When Your Child Might Need Help from a Speech Language Pathologist or Occupational Therapist

Detroit Mom partnered with the amazing people at Kaufman Children's Center to bring you this post. All opinions are our own.

Being the parent of a young child means having a long checklist of developmental stages in the back of your mind. Delays in speech, language, and motor development are often some of the most alarming to parents. 

Deciding to initiate an evaluation for a very young child can be daunting, but it’s often the best decision. In some cases, it may reveal that the child is demonstrating age-appropriate skills. And if a delay or disorder is discovered, early intervention is essential.

Speech and Language

If your child is two years old and not talking, you should schedule an evaluation with a speech-language pathologist. This is also recommended if your child:

  • Demonstrates unintelligible speech
  • Does not make eye contact and/or does not answer to their name
  • Frequently uses memorized phrases or sentences
  • Has difficulty following spoken directions
  • Has trouble using appropriate grammar
  • Misinterprets social cues
  • Repeats back words and phrases without comprehension
  • Seems reluctant to engage in conversation

Teachers and caregivers can often provide valuable insights. Ask them if your child is a social communicator. Do they ask and answer questions? Do they engage with peers? Is their speech understood, or are they frequently asked to repeat themselves?

Speech-language pathologist Amanda Dunn uses Mr. Potato Head to work on a child’s language skills.

Gross and Fine Motor Development

Occupational therapy (OT) helps children gain independence and full engagement in all of their life activities. Treatment is focused on sensory-motor skills, physical and cognitive abilities, and social interactions. Consider an OT evaluation if your child is not meeting developmental motor milestones, or if they are exhibiting any of the following:

  • Decreased overall muscle strength or endurance
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Fine motor challenges (handwriting, dressing skills, etc.)
  • Sensory-seeking or avoiding behaviors
  • Trouble with eating or other oral motor issues
Occupational therapist Jeanette Jones works to help a child with body awareness, proprioceptive processing, and motor planning in one of the center’s ball pits.

Where To Go For An Evaluation

Each county in the state of Michigan has an Early On program that provides services to children from birth to age 3 who are experiencing developmental delays. The local school district takes over after that, even for kids who don’t start school until age 5. Each agency will begin with a full evaluation to determine whether a child is eligible for services.

You can also seek answers or an evaluation from a private practice like Kaufman Children’s Center (KCC) in West Bloomfield. KCC is a leader in special needs services for children and offers speech-language therapy, occupational/sensory-motor therapy, applied behavior analysis (ABA) autism programs, and many more services that help kids to live their very best lives.

The staff at Kaufman Children’s Center is highly trained and known for their enthusiasm, expertise, outstanding clinical skills, and insights into children. Therapists work together daily in a true team approach to create the best possible outcomes for kids. This is essential if your child needs more than one service, and ensures support of their goals to the maximum extent across all settings.

Parenting can be scary, but know that there is help when you need it. Intervening early with quality therapy can help every child reach their greatest potential. Take a deep breath, and make the call.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.