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Pictures are shown to the child and either a parent or teacher would write the sound heard if this is done at home or school. *If a facility has contracted with MEC to do this, a trained specialist documents what is heard (submit the parent forms with payment to the school/facility or call Dawn Heil at 847-854-0348 to discuss this option).* Both are reviewed by a licensed speech/language therapist to better determine if the child is within normal limits or if further testing is needed by a speech professional. Other parts of the screening addresses if single words are more understandable than conversational speech, if the child is spontaneous or if coaxing is needed, how fluent the child is, how many words in a sentence, and if grammar is correctly used.

Sometimes the results will be OBSERVE which usually means the child was within normal limits for the age but was missing some later developing skills which may emerge with maturity. This is a PASS at the child’s age but because the speech is not fully clear due usually to the younger age of the child, it is best to screen the child again in six months to a year to make sure all sounds have emerged and still within normal limits. Sometimes the missed sounds are not noted in the report since it is best to allow them to emerge without a great deal of pressure. 

It should also be noted that it can be very normal for children ages 3-6 to have some periods of dysfluency (stuttering type behavior). Sometimes children’s brains think faster than they can produce the sounds so it is best to ignore it and soon it may disappear. When parents or teachers bring attention to this, it can make it worse rather than better. If the dysfluency (repeating the beginning sounds of words, blocking, or saying “uh, uh, uh”), lasts for more than six months or if there are associated behaviors with it such as blinking, moving the head, or something else, further testing may be considered. Stuttering may also run in families so this needs to be watched carefully.

It is important to have a hearing screening or evaluation done if speech is a concern. Sometimes hearing problems caused by fluid or wax in the ears, sinus/allergy problems, colds, ear infections can interfere with speech production. Missing teeth or thumb sucking can also influence speech at times. 

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