Singapore Women's & Children's Medical Group

Does Your Child Need Speech Therapy? Here’s All You Need to Know

Speech Therapy for Your Children
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As a parent, it’s natural to feel concerned when your child isn’t meeting developmental milestones as expected. Speech and language development is something parents pay particular attention to, anxious of any potential delays. 

To help you gain clarity on this issue, we will share in this article the signs of speech delay and when your child may need speech therapy.

How speech development proceeds in children

Speech development is critical to a child’s overall growth. It involves their ability to produce sounds, understand language, and communicate effectively. While every child develops at their own pace, there are typical milestones most children hit by certain ages. 

By 12 months, most children should be able to say simple words like “mama” and “dada.” Their vocabulary typically expands to around 20 words by 18 months, and by the age of 2, they often start forming two-word sentences like “want juice.”

Slight variations in development are normal, but significant delays or deviations from these milestones can indicate a potential speech or language disorder, warranting further evaluation and possibly speech therapy.

Signs your child may need speech therapy

As a parent, it can be challenging to discern whether your child’s speech development is within the typical range or if they might benefit from professional intervention. Here are some signs that your child may need speech therapy:

  • Limited vocabulary: At 18 months, your child isn’t using at least 20 words or, at 24 months, isn’t combining words into simple sentences.
  • Difficulty understanding simple requests: At age 2, your child struggles to understand simple commands and questions.
  • Unintelligible speech: At age 3, your child’s speech is consistently difficult to understand. 
  • Lack of social interaction: Your child shows little interest in interacting with others, avoiding eye contact, or not responding to their name.
  • Stuttering: Your child produces repetitions of sounds, prolonged sounds, or blocks in speech that persist for more than six months or cause distress.

Speech therapy

If you notice any of the above signs, consulting a developmental paediatrician can provide clarity and direction. Speech therapy can address various issues, including articulation, fluency, voice disorders, and receptive or expressive language disorders.

What happens during an evaluation?

The child development specialist in Singapore will conduct a comprehensive assessment to understand your child’s specific challenges during a speech evaluation. The evaluation typically includes:

  1. Case history: Gathering detailed information about your child’s development, medical history, and any family history of speech or language issues.
  2. Standardised tests: Using age-appropriate tests to evaluate your child’s speech and language skills.
  3. Observation: Watching how your child communicates in different settings and with various people.
  4. Interaction: Engaging your child in structured play to assess their ability to understand and use language.

Based on this evaluation, the developmental paediatrician will create a personalised treatment plan for your child.

Duration and frequency of therapy

The duration and frequency of speech therapy depend on the severity of the disorder and the child’s needs. Some children may benefit from weekly sessions with their paediatric speech therapist for a few months, while others might require more intensive therapy over a longer period. Progress is often reviewed regularly, and goals are adjusted as needed.

Speech therapy vs language therapy

While the terms are often used interchangeably, there is a distinction between speech therapy and language therapy. Speech therapy focuses on the mechanics of speaking—how sounds are made and pronounced. This includes issues like articulation disorders and stuttering. 

Language therapy, on the other hand, addresses the ability to understand and use language appropriately, covering both expressive and receptive language skills. A paediatric speech therapist can help determine which type of therapy or if a combination of both is needed for your child.

Can a child naturally overcome speech delay?

Children with mild speech delays may occasionally catch up with their peers without intervention. However, this is not guaranteed, and waiting too long to seek help can sometimes result in more persistent difficulties.

Early intervention is crucial because it can significantly improve outcomes. If you suspect your child has a speech delay, it’s better to err on the side of caution and consult with a developmental paediatrician.

Child development screening in Singapore

Recognising the signs of speech and language delays early and seeking appropriate intervention can significantly improve your child’s communication skills. 

At SWC Medical Group, our goal is to help your child communicate confidently and effectively, providing them with the tools they need to thrive. Our child development specialists in Singapore are dedicated to providing thorough child development assessments and personalised therapy plans tailored to each child’s needs. 

If you have concerns about your child’s progress in speech and language, contact us for a child development screening.

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