We reached out to the folks at Speech Buddies, with some important questions about speech therapy and your child. Here’s our Q&A:
At what age can a parent typically tell if speech therapy may be needed? All little kids have generally funny ways of beginning to talk- what are red flags though for those who need intervention?
It’s not always obvious to a parent if or when their child may require speech therapy. As every parent knows, when a child is beginning to speak, they make plenty of mistakes! This can be adorable and is part of the normal course of speech and language development. However, if certain milestones are not being reached by an appropriately developmental age, then there may be cause for concern. In general, red flags are: a lack of social interest or ability to relate to others; difficulty understanding what others are saying; or when a big gap is observed between the child and his peers in terms of speech clarity or the ability to express himself. Most of these red flags can be observed starting from 12 months to 3 years of age. If a child is born with a disability associated with speech deficits, such as hearing loss or Down Syndrome, the parent should be aware that speech therapy will be necessary for the child’s speech and language development through early childhood.
How much does Speech Buddies cost, and is there financial aid?
The Speech Buddies Connect initial screening session only costs $25. Then, ongoing therapy sessions start at $75, depending on the experience level of your chosen speech therapist. A significant portion of the cost may be covered by out-of-network health insurance benefits, depending on your plan and speech therapy is generally a covered benefit through FSA or HSA plans.
Are there exercises that parents can do at home with their children for better speech performance out in the world?
Absolutely! There are several easy strategies parents can use at home to improve any child’s speech and language skills. Simple tips like constantly talking and/or singing to your child from when they are infants allows them to begin to learn sounds and the rules of language. As well, reading to your child has been a well-documented way to encourage language and vocabulary growth. Finally, allow your child to play. A lot. Ask them to tell you about what they are doing so they can let their imagination run wild. For older children, the rules don’t really change! Reading, and fostering reading development in your children never ends. Let them pick stories or topics they are interested in and it’s alright to let them use pictures to establish context. To enhance reading comprehension, ask your children questions about what they read, or what they think will happen next in the story. If your child is already in a speech therapy program, home-based follow up exercises are highly recommended. Talk to your speech therapist about giving you simple, step-by-step strategies that you can employ for just a few minutes every day. These exercises will evolve with your child’s therapy progress and should be individually tailored to your child’s particular goals.
Do some speech issues resolve themselves without intervention? What is the shortest amount of intervention that is usually needed if it’s time to see a therapist?
Your child’s age is the major determiner of whether a speech issue could resolve itself. For example, it is considered normal for a 4 or 5 year-old to not say the R sound correctly. That just means that even though, as a parent, you may become concerned if this were your child, this could be resolved without intervention. However, if the R misarticulation persisted to age 6 or 7, then the issue is much less likely to resolve itself. Intervention times can vary widely depending on the age of the child and severity of the speech challenge. Sometimes a child responds right away and as a result, the speech issue may be fully treated in only a few weeks.
How is Speech Buddies special? How long has it been around?
Speech Buddies has been around since 2010 and we have helped tens of thousands of children around the country achieve their full potential in speech. Our Speech Buddies Connect network, which first launched this Fall in Brooklyn, offers the best local speech therapists, makes scheduling appointments quick and easy, and allows parents to find the right specialist for their child. As well, our 100% Speech Buddies Guarantee gives families the peace of mind to know they will find a good fit.
Do children who are learning other languages simultaneously usually have a higher need for speech therapy?
No. The research is quite strong to suggest that in fact, being bilingual can facilitate rather hinder early language development. Bilingual children are not more likely to have a need for speech therapy.
Rebecca Conroy is an artist, stylist, and Editor of A Child Grows in Brooklyn. She is from New York City, and has an MFA from Columbia University in screenwriting. Rebecca often finds herself on film and photography sets making things run or look better, and is the mom of two outrageously wonderful kids.