The right time to talk to a Speech Language Pathologist, SLP about your child's speech and articulation skills is when you are concerned. SLP's treat children from infancy thru adulthood. It is never to early to have a screening or assessment. Many children are late talkers and a trained SLP can help determine if treatment is needed or if a wait and see approach is in fact the proper course. Late talking can indicate speech and language difficulty that may require treatment.
All children may utter oddly sounding words and sentences, mispronounce some sounds and may even be difficult to understand before the age of three. By 3 years of age a child's speech is normally 75-100% intelligible by their parent.
You should contact a speech language pathologist when your child:
Is extremely quiet or does not babble
Uses no first by 18 months of age
Cannot be understood by others at 4 years of age
Has a hoarse voice that is not due to an upper respiratory infection
Seems disinterested in communicating or echoes what you say
Becomes easily frustrated when talking
Has difficulty eating or swallowing
Has irregular breathing, shortness of breath or whispers when talking
Trust your instinct! You know your child best. You may have been advised to wait a few months or longer before seeking out a Speech Language Pathologist. While well-meaning, this advise may not be beneficial for your child. Most parents know if all is not typical with their child's development and the sooner therapy begins the sooner your child will benefit.
Bowen, C. (2011). Typical speech and language acquisition in infants and young children. Retrieved from http://www.speech-language-therapy.com on (10/17/2015)
Bowen, C. (1998). Typical speech Development: the gradual acquisition of the speech sound system. Retrieved from http://www.speech-langauge-therapy.com/acquisition.html on (11/2/2009)
Is your child under 3? Contact the Infant Learning Program at Frontier Community Services for a completely free evaluation and possible services.
Is your child over 3? Contact the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Child Find for free testing of speech and language skills to determine if your child qualifies for free services.