When delays are present it is not a good idea to take the “wait and see” approach. Though late talking children tend to catch up with their peers, research has shown that they often have difficulty with reading, spelling and overall learning skills. Early intervention is the key to developing age level appropriate communication skills. Speech-language pathologists can observe and assess your child’s communication skills and compare his/her skills to children who are “typically developing” for that age. As a result of this process parents will know if a problem exists or not.
There is a difference between speech and language. Speech is simply pronunciation of words. It refers to how well a child can say words and sounds. Language can be broken down into two types: receptive and expressive. It is understanding and being understood through communication. A child with a language problem may be able to say words clearly but be unable to put more than two words together. Conversely, another child’s speech may be difficult to understand but he uses words and phrases appropriately to express ideas. Though problems with speech and language differ, they tend to overlap. Some children also have listening problems or difficulties with the social aspects of communicating that can interfere with the development of speech and language skills. Social aspects include skills such as making eye contact, being able to initiate a conversation and take conversational turns.
There are numerous causes of delays in speech, language and listening development. Chronic ear infections, the number one childhood illness, cause problems with hearing. If a child has trouble hearing, he will have trouble understanding, imitating and using speech. Chronic ear infections are a primary cause of listening and learning problems. Pre-mature birth, head trauma, developmental delays, oral-motor problems, and chronic or prolonged pacifier use are some other causes of delayed speech and language skills.
Speech and language assessments give parents a better understanding of why their child isn’t talking. This allows them to learn ways to encourage speech and language development. Parents should begin to communicate during infancy; this includes reading, playing imitative games, singing and talking. Nursery rhymes, because of their rhythmic appeal, are fun for both parents and children.
It may be difficult for parents to tell whether their child is immature in his ability to communicate or if he has a problem that requires the services of a speech-language pathologist. The following milestones will you determine whether you should seek a speech language pathology assessment (taken from the CASLPA website). :
Up to 3 Months
- Makes lots of noises (eg. coos and gurgles)
- Reacts to loud noises or new sounds
- Soothed by calm gentle voices
- Watches your face and makes noise when you talk
- Coos and squeals for attention
- Cries differently when hungry
- Understands their own name and other common words when used with gestures like “bye-bye”
- Says sounds like “ba ba, na na, ma ma”
- Sings along, laughs or imitates others
- Understands simple questions like “where is your nose”
- Makes gestures or asks for “more” or “again”
- Babbles, sounding like sentences
- Understands more words than he/she can say
- Uses two-word sentences like “what’s that”
- Understands simple directions like “get your coat”
- Asks questions and uses short sentences
- Uses 200 or more words
- Listens to stories and answers simple questions
If you are still uncertain whether your child requires an assessment, please contact us and schedule a no charge initial consultation. This will allow the speech language pathologist to meet with you and your child and help you determine if there is a need. These sessions are free and usually last 30 minutes.
Resources for Language and Articulation
The Hanen Centre http://hanen.org
Net Connections for Communication Sciences and Disorders www.communicationdisorders.com
Resources for Fluency
Canadian Association for People who Stutter (CAPS) www.stutter.ca
Stuttering Foundation of America www.stutteringhelp.org
National Stuttering Association www.nsastutter.org
Resources for Literacy
Mindwing Concepts www.mindwingconcepts.com
Resources for Autism
Autism Community Training www.actbc.ca
ABA Educational Resources www.abaresources.com