What pediatric speech and language difficulties exist, and where do they come from?
Every child is unique and develops at his or her own pace. That being said, most children will develop speech and language skills within a certain age range. Between 4-6 months babies are usually babbling to themselves and taking note of sounds and changes in their parents’ tone of voice. Between 7-12 months they begin to add gestures like waving or holding up their arms to be comforted, and usually have a few words such as “Mama”, “Daddy”, or “dog”. Between ages 1-2 years of age, children start combining words and asking simple questions such as “again, please” or “go bye-bye?”. Between ages 2-3 years of age, vocabulary is growing, simple phrases can be used, and typically developing children are mostly understood by caregivers. Between ages 3-4 years of age, children begin to master asking and answering who, what, when, and where questions as well as using short sentences. Between ages 4-5 years of age, they hear and comprehend most communication, respond with sentences and begin to use appropriate grammar.
Speech disorders include: childhood apraxia of speech, dysarthria, orofacial myofunctional disorders, speech sound disorders, stuttering, and voice disorders. Language disorders include: receptive language disorder, expressive language disorder, and mixed receptive-expressive language disorder. Medical and developmental conditions include: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) , Cleft lip/palate, and brain injury.
Orofacial Myofunctional disorders: interfere with regular development of muscles and bone of the face and mouth which impact the way one eats, talks, and breathes. This can result in heavy mouth breathing, tongue thrusting when talking, messy eating, drooling, and difficulty closing the lips. SLPs can help improve breathing and eating patterns, improve clear speech, and improve awareness of where their muscles are during any given function.
Speech sound disorders: refer to when a child has trouble saying certain sounds ad words past the expected age. By age 4 children generally can produce many speech sounds correctly, but if your child is struggling with appropriate pronunciation as he gets older, he may have a speech sound disorder. SLPs can help children learn the correct way to produce sounds and identify when sounds aren’t quite right.
Receptive language disorders: refer to when children have difficulty understanding language. They might have difficulty understanding spoken language or difficulty reading. Often times because they do not understand what is being communicated to them, they will respond in ways that their communication partners don’t understand.
Expressive language disorders: refer to the difficulties children have with using spoken language. Children with expressive language disorders have difficulty expressing their thoughts, feelings, needs, and ideas through spoken language.
Learning disabilities: children with learning disabilities have diverse needs but often have difficulty reading, writing, and/or spelling. They may also struggle with math and social skills. Most learning disabilities exist from birth, but some are caused by brain injuries. Children may have difficulty expressing their ideas, learning new words, telling left from right, mixing up the order of letters or numbers, spelling, telling time, or remembering details of a plot. There are a variety of tests that can be done to help shape treatment and interventions to address your child’s specific needs.
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