Speech and language-related issues tend to be one of the most common issues in the development of a child and are often tough to detect.
Now, in order to understand when one needs a speech therapist for kids, it’s quite necessary to first understand the reasons that they may develop such issues.
The most obvious way for any child to learn how to speak is to engage in conversation – it’s how most of us learn about the nuances of both verbal and non-verbal communication. The lack of conversation is a very common reason behind the under-development of speech, making it important for parents to stimulate conversation with their child.
Given that the ability to speak is so crucially dependent on one’s ability to hear themselves, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that children with hearing issues are likely to speak very little, if at all. One sign that your child’s unable to speak because of hearing issues is if they use gestures instead of verbal acknowledgement.
A common reason behind speech delays is what’s medically known as ankyloglossia – tongue-tie. In addition to complicating the process of breast-feeding, this condition can also make the pronunciation of the following sounds quite difficult:
Neurological disorders that can physically affect a child’s ability to form speech include:
Speech can also be delayed due to intellectual disabilities – thus making their inability to form words a cognitive issue rather than anything specific to speaking.
Signs that your child’s speech issues are due to Autism can include anything from repeating certain phrases instead of using new ones (echolalia) to impaired verbal/non-verbal communication to even speech/language regression. Read our blog on Autism to know more.
Now that we know how speech issues can arise in children, it’s also important to know the tell-tale signs you should be looking for in your child’s development through the first few years of their life. It’s also very important to note that the earlier you manage to detect the signs and get them the necessary help in the form of speech therapy, the better it will be for their upbringing.
Look for non-verbal communication cues: at this stage, your child should at least be able to make eye contact and smile. The absence of these is hence important to look into.
At this point, your child should be making gestures, babbling or even playing with other people. If they don’t, it’s advisable to take them to a speech therapist.
This is when children begin to learn their very first words – thus even verbalising a few of them. In addition, they also typically use a lot of physical gestures and actively engage with other people. If they don’t do any of this, you know what to do.
This is when your child’s vocabulary should be expanding: they should be learning new words on a regular basis and combining multiple ones to express themselves (though typically not sentences). While it’s fine if they mispronounce certain words at this point, what they’re trying to say should be quite understandable. If it isn’t, your child really should see a speech therapist.
Signs of speech issues are fairly clear at this point, a few important things to look out for can be listed as follows:
The entirety of what happens during speech therapy – including online speech therapy – can be summarised in three words: exercises and activities. The exercises and activities in question vary depending on your child’s age and other needs, but by and large that is what therapists utilise to gradually bring about changes in your child’s speech issues. A few common examples include the following:
The answer is: quite a lot! The science behind speech therapy has come a very long way since its genesis back in the 1920s; as a result, therapists are now able to treat a vast variety of speech impediments and challenges – even through online courses. By no means exhaustive or thorough – especially given that the field is constantly evolving with new trends and findings – a list of such issues are as follows:
In conclusion, it’s important for parents to remember that your child’s speech issues need not be a dead end. With time, patience, effort and the right kind of help (Happen to be looking for speech therapists in Mumbai? Then click here!) your child will get considerably better before you know it!