HELP! My child’s skills are going backwards!

Regardless of whether your child is still attending speech pathology sessions, was previously discharged, or has never had speech pathology intervention, there are many factors that can impact on your child’s present and future success when it comes to speech and language. If you feel you have noticed your child’s abilities appear to be going backwards, it is important to have a chat to your speech pathologist to brainstorm potential reasons and solutions to this problem and get them back on track as soon as possible.

Some potential factors to consider include,

  • Environmental changes, changes in routine, or stressors impacting your child – Maybe you have recently been through the excitement of moving house, gone through a stressful life event, or your child has just had an exhausting week at school. These emotions can affect your child’s speech and language abilities by putting extra pressure on the body during these times meaning it may be more difficult for your child to concentrate on their newly learnt skill, therefore, fall back into old habits.
  • A decrease in practice – We can all get busy and tied up in the hustle and bustle of life, with the copious extracurricular activities and daily errands to run. If you find that during this period your child’s practise routine may have decreased (or been entirely forgotten about!) try to incorporate a few fun activities each day to target their goals. Daily practice of learnt skills is vital for kids to be able to transfer and generalise their goals to all environments and maintain their new skill into the future. Even a quick 5 minutes of practice a day is better than nothing!
  • Changing up their goal ­– If your child has been working on a particular skill with their speech pathologist for quite some time, it might be a good idea to discuss altering the goal for a while and giving your child something new to target. This allows them to adjust their focus and provides a fresh skill to master. Most of the time, you can always come back to the initial goal at hand at a later date.
  • Revising a previous goal – In contrast to the previous point, your child may need some speech pathology sessions to revise a previous goal they have worked on and ensure they still remember the skills required to use their target goal effectively outside of the clinic.
  • They are now older with new expectations – As children get older, new expectations are placed on them and they are expected to meet these. This means that what may have been age-appropriate when previously attending therapy, is now inappropriate for their older age. Therefore, your child may appear to be going backwards, when in actual fact they just haven’t moved forward in a certain area when compared to their peers. Further speech pathology sessions may be required to help them catch up.
  • Assistance from other health professionals – Sometimes if a child’s communication appears to be regressing there may be additional medical or developmental factors at play. Your speech pathologist can help you to identify if other health professionals are required to assist your child at this time.

If you feel your child may be going backwards in their communication abilities please consult your speech pathologist for assistance and further information.


  • By Brooke Perrin