Explore speech delays and disorders and how you can support your child’s communication

Explore speech delays and disorders and how you can support your child’s communication

Speech delay vs speech disorder
Speech Delay vs Speech Disorder

You often wonder if your child’s speech difficulties will resolve. This very much depends on whether they have a speech disorder or delay. You often wonder if there’s something you’ve done to cause your child’s speech difficulties. Rest assured this is not the case. Let’s explore some of the factors to put your mind at ease.

We know that males are more likely to have a speech, language, or communication difficulty than females. Additionally, if your child has an older sibling, they may not have the opportunities to speak. Their sibling may speak for them, especially if their speech difficulty causes them to be anxious or self-conscious. It’s important to note that bilingualism does not cause a speech delay or difficulty. Your child’s Speech and Language Therapist will ask about your child’s milestones. Research suggests that if your child did not babble then they may be at a higher risk of having communications difficulties.

When it comes to a speech delay or disorder, it’s vital to rule out any other co-occurring difficulties such as hearing loss. Your child’s Speech and Language Therapist will need to factor in the health of your child. They will ask if your child has had lots of colds or ear infections. This may have affected their hearing, so it’s also recommended that your child has a hearing test. Your Speech and Language Therapist will tell you how you can book an appointment.

It’s natural that children learn at different rates. The same is true for speech sounds. Some children are slower to pick up speech sounds, and this might be called a ‘speech delay’. A delay is when a child is behind with the development in a particular area or areas but is generally progressing along typical milestones. They will be progressing at a slower rate than expected. For example, a four-year-old understands two key word instructions and utterances are at a single word level, with some short phrases. But, some may show unusual speech sound error patterns, and this is typically where you may hear it called a ‘speech disorder’. A disorder is where the development we see is patchy and not following what is typically expected for your child’s chronological age. For example, a child understands three key word sentences, but speech is unintelligible and the utterances sound like jargon.

You recognise how important speech is in daily living and want to build your child’s confidence so they can maximise social and educational opportunities. Follow our top tips to support your child’s communication.

Top tips for supporting your child with their speech sounds:

  1. Allow your child to communicate in another way to convey their message if they get stuck (e.g., you could ask ‘show me’, ‘draw it for me’).
  2. Model the correct sound (e.g., child: It’s a thnake, adult: it’s a snake, a slithery snake).

    You can emphasise their tricky sound.

  3. Avoid telling your child to ‘say [insert sound here]’.
  4. Your child may speak quickly, especially if they are excited to tell you a story. If you slow down your rate of speech, they will too. This may make it easier for you to understand the message of their story.
  5. Allow your child to speak about how their communication difficulty makes them feel (if they are aware and want to speak about it).

If you are unsure of where to start, contact me to ease your confusion, and allow your child to communicate effectively.

Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.