Four Questions To Help Identify a Speech Impediment
Are you concerned that there may be something wrong with your toddler’s communication and language skills? Is it possible that your child may have a speech impediment or disorder? Of course you don’t expect him to speak clearly in the first few months or even years of life, but are you seeing signs that perhaps something is just not quite right? Has your child’s daycare or preschool teacher mentioned that he isn’t reaching typical communication milestones? How important are these milestones? Maybe you’ve heard that it is “just a phase” or that your child will “catch up” with the other kids her age. While every child learns at his or her own pace, it’s important to ask for help if you feel like her language development skills may not be normal. Communication Milestones are actually crucial stages during the first three years of life when the brain is developing and maturing, and is the most intensive period for acquiring speech and language skills. If the critical periods or milestones are are not met in a timely manner, it will be more difficult for your child to learn to properly communicate in the future.
Speech impediments or disorders are often diagnosed early in a child’s life and the earlier you can become familiar with normal communication milestones, the earlier you can begin speech therapy techniques and get your child on the road to normal communication behaviors. How do you know what questions to ask yourself in order to determine if your child is reaching the appropriate milestones? We’ve listed them for you.
Questions to Ask Yourself About Possible Speech Impediment?
1. How do my child’s communication skills affect daily life at home?
Consider how communication milestones – speaking, listening, non-verbal communication, etc. – play a part in the activities your child does on a regular basis and the relationships with the people in your home. For example, can your child follow age-appropriate, simple instructions (i.e. brush your teeth, make your bed)? Pay attention to the way your child interacts in conversations with siblings and peers. Is he engaged in the conversation and actively participating in age-appropriate ways?
2. How do my child’s communication skills affect his social life?
Think about the times when you see your child interacting with friends, participating in peer-related activities, or interacting in the general community. Those interactions can also be clues to communication development issues. Look for your child to interact with friends with appropriate verbal communication (asks questions, express opinions). Does your child participate in peer-related activities with appropriate attention level, or does he tend to wander off by himself?
3. Do people outside of the family understand my child’s verbal communication? Is he hard to understand?
Sometimes family members don’t realize how significant a speech problem is because they are used to hearing their child’s speech patterns every day. As children enter elementary school, their speech should be understandable by strangers and acquaintances. If you notice that people are consistently asking your child to slow down, repeat the questions or phrase, then this might be signal to you that there is a speech problem.
4. What are the academic repercussions when it comes to my child’s communication milestones?
Communication is the cornerstone for many areas of learning, and problems with communication skills can lead to below average school performances or anxiety about school or social situations. Look for clues that your child is reading and writing at the appropriate grade level, is participating orally in class, is able to pay attention and can answer his teachers questions at age-appropriate levels.
When communication problems are suspected or exist they can sometimes be the result of a single issue – such as a specific speech impediment such as stuttering or an articulation problem, which can ultimately be outgrown or reversed with speech therapy. Other times the communication issues can require work with a healthcare specialist or speech pathologist. Communication milestones serve as excellent guideposts for your child’s speech and language skills and the more you can become familiar with these milestones, the better chances you are of discovering and resolving your child’s speech disorder.