If you suspect that your child’s speech has a phonological or articulation disorder a speech-language pathologist (SLP) is a professional that analyzes and evaluates speech and language difficulties. You will want to contact your pediatrician (or your school district) and share your concerns with him or her. The pediatrician (or school district) will provide you with a referral to a speech-language pathologist to evaluate your child’s speech production and communication functioning. Your pediatrician (or school) and the SLP may recommend that you have a hearing evaluation to rule out a hearing loss which may be negatively impacting your child’s ability to perceive sound. The SLP will conduct an evaluation of your child’s speech sound productions, the oral mechanism, and often language development to determine their overall communication abilities.
Depending on the severity of your child’s speech disorder, their ability to effectively communicate their needs, wants, thoughts and ideas may be compromised. School aged children with a speech disorder may have difficulty interacting with their peers and with communicating information to their teachers. Children with these disorders are at an increased risk for later reading, difficulty with spelling and learning disabilities, and they should be treated with speech therapy once they are diagnosed.