How to Help a Child With Speech Delay

Is your child's vocabulary more limited than other kids his age? Here's how to find help if you have a young child with speech delay.

Concerned you might have a speech delayed child, but not sure how many words he should know by age 3 or where to get the help he needs? Two education experts weigh in on what parents should know and where to look for additional guidance and support.

Between the ages of 2 and 3, most children will acquire a vocabulary of about 450 words. If your son or daughter has not reached this milestone in typical speech development, there could be a problem. Have you addressed your concerns with his or her pediatrician? You can contact your local school district’s director of special education for a diagnostic screening at no cost to you through the IDEA process. This will help you see whether a delay exists.

You need to find out about the federal special-education program for children age 3-5. Section 619 of Part B of IDEA defines the preschool program, which guarantees a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities age 3-5.

Under this program, your son might be eligible to receive services that will help him improve his speech before he enters kindergarten. Your local director of special education will have information. You may also wish to contact Michigan’s 619 coordinator to learn about your rights and the local programs and services available to you.

Learn more about other opportunities for helping children from 3 to 5 who have disabilities, check out the IDEA Parent Guide from the National Center for Learning Disabilities; explore stats and research from the IDEA Data Center or check out the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

The ECTA Center – Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, supported by the U.S. Department of Education – also serves infants and toddlers with special needs and their families. Each infant or toddler with a disability will be assessed, and a written individualized family plan will be developed.

This post was originally published in 2010 and is updated regularly.

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