“My child is just a ‘late bloomer.’ He will outgrow it with time…right?”
You may have found yourself thinking thoughts like this or may have been told things like this by well-meaning friends and loved ones, but if you were to ask a professional, do you think the answer would be the same?
People ask me this type of question all the time. They are basically asking “Will this problem go away on its own?” I tell each one of them that while I, obviously am not a psychic and I cannot predict the future, I can tell you two things I am sure about.
- I have never met a parent who regretted spending the time or money on early intervention speech therapy. Even if it doesn’t completely solve the problem and the child continues with even just a mild delay past his or her third birthday, I always hear parents say, “I’m so glad we didn’t waste more time than we did.”
- Research supports the effectiveness of early intervention speech therapy services. It can be very successful and can prevent long-lasting more intense and more noticeable difficulties in the child’s life if you attack that problem early on with help from a qualified professional. “The earlier services are provided, the more likely is the child’s chance to develop effective communication.” Paul, D. and Roth, F. P. (2011)
Now you may be thinking …
“Okay if I enroll him in speech therapy for a while then the problem will go away forever… right?”
Again, I’m not a psychic but there are two things I can tell you I know for sure.
- There are some published predictors of continued language delays that a professional can go through with you and help create the ideal long-term plan for your child’s speech and language success, but my recommendation is to not get fixated on this list but focus on the goals your child has in speech therapy currently.
- Children should never be underestimated! In my ten years of working with young children, I can joyfully say that they have surprised me in one way or another every day of my life! I can’t even count the number of times I have thought to myself, “Well I didn’t expect THAT!” There have even been times when I’m sad to say that I let doubt creep into my mind and I worried that one of my clients would never become verbal and then the next time I saw them, they shocked the socks off of me by speaking a new word as clear as day. Some of those children years later are fully verbal and functioning well.
So, no I don’t know if your child will grow out of the speech delay completely, but why take that risk? Why choose to “wait and see” when you could be getting help right now?!
Yes, talk to your doctor, but if your doctor says now “let’s wait and see” and you know in your gut that something is not right then 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). So let’s make sure that brain is tripling in size with strong language skills and the child is ready for kindergarten.
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.
Paul, D., and Roth, F. P. (2011) Guiding Principles and Clinical Applications for Speech-Language Pathology Practice in Early Intervention. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools Clinical Forum 1 Jul 2011 https://doi.org/10.1044/0161-1461(2010/09-0079)
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