Early Language Intervention

Fussy Eating

Kids develop milestones at different timelines. Many parents worry if their child’s speech and language is developing normally. There are general guides on speech and language milestones from birth to 3 years. 

If you are concerned that your child’s communication skills are developing slowly, early intervention may benefit. Speech pathologists can help your child begin learning exercises and developing the tools to improve speech and language.

Importance of Early Intervention:

  1. Critical Developmental Period: Early childhood is a critical period for language development. Most early intervention speech therapy beings within the first 3 years. The most common age group is 12-18 month olds. During the first 3 years of life, your child’s brain has the ability to grow and change effectively.
  2. Preventing Academic and Social Challenges: Addressing speech and language delays early can help prevent academic difficulties and social challenges later in life.
  3. Maximizing Potential: Early intervention maximizes a child’s potential by providing them with the necessary skills to communicate effectively and participate fully in various social and educational settings.

Signs to Look Out For:

Not sure if your child might need a little extra help with their speech? Here are some signs to keep an eye on:

  • Trouble pronouncing certain sounds or words
  • Using fewer words than other kids their age
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Not showing much interest in talking or interacting with others

If you are concerned or unsure if your child needs early language intervention, our speech pathologists can complete an assessment with your child to work out if any intervention is required and tailor a plan to suit your child and family, if needed.

Why is early intervention important?

  1. Developmental Milestones: Language development is closely tied to other areas of development, such as cognitive, social, and emotional development. Early intervention can help identify any delays or difficulties in language acquisition and address them before they impact other areas of development.
  2. Communication Skills: Language is essential for communication. Early intervention can help children develop the necessary communication skills to express their needs, thoughts, and feelings effectively, which is crucial for their overall social and emotional well-being.
  3. Academic Success: Language skills are foundational for academic success. Children who struggle with language acquisition may face challenges in reading, writing, and comprehension later on in school. Early intervention can help mitigate these challenges and set children on a path towards academic success.
  4. Self-esteem and Confidence: Children who experience difficulties with language acquisition may feel frustrated, isolated, or inadequate compared to their peers. Early intervention can help boost their self-esteem and confidence by providing them with the support and tools they need to succeed.
  5. Family Support: Early intervention programs (i.e., Hanen) often involve parents and caregivers, providing them with resources, strategies, and support to facilitate their child’s language development. This involvement helps create a supportive environment for the child both at home and in other settings.

Early intervention for language acquisition is essential because it can positively impact a child’s development across various domains and improve their long-term outcomes. It sets the foundation for a child’s future academic, social, and cognitive development.

 

What does a Speech Pathologist do?

  1. Assessment: The first step is to assess the child’s language abilities and identify any areas of strengths and weaknesses. This assessment may include standardized tests, informal observations, and discussions with the family to understand the child’s communication in various contexts.
  2. Goal Setting: Based on the assessment findings and the family’s priorities, the SP collaborates with the family to establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for the child’s language development. These goals may target areas such as vocabulary, grammar, speech sounds, comprehension, or social communication skills.
  3. Creating a Treatment Plan: The SP develops an individualized treatment plan tailored to the child’s unique needs and goals. This plan outlines the specific strategies, activities, and interventions that will be used to address the child’s language difficulties. The treatment plan may also include recommendations for home practice and generalization of skills.
  4. Therapy Sessions: SPs conduct therapy sessions with the child to work on the targeted language goals. These sessions may involve a variety of activities, such as games, play-based activities, structured exercises, and technology-assisted interventions. SPs use evidence-based practices to facilitate language development and engage the child in meaningful communication experiences.
  5. Family Education and Training: SPs educate and train family members on strategies they can use to support their child’s language development at home. This may include teaching parents how to model appropriate language (slow down speech, crouch down to the child’s eye level when speaking, provide explicit teaching, ect…), provide opportunities for communication, use visual supports, incorporate language-rich activities into daily routines, and implement specific intervention techniques recommended by the SP.
  6. Collaboration with Other Professionals: SPs collaborate with other professionals involved in the child’s care, such as teachers, paediatricians, occupational therapists, and psychologists. This interdisciplinary collaboration ensures a comprehensive approach to addressing the child’s overall development and well-being.
  7. Support and Empowerment: Throughout the process, SPs provide emotional support and empower families to advocate for their child’s needs. They help families build confidence in their ability to support their child’s language development and navigate any challenges they may encounter along the way.

 

Language development in children typically progresses through several stages from birth to 4 years of age. While each child develops at their own pace, here is a general overview of the typical milestones:

   Birth to 6 months:

    • Crying: Newborns use crying as their primary means of communication to express hunger, discomfort, or fatigue.
    • Cooing: Around 2-3 months, infants start making cooing sounds, such as “oo,” “ah,” and “ee,” in response to stimuli and to engage with caregivers.
    • Babbling: Between 4-6 months, babies begin babbling, producing repetitive consonant-vowel combinations (e.g., “bababa” or “dadada”).
    • Responding to familiar voices and sounds.

       

      6 to 12 months:

    • Babbling expands: Babbling becomes more varied and may start to include sounds from the language(s) spoken around the baby.
    • Gestures: Babies start to use gestures like waving “bye-bye” and reaching to communicate.
    • Understanding simple words: Babies begin to understand and respond to simple words and phrases, such as their own name or “no.”

       

      12 to 18 months:

    • First words: Children typically say their first recognizable words around their first birthday.
    • Vocabulary growth: They start to acquire more words, often related to familiar objects, people, and actions in their environment.
    • Simple gestures: Children use simple gestures along with words to communicate, such as pointing to request something.

       

      18 to 24 months:

    • Word explosion: Vocabulary growth accelerates, and children may learn several new words each day.
    • Two-word phrases: Children begin to combine two words to form simple phrases or sentences, such as “more juice” or “big dog.”
    • Following simple instructions: They can understand and follow simple one-step instructions.

       

      2 to 3 years:

    • Language development continues to progress rapidly.
    • Longer sentences: Children start to use longer sentences and more complex language structures.
    • Asking questions: They begin to ask simple questions, such as “What’s that?” or “Where is it?”
    • Pronouns: Children begin to use pronouns (e.g., “I,” “you,” “he,” “she”) correctly.


      3 to 4 years:

    • Language becomes more sophisticated: Children’s language becomes increasingly complex and grammatically correct.
    • Storytelling: They can tell simple stories and engage in imaginative play.
    • Understanding concepts: Children understand and use concepts like size, color, and location in their language.
    • Social communication: They become more skilled at engaging in conversations and interacting with others.

It is important to note that these are general milestones, and individual children may reach them at different ages. If parents have concerns about their child’s language development, they should consult with a paediatrician, general practitioner or speech pathologist for guidance and support.

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Perth Speech Therapy has an Alfred Cove clinic. This clinic also provides mobile services to schools, day care centres and homes.

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Clinic Location: Alfred Cove