Most of my clients start speech therapy at 24 months but a lot of those clients should have started earlier and I say that because many of them are so frustrated by not being able to communicate their wants and needs that theft have started to develop some less desirable behaviors like hitting or biting in order to get their point across. If a child is that desperate to communicate, then therapy should have started much earlier.
The youngest client I’ve ever started therapy with was a 15-month-old. The child is featured in my video on youtube. He was ready for therapy and I could tell because he was so eager to learn and very responsive. Watch the video and you can see that he learned a new word in that very first session, which is pretty rare and was very exciting. In case you are curious that little boy needed about 6 months of speech therapy and then was caught up to age-appropriate skills. He is communicating effectively and appropriately to this day!
If your child was born prematurely then it is a good idea to have your child’s development vigilantly watched by a professional like your pediatrician as most preemies end up behind in some area of development. Sometimes premies start speech therapy even earlier than most because they are known to be higher risk.
I think 18 months it’s the perfect age to start speech therapy. I have found that children who started therapy by 18 months are more likely to catch up to age-appropriate communication levels by age 3 than the children who started at 24 months or later.
If you are feeling in your gut that something’s not right then ask for a professional’s opinion. Many pediatricians are conservative in their referrals for speech therapy and adopt the philosophy of “let’s wait and see” but if you know in your gut that something’s not right, PLEASE – don’t waste time!
The developing brain triples in size during the first year of life and is almost fully formed by the time a child enters kindergarten. Eliot, L. (1999). What’s Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life. Bantam Books. You can read more about stats like this on FerstReaders.com.
Seek services from free state programs like the early start program or access your insurance for speech therapy.
If you are unable to access speech therapy either in-person or online, another resource for your is my online course “How to Teach a Toddler to Talk.” It’s my step-by-step guide for how to help children from home. In the course, I show actual examples of me doing therapy with over a dozen children. You can learn more about the course here.