Why is Early Identification and Intervention Important in Speech & Therapy?
According to the CDC, early intervention is used to describe services and support available to babies and young children (and their families) with developmental delays or disabilities. This can refer to physical, occupational, or speech therapy along with other types of services based on the needs of the child and family. As a speech pathologist, early in my career, I worked with patients of all ages, but as years passed, I found myself gravitating towards working with younger children more and more.
While speech therapy can help at any age, I realized that the earlier a child receives speech and language therapy, the better the outcome we could achieve in regards to their speech, language and communication abilities.
Though the technical offering of early intervention is usually defined as between birth to age
three (or in some states, five) it is important to know that whenever you find this page, however old you or your child may be, there is no such thing as being “too late” for receiving the help you need. However, there is also no reason to delay getting help or assessing whether or not professional help is needed. Getting help early is better than waiting. Before receiving Early Intervention services, Early Identification is necessary.
Though there are more exhaustive lists with age breakdown available on the ASHA site, here
are a few examples of things to look for at certain ages that could be a flag that there is a
potential issue. Your newborn should smile make eye contact, and localize to sound. Then
by between four - seven months, you should hear some babbling and cooing noises. By around 12 months your child should be using about five to ten words, and by around 18 months, they should already be using around 50-100 words. These are averages because language development occurs at different rates, but they help provide indicators for when there could be issues with speech.
If you are worried at all about your child’s speech, language or hearing, I welcome you to reach out directly to me or another professional organization to get a qualified opinion and determine whether or not an assessment is needed.