Speech Therapists can help Children During Their Developmental Years

Early detection of any communication impairment in a child is critical. The ability to communicate is essential to learning during their developmental years.

Child speakingIf you suspect your child may have a delay in communication development, an evaluation will provide valuable information. It is never too early to have your child evaluated. For children as young as 12-15 months, an evaluation can ease concerns and provide a base-line for follow-up visits to ensure continued progress.

These are just a few issues that parents may recognize their children are experiencing.

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A Speech Therapist Should Be Consulted If Tongue Thrust is a Concern

When a tongue thrust in a child is recognized by a Pediatrician, Orthodontist or Dentist,  a Speech Therapist should be included in the assessment and treatment. A Speech Language Therapist can assess the root cause and assist in altering the behavior causing the problem.

Child with tongue thrustAs Maria Del Duca states in her guest post on Smart Speech Therapy “A tongue thrust occurs when one’s tongue is pushed against or between the front teeth during a swallow.  This should not be confused with a frontal lisp.”

A frontal lisp occurs when the tongue protrudes between the front teeth and the air-flow is directed forwards. A tongue thrust occurs during the swallowing process. So, the objective when treating a tongue thrust is to develop appropriate behavior for tongue placement during the swallowing process; and also when eating or even at rest. However, a lisp can develop if the tongue thrust is not corrected because the teeth structure can be altered by this unnatural swallowing behavior.

There are different types of swallowing dysfunctions, also referred to as Dysphagia. This comes from the fact that there are different phases of the swallowing process. One is the oral phase which is the part of the process that occurs in the mouth, called the Buccal phase. Another phase is in the throat called the pharyngeal phase. And then the esophagus, called the esophageal phase. A child with tongue thrust will have difficulty during the oral phase (Buccal phase) of the swallowing process.

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The Speech Language Pathologist is Key in Improving the Life of a Child with Autism, Asperger

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are severe disorders of development that can affect social interaction, communication, play, and learning.

ASDs represent three of the pervasive developmental disorders defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) and DSM-IV-TR (text revision):

  1. Autistic disorder
  2. Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified
  3. Asperger syndrome.

During the past decade, there has been growing national awareness and concern about the increase in the occurrences of ASD. Approximately 1 in 88 children meet the diagnostic criteria for one of the disorders listed above.

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Where to go for Help If Your Loved One Experiences a Swallowing Difficulty

Where does one turn if your loved one is dealing with a swallowing dysfunction?

First, understand that there are different types of swallowing dysfunctions, also called Dysphagia. This comes from the fact that there are different phases of the swallowing process. One is the oral phase which is the part of the process that occurs in the mouth, called the Buccal phase. Another phase is in the throat called the pharyngeal phase. And then the esophagus, called the esophageal phase. A person can have difficulty in any part of the swallowing process. Each phase has sub parts, as well.

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What Does a Parent Do When a Child Stutters or Stammers

A parent can become concerned when their young child has trouble getting their words out. This can be recognized as stuttering or stammering. Stuttered speech can include the repetition of words or parts of words, or, extending speech sounds.

The first question the parent asks is “is this normal?” The second question is “where do I go to make sure this is not a long-term problem?”

Child with speech therapistA young child beginning to develop their language skills may temporarily stutter. Learning to communicate through speech presents challenges to children as their speaking skills are trying to catch up with the speed of their mind and sometimes lack of personal patience. While most stuttering is outgrown, a stutter can continue into adulthood. Here are some considerations, as stated in the A Guide for Parents of Children Who Stutter:

  • When the child involuntarily prolongs sounds, is unable to produce certain sounds, or repeats a sound, we can say he or she is at risk for stuttering. Stuttering will usually begin between the ages of three and six. Onset is usually gradual but may be quite sudden.
  • At the time most children are developing complex speech and language skills, a lot is happening. It is a difficult process. They may repeat words and phrases and use many “ands” while they are formulating a sentence. This type of behavior is normal.
  • If the majority of your child’s “stutterings” are part-word repetitions (Mo-mo-mommy), if many of them consist of three or more repetitions per sound, (e.g., b-b-b-ball), if you child prolongs sounds for more than a second or so (ssssssoup), or shows signs of struggling to “get his words out,” we can start thinking in terms of the child’s “stuttering,” and begin to formulate what to do about it.

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Speech Language Pathologist Can Aid in Reduction of a Foreign Accent

Individuals that have learned English as a second language may recognize the need for assistance pronouncing words in a more understandable manner. This need may occur even if an adult has been an English speaker for many years. The person may recognize the need to improve communication skills to enhance their public speaking or interpersonal communication skills.

Public Speaking Accent FreeA foreign language speaker wanting to improve their pronunciation can enter a classroom setting for ESL (English as a Second Language). This approach generally uses the method of listening to words pronounced correctly and then imitating that sound. Unfortunately, many people are unable to ‘imitate’ sounds, although they think they are saying a word correctly. However, the person can also reach out to a Speech Language Pathologist.

A Speech Pathologist is able to assist a bilingual adult that is seeking improved communication abilities, even though this problem is not considered a speech disorder. The need to improve an accent is considered a speech modification in Speech Language Pathology. A Speech Pathologist teaches the person ‘how’ to produce the sound…where to place the tongue and how to shape the lips so that the word is intelligible. For example, foreigner speakers often pronounce the words ‘cup’, ‘cop,’ and ‘cap’ the same way. There are subtle differences in tongue placement and duration of sound that change the word.

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Early Evaluation of a Child’s Communication Development is Critical

The ability to communicate is essential to a person’s life. The development of communication skills develop early in life when we are children. According to the National Institute of Health in an article called Speech and Language Developmental Milestones, “the first 3 years of life, when the brain is developing and maturing, is the most intensive period for acquiring speech and language skills.”

sad child

Early detection of any communication impairment in a child is critical because the ability to communicate is essential to learning. In Frequently Asked Questions: Speech and Language Disorders in the School Setting, the question is asked “How may a speech-language disorder affect school performance?”  The answer is “Children with communication disorders frequently do not perform at grade level. They may struggle with reading, have difficulty understanding and expressing language, misunderstand social cues, avoid attending school, show poor judgment, and have difficulty with tests.”  Deficits and delays in speech and language skills can negatively impact the normal progression of learning skills.

If you suspect your child may have a delay in communication development, an evaluation will provide valuable information. It is never too early to have your child evaluated. For children as young as 12-15 months, an evaluation can ease concerns and provide a base-line for follow-up visits to ensure continued progress.

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