Speech and language opens a new window for your child. Your child not only learns to convey his or her needs, but also expresses feelings and emotions and starts bonding with you through speech.
However, a child may develop speech problems and need professional intervention or speech therapy.
What Causes Speech Problems in Children?
Speech problems in children may be caused by:
- A hearing disorder
- Neurological problems such as brain stroke (or injury), cerebral palsy or autism
- Other disorders such as cleft palate, cleft lip, dental problems, apraxia , etc.
When is Speech Therapy Beneficial?
Speech therapy can be helpful when children have:
Speech disorders or problems in sound production such as:
It is always better to address speech problems early, so that your child doesn’t lag behind and develop a complex on growing up.
- Articulation problems: A child is unable to say words or syllables properly.
- Fluency disorders: A child stutters which means a child’s speech is interrupted by prolonged pauses or repetitions.
- Voice problems: The volume, pitch or quality of a child’s voice is abnormal and he or
she feels discomfort while speaking.
Language disorders such as:
- Expressive disorder: A child has trouble stringing words together and is unable to interact socially because of limited vocabulary.
- Receptive disorder: A child has problems in understanding and processing language.
Can Speech Problems be Resolved?
Most of the above-mentioned problems can be resolved by oral-motor exercises and breathing exercises prescribed by the speech and language therapist. Problems such as cleft lip or cleft palate may require surgery. Stuttering normally disappears by 5 years of age without any therapy.
How is Speech Therapy Administered?
- A qualified speech and language therapist (SLT) will identify various communication problems and rectify articulation, fluency, voice and expressive disorders.
- After assessing the speech problem, the therapist will work with the child individually or in a group. The therapist may play with the child using pictures, models or objects to initiate communication. He or she will use play activities to help the child learn the correct sounds of syllables like “r”. The therapist may also suggest tongue, lip and jaw exercises.2
How Long can Speech Therapy last?
Depending on the severity of the problem and the child’s progress, speech therapy may take a few weeks to a few months time.
How can you help, if your Child is Undergoing Speech Therapy?
As a mother, you’ll need to be patient and gentle with your little one. Encourage him or her to talk and practice his or her speech therapy lessons at home. Avoid correcting your child in front of peers, friends and relatives. Provide a secure and comfortable environment for your child so that he or she feels confident. Also, make sure that you reward your child’s efforts and the progress he or she makes.
Early detection and treatment of speech problems (before 5 years of age) will help resolve them to a great extent.