What to Do if Your Child Isn’t Talking

Filming dog for TVYesterday, Gillian Neff, from News 12 Connecticut, called to see if she could interview me about what to do if your child isn’t talking. She arrived with her camera man and they quickly learned that Duke was part of my therapy. Duke of course thought he was part of the show and actually had some nice air time on the evening news!

I was glad to provide viewers with the information needed if they were concerned about their child’s speech and language development:

  • If your child is under the age of 3, you would call Connecticut Birth to Three Services to schedule an evaluation (or your state’s Birth to Three Services if you live in another state). Their website is www.birth23.org and you can call their Info-line to talk to someone about concerns regarding your child at 1-800-505-7000. They typically send out two professionals, one would probably be a speech language pathologist, and they do an evaluation of your child across several domains (speech, motor, cognitive etc.) The evaluation and first two months of therapy are at no cost to the parent so it is wise to follow your hunch if you think your child is experiencing a delay.
  • If your child is 3 years or older, you would contact your local school district which is responsible for providing services for children who are experiencing a delay or disorder beginning at 3 years of age. Parents can either contact the Director of Special Education for their district (you can find this name on their website or call your Board of Education) or contact the local elementary school that your child will attend when they are entering kindergarten. Tell them that you would like information on how to have your child evaluated for speech and language. Districts vary as to how they do this but many will provide a screening first, and depending on the results, will then perform a more in-depth evaluation to see if your child qualifies for services.
  • You can contact a private speech language pathologist to evaluate your child. To obtain names of certified speech pathologists in your geographic area, go to the American Speech and Hearing Association’s website at www.ASHA.org. Your pediatrician and school district should also be able to recommend qualified professionals to work with your age child.
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2 Responses to What to Do if Your Child Isn’t Talking

  1. Robert, SLP says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’m always happy when I see the media taking an interest in speech and language development, especially when they go to SLPs for information rather than pediatricians (nothing against pediatricians–they just aren’t experts on speech-language development).

    It’s also worth saying that, if you are thinking about asking for help for your child, sooner is better. Many early intervention agencies and school districts have a waiting list due to high demand and a shortage of qualified therapists. I’ve talked to a lot of parents who went back and forth trying to decide if they “should be worried”; then they finally decided their children really needed help right now, only to discover that there was a 6-month wait!

    If you’re wondering whether you should be worried, you already are, so go ahead and schedule an evaluation–if you change your mind later, you can always cancel.

  2. sherry says:

    Thanks, Robert for your insightful comment. You are right. I always tell parents that they know their child the best and should act on their hunch. Often school districts and agencies are backed up and parents are shocked that they have to wait so long.

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