You asked

How do I know if my child needs a speech therapist?

Preschoolers are just learning to use language effectively, and it can be hard to determine which mispronunciations and problems with speech are perfectly normal, and which you should worry about. Children this age also regularly confuse different sounds for each other, or use the wrong words altogether.

Generally speaking, as long as your child’s linguistic skill is improving all the time, there should be no cause for concern. In fact, many children have a few minor problems with pronunciation and other elements of speech until they are six years old. However, there are a few cases in which you might want to refer to a speech therapist.
If your child is reacting strangely to various sounds – for instance if your child is overly sensitive to loud sounds like the vacuum cleaner, yet seems to ignore you calling his or her name.

If your child only uses a word once, and then not again, or if your child omits all the consonants in most of their words, there could also be cause for concern. Likewise, if your child is saying single words only long after he or she should be attempting sentences, or fails to respond when you ask him or her to point to a specific animal or object in a book, there could be a problem.

Children all develop in different ways, and at different paces, but if your child’s language skills seem to be lagging far behind, or if he or she seems happy not to attempt any new words or sentences, then it may be time to see a specialist. Language problems can be as simple as a hearing problem, or something more complex, but it’s always best to get a proper diagnosis.

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