As children grow parents eagerly await those memorable first words. In some children, those first words don’t happen like it should. Some children are simply late bloomers and may hold off talking for a bit. For others though, a delay in reaching language milestones signifies developmental speech problems. The major underlying causes of developmental speech problems stem from hearing issues, autism, and neuromuscular disorders.
Hearing and Language Development
The ability to hear is intrinsically linked to the ability to talk. When children can’t hear sounds correctly, they can’t repeat the sound. Children who suffer hearing deficits are plagued with learning disabilities and often go unidentified. Early testing for hearing deficits will ensure that your child gets the help they need. Children with hearing issues can learn other methods of communication and oftentimes working with a speech pathologist provides them with methods to improve their verbal ability.
Autism and Speech
Communication issues are an early warning sign of autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder is difficult to diagnose in young children, but one of the first signs is an inability to communicate verbally.Children suffering from autism have the ability to learn alternate methods of communication. Behavioral therapy and speech therapy will help your child to improve their ability to speak. With autism it is not so much an inability to talk as it is the mind of the autistic child moves to rapidly for them to express themselves fluently.
Neuromuscular Disorders and Language
There are a wide range of disorders within the neuromuscular classification. All of these disorders have several things in common: muscle weakness, limited muscle movement, and uncontrolled muscle movement. Often parents do recognize that the tongue and throat contain the muscles needed for proper speech development. The disorders are often referred to as dysarthrias. These disorders cause slurred speech, an inability to correctly position the tongue for sound production, and voice quality.
If your child is having problems by the age of two with speech, you need to have them tested. Language development occurs during the first three years and if children are not verbal by age 2 there are often underlying causes. Many doctors want to wait and see, but as a parent you have the right to demand they look further. The thought that your child may suffer from one of these problems can be terrifying. Don’t be disheartened or discouraged or give up. With early detection and assistance your child can learn to communicate with you and the world around them.