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The Importance of Early Intervention for Communication Disorders

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM)


Jessica Hoffman, Speech Language Pathologist with Aspirus Stevens Point Hospital

Communication disorders are among the most common conditions in children and adults, affecting tens of millions of people in the United States alone, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Left untreated, these disorders can negatively impact a person’s academic, social, and career success—as well as their overall quality of life.


“Many parents have questions about their child’s social communication skills and get advice from family or friends to wait and see if their child outgrows the potential problem,” says Jessica Hoffman, Speech Language Pathologist with Aspirus Stevens Point Hospital. “This may be the case for some children, but everyone is different. Unfortunately, waiting often results in a delayed diagnosis of a disorder that is highly treatable, especially when caught early.”


Aspirus encourages parents and caregivers to learn the signs of communication disorders and seek help as soon as possible if recognized in their children. Here are some signs in a young child (age three and under), according to ASHA:


  • Does not smile or interact with others (birth and older)
  • Does not babble (four to seven months)
  • Makes only a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (seven to 12 months)
  • Does not understand what others say (seven months to two years)
  • Says only a few words (12 to 18 months)
  • Says words that are not easily understood by others (18 months to two years)
  • Does not put words together to make sentences (one and a half to three years)
  • Produces speech that is unclear, even to familiar people (two to three years)


Many communication disorders can be reversed or even prevented with early treatment, but Hoffman says, “treatment at any age or any stage can make a positive impact.”


Here are some of the key benefits of early treatment:


Maximizes a child’s success – Treatment at any age is worthwhile, but earlier is usually most effective. Early treatment can reduce the need for school-based services later.


Saves time – It can take less time to treat a communication delay or disorder when families act on the early warning signs.


Prepares a child for kindergarten – What happens between birth and age three lays the foundation for kindergarten readiness. Strong speech, language, cognitive, and social skills are necessary for reading, writing, and academic success—as well as all the other demands of school.


Sets a child on a course to school, social and life success – All families want what’s best for their children. Acting early can have positive, long-lasting effects on your child’s communication, social relationships, learning and daily life activities well into adulthood.



Talk with your child’s provider if you have any concerns about your child’s social communication development. Go to to find an Aspirus pediatrician in your area.


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