This is one challenging question parents have in mind. We receive calls from parents who are in two minds about this. So, we hope this post helps you make a decision. Speech delay in simple terms is when a child’s speech development lags that of their peers (see typical milestones).
You are concerned that your child’s speech and language skills are not developing at a similar rate to other children of the same age. Your child may not be speaking while others of the same age are able to say short phrases or sentences.
You are torn between seeking help and adopting a wait-and-see approach.
Many parents are inclined to adopt a wait-and-see approach. This generally stems from the desire to give your child the benefit of the doubt. Maybe your child is a late talker and would start talking soon. Hence, it is quite typical for parents to adopt this approach – waiting another month for your child to start talking does not sound like a bad an option.
However, if your child truly needs help with speech and language development, the wait-and-see approach may mean holding back the much needed support your child needs. While you wait to see if your child is going to start talking, or saying more words, your child continues to experience difficulties and frustrations due to their inability to communicate with others, including yourself. Sometimes, unwelcomed behaviours such as meltdowns and tantrums stem from their inability to understand what is going on, or to express themselves.
Looking up information on the internet on speech delay is a start. Most parents think that seeking help or advice at an early stage may be premature, or result in unnecessary stress. After all, there is someone who knows of another person who did not talk till much later, and did eventually talk.
So, what is the cost to you to seek help or advice? What benefits would you get from seeking a professional opinion? A key benefit may be peace of mind -knowing that your child is likely to start talking soon, and likely to develop typically.
Another advantage of seeking a professional opinion would be early detection of the problems your child faces in learning to communicate. The information would help you make informed decisions on how to help your child.
If you are adopting a wait-and-see approach, set a time frame for waiting. 1-2 months, or no more than 3 months is recommended. Put a reminder on your phone or calendar to remind yourself to review this. If your child is still not catching up with their peers, it is time to seek help. Your child’s speech and language development is now dependent on your timely actions.
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