If you’ve noticed signs that your baby isn’t developing their speech, language or feeding skills as quickly as expected, it may mean they have a speech, language, or feeding disorder.

And in that case, it’s important to see a speech therapist as soon as possible.

Research shows that when children get access to speech therapy services before three years of age, treatment tends to be much more effective.

As a result, the government has mandated that early intervention speech therapy services be made available across the United States. After all, it’s important to make sure every child has the best shot in life they can.

Here at Voz Speech Therapy, one of the speech therapy specialties we offer is early intervention speech therapy.

To find out more about whether your child needs early intervention pediatric speech therapy, keep reading.

Why Does Early Intervention Help?

When it comes to stages of growth and learning, the first few years of a person’s life teaches them more than any other period. This is true when it comes to motor skills, physical abilities, and of course, speech and language development.

When a child has a speech, language or feeding disorder, it affects the way their brain develops. They learn to navigate the world around them based on the influence of their speech or language disorder. As a result, when a child receives speech therapy at an older age, their brain has already developed around it and created compensatory strategies that can negatively impact other areas of development (e.g. jaw stability, intelligibility, limited diet).

But if we can intervene at a younger age, before their brain has fully developed around their speech or language disorder, the results tend to be more successful.

In most cases, a child will not grow out of a speech or language disorder. So the smartest approach is to bring them to a speech therapist as soon as possible.

If it turns out they don’t need speech therapy, you are no further behind. And if it turns out they do, you can get them the help they need in time to get them the best results.

How Do You Get Access to Early Intervention Speech Therapy?

In order to qualify for early intervention speech therapy, the federal government has mandated the following three criteria. You can find out more about them here:

  • They have a diagnosed condition known to cause developmental delay
  • They are established to be at risk resulting in a high probability of developmental delay
  • They have already established a 50% developmental delay in cognitive, communication, emotional, social or adaptive development

The early intervention program offers more than just speech and language disorders, so if your child needs help from an occupational therapist, physical therapist, or other pediatric therapy services, it may still be able to help you.

Once you get access to early intervention speech therapy services, your speech therapist will work with both you and your child.

After all, as your child’s primary caregiver, you will be spending the most time with them, so it makes the most sense for you to be involved in the process.

Caregiver education is the most important piece for your child’s success in early intervention, and here at Voz Speech Therapy, we make sure that every caregiver feels empowered and confident in their ability to carry over strategies learned during the sessions.

But how can you tell if your child needs early intervention speech therapy treatment?

Let’s take a look.

Signs Your Child May Have A Speech, Language, or Feeding Disorder

When it comes to speech and language development, every baby is unique. It’s impossible to say exactly at what age they should reach certain milestones. That’s why speech therapists offer broader windows for development.

If this is your second baby and they’re a couple weeks behind how your first one developed, it’s really not cause for concern. However, there are signs to look for that may indicate a deeper issue. Many of these are signs your baby may need speech therapy treatments for autism spectrum disorder, but they may indicate other disorders as well.

Feeding disorders, in particular, are important to address with early intervention. This is because feeding disorders can lead to malnutrition and delayed or stunted development. And because feeding disorders are so common – 1 in 4 children have them, and up to 4 in 5 children with developmental disabilities – it’s important to get these issues treated as soon as possible.

Here are the signs your child may have a speech, language, or feeding disorder:

Up To 12 Months

Here are some of the signs your baby may have a speech or language disorder you may notice within the first year of baby’s life:

  • No eye contact

  • No smiling

  • No gesturing

  • No sounds, or very limited sounds

  • Lack of interest in others around them

  • Difficulty latching or breastfeeding

  • Frequently choking or gagging when transitioning to solids

Because the baby has generally not started talking much yet at this point, signs at these early ages tend to point to the potential need for speech therapy treatments for autism spectrum disorder or speech therapy for hearing loss or impairments.

Up To 24 Months

Here are some signs your baby may have a speech, language, or feeding disorder which could show up between their first and second birthdays:

  • They haven’t begun speaking yet

  • They have begun speaking, but with a limited vocabulary

  • They haven’t started combining words (e.g. mommy go, look dog)

  • They don’t respond to you or others

  • They don’t seem to understand what you say

  • They pronounce certain sounds incorrectly

  • Extremely picky eater (e.g. less than 10-15 foods)

  • Vomiting or gagging when introducing new foods

Because most children have begun to speak at this point, they may show signs of more speech disorders.

Up To 3 Years

At this point, your child’s brain should be much more developed, and their speech, language and feeding skills should reflect that. Between your child’s second and third birthday, you may notice the following signs that you should seek out early intervention speech therapy:

  • Has difficulty with social skills

  • Has trouble following along when you read to them

  • Doesn’t use full sentences

  • Doesn’t respond to simple who, what, where questions

  • Seems reluctant to speak

  • Repeats the first sound of a word

  • Has a limited vocabulary

  • Extremely picky eater (e.g. less than 10-15 foods)

  • Vomiting or gagging when introducing new foods

  • Difficulty chewing a variety of textures (e.g. meat, chicken, carrots)

How Can Early Intervention Speech Therapy Help?

Early Intervention speech therapy can help with a wide variety of different speech, language, and feeding disorders. In fact, there are no speech or language disorders where early intervention is considered a bad idea.

In particular, however, the following types of speech therapy interventions tend to be more effective with early intervention:

There are other disorders where speech and language difficulties are sometimes an issue, but not always. Early intervention speech therapy can help with speech and language disorders related to:

  • Down syndrome
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Hearing loss
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental delays
  • And others

Book Your Appointment With Voz Speech Therapy Today

To find out if your child needs early intervention speech therapy, contact Voz Speech Therapy today.

The earlier you intervene in your child’s speech or language disorder, the better shot they will have at overcoming it. So time is of the essence.

Don’t delay, call Voz Speech Therapy today to book your early intervention speech therapy session.

Clear, confident communication is possible. Voz Speech Therapy can help. 

Book a consultation today to find out how.