Speech Therapy For Children - Everything You Need To Know

Speech Therapy For Children

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Do you notice that your child finds it difficult to speak certain words? Is your child often shy in the presence of strangers or other members of the family due to this stumbling block? Has your child tried to learn the words repeatedly at home but does not seem to be able to speak them out loud and clear? Well, if you can relate your child to the above situations you should consider reading this post on speech therapy for children.

Speech is an important developmental milestone among young children. Most new parents experience ecstasy on hearing their little one mumble ‘mama’ or ‘dad’. Are you worried that your child does not show an interest in speaking while other children his age are so talkative? If you your child’s delayed speech skills are giving you sleepless nights, read on to know all about speech therapy for kids and what it is all about.

What Is Child Speech Therapy?

Some children have difficulty while speaking certain words, while others may show no interest in speaking at all. While it can be alright for your child to do so for some time, when you notice the pattern continues for longer, there could be a problem. Not only will your child find it difficult to express himself to others, his friends too might start avoiding him if they repeatedly fail to understand what he is trying to say.

Delay in your child’s speech can be a cause for concern, but you can seek speech and language therapy for children so that trained specialists can help him with speaking. Speech therapists or speech-language pathologists are the concerned specialists who will help your child develop and strengthen his speech abilities.

[ Read: Language Disorders In Children ]

What Are The Different Milestones Of Speech Development?

Some children may speak earlier than others while some take longer. On a regular timeframe, you can add about three to four months here and there for your child to reach a certain speech milestone. Below are the general age brackets when your child should be able to speak up to a certain level. In case you notice a significant delay, it could be important to schedule an appointment with a child speech therapist.

1. Up To 12 Months:

Until your child turns a year old, he may not start speaking, which is perfectly normal.

  • Make sure to watch your child and note whether or not he uses any specific sounds to identify with the environment around him.
  • Your child may be making various babbling or cooing noises, which are his way of showing an interest in speech and trying to speak those first words.
  • Once your child is around nine months of age, he may start to produce different sounds to form a word. Words like ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ may be common now, even though your child will not understand the meaning yet.
  • By his first birthday, your child will also be able to pay more attention to the names of objects and things around him.

2. By 12 To 15 Months:

By the time your child reaches the 12th to 15th month age bracket, you will notice an increase of sounds in his speech trials.

  • Your child will be babbling much more by now, and you may hear new sounds like ‘p’ ‘m’ ‘n’ and so on. Some children may be able to make a particular sound and not the other while others may be able to make a different sound. Both situations are completely normal.
  • By this age, your child will also be able to listen intently to what you or another family member is saying and try to imitate the sounds. Your child will try to produce more sounds to make bigger words than before.
  • Your child will start understanding speech and will be able to follow simple directions.

[ Read: Activities To Develop Effective Listening Skills In Children ]

3. By 18 To 24 Months:

At this age, there can be a lot of variation as to how much your child speaks.

  • Most children will be able to say about 20 small words by the time they reach the 18th-month milestone. By the time they two years of age they will be able to say approximately 50 or even more words.
  • By the time your child turns two, he will be able to use two or more words together and start the earliest formation of a sentence. Paired words like ‘child crying’ ‘dog bow bow’ ‘moon come’ are common ways in which your child may start to form phrases using two or more words.
  • Once your child is two years old, he will be able to identify almost all objects he sees on a regular basis. He should also be able to point out and identify his body parts. Your child will also be able to understand complex commands, like ‘please pick up the teddy and give it to me.’

4. Between 2 And 3 Years Of Age:

By this time, you will see a marked improvement in your child’s speech abilities.

  • Your child will have a much more exhaustive vocabulary than what he had earlier. He may even start learning one or two new words almost each day.
  • By this age, your child will be able to make longer sentences or phrases by using three or more words.
  • Your child will be able to understand almost all that you say and will also be able to distinguish between similar sounding sentences. For example, your child will understand what you mean when you say ‘put it on the table’ or ‘put it under the table.’

When Should You Seek Professional Help For Your Child?

The milestone guidelines mentioned above will help you identify a delay in your child’s speech abilities.

Between 12 and 24 months, you should seek professional advice if your child:

  • Does not use any gestures even after his first birthday.
  • Uses only non-verbal communication like gestures and does not use words or make sounds even after crossing the 18 months milestone.
  • If he shows no interest in imitating the sounds he hears around him or tries to make sounds of his own by the time he is 18 months.
  • Is not able to understand simple instructions or sentences.

Once your child turns two years of age, you should seek professional advice in the following situations:

  • Your child can speak or make sounds only while imitating someone and is not able to speak or make sounds independently.
  • If he can use only a few words that he keeps repeating.
  • If he is not able to follow simple instructions or sentences.
  • Your child has a different tone of voice, which is slightly raspy or nasal.
  • He is not able to communicate with anyone. As a parent, you or the main caregiver should be able to understand everything your child tries to say when he turns 2 or 2 ½ years of age. If you or the main caregiver is not able to do so, it could signal a problem.

By the time your child is four years of age, even strangers should be able to understand his speech. In case you notice a pattern where people seem to be unable to understand what your child is saying even once he is over four years of age, you should speak to your child’s doctor about it.

[ Read: How To Improve Communication Skills For Kids ]

What Are The Common Speech Disorders Among Children?

Here is a list of common speech disorders among children:

1. Articulation:

It is the condition where your child faces a problem while speaking a certain word or words or sound correctly. Lisp is also one of the common articulation disorders. Common examples are saying ‘won’ instead of ‘run’ ‘or saying ‘thay’ instead of ‘say.’

2. Fluency:

It is the condition where your child may try to say a particular sound over and over again, and in the process is not able to say the word at all. In this case, your child will be diagnosed as having a fluency disorder. For example, if your child is trying to say the word ‘story,’ he may get stuck on the sound ‘st.’ He may keep repeating it until he can finally say the word ‘story’ or may not be able to say it at all. In another case, your child may draw out on a particular sound of the word, like saying ‘sssssstory.’ A stutter is also one of the common fluency disorders.

[ Read: Common Developmental Disorders In Children ]

3. Resonance Or Voice Disorder:

It is the condition in which others have a difficulty in understanding what your child is trying to say. Your child may start saying something loudly and clearly, but may end up being very quiet and almost mumbling. Your child may also sound like he has a cold or is speaking through his nose.

4. Language Disorder:

It is the condition where your child may face a problem in understanding simple commands. He may also find it difficult to put together words that will help him express himself.

[ Read: Language Activities For Kids ]

Remember, different children develop speech abilities at different ages and pace. Make sure you keep a note of your child’s speech development and get in touch with a doctor in case there is a major delay.

Hope you liked our post on speech therapy for children at home. Did your child need the help of a speech therapist? What speech therapy exercises for children did he suggest? Please tell us how it helped your child improve his speech.

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