BlogParenting ResourcesHow to Approach Speech Therapy for Toddlers

    How to Approach Speech Therapy for Toddlers

    Timely speech therapy for toddlers is essential, especially if they are experiencing difficulty communicating and understanding simple instructions and phrases. A neuro-cognitive issue could be curbing their linguistics skills or problems with specific structures and mouth movements.  

    A speech therapist can help you uncover the root cause of speech difficulties for your toddler and chart out the right treatment strategy. Self-driven or at-home tactics may overwhelm your kid, especially if they are already stressed about their inability to communicate effectively. You may inadvertently make them shyer if they find social situations complicated.

    Table of Contents

    What is speech therapy

    Detecting early signs of speech problems

    Diagnosing underlying speech issues

    How speech therapy works

    Tips for at-home care of toddlers in speech therapy


    What is Speech Therapy for Toddlers?

    Image of a kid reading a book after doing speech therapy for toddlers

    Mainly speaking, speech therapy is an overarching approach to helping individuals of all ages speak more clearly. Speech therapy for toddlers is focused on helping kids understand linguistics, phrases, and communication strategies to improve their innate ability to socialize. 

    Your kid could be experiencing apraxia, stuttering, aphasia, or other speech-related issues which can be diagnosed during speech therapy sessions. Speech therapists understand the baseline abilities of kids to speak at a young age. They can be valuable reference points to measure your child’s capabilities and areas where they may need help. 

    The core benefits of speech therapy are also evident when helping improve socialization. It boosts confidence for kids, especially in areas where they must participate in groups or add inputs for activities.

    Detecting Early Signs of Issues with Speech

    Image of a kid reading with her mom

    You can focus on vital signs to detect early signs of speech issues in children of all ages.

    1. For kids under 12 months, if they cannot use gestures and pointing to communicate, it may be a key sign of early issues.

    2. For children under the age of 18 months that can’t imitate sounds and can’t understand rudimentary speech elements, some speech therapy can help.

    3. Kids by the age of 2 should be able to make some sounds to communicate intent or meaning through spontaneous action.

    4. Kids older than 2 should be able to understand some forms of speech and reciprocate with appropriate responses without constant clarification.

    5. Between the ages of 2 and 4 years, toddlers should be able to communicate with sentences so that others may understand them without significant interpretation challenges.

    Diagnosing Underlying Speech Issues

    Image of parents smiling with their kid

    Kids can have difficulty understanding words due to hearing issues, chronic ear infections, and other biological challenges. Toddlers can also have differences in mouth structures, injuries, and underlying neurological problems that may manifest as speech issues.

    Some of the common signs of speech issues can include stuttering, difficulty with articulation, and a limited vocabulary with few phrases. Therapists can use the Bayley-III, PLS 5, GFTA, and other visual and auditory measurement scales to identify critical issues. The right speech therapy for toddlers may be deployed based on the identified causes.  

    What can I expect from speech therapy?

    Speech therapists start by addressing critical concerns during the beginning of the class, such as stuttering, pronunciation, trouble swallowing, etc. Different types of exercises are leveraged to encourage your child to strengthen weaker areas.

    1. Language building exercises

    Using visual learning techniques, such as language books, storytelling, and songs, a speech therapist can help your child establish critical neural connections. Therapists can also train your child using phonetics to speak difficult words more slowly and effectively.

    2. Speech mechanics sessions

    Your speech therapist can also train children in how the mouth and the tongue move to make certain sounds. This can help improve the mind-muscle connection when it comes to speaking for toddlers.

    3. Comprehension games

    By using technology and physical tools to tackle specific speech issues, a therapist can improve results through joyful playing. These tools emphasize gamification and improving learning linguistics through entertaining environments.

    4. Specific sound-based output

    Difficult areas can be identified under speech therapy for toddlers, such as “f,” “fa,” “va,” “ba,” and so on. These areas can be strengthened in group classes and one-on-one training for kids that can play with toys and make key sounds.

    How Speech Therapy Helps Kids

    Image of a mother and son playing with blocks

    Speech-language pathologists and speech therapists can help toddlers through specific speech issues and provide a personalized strategy that significantly benefits kids. By leveraging psychology and linguistics, speech therapists can analyze core issues and resolve them with the right strategic approach.

    The right speech therapy can effectively address key issues such as speech disorders, including motor speech, fluency issues, voice challenges, and reasoning/cognitive challenges. Specialists can also focus on identifying biological and psychological problems that kids may be experiencing because of underlying issues.  

    Essential Tips for At-Home Care

    If you have consulted with a speech therapist and are ready for at-home exercises, you can create a highly structured program to optimize results. Depending on your child’s type of speech issue, you can create special activities that help target those areas.

    1. Simple phrase exercises

    By the age of two, your child should be able to say a few words and focus on communication through phrases. You can read to them regularly and have them feel immersed in magical worlds of fiction to get them to verbalize their thoughts.

    2. Self-talk and repetition

    You can use repetition to introduce new words and reinforce existing words. You can make your child feel comfortable with a particular word, such as block, and add new words to create different phrases. Give block, take block, and keep block, can be added into the vocabulary through self-talk.

    3. Online learning platforms

    Using detailed storytelling and highly effective ELA curriculum design, your kids can focus on weaker areas of comprehension through online learning platforms. The best learning apps for toddlers introduce gamification and multimedia learning to make it fun and stress-free for your kids.

    4. Conjunction activities

    If your child has difficulties understanding the meaning behind specific phrases, then using conjunction initiatives can help. You can build on their existing library of words and introduce new concepts. If they already know food, water, and mommy, then you can add “Where is food?”. “You want water?” etc., to help them get comfortable.

    Help your kids master language learning and comprehension at an early age!

    SplashLearn helps your child focus on their speech and language issues with suitable games to boost understanding. Kids can play scientifically developed games that can improve their fluency, pronunciation, object recognition, and other essential skills organically. Kids can learn new ways of improving their comprehension abilities without feeling pressured or stressed. This ensures that kids spend hours on end playing with fuzzy animals and cute characters while improving their English language skills through repetition.

    Learn more here.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    How can I help my 2-year-old with his speech?

    Speech therapy is the best option for helping your child with their speech issues. You can also consult with a therapist on the best home exercises and opt for a medical examination if they are also having difficulties hearing or understanding.     

    What is the best age for speech therapy?

    You can start to notice signs of lack of comprehension and speech issues by the age of 18 months, at which time it is ideal to consult with a therapist. You can also engage with them about specific problems your child is facing, as well as underlying causes.

    Does speech therapy work for toddlers?

    Yes, for many kids, speech therapy has demonstrated results. Your therapist can determine the level of understanding and differentiation between words through scales and tests. They can then provide a strategic map to help your child improve their comprehension and speaking skills. 

    Can I send my toddler to speech therapy?

    Kids that display specific signs of comprehension difficulties should be provided the right tools to help their speaking. You can send your toddler to speech therapy if they are noticeably distressed about not being able to verbalize or think about how to say what they’re trying to say.     

    Brian Lee
    Brian Lee is a writer and parent of 3 spirited children. He loves writing about his parenting experience, the lessons his kids teach him every day and parenting hacks and tricks he’s picked up along the way.

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