As a parent, you always want the best for your child. As such, you are likely to worry if your kid doesn’t master their speech milestones as they grow.
Statistics show that over 5% of all children entering first grade have a noticeable speech disorder. Some parents associate these problems with the inability to pay attention to social cues or participate in group activities. In some cases, children may lash out or ignore their responsibilities since they cannot communicate effectively. Such parents might seek help for other medical conditions, effectively overlooking the need for language and speech therapy.
When should you refer your child to a pediatric speech therapist? If you notice one or more of these symptoms, you should consider speech therapy options:
- The child struggles to imitate the sounds that other children make
- The child makes poor quality sounds
- The variety of sounds that your child can make decreases rather than increases
- The child has difficulties following orders
- The child cannot communicate basic needs with ease
- The child is not able to combine words at 18 months of age
- The child stops using sounds or words that he or she had mastered
- The child makes unintelligible speech to people who do not know him after two years of age
- The child cannot create or speak in clear sentences after three years of age
- The child experiences changes in their cognition or communication after an injury or surgery
If you think your child needs language or child therapy, consult your pediatrician for referrals. A language or speech therapist can help your child in these ways:
1. Speech Intelligibility/Articulation Skills
Articulation is the child’s ability to move the lips, tongue, palate, and jaw to produce speech sounds known as phonemes. For instance, to articulate letter “b,” the child has to turn their voice on, tense their lips together to slightly stop, build up airflow, and then release in order to make a sound. All of these moving parts working in conjunction with one another can prove to be too much for some children.
Intelligibility refers to how well people can understand your child’s speech. If the articulation skills are compromised, the intelligibility will be lower compared to other children at their age. A pediatric occupational therapist can help by working with your child to teach them how to pronounce speech sounds or recognize patterns, thus allowing them to improve their overall intelligibility.
2. The Expressive Language Skills
Speech involves the physical ability to make a sound and talk but expressing themselves through language is another function altogether. Language is a symbolic system that your child uses to convey a specific message. For example, shrugging shoulders could indicate that the child doesn’t know what you are asking.
However, the expressive language refers to what your kid says. Many children suffering from an expressive language disorder will use vague phrasing like “stuff” and “things” versus concrete language that expresses what they’re feeling. Others will simply remain quiet when asked a question or repeat the question back since they lack the ability to digest the information and form an intelligible answer. Referring your child to a speech therapist allows them to learn new words and teaches them how to put them together in a sentence. With this, your kid can communicate effectively with others.
3. Receptive Language Skills
Receptive language skills refer to your kids’ ability to listen and understand what is being said. But do you know that a majority of young children have stronger receptive than expressive language skills?
Enlisting your child for speech therapy helps them understand new vocabularies and teaches them to use the knowledge to answer questions. You might find that your child actively participates in group activities and might even start conversations with other children when they learn to communicate more effectively.
4. Improve Speech Fluency
Stuttering is a common speech disorder that distorts speech fluency. In most cases, stuttering begins during childhood but can extend into adolescence without speech therapy help. When stuttering, these are the common behaviors; prolongation, repetition, blocks, or interjections.
While everyone stutters occasionally, it’s the frequency of this issue that makes it a speech therapy issues. Enrolling your child for speech therapy lessons allows them to improve the speech fluency and intelligibility.
Ideally, your child should be able to communicate intelligibly at two years old and make a complete sentence after three years. However, if your child has difficulties formulating and communicating in clear sentences, refer them to a speech therapist at Clear Speech. Our team of experts will do wonders with your child to boost their self-esteem and confidence. Contact us today for more information!