Firstly, what’s the difference between speech and language?
Think of it this way. Speech is just sound. Language is meaning.
The first thing I do when I evaluate a child is to determine if we are dealing with a speech problem, language problem or both. I listen to the child’s speech patterns. Next, if the child can participate in a formal speech assessment, I will administer a standardized assessment tool. If the child is too young to participate in a formal test, I then take tons of data and analyze the sample for problematic sounds and patterns. This is one of the ways to determine if a child has a speech problem.
If I think the child needs a language evaluation, I try to engage the child into conversation or play. I look for many skills, like eye contact, attention to task, use of basic concepts, overall expression and comprehension, etc. If the child is old enough, I will attempt a standardized assessment. I also use developmental checklist to assess language if we are working with infants or if the child cannot complete a standardized assessment.
So to answer the question, it’s never too early to get evaluated for speech or language therapy.
If a child or infant is identified early, the prognosis for improvement is greater.