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  • Merzia Maskati

Myths about Speech-Language Disorders

Originally published on The Swaddle

1. “It’s because I’m working mother”

There are countless times during my practice that I have heard moms blame themselves for their child’s speech issue. I hear things like “Do you think he’s not talking because I work and I’m not with him all day?” “Should I quit my job?”

Babies are born with an innate ability to learn language. They learn language whether they are “taught” it or not. There are several children who have no parental input and still pick up language. Having parental input definitely enhances the vocabulary and richness of the child’s language but this is not correlated to the quantity of time you spend with your child; it depends on the quality of time you spend.

2. “My in-laws say, my husband was the same and he turned out okay, so I don’t need to get therapy for my child”

Some speech-language issues can have a genetic basis. Research has not been conclusive in that they are definitely passed on but they can be. Stuttering, late talkers, autism etc. are known to run in families. The awareness of speech-language issues has increased over the years and its link to reading and writing difficulties has been researched. It is imperative that when a child is detected early, the child is given the right intervention. Therapy has the most impact early on. Also if there has been a speech-language difficulty in the family it is difficult to know whether it will be passed on in the same degree to the child. It may be more severe in the child. Therefore it is important to meet a professional and let them decide if a child is a suitable candidate for therapy at that point.

3. “He will eventually outgrow it”

This is a very common phrase heard in most therapy clinics. The childs’ grandparents, doctor, or one parent may feel the child will eventually outgrow their speech issue. If a parent feels something is a matter of concern, they should trust their gut feeling and check with a professional. With some areas of speech therapy like mispronunciation of certain sounds, there is a specific age to treat a specific sound. For example /r/is treated after age 5. But it is best that a professional judge that. With most speech-language issues, they don’t disappear with age infact they get harder to treat once the child grows older.

4. “It’s because of my disciplining style (too strict or too lenient) that he’s like this”

Parents go through feelings of guilt when their child has been diagnosed with a problem. Disciplining style is something that a lot of parents believe has caused the issue. This sometimes occurs because between parents they have differing styles. So for example a dad may feel his child demonstrates stubbornness due to the mothers leniency when it actually may be due to an attention issue. Another example is a parent may feel they’ve “caused” a childs stuttering by being too strict.

5. “He started talking like this after he began imitating a friend or a T.V. character.”

Speech disorders can’t be “caught” or imitated. Even if a child imitates someone else that will not transfer to his regular speech unless he had a genetic predisposition to have a speech issue.

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