Therapy for Toddlers and Preschoolers

At Eastside Speech Solutions we see a large number of very small children with little or no speech.  We know how to provide effective and fun therapy in clinic for your toddler or preschooler and we can help you to learn techniques to facilitate your child's speech at home.

Communication is a tricky and complex thing and many parents spend sleepless nights wondering if their toddler or preschooler's language and comprehension skills are developing normally. Whilst children develop their listening and language skills at different rates, there is a general pattern to their development which can help you determine if your child has reached the right developmental milestones for their age. 

A well-trained and experienced speech pathologist will look at different aspects of your child's communication to evaluate how they are progressing:

  1. Pronunciation/Articulation - where we focus on how your child says their speech sounds in words
  2. Language expression - focuses on what your children says and how they use words
  3. Understanding/language comprehension - focuses on how well your child understands instructions as well as language concepts.

When to call for help

The important thing to know is that early intervention is always preferable. A small delay in a toddler can become a big problem once a preschooler reaches school-age and starts to read and write. 

If you are worried about any aspect of your toddler's speech or understanding of what they hear, we recommend you discuss your child's development with a pre-school teacher or carer, and if in doubt consult a speech pathologist at Eastside Speech to determine if your child is reaching the right developmental milestones.

Happy girl playing

In summary, call Eastside Speech Solutions and ask for your toddler to be
assessed if :

  • You are worried about your child's language comprehension, expression and/or understanding
  • You think your child's understanding is different from other children
    of the same age
  • Your child stutters (no matter what their age)
  • Your child's voice sounds different from other children's e.g it sounds hoarse
  • Your child's teacher express concern.

Preschool Screening

Many parents wonder if their child's speech is at the right level for their age. Talk to your preschool director about Eastside Speech providing a FREE Speech and Language screening at your centre.   

Click here for more information about our free preschool screening service.

Frequently asked questions

For more information about developmental milestones and language development:

  • When should I consult a speech pathologist about my child?

    Answer

    In summary, call Eastside Speech Solutions and ask for your child to be
    assessed if:

    • You are worried about your child's language comprehension, expression and/or understanding
    • You think your child's understanding is different from other children
      of the same age (click here to read more about developmental milestones)
    • Your child stutters (no matter what their age)
    • Your child's voice sounds different from other children's e.g it sounds hoarse
    • Your child's teacher expresses concern.
  • What are the developmental milestones for a toddler?

    Answer

    By the age of one, your baby should be able to:

    • Say dad, mumma and a few other words
    • Try to make familiar sounds, such as car and animal noises
    • Respond to familiar sounds such as the telephone ringing, vacuum cleaner or a car in the driveway
    • Understand simple commands such as "no!"
    • Recognise their own name
    • Understand the names of familiar objects and people
    • Enjoy songs, music and books.

    By the age of two most children start to talk to themselves and you can seen their language and communication skills starting to develop:

    • Listen to stories and say the names of the pictures
    • Understand simple sentences, such as "where's your shoe?"
    • Say the names of simple body parts such as nose or tummy
    • Use more than 50 words such as "no", "gone", "mine" and "teddy"
    • Talk to themselves or their toys in play
    • Sing simple songs such as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little star" or "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep"
    • Try simple sentences such as "Milk all gone"
    • Use some simple pronouns such as "he", "if"
    • Should be able to say m, n and h correctly.

    By the age of three, your child's communication should be understood by family, close friends and regular carers and they should be able to:

    • Understand how objects are used e.g. a crayon is something you draw with
    • Recognise their own needs such as hunger
    • Follow directions
    • Understand basic concepts (in/under, hot/cold)
    • Use 3-4 word sentences
    • Understand basic grammar
    • Enjoy telling stories and asking questions
    • Should be able to say p, b, m, n, ng, w, y, t, d, k, g and f

    By the age of four, your child should be able to be understood most of the time by most people.  If you find friends and acquaintances can not understand your child's express then perhaps a visit to a therapist may be warranted.  Your child should be able to:

    • Understand shape and colour names
    • Understand "wh" questions such as "where are they going?" or "why did he fall?"
    • Understand "time" words such as lunchtime, today, winter
    • Use lots of words (900+) and understand complex sentences
    • Use 4-5 word sentences
    • Use correct grammar most of the time
    • Use language when playing with other children
    • Should be able to say s, z, sh, ch and j

    This is by no means an exhaustive list.  If you are concerned about any aspect of your baby or toddler's speech or language please give us a call.

    Click here for milestones for school age children.

  • Is stuttering ever normal?

    Answer

    Stuttering is never a normal part of a child's (or adult's) speech and is not caused by anxiety, stress or poor parenting. Whilst many children do stop stuttering, about 20% continue to stutter into adulthood if left untreated. In general, if your child is 4 years old or if they have been stuttering for about 6 months, now is the time to seek help.

  • What is tongue thrust?

    Answer

    A tongue thrust is a condition where the tongue rests incorrectly (e.g. between the teeth) or moves forward during a swallow.  The result is that the tongue pushes against or protrudes between the upper and lower teeth.

    Some common indicators of a tongue thrust include:

    • an open bite
    • poor teeth alignment
    • poor muscle tone in the lips and cheeks
    • an open mouth resting posture during the day and/or at night
    • a tongue that you can see resting between the teet
    • difficulties saying "s, z, t or d" sounds
    • excessive lip licking or drooling
    • snoring.

     

  • What is PROMPT Therapy?

    Answer

    PROMPT is an acronym for Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets.  It is a therapy developed in the 1980's by Deborah Hayden, founder of the PROMPT® Institute.  It is a holistic approach that assesses not just a client's speech movement patterns but how their speech production interacts with their language and cognitive abilities as well as their social and emotional skills.  Therapy goals are set taking into account the whole person and their needs.

  • How can I learn more about how PROMPT can help my child?

    Answer

    The PROMPT institute has a very helpful website http://www.promptinstitute.com with information about PROMPT. At Eastside Speech we regularly run parent-training workshops for parents of children in our clinic. These workshops provide a comprehensive overview of the PROMPT apporach and help parents and caregivers to be involved in therapy planning and goal setting. They are generally run over 3 evenings.

Useful resources to help your child

Here are a list of sites and resources we have found useful for our patients: