The delay in a child’s communication could be identified as a significant difference between how they and their peers approach communication. In other words, if a child is visibly struggling with their speech, they can be considered having a problem, but one should never underestimate the influence of the presence of older siblings, as children with older sisters and brothers tend to be more advanced in terms of speech and language (Beckman et al., 2017). Below, there is a general outline of speech and language development divided into several essential stages:
- Up to three months: makes vocal sounds and cries when experiencing discomfort;
- Three to six months: responds with sounds when someone is talking to them, utilizes vocal sounds to attract attention;
- Six to 12 months: utilizes babbling (go-go, ba-ba, ma-ma, da-da) to communicate with older children and parents;
- 12 to 15 months: makes recognizable speech sounds, knows up to 10 distinct words;
- 15 to 18 months: utilizes at least 20 words (even if not pronounced correctly), constantly babbles, tries to repeat everything after parents, starts using intonations and voice tones to convey the message;
- 18 months to two years: uses speech sounds, starts putting words into basic three-word sentences, has a vocabulary of approximately 50 words;
- From two to three years: utilizes pronouns correctly, knows at least 300 words and descriptively uses them; has no problem connecting four-five words into a coherent sentence (Cooper & Gosnell, 2018).
Speech disorders mostly occur when there are evident issues with communication that touch upon the child’s capability of maintaining oral motor functions and forming words appropriately. There is a vast number of measurements that could establish the presence of a speech disorder: from a child not being to understand language too severe motor dysfunctions averting them from eating or speaking healthily (Shriberg et al., 2019). As for the causes of speech disorders, some of the most prevalent issues include brain injuries, hearing loss, or the external environment. It may also be stated that there are plenty of cases where the cause of speech disorders in children cannot be identified at all (Shriberg et al., 2019). When there is a speech disorder involved, the child will be most likely to run into difficulties associated with the capability of generating sounds and words or even maintaining their voice. For the most part, the quality of a child’s voice could be evaluated with the help of recurrent interruptions in the rhythm of their speech, meaning that they tend to stutter relentlessly.
A language disorder is a problem that affects the ability of a child to process and understand verbal data received from the external environment. For example, when any kind of information is presented to a child with a speech-language disorder, they will be most likely to suffer from the inability to comprehend or remember that data (Wren et al., 2020). This aspect of a child’s development may lead to them struggling with adhering to parents’ and teachers’ expectations as well. Even when these children are given instructions, it will be problematic for them to keep up with the general pace because they would not follow the pattern and forget the directions rather quickly.
To minimize the effect of the speech-language disorder, teachers and parents might be interested in providing additional instructions for these specific children, with extra steps and written concepts to help these children navigate through the assignment (Feldman, 2019). On the other hand, it may be important to pay attention to this disorder because it could affect a child’s capability of reading and spelling as well. The link between reading and verbal skills is also mentioned by Wren et al. (2020), who claimed that the associations between letters and sounds are the cornerstones for successful learning and personality development.
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) represent a rather crucial cohort of health specialists who tend to design therapies and implement additional treatments to help children overcome their particular speech disorders. The essential task that they have to complete when working with problematic children is they have to improve their phonological awareness and ensure that the child realizes how they should decode and read words (Hardin-Jones et al., 2020). The identification of sounds and utilization of basic rhyming schemes could be helpful. With children becoming more successful in terms of expressing intricate ideas, the SLP might start motivating them to use longer sentences and words that are more complex (Finestack & Satterlund, 2018). Specific attention is also paid to inferences that could help the child grasp the core ideas included in the text and realize the meaning of every word and sentence.
The assistance provided by SLPs is essential because they contribute to an increased vocabulary and help the child build a stronger basis for listening, reading, and speaking capabilities. According to Hardin-Jones et al. (2020), the best way to achieve positive outcomes, in this case, would be to play vocabulary games and implement role-playing story retelling to make it easier for the child to follow the plot and memorize essential ideas. Over time, the SLP might also start paying more attention to reading comprehension and link a certain topic to what is written in the book. This is necessary to enhance the child’s social communication skills and engage them in a healthy conversation (Finestack & Satterlund, 2018). Therefore, the role of an SLP cannot be overlooked or underestimated because of the need to address the speech-language disorder promptly.
Beckman, M. E., Plummer, A. R., Munson, B., & Reidy, P. F. (2017). Methods for eliciting, annotating, and analyzing databases for child speech development. Computer Speech & Language, 45, 278-299.
Cooper, K., & Gosnell, K. (2018). Foundations and adult health nursing e-book. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Feldman, H. M. (2019). How young children learn language and speech: Implications of theory and evidence for clinical pediatric practice. Pediatrics in Review, 40(8), 398.
Finestack, L. H., & Satterlund, K. E. (2018). Current practice of child grammar intervention: A survey of speech-language pathologists. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 27(4), 1329-1351.
Hardin-Jones, M., Jones, D. L., & Dolezal, R. C. (2020). Opinions of speech-language pathologists regarding speech management for children with cleft lip and palate. The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, 57(1), 55-64.
Shriberg, L. D., Kwiatkowski, J., & Mabie, H. L. (2019). Estimates of the prevalence of motor speech disorders in children with idiopathic speech delay. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 33(8), 679-706.
Wren, Y., Titterington, J., & White, P. (2020). How many words make a sample? Determining the minimum number of word tokens needed in connected speech samples for child speech assessment. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 1-18.