By Julia Chernova

Does your three year old use sentences of 3-5 words? Do they know the difference between “on the table” versus “under the table?” If you give them two step directions, can they follow your command? Do they regularly use plurals such as “cars” or “elephants” ?

The above questions are often used by speech therapists to detect a possible speech or language related disorder. Although many parents think of speech therapy as a profession to correct lisps, stutters and articulation, the practice is actually more complex. In fact, approximately ten percent of children have speech and language related disorders according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the rate of success is higher for children who receive therapy at an early age, specifically before starting school.

Children in kindergarten and elementary grades need to be able to listen to their teachers, process the information, follow directions and understand ideas. Speech and language delays can affect these seemingly normal tasks and leave young children frustrated and unable to keep up with their classmates. Often, these children find difficulty mastering the sounds associated with letters, and eventually reading can become a major challenge. Children who have suffered from multiple ear infections as toddlers are particularly at risk for speech and language delays. A simple 10 minute screening by an audiologist prior to entering kindergarten is a good start for any parent that might be concerned about their child. In addition, many speech therapists offer free screenings. With more awareness, we’ll see more success in the classroom and more confident and happy children.

Julia Chernova is a licensed speech therapist and owner of Speech Therapy Plus
 5-11 Saddle River Rd, Fair Lawn, NJ 07410