that only family members can understand.
3 to 4 Years
They have the ability to hear you when you call them from a distance
He or she can answers simple “Who?” “What?” “Where?” and “Why?” questions
They can recall events about activities at daycare, preschool, or friends’ homes
Your child can produce four or more word utterances in a sentence.
They can communicate easily without having to repeat syllables or words
4 to 5 Years
They can pay attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it
He or she Hears and understands most of what is said to them
Your child uses sentences that have different and specific details
They tell stories that stay on topic
He or she can communicate easily with other children their age.
They can say most sounds correctly except for a few (l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, and th)
Through songs, children use rhyming words
He or she can develop an awareness to some letters and numbers
They can produce sentences with correct grammar
Language Delay vs Disorder
There is a difference between language delay vs. language disorder. A language delay is a term used when a child is developing language however they acquire each skill slower than other children their age. They usually have difficulties developing receptive language, or the understanding of concepts and commands, and expressive language, or the production of words to label and request.
A language disorder is a term used when children do not develop language normally.
Children with language disorders do not follow the usual pattern of speech and language development.
Sometimes, children have a more difficult time learning language because they process language differently than the world around them. For example, Gestalt Language Processing or Autism Spectrum Disorder can make language processing different than what is considered the norm. Gestalt speech therapy and autism speech therapy can be very beneficial, especially in early intervention.
Early intervention for speech therapy
One of the many early interventionalist is a speech-language pathologist. Speech therapy for early intervention is very important! Just like what we’ve mentioned above, children with difficulties in communicative skills can highly benefit from speech therapy for early intervention. It does not only involve the child but also everyone around him/her, especially the family.
Speech-language pathologists, or SLP, are professionals who work with children who have speech and/or language delays. During the assessment, the SLP will ask questions about the child’s medical diagnosis or record. They will also identify the environmental circumstances such as who the child interacts with and how the child socializes with others his/her age.
Finally, together with other professionals, they will write an individualized family service plan. In this plan, they formulate goals, services, and supports for each specific child and family. You are part of the team. You also help during the decision-making.
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About the Author
I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.
I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.