Speech Problem in Children

by Sam Malone

Most children go through a normal dysfluency phase, this occurs when children are in the developmental stages of speech and language learning abilities. A child's brain goes through rapid spurts of overall development in the first three years of their lives.  Some speech skills are innate, and others are learned by mirroring the things and behaviors around them.

Speech, language and voice are tools that are used for communication. Some children may have difficulty in expressing their thoughts and understanding what others say, which could be indicative of a language disorder. While other children may find it challenging to produce or create speech sounds appropriately, stutter or hesitate, or put words, sounds and syllables together form sentences or words, any of these signs are categorized in speech disorders.

Parents sometimes expect their children to grow and learn at the same pace as other children their age around them. It is important to remember that each child is unique and their developmental capabilities are unique as well. Speech problems in children can be of the following kinds:

  • Stuttering: This most often than not occurs in children between the ages of 2 to 6. Children normally show signs of stuttering during their developmental stages of learning speech and language skills, which is considered normal. It is important to react and treat stuttering in children with care as any stress or pressure can result in the stuttering carrying into adulthood. If the problem persists after six months post its beginning or it worsens with time, you should consult a speech language practitioner.
  • Pronunciation Problems: Children sound very cute when they misarticulate their sounds when they first start to learn or pick speech sounds, and most children rectify these errors on their own with the passage of time. If a child, however, consistently mispronounces or misarticulates his sounds even after the age of 7, should be a cause of concern. Most children have difficulty creating the l, r, s and voiced th sounds, especially if it is in the medial position of a word or is in blend with another sound.  These sounds however get corrected subconsciously through self-correction processes, and each successive year will show considerable improvement. But if the problem continues, it is best to consult a specialist.
Parents and caregivers can help their children come up the communication curve with the help of the following:

  • Read to your child, you can start as early as 6 months. This helps your child absorb common words used in picture and story books.
  • Make communication fun. Spend a lot of time communicating with your child from infancy onwards. Singing and talking using signs and gestures help children register better.
  • Use real-life and everyday situations. It is helpful to talk about your day using simple words and language. This will help your child retain and pick up important everyday words.
  • Respond, even if it is to cooing and babbling. This helps them associate communication with comfort and love.
  • Play simple games that involve them listening and responding to you.
  • Do not force your child to speak, he might associate talking with stress.
  • Listen to what your child is saying, look at them and then ask them relevant questions or respond appropriately.
  • Do not be critical of your child’s grammatical errors, instead repeat what they said using the right form of speech.
  • Talk to your child in a relaxed and slow manner, especially if he stutters.
  • Strongly discourage any jokes or negative connotations about your child’s speech issues made by older siblings or family members.
  • Use positive words and praises to encourage your child.
References

  1. http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/speech.htm

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