Three of my four children have had speech delays that required speech therapy. My third child, Lily, was an early talker who uses words beautifully and clearly – until she is upset or stressed, when her typically articulate speech turns into an incomprehensible mumble. So speech is difficult for her as well, in a way. Since most of my kids have struggled with speech issues, I frequently have friends asking me about resources when they are concerned about their children’s speech. Today I am sharing some great speech therapy resources for parents who are concerned about speech delays, put together with a lot of help from Cara Tambellini Danielson, a pediatric speech-language pathologist who recently wrote a great picture book fully of easy-to-say words for kids who are struggling with speech issues (note: this and other book links in this post are affiliate links).
Identifying Speech Delays
It took me a long time to realize that my oldest daughter Emma had a speech delay – partly because she knew over 200 ASL signs (and therefore had no trouble communicating) and partly because, as a first time mom, I didn’t have a clear idea of what the norms for speech were. Then with my second child, Johnny, I waited longer than I maybe should have because he had a HUGE vocabulary – but one that only I (and often, not even I) could understand. By the time I got speech therapy for Emma and Johnny, Emma had friends making fun of the way she talked, and one parent had decided their child couldn’t play with us because she was afraid they would “catch” Emma’s speech delay. Johnny was getting frustrated over his inability to communicate (he had not shared Emma’s love of sign language). The Hanen Centre features warning signs and advice on when to get help that I know I would have found useful! I would have also loved this article from speech-language-therapy dot com about developmental norms for both receptive and expressive speech.
I’m Worried – What Do I Do?
If your child is under three years old, many states will cover free speech and language (among other) services through early intervention. We have used early intervention services for our kids in both Massachusetts and California, and I can’t say enough good things about the professionals who have helped our kids, often coming to our home! Services in Massachusetts were particularly exemplary, and easy to set up; California has proven a bit more challenging to work out on a bureaucratic level. My nephew received early intervention services in both Alabama and Oregon. Services exist for every state, but the details and delivery methods differ by state. Contacting early intervention is free; find your state early intervention contact on this list, and give them a call if you have any developmental concerns for children under three years old.
For children who are over three years old, try talking to your pediatrician. School teachers and administrators can also have helpful information. My six-year-old still goes to speech therapy sessions through an IEP at school every week. The Hanen Centre offers free email tips for parents who are concerned about their child’s language skills.
Books can Help!
Cara recommends reading with your child as an easy way to encourage speech development. Books that are repetitive encourage children to participate when the parent pauses before key words (once the child is familiar with the story). Here are a few books that are great at encouraging kids to communicate and participate:
- Easy-to-Say First Words by Cara Tambellini Danielson
- Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
- Where is Baby’s Beach Ball? by Karen Katz
Do you have a book or resource to add to this list?