Does my child need an SLP?

Speech =  Speech is the pronunciation of words. It refers to how well a child can say words and sounds.  There are various reasons why a child may have difficulties producing the correct sounds.  It could be as simple as a mispronunciation of a sound, or a more complex difficulty understanding the rules that govern how we make and produce sounds (this type of speech sound difficulty links to our language understanding and use as well).  Children could also have difficulties coordinating the tongue, lips and jaw quickly to make the sounds we need in a word.  A speech language pathologist can help you to understand the underlying cause of your child’s speech sound difficulties and help to determine the best way to treat the sound errors.

Language = Language can be broken down into different parts: receptive language (understanding others’ communication) and expressive language (being understood through communication) and well as social language (how we use our language to manage our relationships with people).  Within each of these areas can be specific difficulties, such as difficulties following directions, low vocabulary knowledge or use, not making sense while talking (rambling or confusing conversations) to name a few.  A speech language pathologist can evaluate all aspects of a child’s language to see where the strengths and needs are to develop a plan to help the child understand what is going on around him or to express himself well.

Pediatric SLP services can help children with:

  •         Speech sound difficulties (articulation delays, phonological disorder and motor speech disorders).
  •         Language delays and disorders, including expression and comprehension in oral and non-verbal contexts
  •         Imaginative play skills
  •         Fluency disorders, including stuttering.
  •         Voice and resonance disorders (e.g. hoarse voice quality, or nasal quality to speech).
  •         Swallowing and feeding disorders in children and infants.
  •         Pre-literacy and literacy skills including phonological awareness, decoding, reading comprehension and writing.
  •         Cognitive-communicative disorders including social communication skills, reasoning, problem solving and executive functions.

Young Children (up to 2 – 3 years old):

It may be difficult for parents to tell whether their child is immature in his ability to communicate or if he has a problem that requires the services of a speech-language pathologist. The following milestones will you determine whether you should seek a speech language pathology assessment (taken from the SAC website). :


Up to 3 Months ·         Makes lots of noises (eg. coos and gurgles)

·         Reacts to loud noises or new sounds

·         Soothed by calm gentle voices

6 Months ·         Watches your face and makes noise when you talk

·         Coos and squeals for attention

·         Cries differently when hungry

12 Months ·         Understands their own name and other common words when used with gestures like “bye-bye”

·         Says sounds like “ba ba, na na, ma ma”

·         Sings along, laughs or imitates others

18 Months ·         Understands simple questions like “where is your nose”

·         Makes gestures or asks for “more” or “again”

·         Babbles, sounding like sentences

2 Years ·         Understands more words than he/she can say

Says at least 50 different words

·         Uses two-word sentences like “what’s that”

·         Understands simple directions like “get your coat”

  • people can understand his/her words 50 to 60 per cent of the time
2-3 Years ·         Asks questions and uses short sentences

·         Says 200 or more words

·         Listens to stories and answers simple questions


Preschool aged children (3 – 5 years):

Children in the preschool years should be absorbing language at a very rapid rate.  Many of the early predictors of a child’s success later in school years can be linked to the language skills the child acquires at this stage.


3- 4 years Understands simple “Who?”, “What?” and “Where?” questions

Can combine four or more words in a sentence when speaking.

Talks about things that have happened away from home, and is interested in talking about pre-school, friends, outings and interesting experiences.

Speech is usually fluent and clear

Others can understand what your child is saying most of the time.

4- 5 years Enjoys stories and can answer simple questions about them.

Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school

Speaks clearly and fluently in an easy-to-listen-to voice.

Can construct long and detailed sentences

Can tell a long, involved imaginative story sticking to the topic, and using “adult-like” grammar.

Says most sounds correctly except for a few (l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, and th). Can communicate easily with familiar adults and with other children.

Uses rhyming words

Names some letters and numbers


What if my child is older?

Pediatric speech language pathologists work with children of all ages, from birth until transitioning into adulthood.  When a student has difficulties with their speech and language development, they are at risk of having increased social and academic concerns.  So many of our every days tasks require the ability to listen, read, write and speak.  Expressing how he or she is feeling, what they are thinking or understanding what is going on in the classroom or on the playground can be more difficult.  This can be frustrating for families and children. It can be quite common for a child to experience an increase in difficulties at school when they get to the upper elementary grades.  As the complexity of school topics increases, the classroom tasks rely more on a student’s language knowledge and ability to listen and read for learning.  A student with weak language skills may find it hard to keep up with the demand of classroom learning.

There is a broad range of concerns that can arise from speech and language issues.  If you think your child is struggling to speak clearly, understand, or express ideas and thoughts easily, please contact us and schedule a no charge 30 minute telephone consultation. This will allow the speech language pathologist to answer questions you may have about your child’s speech, language and communication skills to help you determine if there is a need for further assessment.

To learn more about how pediatric speech language therapy may help your child, visit this link:  – Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC)

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