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2024-03-21

Early Intervention Speech Therapy

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Team Member
Abby Care
Some kids need extra help with speech and language delays. Discover how early intervention speech therapy boosts language skills in young children.

Early intervention helps babies and young children from birth to 3 who have trouble with walking and talking. Early intervention speech therapy is something to consider if helping your child learn to talk is filled with uncertainties and concerns. As a parent, it’s natural to feel worried when there is a delay in your child’s communication development in early childhood. That’s where early intervention speech therapy comes into the picture: it is an effective approach that addresses bumps in children’s speech and language development.

To help relieve your concerns about a developmental delay and other uncertainties as a parent, Abby Care, a trusted resource in child development, offers valuable insights into early intervention speech therapy. You’ll discover how this intervention can boost communication skills for young children and brighten their path forward.

Why Early Speech Therapy Matters

It’s important to detect speech delays early on in young children, as this allows you to address the challenges before they become more significant or harder to treat.

As a parent, when you notice your child having trouble talking, it’s common to hear people say it’s just a phase or that your child will grow out of it. Some might suggest that you wait until your child starts school to be sure. But here’s something important to know: research shows getting help before age 3 is better than waiting until later.

Besides helping your child speak and understand words, addressing speech and language challenges early on gives them a head start in school and life. Here are specific ways early intervention speech therapy can positively impact your child:

  • Boosts Success: Early speech therapy gives kids a better chance of doing well. By helping them build strong speaking and listening skills early on, they’re more likely to succeed in school and beyond.
  • Teaches Communication Skills: Through speech therapy, children learn to communicate better and understand what others say. This helps them become better at sharing their thoughts, understanding others, and communicating with friends and family.
  • Builds Confidence: When kids get help early, they feel more confident about expressing themselves. They feel proud as they learn new things and become more independent when talking to others. They develop more social skills. 
  • Supports Emotional Well-being: Early speech therapy can prevent kids from feeling left out or struggling to make friends. By teaching them good communication skills, they’re less likely to have trouble expressing their needs or experiencing behavior problems associated with communication difficulties.

Key Principles of Early Intervention Speech Therapy

To ensure your child receives the best support to improve their communication, early intervention follows these key elements:

  • Family-Centered Approach: Using a family-centered approach in early intervention speech therapy means you and your family are at the heart of the process. In this approach, a speech therapist (known as a Speech Language Pathologist or SLP) works closely with you to understand your child’s needs and preferences. By involving you, the parent, in therapy sessions and activities at home, your child gets the support they need to improve their communication and language skills.
  • Individualized Treatment Plans: SLPs recognize that every child is different, and their speech or language difficulty can vary widely. This is why early intervention services consider what your child can do and what they find hard before creating a treatment plan specifically for them. SLPs use methods that suit your child’s learning style and developmental stage, and if specific methods or developmental services aren’t producing the desired results, they can change to something that works well for your child.
  • Collaborative Teamwork: Early intervention speech therapy involves teamwork among professionals like speech therapists, teachers, doctors, and others. They all work together to support the holistic development of your child. As these professionals share their knowledge and ideas, they make sure your child gets the right help they need during their early childhood. This teamwork ensures everything your child needs is cared for and helps you better understand what’s happening.

Assessment and Evaluation Methods

Spotting signs of speech delay in your child is important, as it will help get early intervention services. These signs may manifest in various ways, including:

  • Not speaking at all
  • Not babbling
  • Stuttering or other form of speech impediment
  • Difficulty understanding and forming words

If you suspect your child needs extra support for speech or language development, it is best to have an SLP evaluate them before possibly enrolling them in an early intervention program. Speech therapy uses different methods to check your child’s communication skills:

  • Initial Assessment: First, therapists check your child’s speaking and understanding abilities to identify any delays or problems.
  • Screening: Quick checks are done to determine if there might be any speech or language issues.
  • Evaluation: A thorough evaluation checks how your child communicates, understands words, and interacts with others. This helps determine if there are any problems in their communication skills, such as trouble saying words clearly or understanding what others say.
  • Identifying Milestones: Developmental milestones are observed to track your child’s progress, such as when they start saying their first words or using longer sentences.

Intervention Strategies

  • Speech Sound Production: This strategy helps kids say sounds properly. For example, a therapist might work on saying “s” or “r” correctly. They might use tongue twisters or sound drills to practice.
  • Language Development: With a language therapy strategy, kids learn words and sentences and understand what others say. For instance, a therapist might tell stories to teach new words and sentences. They might also have chats with the child to help them improve their language skills.
  • Social Communication Skills: This teaches children how to interact with others. For example, a therapist might show a child how to take turns in a conversation or maintain eye contact during interactions. They might also act out different situations to practice talking in groups.
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Techniques: ACC techniques are tools or systems to help kids who find talking hard. For instance, a child might use picture cards or a special device to say what they want. These tools help kids communicate in different ways.

Early Intervention Techniques

While therapists support children with speech delays, parents also have important roles to play in helping their child’s progress. Here are two early intervention techniques that can help your child:

Promoting Speech and Language Development

Find creative ways to help your child talk and understand better in everyday activities. Here are a few examples:

  • Play games that encourage speaking, like Seek-a-Boo or I Spy
  • Label objects around the house
  • Sing simple, age-appropriate songs, such as Wheels on the Bus or the alphabet song

Encouraging Parent Involvement

As a parent, therapists might suggest activities for you to do at home with your child. This helps reinforce what your child learns in therapy sessions and makes progress faster.

Outcomes and Long-Term Benefits

Early intervention speech therapy brings positive changes that help children in many ways:

  • Improved Communication Skills: Kids learn to communicate better, making it easier to share their thoughts and feelings with others.
  • Making More Friends and Feeling Happier: Speech therapy helps kids learn how to communicate and interact with others. They get better at making eye contact, talking with others, and making friends. This makes them feel happier and more comfortable in social situations.
  • Preventing Other Problems Early: Early speech therapy helps prevent secondary problems that might come from communication delays. Getting help early can help kids avoid having meltdowns or other behavior problems in social situations.

Conclusion

It’s important to help kids early when they have delayed speech or trouble talking or understanding words.

Abby Care is here to help you find the right resources you need for your child’s growth. And remember, getting help early makes a big difference for kids who find talking or understanding words challenging.

Sources

https://www.speechpathologygraduateprograms.org/early-intervention/

https://www.asha.org/practice-portal/professional-issues/early-intervention/

https://toddlertalk.com/blog/early-intervention

https://www.expressable.com/learning-center/speech-and-language-issues/the-importance-of-early-speech-intervention

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