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For children, there are several “red flags” or indicators that a child may be in need of a speech and language evaluation to help identify speech and language deficits and help them with their speech or language skills. As a child develops, there are certain broad milestones that most children hit. One of the first ones is that by the age of three, they should be able to put three to four words together and be intelligible 90% of the time.

Failing to hit this milestone could indicate that the child may have physical, developmental, hearing, and or speech and language impairment.  The most common cases we see are developmental delays which frequently include children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Besides delays in speech and language development, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder exhibit additional challenges such as social relatedness, unusual behaviors, and or sensory dysfunction.

An evaluation with a speech-language pathologist would involve diagnosing speech and language deficits, a treatment plan for future therapy, and sometimes recommendations for additional testing by other professionals.

If your child’s verbal development isn’t on target, see your pediatrician. The first step may be a hearing test. Children who have had multiple ear infections are especially prone to temporary or intermittent hearing loss, which can make it difficult to verbalize sounds correctly.

Infrequently, speech-language disorders are caused by neurological or developmental issues. More often, the cause is unknown. Your pediatrician may refer your child to a speech-language therapist.

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