A child’s speech is something that changes so much over time, starting as early as infancy. It’s no wonder that it is one of parents’ top concerns when talking about their child’s developmental growth. If you are concerned that your child may have a speech delay you should discuss it with your child’s pediatrician. For now though, here are six questions to ask yourself.
1. CAN MY PRESCHOOLER FOLLOW 3 STEP DIRECTIONS?
Auditory processing skills are important to developing speech and language. It also plays a role in social skills, memory, and the ability to stay focused. A simple way to test how these skills are developing is by asking your preschooler to follow multi-step directions. Start off small with one step and then try a two step direction. For example, a two step direction would be, “Put the toy away and then get your shoes on”. If they do well with two step directions, try for three. You can also have your child repeat the directions back to you.
2. DOES MY PRESCHOOLER USE SENTENCES WITH 4 OR MORE WORDS?
By about four years old your child should be able to use longer sentences. Preschoolers can typically use sentences with four or more words and give many details.
3. DOES MY PRESCHOOLER EXPRESS THEMSELF WITH WORDS?
Your preschooler should be able to express their wants and their needs to you with words. If they cannot reach something on the counter, they should be able to ask you for help instead of just pointing. Your preschool-aged child should also be able to tell you how they are feeling with words. If they are hungry or tired, they should be able to express that.
4. DOES MY PRESCHOOLER ANSWER SIMPLE “WHO?” “WHAT?” “WHERE?” AND “WHY?” QUESTIONS?
When asking your child simple questions, do your child’s answers make sense? If you ask your preschooler, “Who did you see while you were at the store with Daddy?’ They should be able to give an accurate clear answer. Time is not a concept that young children fully grasp at this age though, so don’t worry if they are unable to answer those types of questions well.
5. DOES MY PRESCHOOLER COMMUNICATE EASILY WITH OTHER CHILDREN AND ADULTS?
Children should be able to play with their friends independently without any issues due to speech. If your child needs you to explain what they are saying to their peers, they may have a speech delay. By age three, strangers should be able to understand 75% of your child’s speech.
6. DOES MY PRESCHOOLER SAY MOST SOUNDS CORRECTLY MOST OF THE TIME?
By the time your child is four years old, most of the speech errors you might have noticed when they were a toddler should be gone. Some sounds can still be difficult though, particularly “r” and “th”, so you should not be expecting perfection. However, you should not notice any deleting syllables from words, omitting beginning sounds of words, or replacing sounds by the time your child is four years old.
If after answering these questions you are still concerned, set up an with your child’s pediatrician to discuss your child’s speech and language development. Your child’s pediatrician will be able to evaluate your child and determine whether or not working with a speech language pathologist would be beneficial.