If you are concerned about your child’s communication development, then you should first understand the difference between speech and language. In terms of early childhood development, these are two very distinct areas to track.
For the purposes of understanding, consider speech as a kind of verbal expression of language. That expression includes forming sounds into words. Language is a much broader term that applies to the entire system of communication. Not only does this include expressing thoughts but also taking in information and processing that information in a meaningful way. Language can be verbal, nonverbal, and written.
A qualified speech therapist in Smyrna will often diagnose communication problems where the concepts of By Word of Mouth speech and language converge. For instance, a child with a language problem can speak words but can’t put them into sentences. On the other hand, a child could have trouble forming words but still use their “version” of language in an attempt to communicate with others. What are the common “red flags” of speech or language problems? Be on the lookout for these warning signs:
Between 12 and 24 months:
The child isn’t using gestures to point or wave bye-bye.
The child uses gestures instead of making sounds to communicate up to the age of 18 months.
The child struggles with mimicking sounds by 18 months.
The child doesn’t seem to comprehend simple verbal requests.
When a child reaches the age of 2, the warning signs of communication problems are the following:
They only mimic speech without saying their own words on their own.
They stick to a small group of sounds or words without expanding vocabulary.
They can’t follow simple directions.
The sound of their voice is nasally or raspy.
Their speech is difficult to understand by members outside the family.
What Can Cause Speech or Language Development Delays?
After performing a series of standard tests, a speech pathologist in Buckhead will attempt to assess the cause of the delays in speech and language of a child. Some of the issues could be related to physical impairments such as a short frenulum, which is the fold of the tongue. That can hamper the use of the tongue in creating words. They could also have problems with their palate or roof of the mouth.
An oral-motor issue can cause some of the delays. This is when the communication centers of the brain have complications sending the right signals for communication. This can manifest as a problem with using the tongue, lips or jaw to generate sounds that form words. Hearing problems can also cause a delay in speech and language development. If your child has chronic ear infections then they could have hearing impairment. These are easy to treat.
Working With a Speech Therapist
One of the biggest benefits of meeting with a speech therapist is to get the diagnosis that everything is fine. Some children just take their time developing. There are many standardized tests that the therapist will use to measure your child’s level of development. Specifically, they’ll be looking at how your child is with receptive language and expressive language. Receptive language pertains to what they understand while expressive language focuses on what they say.
The therapist will also look at sound development and how clear your child’s speech patterns are. If it is felt that your child needs help, then you’ll play an active role. The speech therapist will show you exercises to practice at home with the goal of making improvements. Advances in this area have helped millions of parents get their children on the right path when it comes to speech and language. The help is out there; put it to work!