No matter what the conditions are surrounding the birth of your child, you should establish a relationship with a pediatrician immediately. Some parents have a doctor selected during pregnancy who will actually arrive at the hospital upon the child’s birth to perform the first exams.
This professional will be in charge of your child’s overall health including identifying indications that a speech delay may be in the future. Children who have older siblings with delays, premature births, and multiple births are a few of the risk factors that contribute to such a delay, but any child can have a delay, so it is important to know a little about language acquisition in order to identify when a child is not progressing.
A pediatrician can help guide you by keeping tabs on your baby’s language development.
Dentists also play a key role in identifying risk factors associated with speech delay. Early visits to the dentist can reveal conditions such as ankyloglossia, also known as being tongue tied, palate issues that will interfere with accurate speech production, and other mouth structure issues that can contribute to a delay or an articulation disorder.
Pediatricians and dentists should work together respectively identify delays and particular reasons for possible delays, but without the expertise of an ENT, the child may be at risk for delayed acquisition due to hearing problems. An otolaryngologist, commonly called an ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist, focuses, as the name implies, on the ears, the nose, and the throat all of which have an impact on a child’s ability to acquire and articulate language.
The ENT can keep tabs on whether or not the child has a full hearing range, and if conditions such as poor drainage, frequent infections, and small passages are causing echoing, unilateral or bilateral hearing loss, or other problems than can effect language processing. Ear tubes are a common remedy to help the ears, nose, and throat cooperate which essentially will contribute to better language acquisition and processing.
If there is any suspicion at all that a child may have a delay or if the pediatrician, the dentist, the ENT, or the parent sees fit, an evaluation by a speech and language pathologist (SLP) can rate speech delays. This professional will use both her own monitoring tools and the research and conclusions of the other medical specialists in order to create an individualized plan for progress concerning the child and his specific delays.
It is important that all of these medical specialists be consulted in order to get a clear diagnosis for speech and language issues and delays.