When should I refer my child for speech and language screening?

Posted by Francine Gulino on 9/27/2019

The subject of the first blog of the year is the referral process.  If your child is a school-aged student, they may qualify to receive some sort of speech and language support.  Here are several reasons your child may need to go through this process so that he or she can be screened by a speech language professional.

Referrals for speech

Speech articulation is the way that we use our lips, tongue, teeth, and jaw to create the sounds of speech.  Each language has its own particular sounds. Children begin to learn these sounds when they begin babbling and continue to learn them.  Most children should have all the sounds needed to speak their language between 6 and 8 years old.  However, others do not learn to use these sounds.  Instead, they may replace them with other sounds or omit them entirely. This is why little children might say 'cah' instead of 'car' or 'thit down ' instead of 'sit down'.   

If your child is school aged and not saying some of their speech sounds correctly, they may need help from a speech and language professional.  If you have any concerns, please let your teacher know. They will send you a referral form to fill out so that the speech language pathologist assigned to your school can screen your child and let you know what they think should happen next.

Some children say their speech sounds correctly, but they get caught on some sounds. This influences their speech fluency. If your child's speech is 'bumpy' this is another reason to ask for a speech screening.

Referrals for language

Speech language pathologists also help children develop more complex language. If your school-aged child seems to have difficulty speaking in complete sentences or understanding what you are saying to them, they may have a language impairment.  If they tend to use words like 'thingy' and 'you know' to explain themselves, or tend to tell stories using sounds and gestures rather than words, that might mean they have difficulty expressing themselves.  If they cannot follow multistep directions or understand a simple oral narrative, they may have difficulties with listening comprehension.  Typically these children struggle in school as well.  If you have any concerns, please speak to your teacher.  If the teacher is seeing similar issues at school, a referral to have the speech language professional screen the child's language skills can be issued.  

If you have further questions, please contact me at fgulino@oxfordasd.org