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Speech Delays and Speech Therapy Resources for Parents

Speech delay resources for parents

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. Homeschool Hideout put together a great resource of ways parents can help with speech therapy at home. She does explain that helping at home does not replace professional help!

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:

Do you have a speech therapy book or resource for parents to add to this list?

MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

23 thoughts on “Speech Delays and Speech Therapy Resources for Parents”

  1. I have 2 sons ages 4 and 2 1/2. Both have/had speech delays. The oldest has Childhood language apperexia and the in home speech therapy was a blessing to have in our home. Today he is in preschool and you would never know he had a problem.

    It was that same therapist that noticed my younger son was having delays in gross and fine moter skills and suggested bringing in an OT for him. She also latter became his speech therapist and comes once a week to our home. While my son is still has a sever speech delay he is now able to keep up with kids his own age in play.

    Here in the state of Michigan it is easy to get the help you need and it’s been a great experience for our family. I highly encourage anyone out there to look into the resources suggested in the post if your child is having problems, you won’t regret it.

  2. We has our son assessed when he was 4 by the district but I guess his speech difficulties were within normal range so he didn’t qualify for services. Two years later he has improved a lot even without help but he still makes the f sound for th and has a tenancy to blend two syllables into one so I will be checking our some of your resources.

    BTW, thanks for featuring my coloring page in your AfterSchool link up post!

  3. Thanks for sharing your great resources. My middle child has a speech difficulty with pronouncing her hard r’s in Kindergarten and it was hard to get help since it wasn’t viewed as high priority. She jsut needed a few sessions and exercises and by sheer luck, our babysitter was getting her master’s degree in speech therapy so she did it with her for no additional charge when she babysat.

    Sometimes just a few tips can help a lot!

    1. I need advice about the r ‘s pronounciation. Child is six years old. A boy.
      Never said a r up to now. Where do one start? Please send me a few tips. It will be appreciated.
      Thank you.
      Ansie Venter

  4. I can’t believe a Mom wouldn’t let her child play with Emma because of a speech delay. This is a great resource for parents who have kids with speech delays. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I think it just goes to show how little people understand about speech delays. She was a very nice person, apart from panicking over this!

  5. Elisa | blissfulE

    I have a feeling that children who successfully overcome speech and other developmental delays grow up to be even more resilient and able to overcome other obstacles. As a parallel example, one of my insanely successful friends who is an executive with a big pharma company and I both had kindergarten teachers want to hold us back a grade. Our moms intervened and we have never looked back. Kudos to you for getting the help your children need to storm past their own challenges!

    1. I like this idea – and I could definitely see it being true!

      The story about you and your friend doesn’t surprise me. So many of the world’s geniuses didn’t appear exceptionally gifted until they were older.

  6. This is great info. I hope you don’t mind I added a link to it on my last blog post. I don’t know if parents or professionals realize just how wonderful it is to have access to this. Having been in the child care industry for many years, I remember when there just weren’t any resources easily available. Thank you for sharing yours!

    1. It was pretty devastating at the time. The mom eventually apologized when her second child had speech problems, a few years later.

  7. Thanks for writing this piece. As an OT for 15 years, this kind of info is my passion. I will be presenting at the National OT conference on improving delays such as these. My blog swamimommi.com is all about helping kids with such delays. I hope to also get the word out on prevention too. There are so many things we can do to be proactive before these delays set in! Thanks for raising awareness!

  8. Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    Great resources. I think all your children overcame their early delays beautifully.

  9. Thanks for posting these resources. Turns out my 21 month old is at about an 18 month level, with a vocabulary of fewer than 20 words. I think I’ll have Early Intervention evaluate him.

  10. As a parent who has a child who has been in and out of speech therapy I cannot thank you enough for this post. It can be so confusing, scary, and just plain taboo in some circles, especially in California. This post is a fantastic post and resource for parents!

  11. Great advice! We probably should have taken the twins in for intervention because they were slow in talking, but we weren’t too worried about it. Princess on the other hand feels like she was born talking and has never stopped talking since then.

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