Four Considerations for When to Seek Services for Your Child

Posted by Kimberly Delude, Speech Pathologist and Boys Town Press Author on Dec 8th 2021

We’ve all heard or been a part of conversations like this, which is why it can be hard as a parent to know when the right time is to start helping or have an evaluation for your child. While kids’ academics are monitored closely and there’s readily available data to show when there is a deficit, other areas like social skills fall into a grey area. Many parents aren’t sure what exactly the norm is, and they don’t want to take away their child’s individuality. While it’s true that you shouldn’t force behaviors on a child, it’s always good to teach them tools that they can use in social situations.

So how do you know when you should start working on social skills or seek an evaluation?

1. It’s always great to work on social emotional learning with all kids.

This doesn’t necessarily mean they need services. Working on skills can be as simple as reading books, like the Freddie the Fly series, that tackle different social scenarios and have built in simple but fun strategies. However, if you do have concerns, always remember those concerns are legitimate. Even if you can’t pinpoint exactly why, you are your child’s best judge and advocate. You know them better than anyone and spend the most time with them. If you feel something is wrong, speak up and meet with a professional such as the child’s pediatrician or a speech language pathologist.

2. Wait and see is not a good approach.

While some kids may naturally learn the skills later, the longer you wait to address behaviors, the more likely the gap between their skills and other kids’ skills will grow. The earlier you start, the faster the gap will close. You will set your child up for success. Children are also more likely catch up to the same level as their peers the earlier a gap is addressed.

3. If close friends and family members are making comments, don’t brush it off.

While it might hurt, don’t feel bad. These are people who care about your children and want what’s best for them. While it might not be what you want to hear, often fresh eyes can see what we can’t. Remember, many kids need extra help to learn skills, and this doesn’t mean anything negative.

4. Watch for lack of interest in playing with others or repetitive interests or behaviors.

Poor joint attention, sensory deficits, and delayed language are other signs to look out for. It is important to remember that kids can demonstrate some of these, and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong. Kids all develop differently and at different rates; however, it never hurts to seek guidance.

Finding out that your child may need some additional support doesn’t have to be scary. There are countless resources available for families, through school and otherwise, so don’t be afraid to reach out. Taking that first step may be hard but it will also be empowering. It will either provide peace of mind or allow you to start gaining the tools your child needs for success.