According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Speech is the production of sounds that allows us to talk and to express our ideas. The term is also sometimes used to refer to language.”
The problem of speech delays in toddlerhood is widespread—and it’s not a small problem. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “Almost half (44%) of parents of children aged 3 years or younger reported speech or language problems in their children” in 2014.
For parents who find themselves facing this issue, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Speech therapy for toddlers is a good place to start your journey. It’s also important that you know what you’re getting into when you come in for speech therapy for toddlers.
The first thing you’ll need is a pediatric speech therapist with expertise in early childhood development and language acquisition. Your child’s pediatrician can help you find one.
You’ll also want to make sure that you’re comfortable with the idea of using sign language as part of your child’s speech therapy for toddlers program. This will help them communicate their needs more effectively and build confidence in their ability to communicate.
Intensive speech therapy for toddlers between the ages of 18 and 30 months is a well-established, evidence-based intervention that can help children with a range of communicating difficulties. These include but are not limited to: developmental language disorders, receptive and expressive language delays, social communication disorders, young autism spectrum disorder (ASD), speech sound disorders, stuttering, and apraxia of speech.
Toddlers who attend Intensive Speech Therapy typically see an increase in expressive language and vocabulary, improved social communication skills, decreased frustration levels and tantrums, a decrease in unwanted behaviours such as aggression or non-compliance, improved verbal imitation skills, improved ability to follow directions and answer questions about events in their daily life (e.g., what they did at daycare), improved playing skills with peers, improved ability to express feelings/emotions using words (rather than behaviours) and increased opportunities for participation in everyday routines (e.g., attending playgroup).
Intensive Speech Therapy for Toddlers involves daily sessions for 8 weeks, for a total of 40 sessions with each session lasting 60 minutes. During these sessions your child will work on increasing their vocabulary using words that are relevant to them (e.g., their favourite food).
Speech therapy for toddlers can be an incredibly important part of helping them develop the social and communication skills they need to thrive. It’s particularly important for children with speech and language disorders, who could benefit from individualized instruction.
Toddlers who struggle to express themselves in words or who hesitate when attempting to communicate can be helped through intensive speech therapy. The therapy should include instruction for parents on how to help the child, and there should be a strong focus on play. A structured environment is helpful; however, it should not be rigid. Flexibility is important, as is patience and persistence. If you are a parent of a young child with a communication disorder, you may be concerned about your child’s ability to succeed in the future. Intensive speech therapy for toddlers can help your child develop the skills necessary to interact with other children, grow more independent and build confidence. Speech-language pathologists have extensive training to help your child reach their full potential as quickly as possible.