Speech issues are more common than you might think. If your child has trouble communicating at a level appropriate for their age, you should start taking steps right away. The sooner that you begin treatment, the easier it will be for them to get back on track.
Whether you’ve received an official diagnosis or simply noticed signs that your child isn’t speaking as expected, take a few moments to learn about the different kinds of speech disorders. Some children have difficulty making consonant sounds, and others can’t seem to speak with the same pitch twice. An unnaturally quiet child could be shy, but they could also have a resonance disorder that prevents their voice from reaching a normal volume.
Identifying the type of speech issue that your child has will help you seek the appropriate kind of treatment. Some speech disorders are related to underlying medical issues, but even if the cause isn’t known, nearly all cases can be resolved with timely professional attention.
Many speech issues are identifiable and treatable at an early age. In fact, waiting to see if the issues resolve themselves could cause your child to miss an important developmental window and make later treatment more difficult.
Start by talking to your pediatrician or family doctor. Once you’ve identified the source of your child’s speech issues, begin working with a specialist to resolve the problem. With professional assistance, your child may not even remember that they had difficulty speaking early in their life.
Talk and Listen
Children who struggle with speech need as much practice as possible. Have conversations with your child throughout the day. Model normal speech by explaining the things that you see, discussing your plans for the day, or even telling an anecdote from your favorite kid-friendly television show. Your child will listen to your speech patterns and use them to help develop their own.
Your child needs to exercise their vocal cords, so encourage them to talk as much as possible. This is a good chance to practice your active listening skills; your child should feel rewarded for holding up their end of a conversation. If you’re out of things to talk about, try reading a book together or engaging with and then discussing music, movies, and television.
The causes of speech disorders are not fully understood. Although it’s important to seek treatment early, remember that these issues can take time to resolve. Speaking is a skill that must be learned, and your child may simply need more time to practice.
A speech issue diagnosis can be scary for you as a parent. As you address your own feelings on the matter, understand that your child may be equally frightened, frustrated, or confused. Be supportive, and make it clear that your child will always be accepted in the family. This will help them find the courage they need to develop and use their true voice.