Being able to communicate, comprehend, and read is important in the development of all children. But what if you notice something seems off with their speech or language skills? Over 13% of children in Australia suffer from some type of communication disorder. Early intervention can make a big difference, and speech therapy might just be what’s needed. 

In this post, we’ll explore five signs that your toddler may benefit from seeing a speech therapist, not just to improve speech but also to enhance reading and comprehension skills.

Sign #1: Limited Vocabulary

By a certain age, toddlers should know a range of words. Do you feel like your child is only using a very small number of words? It can be difficult to know what’s normal and what’s not – trust your instinct! If you think your child has fewer words than most children their age, it might be time to consult a professional. 

Speech Pathology Australia has a great resource for this with their Communications Milestones Poster, which details what communication levels and skills you can expect from children of all ages. This will help you to see if your child is on track or a little behind.

A limited vocabulary is not as harmless as you may think, it can impact more than just speech, it can also affect their ability to learn and interact with the world around them. For more on developmental milestones, KidsHealth offers some really good information.

Sign #2: Difficulty Following Instructions

If your toddler struggles to follow basic instructions, it could be a sign of underlying issues with comprehension, not just hearing. Speech Therapist don’t just help people talk, we are trained and focussed on communication! Your child’s ability to understand instructions could impact on their future learning abilities and might require intervention. Understanding and processing instructions are fundamental skills that speech therapy can improve.

Sign #3: Problems Forming Sentences

Trouble with putting words into sentences or using incorrect grammar consistently can be a a sign that you shouldn’t ignore. This might seem harmless and is often overlooked but this issue can indicate significant delays in language development. 

Speech therapy can help toddlers learn to form coherent sentences more effectively. 

Hunter Valley Toddler Speech Therapists

Sign #4: Frustration with Verbal Communication

A toddler who frequently gets upset or frustrated trying to communicate may feel misunderstood because they can’t verbalise their thoughts clearly. Start noticing if a tantrum is fuelled by frustration and the inability to communicate with you.

This emotional response may be a sign that they need help from a speech therapist. We get a lot of mums and dads that didn’t realise some of the behaviour comes from frustration. 

Sign #5: Issues with Sound Pronunciation

Difficulty with certain sounds or persistent mispronunciation can be common at a young age, but if this issue doesn’t improve with time, it might suggest a need for speech therapy. It’s an easy thing to dismiss, but if you have a sense that something might not be quite right or you think your child’s level is not where it should be, please reach out to a speech pathologist and check! 

The Role of Speech Therapy in Reading and Comprehension

Speech therapy extends beyond just improving speech, it’s also crucial for developing reading and comprehension skills. Early speech and language skills are directly linked to later abilities in reading and understanding complex concepts. Read3 offers resources on how speech therapy supports reading development.

FAQs About Toddler Speech Therapy

Here are five frequently asked questions (FAQs) about toddler speech therapy that can help parents better understand when and how to seek help:

1. At what age should I first consider speech therapy for my toddler?

Early intervention is key. Typically, if by 18 to 24 months your toddler shows signs of speech or language difficulties, like the signs we have outlined above, it might be time to consult a speech therapist. Don’t ignore those niggling feelings that something might be not quite right! 

2. What does a speech therapy session for a toddler involve?

Speech therapy sessions are tailored to the child’s needs but generally involve engaging activities that aim to strengthen the child’s communication skills. These activities may include games, reading stories, playing with toys, and exercises specifically designed to target the child’s language challenges. 

3. How long does it typically take to see improvement in a toddler after starting speech therapy?

Improvement timelines vary from child to child depending on the nature and severity of their speech or language delays. However, many parents notice improvements within a few months of regular therapy sessions. It’s normal to encourage a lot of practice and involvement at home – don’t just rely on the therapy sessions. 

4. Are there activities I can do at home to compliment my toddler’s speech therapy?

Yes, speech therapists often recommend simple activities that parents can do at home to reinforce the skills being taught in therapy. This might include reading books together, singing songs, or incorporating specific speech and language games into daily routines. 

Contact Our Hunter Valley Speech Therapists

Identifying early signs of communication delays can help you to engage speech therapy as early as possible. If you’ve observed any of the signs mentioned in your toddler, we encourage you to reach out to us at Hunter Speech Spot. 

Call us at 0466108599 or email at hello@hunterspeechspot.com.au. You can also find more detailed information about our services and approach on our website.