Are you concerned about your child’s speech and language development? It is common for most parents to be concerned about their children’s developmental stages in all areas. Each child is unique and in all areas of development including speech and language development, children develop skills at different rates. Therefore, delays in developing communication skills are not necessarily signs of a speech or language disorder.
What Is A Speech Disorder?
Speech disorder is a type of communication disorder where a person has difficulties forming or creating the speech sounds necessary for communication. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearning Association (Asha), People with speech problems may:
- not say sounds clearly
- have a hoarse or raspy voice
- repeat sounds or pause when speaking, called stuttering
Speech disorders can occur as a result of a medical problem or with no known cause and both adults and children can suffer from speech disorders.
The three basic types of Speech disorder are as follows:
- Articulation Disorder – They are disorders that impact the formation of speech sounds. Children with articulation disorder finds it difficult to pronounce certain words such that it is difficult to be understood by other listeners.
- Fluency Disorder – The most common type of fluency disorder is “Stuttering”, which includes repetition of sounds, prolongation of sounds, speed of speech, rhythm etc
- Voice Disorder – Some of the few signs of a voice disorder are volume or loudness, abnormal pitch, breathy voice or quality of the sound that affects speech production.
What Is A Language Disorder?
Speech disorder and Language disorder are not the same. Language refers to words that are combined in different ways especially to communicate memories, feelings or instructions that can be shared with other people. Language can be spoken or written. When a person has difficulties communicating their ideas, thoughts or feelings or reading or writing or understanding others, then he or she can be having language disorders.
The basic types of language disorders are as follows:
- Expressive language disorder – is a communication disorder where children find it difficult to remember words and as a result have limited vocabulary, have difficulties with verbal and written expression and using complex language.
- Receptive language disorder – is a communication disorder where the children find it difficult to understand what is said to them. Therefore they may find it difficult to follow directions and instructions at home and school. The will also affect their social skills and academic performance.
Speech Disorders In Children
Usually speech disorders involve difficulties in producing certain sounds. While each child is unique and develops at varied rates, it is equally important for a parent or carer to ensure the child is showing proper speech and language development. When children learn to talk, they naturally make a number of speech errors called phonological processes to simplify their speech. For example, some children might say pane instead of plane, or wata instead of water etc.. These are common developmental speech errors which usually rectifies by itself as the child grows. However, for some children speech sound development is delayed and this could be due to multiple factors.
When Is A Speech Evaluation Required?
A few signs that your child might require the need for a speech evaluation by a speech therapist are as follows:
⇢ Your child does not make many sounds or interact socially from infancy
⇢ Your child does not understand or follow what you say (upto 2 years)
⇢ Your child makes only a few sounds, gestures or words (upto 2 years)
⇢ Your child is difficult to understand (upto 2 years)
⇢ Your child has difficulties moving his tongue
⇢ Your child has a limited vocabulary (upto 3 years)
How Can Speech Therapy Help?
A few signs how a child can benefit from a speech-language therapy are as follows
⇢ A Speech Language Pathologist or SLP’s will first access your child’s speech-language skills to identify the type of communication problem.
⇢ An SLP will then determine a suitable therapy program and work with your child to address these issues.
⇢ An SLP will also provide advise and educate the parents on how they can help improve their child’s speech.
The main aim of an SLP is to help your child communicate and they will follow many techniques which is out of scope of this blog.
If at any time you feel your child has a speech or language disorder, it is important to consult with a pediatrician or speech therapist at the earliest possible so that the cause of the speech disorder can be identified, prevented and eliminated through speech therapy. A Nursery is an additional option that is recommended by most Speech therapists. Online forums such as http://windsorpeak.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?386630-Did-preschool-help-your-child-with-a-speech-delay, discusses on how a good quality nursery can help your child. However, it is important to primarily meet a pediatrician or speech therapist.