Every child develops at his or her own rate, but when parents believe that their children are not progressing as normal it can be very worrying. Many parents feel anxious about their children's speech development but are unsure if their children may have speech disorders.
To help parents determine if their children may have speech disorders we have put together the questionnaire below. Parents should simply answer "yes" or "no" to each question and then add up all of their results to find out if they should be concerned about their children's speech abilities.
Does your child show different degrees of speech ability at home and in public?
Does your child prefer to use grunts or screams more often than words?
Has your child's teacher or GP ever expressed concern about your child's speech abilities?
Does your child have trouble following verbal instructions or conversations?
Did your child turn 3 years of age without begining to speak several words at a time?
Is it hard for others to understand your child when (s)he speaks?
Does your child refrain from even attempting to speak around others?
Does your child show frustration when attempting to speak, such as by throwing things, hitting things or having temper tantrums?
Has your child ever mentioned that (s)he has trouble with speech?
Does your child ever substitute sounds while speaking (for example, “d” for “B”)?
Do you notice a different level of expression in your child’s verbal abilities and non-verbal abilities (drawing, writing, reading, listening)?
Do you believe that your child's verbal abilities are adversely impacting his or her quality of life?
Does My Child Have A Speech Disorder?
Total up the numbers of time you have answered yes to the above questions and take a look below to see what (if any) steps you need to take next.
1 to 4 Yes Answers
If you answered "yes" to between one and four questions then your child may be showing signs of speech difficulties, but (s)he may also simply be learning to speak or to become comfortable speaking in social settings at his or her own rate. Consider tracking your child's speech for a few weeks and looking for any patterns that may emerge. If you still have concerns about your child’s speech then you might put your mind at ease by taking your findings to your GP. Together you can discuss the specifics of your child’s speech abilities and decide if any further assistance is needed to address your child's speech abilities.
5 to 8 Yes Answers
If you answered "yes" to between five and eight questions then your child is more likely showing signs of difficulty with verbal communication. This may just be personal preference, that your child prefers non-verbal communication at the moment, but there is a chance that this preference has developed from difficulties with spoken language. For further opinions ask other adults, such as teachers or babysitters, to give you more information about your child's speech habits. The more you know about your child’s speech habits in different settings, the more you may come to understand his or her communication methods. Discuss these habits with your GP for further information on speech development, difficulties and/or delays.
9 or More Yes Answers
If you answered "yes" to nine or more questions then your child is likely showing difficulties with speech. Discuss your concerns with the professional adults in your child’s life, including a career, teacher and GP. Ask about any patterns they have noticed, if they believe their could be a speech disorder present, and how you can work together to help your child move forward with his or her speech abilities. If/when you believe your child needs further professional help do not hesitate to ask for a referral to a speech therapist.