After 11 years of working with families of children with communication delays, the top reason that parents wait for treatment is due to the advice given to them by their pediatrician: “let’s wait and see,” “come back in six months,” “give ’em a little more time.”
Pediatricians are the first line of defense when parents have concerns with their little ones. Rightfully so, they are typically the ones tracking a child’s development; however, it can be a slippery slope as pediatricians tend to err on the side of caution when dealing with developmental delays, specifically communication development in infants and toddlers. Caregivers also tend to place a higher value on the advice given to them by their pediatrician, which can sometimes place delayed children at a disadvantage.
When it comes to delays in communication, the pediatrician is generally the most common but only sometimes the most appropriate professional to seek out. Think about it, if you had concerns for your heart, you could go to your primary care physician; but seeking out a cardiologist would be most appropriate as they are the ones who specialize in matters of the heart. The same goes for communication development; a speech-language pathologist is best equipped to identify delays and recommend treatment options.
From an early intervention perspective, waiting to seek treatment is the worst possible recommendation a doctor can give regarding speech and language development. Birth to five years is very important, with 0 to 3 being the most critical!
If you have concerns about your child’s development consult a Speech-Language Pathologist. They have a unique skill set to help to identify problems as well as the expertise to develop an effective treatment plan.
Not sure if you have concerns? Here are a few red flags that might help:
- Limited/No eye contact (looking at faces, turning toward sounds)
- Isn’t babbling or making noise by 6 months.
- Doesn’t respond to name being called by 9 months
- Difficulty with social interactions, especially with peers
- Less than 10 words by 18 months
Research shows that the earlier speech and language difficulties are identified the less likely they are to worsen. For more information on the importance of early intervention click here