Before you decide to visit a speech therapist, its important to understand what a speech therapist or a speech language pathologist can work on.
Articulation disorders: Difficulty producing speech sounds. For example: “tat” for “cat.” This includes lisps. A lisp is difficulty in saying the /s/ and /z/ sounds. When a child produces a “noisy” /s/ or /z/ it’s called a lisp
Voice disorders: Excessive nasality or a very hoarse voice. Could be due to a cleft lip and palate or due to prolonged vocal abuse such as excessive shouting. Or could be due to frequent coughs and colds
Language disorders: Delayed vocabulary and syntax/grammar or other language disorders. Could be due to Autism, Down’s syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, learning disabilities etc.
Pragmatic / Social language disorders: Difficulty using language in social contexts, using appropriate body language, participating in a group, which could be due to Autism, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) etc.
Feeding/swallowing disorders: “Picky eaters”
Fluency disorders: Stammering etc.
Speech therapists help assess what your child understands (receptive language) as well as what your child says (expressive langage). Speech therapists also work on sound development, clarity of speech, and a child’s oral motor status, i.e. how a child's tongue, palate, teeth etc. work together for speech as well as for eating and swallowing
Here are some simple red flags that you should look out for. If you notice any of these in your child, please have him or her assessed by a speech therapist. This list is no means exhaustive, but indicative of a majority of children – ultimately you know your child and his or her needs!
Parents should understand:
About 50% of a childs speech at age 2
About 75% by age 3
People outside the family:
Should understand almost 100% of the child’s speech by age 4
Early identification and treatment is the key to prevent a speech or language disorder from turning into a lifelong disability.
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