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Speech Therapy for aChild

Speech and language are often mistaken to be similar, but there is adistinction between thetwo:

• Speech is the verbal expression of language and includes articulation, which is the way words are formed.
• Language is much broader in sense and refers to the entire system of expressing and receiving information in a way which is meaningful.
Problems in speech and language frequently overlap. A child with a language problem may be able to pronounce words well but be unable to put more than two words together. Another child's speech may be difficult to understand, but he or she may use words and phrases to express ideas. And another child may speak well but have difficulty following directions.

Warning Signs of a Possible Problem In Speech And Language:

An infant who isn't responding to sound or who isn't vocalizing is of particular concern. Between 12 and 24 months, warning signs of a possible problem are when the child:

• Isn’t using gestures by 12 months.
• Prefers gestures over vocalizations to communicate by 18 months.
• Has trouble imitating sounds by 18 months.
• Has difficulty understanding simple verbal requests.

Consult the doctor when a child over 2 years of age:

• Can only imitate speech or actions.
• Doesn’t speak words or phrases spontaneously.
• Says only certain sounds or words repeatedly.
• Can’t use oral language to communicate more than his or her immediate needs.
• Is unable follow simple directions.
• Has an unusual tone of voice.
• Is more difficult to understand than an expected child of his or her age.
It is important to note that the parents and regular caregivers should understand about half of a child's speech at 2 years and about three quarters at3 years. By 4 years old, a child should be mostlyunderstood, even by people who don't know the child.

Causes of Delayed Speech or Language Development in a Child:

Speech or language development in a child can be arrested due to several reasons.
• Speech delays in an otherwise normally developing child can be caused by oral impairments, like problems with the tongue or the palate.
• Oral-motor problems may also lead to speechdelays which means there's inefficient communication in the areas of the brain responsible for speech production. The child encounters difficulty using the lips, tongue, and jaw to produce speech sounds.
• Hearing problems are also commonly related to delayed speech. A child who has trouble hearing may have trouble understanding, imitating, and using language.
• Ear infections, especially chronic infections, can affect hearing ability. Simple ear infections that havebeen properly treated, though, should have no effect on the speech ofthe child.
Whatever the reason may be for the delayed development, it is crucial to get the child evaluated by a good speech-language pathologist.
Parent’s cooperation plays a pivotal role in the speech therapy of the affected child. Theyshould encourage their child’s language development. The few general tips that can beemployed at home include:
• Spend a considerable amount of time communicating with child.
• Read to the child.
• Use everyday situations to reinforce the child’s speech and language.
Whatever be the child's age, recognizing and treating problems early on is the best approach to help him/her with speech and language delays. With proper therapy and time, the child is likely to be able to communicate with the family members and rest of the world.

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