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Does my child need the help of a Speech and Language Pathologist?

As a parents, you may notice that your child has problems to express him/herself or to understand. If your child shows of or some of the signs below, and especially if this situation worries you, you may consider a SLP Screening or assessment. Early identification and treatment of a speech or language disorder prevents long term difficulties and handicap situations that may result.

Worried parents :

Parents don't worry for nothing, and it is very important to listen when parents feel there is something wrong with their child's language development: parental worries are one of the strongest indicators that there is a problem (and not necessarily an indication that the problem is severe). There is at least need for SLP observation and at best, your SLP will teach how to optimize your language stimulation strategies and time spent with your child. After a SLP screening, you will know precisely what you should do next: the next step could range from general advice and wait time to a full SLP assessment and treatment.

Language Development Possible problem indicators:

  • 12 months of age
    • doesn't babble with intonation changes
    • doesn't use gestures ex: “bye bye” or nod "no" with head
    • doesn't respond to own name
    • doesn't have any form of communication strategies or intent, when needing something
  • 15 months of age
    • doesn't understand or react to words like “no” or  “look”
    • hasn't spokent their first word
    • doesn't point to objects or pictures when asked “Where is the...?”
    • doesn't point to objects to attract or direct your attention
  • 18 months of age
    • doesn't understand simple commands in context like “Don't touch!”
    • doesn't express at least 20 simple words like “mommy” ou “upstairs”
    • doesn't react to words, gestures or questions like “What is it?” or “Where is your shoe?”
    • cannot point to two or three important body parts like the head, nose, eyes, feet
  • 24 months of age
    • expresses less than 100 words
    • doesn't systematically combine two words to express in "first sentences", like “daddy gone” or “mommy eat”
    • doesn't imitate words or actions
    • doesn't pretend play with toys, like feeding a doll, driving cars and making engine noises, using another object to imitate speaking on the phone, etc.
  • 30 months of age
    • expresses less than 300 words
    • doesn't use action words like “run”, “eat”, “fall”
    • uses no elements of adult grammar, such as: using proper personal pronouns, making full simple sentences, using basic verb tenses, etc.
  • 3-4 years of age
    • doesn't ask questions at age 3
    • still is difficult to understand by an adult that doesn't know him/her at age 3
    • doesn't use sentences (example, “I don't want to...” or “My truck is broken”) at age 3
    • is unable to tell a simple story at age 4 or 5
    • omits many sounds or even syllables when pronouncing words, for example:
    • “iter” or “ter” for “sister”
    • “ana” or “na” for “banana”
    • replace one sound with another, for example :
      • pronounces "w" for all “r” sounds: “red” becomes “wed”
      • pronounces “t” for all “s” sounds: "sun" becomes "tun"
      • etc. (there are many speech sound transformations!)
  • All ages
    • Your child never uses words, only points making noise, or even using no voice at all for asking objects
    • Your child only repeats everything like a parrot, instead of using word from his/her own vocabulary and produce own sentences
    • Your child has a hard time engaging conversation and doesn't try to name things and comment. A child should like chatting and that you take time to exchange with him/her (and that is expected from very early on) and should never avoid exchange or always prefer being alone in his/her corner, never attracting your attention (never requiring attention is bothersome!!!)
    • Your child has very limited vocabulary for age (understanding words as well as expressing words)

Reading and Writing

  • Does your preschool child have difficulty with prereading, vocabulary and phonological awareness? Even as a prereader, at age 4 and 5, literacy skills are preparing actively and your child shoudl start to be able to hear sounds in words, and play with words. For example :
    • Does your child know that the word “ball" starts with the “b" sound (sound of the letter b)?
    • Does your child detect rhyming words?
    • Does your child detect when words are "alike"(starting with same sound, a small word is heard in a bigger word ex : you hear the word "take" in the word "mistake"
  • Your school age child has difficulty meeting his grade level expectations:
    • Beginning to read in grade one are (or were) difficult (doesn't remember sight words from last week, doesn't remember simple sound-letter correspondances, doesn't create simple sentences with learned words)
    • Even after grade 2, reading still is difficult, your child doesn't decode many words, isn't able to read a sentence without long pauses, cannot use near natural intonation while reading, etc.
    • By grade 3 and later, your child doesn't understand all information in readings, has a hard time finding information in the text or remember what was just read. Your child cannot infer or deduct information that is not clearly stated in a text
    • Your child cannot meet grade level expectations in his/her written text
    • Your child has trouble with the “reasoning with mathematical language“ competency or with problem solving in math
    • Your child cannot read easily number from 0 to 100
    • Your child cannot write a number dictation, or has problems writing numbers like 1009, 708, 10108, etc


Your child's speech is dysfluent and he makes unnatural pauses, syllable or sound repetitions or prolongations? Many children between ages of 2 à 4 ans hesitate a lot when they speak. It is sometimes difficult to detect for sure which ones will become stutterers, but the "wait and see" approach is the less desirable one.

Stuttering is not a psychological problem, is not for weak or shy personalities, and does not indiate less intelligence. Stuttering is an alteration of motor and coordination skills for speech, and its basis is neurological. There also is a genetic component and stuttering is often present in many individuals in the same family.

A SLP assessment is important if you are wondering if your child has a fluency problem, and if he could be stuttering.

Your child displays one of many of the above signs? Don't hesitate to send a Service Request.

Note : the younger the children, the more variable are their levels of language development. Nevertheless, from the youngest age, your Speech and Language Pathologist is trained to give an opinion on the level of communicative develpment and can detect signs of a language disorder. Don't forget that the earlier a problem is addresses, the better the chances to avoid long term handicap situations for your child.