Why you shouldn’t play the “wait and see” game

This past month I was contacted by two sets of parents, each concerned about their children’s speech sound errors. In both cases, the parents had been recommended years earlier to “wait and see” if the sound errors would resolve on their own.

“Wait and see” is an unsatisfying recommendation. It often lacks important information such as: How long should I wait? Who shouldn’t wait and why? Exactly what am I waiting for? How can I support my child’s speech while I wait?

I am not a fan of “wait and see”. Here’s why…

Although many kids who are speech or language delayed catch up on their own, 30-40% go on to need intervention. Early intervention is key for these kids. And some of them need years of intervention. 

There are so many parents who hear “she will grow out of it”, or “stop comparing him to other kids”, or “she’s going through a phase”, or “he just needs to slow down”. These comments are well-meaning but unhelpful.

Don’t ignore your gut instinct to get your child help!

As a parent, you are your child’s expert and advocate. The power to help your children is in your hands.

If you are suspicious that something is not right there is no harm in getting it looked at. You can’t go wrong arranging for an early evaluation.

Parents don’t get upset when the evaluation yields good news, but they might regret playing the “wait and see” game. Many parents who wait wish they arranged for evaluation and intervention sooner than they did.

Here’s what could happen when you “wait and see”:

  • While children with delays are in “wait and see” mode, they are missing out. They are deprived for months, or perhaps years, of fully participating in interactions and exploring the impact of their words, both of which are precursors for developing social language competency.
  • When children with speech sound errors continue to make their sounds incorrectly, the errors become habits, making it more difficult to correct in the future.
  • When children with oral placement disorders do not receive intervention, they naturally make adaptations which may cause changes to the teeth, jaw, lips and tongue.

I recommend consulting with a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) if you have any concerns about your child’s speech and language development. And whatever your SLP recommends, ask them to explain the reason for their recommendation so that you can make an informed decision.

“Waiting is a trap. There will always be reasons to wait. The truth is, there are only two things in life, reasons and results, and reasons simply don’t count.”  – Robert Anthony