How do you know if your child needs speech therapy?

speech therapy

“I don’t want to wear a jacket! I went to the needle in masks!

Such slurred speech can often be heard in the playground. Although many parents see the problem, many do not know what to do with it, whether to worry – or need to wait until speech improves on its own.

I am a teacher with 30 years of experience. I have been practicing speech therapy and preparing children for school for the last nine years. I’ll tell you how to understand that a child needs the help of a speech therapist, where to look for the right specialist, and why it is also important for parents to get involved in the speech correction process.

What do speech pathologists do?

Speech therapy studies and eliminates speech disorders in children and adults. A speech therapist tries to understand the causes of speech problems and helps to eliminate them. Since speech begins to form from birth, a speech therapist often works with preschoolers.

Here is what it does:

  1. Conducts examinations and detects speech disorders.
  2. Works comprehensively to eliminate violations – correctly “sets” the sound, develops clear pronunciation skills and increases the child’s vocabulary. Sometimes he works in a team with other specialists, such as neurologists or defectologist.
  3. Introduces correct speech into everyday life with the help of games, conversations, and creative tasks and consolidates the result.
  4. She is engaged in preventing speech disorders, including exercises for developing and strengthening the speech apparatus, finger gymnastics, and educational games for developing speech.
How do you know if your child needs speech therapy?

In short and simple, a speech therapist works to make speech correct and beautiful. This is important because:

  1. Increased vocabulary and the ability to correctly express your thoughts increase self-esteem.
  2. Competent speech allows you to participate actively in games, creative work, and study.
  3. The risk of violations in the field of writing and reading is reduced.
  4. When others understand a person, it facilitates communication.
  5. Correct speech eliminates restrictions in choosing a profession.

When Parents Should Be Concerned

Most often, consultations come with the following questions:

  1. The child is 2-3 years old, does not speak at all, uses only babble words in his speech, cannot form a phrase, or his speech is illegible.
  2. A child is 4-5 years old; he uses only simple, short words, changes syllables in words, replaces, skips, distorts sounds, has a small vocabulary, and cannot coherently tell about events.

Parents with babies under two years of age did not contact me. This is understandable: many believe that speech delay of up to two years is the norm. Sometimes this is true: if the pregnancy and childbirth went well, the child is physically healthy, develops according to the schedule, and understands the speech addressed to him, there is no reason for concern.

If the mother had complications during pregnancy or childbirth – toxicosis, infectious diseases, asphyxia – then speech development is at risk. Other signals need to be responded to, such as impaired reflexes of newborns, lack of cooing, and babbling. If you have these signs, you need to contact a speech therapist, even if the baby is not yet two years old.

Next, I’ll tell you to step by step what to do if parents notice any violations in the child’s speech and become worried.

Find a speech therapist and book an initial consultation.

A specialist’s choice depends on the parents’ requests and capabilities. I advise you to choose according to the reviews of acquaintances and friends or look at the reviews on social networks. In extreme cases, you can always talk in person, form an opinion, and then decide whether it will be comfortable for you and your child to work with this speech therapist.

Here’s how to get your first consultation.

Get a referral from a pediatrician. This can be done at the clinic at the residence – free of charge. However, not every clinic has a speech therapist. And if there is, you won’t be able to get to him quickly: usually, everything is scheduled several weeks in advance.

Contact the center of your area’s psychological, pedagogical, medical, and social assistance. Here, the examination is carried out in a complex way – that is, several specialists look at the child at once. It’s free, but there may be a queue.

Enroll in a private speech therapy center. It will be possible to get to the specialist quickly; you can choose a convenient time. But I recommend monitoring the cost of services: the spread is quite large. Often the amount depends not only on the specialist’s qualifications but also on the pricing policy of the center’s management.

Go to a private speech therapist. The services of private speech therapists are quite expensive, but the choice of specialists is wide.

How do you know if your child needs speech therapy?


Get a specialist opinion.

How is the reception? First, the speech therapist asks parents about the child’s development – starting with how the pregnancy proceeded and ending with today. He tries to learn more about his health and what worries his parents. To set the child in a friendly way offers game exercises and tasks.

Speech therapy examination includes the analysis of speech and non-verbal mental functions – thinking, memory, attention, and gross and fine motor skills. The duration of the diagnosis depends on how quickly the speech therapist managed to find contact with the child and on the severity of the speech disorder. For example, to study gross motor skills, I ask the child to jump in place, first on two legs, then on the left, then on the right. I enter the data into a speech card. And so on for each of the functions.

What questions does the specialist ask? At the first consultation, the speech therapist will ask many questions – this is normal. Speech disorders are often associated with causes that, at first glance, do not relate to the speech itself: the psychophysical development of the child, family and concomitant diseases, and social conditions.

For example, a speech therapist may be interested in education conditions – this is how he finds out in what social environment the child grows up in and how it affects his speech development. An example from my experience: a small patient had a disturbing idea of ​​\u200b\u200bcorrect speech and made many mistakes. It turned out that the cause was a bilingual nanny who spoke English with an accent to the child.

Another speech therapist may be interested in the child’s diet: whether he eats solid food and how he chews it. In my practice, there was a case when the child ate mostly mashed potatoes. As a result – very weak muscles of the mouth and tongue. This, in turn, led to a violation of the pronunciation of many sounds.

I had to work with a child who developed dyslalia – the so-called impaired sound pronunciation in those who have normal hearing and a healthy articulatory apparatus. With the help of questions, we determined the reason: the baby almost did not hear the correct speech since the parents had serious hearing problems.

Therefore, I emphasize once again: a specialist can and should ask all these questions. The more openly the parents cooperate in the examination, the more accurately the problem can be identified.

How do you know if your child needs speech therapy?

The first consultation with a speech therapist was the study of auditory perception. An exercise in the perception and reproduction of rhythm: a speech therapist taps a certain rhythm with a musical tube, and the child repeats it with a hammer

This is what aids in checking the direction and duration of physiological breathing look like. On the left is a tube with a train: the child must inhale with his nose and exhale into the tube; if everything is done correctly, then the train will spin. The task of a speech therapist is to achieve a long and smooth exhalation.

What will happen after the examination? After the diagnosis, a speech therapist can refer you to a neurologist or defectologist – this should not be scared. Many types of speech disorders, such as dysarthria, alalia, and aphasia, are associated with damage to the central nervous system. Their accurate diagnosis is possible only through the joint efforts of a speech therapist and, for example, a neurologist, otolaryngologist, psychotherapist, and ophthalmologist. Speech therapy work is effective only when combined with special treatment that stimulates the maturation of the central nervous system.

The specialist also fills out a speech card – a notebook with information about the child and then concludes the speech disorder and a plan for corrective work. The type of speech map depends on age – 2-3 years old, 4-7 years old, as well as on violations – for children with stuttering, general speech underdevelopment, and so on. But they are all a survey plan. In the end, the speech therapist issues a conclusion to the parents.

? If the child does not have speech problems, the speech therapist will give parents general recommendations: learn poetry, read books together, and talk.

❗ If there is a problem, the specialist draws up a corrective work plan, considering the speech disorder’s specifics. Sometimes it can be everyday conversations or listening to music, but the main form of corrective work of a speech therapist with children is classes. I’ll tell you more about this.


Choose a place and form of classes with a speech therapist.

Often, parents begin to take their child to classes with the examined speech therapist. But it is unnecessary to do so; the choice is up to the parents. This is where they also work with children who have speech problems.

How do you know if your child needs speech therapy?

Polyclinic at the place of residence. The classes are free, which is a plus. Of the minuses – you may have to visit them at an inconvenient time. In addition, such classes are often time-limited; they may not be enough to eliminate the violation.

Center for psychological, pedagogical, medical, and social assistance in your area. There are also free classes, which are limited in time. There is a queue.

Private speech therapy center. You can choose a convenient time to visit and practice as much as you need. Typically, classes last from 30 to 60 minutes.

Logopedic garden. Classes in the garden are held regularly. In parallel, work is underway with other specialists: psychologists, neurologists, and a defectologist. It’s free. But getting into the speech therapy garden is difficult; there are not enough places for everyone. Therefore, only children with serious speech therapy problems are usually taken there.

Municipal kindergarten with a speech therapy group or speech center. Here, classes are also held free of charge and regularly. But speech therapists, in general, in developmental kindergartens, have a large workload, so the number of places is usually limited. And if the child needs the help of other specialists, they will most likely have to be sought in other institutions.

Private speech therapist. The services of private speech therapists are quite expensive. But the choice of specialists is wide, and you can discuss the format of classes, for example, ask a specialist to conduct them at your home.

Classes can be conducted individually with a speech therapist and as a group. The first option is more expensive but more effective since all attention and time is devoted to one child. If you decide to save money and study in a group, then you need to consider that all children have the same type of speech disorders. Usually, there are 10-12 people in a group.

It is worth considering that, despite similar problems, the success of some children in the group will be higher. But since the classes are joint, the speech therapist will not be able to devote more time to lagging behind children, so it will not be possible to force events.

How are the classes

The content of the classes depends on the tasks set and the stage of speech correction. Here is what a speech pathologist usually does:

  • Works on the sound side of speech – teach the correct pronunciation of sounds, develops phonemic hearing and perception;
  • Forms the lexical and grammatical structure of the language – teaches you to change words by numbers and cases, create new ones with the help of prefixes and suffixes, and combine words correctly;
  • Develops coherent speech – learns to make sentences from pictures, retell texts, and compose stories.

To make it more interesting for the child to study, the specialist uses various aids – from puzzles to RPG games.

How do you know if your child needs speech therapy?

These are aids for setting the sound [w] and fixing it in syllables. The child takes the snake and tries to hiss like a snake: “shhh.” Or he chooses a small broom and sweeps the paths, saying, “shhh.” And here and there, the method of onomatopoeia is used.

How long does it take to get results?

It is almost impossible to determine the time it will take to solve the problem. This is very individual and depends on many factors:

  • the nature and severity of the speech disorder;
  • the intensity of classes;
  • interests of the child and parents;
  • strict implementation of recommendations;
  • physical and psychological characteristics of the child.

The same, at first glance, violation in two children will be eliminated at different times. For example, last year, I worked with two preschoolers. They were both five years old and did not pronounce the sound [r]. The first boy corrected the sound pronunciation in eight sessions of 30 minutes, and the second – in nine months. The matter was in the speech apparatus: in the first boy, it was normal, and in the second, the hyoid ligament was shortened.

After setting the sound, it takes a lot of time to consolidate it into words, sentences, and everyday speech.

How can parents help a child?

Speech correction is work and sometimes not very pleasant. As a rule, a speech therapist devotes a lot of time to strengthening the speech apparatus’s muscles, pronouncing many words with practicing various sounds. This is monotonous work; it is difficult and sometimes boring for children to do it. Therefore, they can be capricious and refuse to study.

It is important for the parent to help the child be consistent and persistent because the best assistant in speech therapy work is discipline. You will have to work hard with the child: you must follow all the recommendations and homework the speech therapist gives. These can be daily articulation exercises, tasks for working out the desired sound in words, phrases, and sentences, and tracking sound in everyday speech.

How do you know if your child needs speech therapy?
Downs Syndrome girl having speech therapy

For example, with a child of four and a half years old, who had complex speech disorders, we practiced the production of the sound [w] and the stable fixation of the delivered sound [s] in words. I recommended that parents do articulation exercises daily with exercises aimed specifically at the sound [w]. And also – speech games using words with the sound [s]: “One-many,” “Fourth extra,” and others.


  1. It is important to pay attention to the child’s speech problems promptly. However, it must be remembered that incorrect pronunciation and erroneous use of words are not always a violation. Sometimes this is the norm.
  2. If parents are concerned about their child’s speech, it is better to show it to a speech therapist. This can be done both for a fee and free under the CHI policy.
  3. After the specialist identifies problems with speech, he will draw up a plan for corrective work. The main form of work with speech disorders is classed with a speech therapist. You can visit them free at a local clinic, enroll in a speech therapy garden or go to private centers for a fee.
  4. It is impossible to say how long it will take to solve a particular problem. It depends on many factors: not only on the nature and severity of the speech disorder but also, for example, on parents’ interest.
  5. The role of parents is to responsibly approach remedial classes and try to follow all the recommendations and homework given by the speech therapist.


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