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  • Kristen Fernandez

Does My Child Need Speech Therapy? Recognizing Signs of Disorders

A mother, father, and child playing on the floor.

Children develop skills like walking and talking at their own pace. While some start early, others take a bit longer. If you notice your child struggling significantly with certain skills, it's important to pay attention. Here are signs of speech, language, stuttering, feeding, and orofacial myofunctional disorders in children, along with the expected age range for each.


Feeding and Swallowing Disorders in Children


Feeding and swallowing problems can affect a child's health, learning, and social interactions. These issues include difficulty with sucking, chewing, or swallowing food or liquid. They might be linked to medical conditions or occur without a clear cause.


Signs of Feeding and Swallowing Disorders


Your child might have feeding or swallowing issues if they:


  • arch their back or stiffen when feeding

  • cry or fuss when feeding

  • fall asleep when feeding

  • have problems breastfeeding

  • have trouble breathing while eating and drinking

  • refuse to eat or drink

  • eat only certain textures, such as soft food or crunchy food

  • take a long time to eat

  • pocket (which means to hold food in their mouth)

  • have problems chewing

  • cough or gag during meals

  • drool a lot or have liquid come out of their mouth or nose

  • get stuffy during meals

  • have a gurgly, hoarse, or breathy voice during or after meals

  • spit up or throw up a lot

  • are not gaining weight or growing


It's important to note that not every child will display all these signs, but they can put your child at risk for various health issues.


Language Disorders in Children


Language includes listening, speaking, understanding, reading, and writing. Children with language disorders might have trouble with one or more of these skills.


Signs of Language Problems


Signs of language difficulties at different stages include:


  • Birth–3 months: Not smiling or playing with others

  • 4–7 months: Not babbling

  • 7–12 months: Making only a few sounds. Not using gestures, like waving or pointing.

  • 7 months–2 years: Not understanding what others say

  • 12–18 months: Saying only a few words

  • 1½–2 years: Not putting two words together

  • 2 years: Saying fewer than 50 words

  • 2–3 years: Difficulty playing and talking with other children

  • 2½–3 years: Difficulty with early reading and writing (e.g. your child may not like to draw or look at books)


Encouraging your child's language development involves activities like talking, reading, playing, and using diverse vocabulary. Consider seeking speech therapy for toddlers and kids if you notice persistent language difficulties.


Speech Sound Disorders in Children


Speech involves saying sounds and words. It's normal for young children to mispronounce some sounds, but persistent difficulties might indicate a speech sound disorder.


Signs of Speech Sound Disorders


Signs at different ages include:


  • 1–2 years: Difficulty pronouncing certain sounds (p, b, m, h, w)

  • 2–3 years: Difficulty with additional sounds (k, g, f, t, d, n). Difficult to understand, even to people who know the child well.


Support your child's speech development by modeling correct sounds without correcting them directly. Consider consulting a speech therapist near me for professional guidance.


Stuttering in Children


Many individuals experience occasional pauses or repetitions of sounds or words during speech. It's common for young children to exhibit stuttering temporarily, which typically resolves on its own with time. However, persistent stuttering may require attention.


Signs of Stuttering


Signs that stuttering may persist include:


  • 2½–3 years: Significant difficulty in speech fluency, with repetitions, prolonged sounds, or frequent pauses


Support children who stutter by giving them time to express themselves without interruption or correction. Consult a professional specializing in speech therapy for kids for comprehensive evaluation and intervention if needed.


Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders in Children


These disorders may affect facial and oral muscle and bone growth, impacting eating, speaking, and breathing.


Signs of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders


Signs of OMDs may include:


  • Mouth breathing or difficulty nasal breathing

  • Limited tongue movement

  • Challenges with eating or swallowing

  • Dental misalignments

  • Persistent tongue thrusting

  • Difficulty articulating certain sounds

  • Excessive drooling

  • Difficulty closing lips to swallow


Take Action


Early intervention is key. If you're concerned about your child's development, schedule a free phone consultation with our professional team at Spark Pediatric Therapy, specializing in speech therapy for toddlers and kids. We're here to help you and your child every step of the way.


References: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), www.asha.org.

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