Speech and language development is a vital part of any child’s development process. Delayed speech-language development might impact a child’s social interactions, behaviours patterns and academic success.
How are speech and language different?
- Speech: Verbal expression of language (the actual sounds)
- Language: System of words and symbols to express and receive information
What is delayed speech and language development?
- Language delays: A child with developmental language delay might pronounce the words in the right manner but isn’t able to put two words together or form a proper sentence
- Speech delays: Might use words and phrases to express ideas but are difficult to understand
Causes and risk factors:
There are no known causes for developmental speech-language delay. However, some experts believe that speech sound disorders can be a result of:
- Motor-neurological disorders e.g., apraxia
- Structural abnormalities e.g., cleft lip or other orofacial anomalies
- Sensory/perceptual disorders e.g., hearing impairment
- Premature birth/birth defects
- Family history of developmental speech-language delay
Developmental speech-language delay usually requires speech-language therapy for alleviating symptoms. The earlier the intervention in the form of therapy starts the better are the results. The treatment plan usually depends on a child’s age and type and severity of the delay
A comprehensive treatment plan is designed after assessments and evaluations by a speech-language pathologist. An SLP selects appropriate targets for therapy and treatment strategies based on the intervention goals to be addressed during sessions. Specialists such as Speech-language therapists, psychologists, behaviour-analysts and paediatricians most commonly work together to alleviate symptoms.
How can I help my child?
- Ask questions from an SLP in order to understand the problems your child has.
- Accompany your child during treatment.
- Follow the suggestions your SLP makes.
- Discuss your child’s situation at their school and with family members.
- Discuss your child’s progress with the SLP.
- Try to speak calmly to your child.
- Try to maintain a relaxed environment at home to reduce anxiety .
- Don’t show impatience or irritation when your child is talking to you.
- Try to minimize interruptions when your child is speaking.
- Don’t bring attention to your child’s speech-language disorder.
- Ask your child to put your instructions in their own words after giving an explanation or command.
- Ask the teacher about class activities in advance to help prepare your child for discussions in advance.
- Discuss your child’s situation at their school to avoid bullying.
- Discuss your child’s situation with their teachers and with family members.