The ability of speech enables us to interact with the world around us; learn from it, bond with it, contribute to it and be a part of it. It’s an ability that’s programmed to develop naturally within us and yet, in some children, this ability doesn’t progress as well as it’s expected to. Speech disorders are common in today’s world and 1 in 12 kids and teens in the US are affected by the disability to make fluent communication. At Milestone Therapy Group, we’re committed to helping children affected by varying types of speech disorders through licensed and certified speech therapists with considerable experience in handling speech disabilities. Here’s a short compilation of the most common speech disorders afflicting children in America today.
Stuttering or Stammering
This is perhaps the easiest to spot among a range of speech disorders. And fortunately, also the least worrisome. Close to 10% of American children get affected by stuttering at some point, between the ages of 3 and 6 years. The good news is, a large percentage of these children are cured of this speech disorder by the time they turn into adults. But yes, both children and parents do have to go through the phase of social awkwardness, the extent of which would vary from child to child.
The watch-outs: *Repetition of consonants like K, G or T *Inclusion of ‘uh’ or ‘um’ a bit too frequently into sentences *Hesitation or pause before speaking *Stretching of certain spoken words *Excessive eye blinking *Lip tremors *Tension in the face and upper body *Stress in the voice
Apraxia of Speech
Have you ever wondered how every time you communicate, your speech occurs at virtually the same time as your thoughts? It’s like the connection between your brain and mouth is instantaneous. This feat of human engineering is made possible by the neural pathway between the brain and your speech muscles. In some children however, this neural bridge loses its functionality and as a result, the messages of the brain do not get relayed to the muscles that ultimately convert these signals into full and proper speech. So, the child knows what to speak but is unable to convert his or her thoughts, emotions and experiences into words and sentences.
The watch-outs: *Different pronunciation of the same word every time *Shorter words spoken more clearly than longer ones *Stress on the wrong syllable or word *Distortion or change in sounds *Delayed language ability *Problems with reading, spelling & writing *Difficulty with fine motor skills.
Wake your child out of deep sleep and ask a question. Chances are you’ll get an answer that rolls out lazily or incoherently off the child’s tongue. But this isn’t Dysarthria, it’s just a case of broken sleep. Dysarthria involves something a lot more serious – muscle or nerve damage to the muscles that control the process of speaking, namely the diaphragm, lips, tongue and vocal chords. Conditions for Dysarthria can begin as early as the womb stage or shortly after birth, owing to conditions such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.
The watch-outs: *Slurred or slow speech *Speaking either too soft or too loud *Rapid incomprehensible speech *Nasal, raspy or strained voice *Uneven or abnormal rhythm of speech *Uneven speech volume *Difficulty moving either the tongue or facial muscles.
Another common type of disorder that can be easily recognized is lisping. To explain this condition with an example, the word ‘lisp’ itself would be pronounced as ‘lithp’ by the affected child. This disorder is characterized by the inability to correctly pronounce the sounds of letters like ‘s’ or ‘z’, known as sibilant consonants. In fact, a child with a lisping disorder would substitute the sibilant consonants with a ‘th’. Other sounds that get affected include sh, l, r and ch. The probable causes of lisping range from overuse of pacifiers to thumb sucking to prolonged bottle feeding to structural irregularities of the tongue, just to name a few. Treatment for lisping includes pronunciation training, speech muscle strengthening and other specialized techniques.
Speech Delay – Alalia
A child’s first spoken word is something every parent eagerly waits to experience. From ‘mama’ to ‘dada’, these first words also indicate that the child’s development is taking place at the appropriate pace. Now, if speech development proceeds normally, a child should be speaking 3 to 5 words by the time he or she is a year old and 15 to 20 words by 15 months of age. Any lesser means the child is suffering from speech delay, also referred to as Alalia. Some factors that may bring about speech delay in a child include prenatal traumas (before birth), perinatal traumas (immediately before or after birth), difficult deliveries, hearing loss, viral and infectious diseases and brain traumas in the postnatal period (after birth).
The watch-outs: *Absence of usual babbling by the age of 15 months *No talking by the age of 2 years *Inability to speak short sentences by 3 years *Difficulty putting words in a sentence *Poor articulation
If you have a child who exhibits any of the above-mentioned speech disorders, you need to begin speech therapy as soon as possible. At Milestone Therapy Group, we come with a fully certified and vastly experienced team of speech therapy professionals, a culture of healing that involves the fun-play approach and above all, the drive to give your child a better and happier childhood. So, schedule a call with us at the soonest and do give us the opportunity to help your child overcome his or her challenges on the path to a happier and better life.