How to Know If My Child Needs a Speech Therapist?

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“Communication is the essence of human life.”

  • Janice Light 

The National Institute on Deafness and other communication disorders states that there are more than 7.5 million people in the United States having trouble with their voices. Such speech problems grow with age ending up in speech loss in the worst cases. 

Those who wonder who treats speech-related disorders, it’s speech-language pathologists who take care of these aspects in children and adults too. A speech pathologist works to assess, diagnose, treat and prevent speech, swallowing, social communication, and language problems. 

Common issues addressed by a speech-language pathologist- 

  • Speech disorders – It occurs when an individual has issues with producing sounds and speeches fluently. The problem may also be referred to as resonance or shuttering. 
  • Social communication disorder – This is when the person is finding it difficult to deal with non-verbal and verbal communications. Such problems include disturbance in communicating for the social purposes (like asking questions, greeting, or commenting), following the rules of story-telling or initiating a conversation, communicating in different ways to suit the setting and listener. 
  • Autism – It is a type of social communication disorder reflecting one’s low esteem of communicating with a group of people. In some major cases, it can relate or describe traumatic brain injury. 
  • Language disorders – This problem is detected when a person witnesses issue understanding others, or sharing the feeling, speaking his or her thoughts or ideas with people. Here, the speech therapist works on the expressive and receptive language of the sufferer. Besides this, there are other different types of language disorders like – morphology, phonology, semantics, syntax, etc. 
  • Swallowing disorder – It is also referred to as dysphagia. It generates swallowing and feeding problems followed by surgery, illness, injury or stroke. 
  • Cognitive-communication disorders – Such problems include paying attention, organizing the thoughts, disturbs the problem-saving potential, shows the difficulty in remembering, etc. Sometimes the person has to undergo traumatic brain injury treatment to get healed. If such issues are not treated at the right time, it may end up in dementia, traumatic brain injury and stroke.   

Some common roles of a speech pathologist include – 

  1. Providing aural rehabilitation for the sufferers (someone with hard of hearing issues)
  2. Ensuring quality AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) systems for people with language and communication disorders like progressive neurological disorder or autism spectrum. 
  3. They closely work with people who need to work on their communication enhancement and accent modification. 

When to take your children to a speech-language pathologist?

Finding an issue in a child’s speech and language can be a daunting task. Why? Well, because their speech is under the developmental stage till they are 5 at least. Yet keeping a close watch can help you sense the difference between normal and unusual speech. Most of the children develop speech and language at their own pace, so before worrying, don’t forget to consult a practitioner first. 

When moving towards a practitioner, make sure to prefer a doctor with industry-rich experience and expertise in judging such problems. Although an online speech pathology degree is enough to evaluate one’s knowledge of the domain, yet look for an experienced practitioner to wave off speech and language problems at the initial stage. 

First year – 

Speech and language are associated with forms of communication. Although in the first year, your baby must be far away from talking clearly, still you can sense some of the issues with close observation. One of the biggest signs of communication issues is when the child is close to 3 months and does not interact with others around. During this phase, the baby should be alert enough to show responses like eye contact or at least smile. 

Further, between 3 to 12 months, the baby should start playing with others, making gestures, and babbling. If you don’t see such signs consult a doctor immediately. 

Between 12 to 18 months – 

Generally, babies are expected to learn and speak their first word. However, the vocabulary will be limited, yet they start to speak, engage with others, shake their head, and point out fingers. 

Between 18 to 24 months – 

During this phase, the child is expected to expand the vocabulary. However, they won’t be able to make a proper sentence but would put multiple words together to make it meaningful. 

The bottom line – 

Language pathologists are to correct language and speech-related problems in people with all age groups. Therapists for such issues follow treatments and speech practicing treatments to show promising results. All you need is to detect such problems at the initial stage and get it treated at the right time. 

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