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Speech Delays
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Publishing Date: May 17, 2020

Many parents wonder about their children’s speech: if they speak in a strange way, if they change the order of syllables or if they stutter … what to do?

Although each child has their own learning pace, it is important to know why, in order to be able to detect speech delays and changes in advance, and most importantly, to know which measures are appropriate for each situation.

Parents can be the first to notice differences in their children’s speech when they hear him speak, such as bad diction or stuttering, as each child’s speech is very evident. When they start to notice such differences, they often do not know what to do, and due to lack of information, they compare their children’s language with other children, nephews, children of friends, neighbors with similar ages, etc.

When they have knowledge, they are often not enough to make correct conclusions about the normality of their children’s language. Pronunciation develops not only through the gradual appearance of sounds according to their complexity and the child’s ability to reproduce, alter or omit them. It also implies that the different syllables are pronounced in the proper order. For example, when the child says: comolotiva or mocolotiva when referring to a locomotive, it can be useful to draw attention to the correct order of syllables. However, when there is no other associated problem, these syllable inversions usually disappear after some time.

Despite the fact that children between the ages of three and the end of four years acquire an important command of pronunciation, not all of them learn to speak in the same way, nor do they know at the same age the different steps to articulate words correctly. The personality of each one and the environment in which they are inserted are some of the factors that mark the differences that can be found in children’s language. Slight speech delays can be due to several causes. The child may for example not articulate some phoneme well because he has difficulty in correctly placing his lips or tongue in speech, or due to the lack of a suitable model that the child has to imitate. Sometimes parents speak to their children with the same inaccurate words that they use, or it may happen that the child arrives at the nursery and creates a great friendship with another one who misinterprets a phoneme or who stutters and he sympathizes by imitating it.

Parents have to convey that they love and accept it as it is, try to explain what the child is going through and assure them that there is a possibility to eliminate this difficulty. Correcting and criticizing the child does not help to overcome his problems, let alone worsen existing disorders and create new ones. When parents deduce that this is a temporary problem because the child has corrected other pronunciation errors previously, it may be appropriate to intervene. They can indicate the position of the tongue or lips to make a specific sound. In order for the child to understand well what he has to do, they can both do it in front of a mirror, or looking at each other face to face. If it is a / r / that resists you, you can start by asking him to make a motorcycle noise or repeat the sounds [te] and [de] one after another very quickly.

If what they try to correct are the complex syllables that lead to / r / or / l /, they have to start by unfolding them, as for example, if the child says futa instead of fruit, star by star or duck by dish , start by saying furu-ta, estere or para-so that you imitate them. If joint disorders, inversion of syllables or stuttering persist beyond five or six years or if they resist attempts at correction, we can speak of significant speech disorder. Some problems may be due to organic causes, that is, the organs involved in the production of language are injured or malfunction. They may be due to malformations in the palate, lips etc … or there is a bad dental implantation.

If parents notice a language problem in their child, they should not assume the role of therapists, as treatment requires a thorough medical, logopedic and psychological examination to analyze the source of the problem. In these circumstances, parents often demand too much of their children and thus worsen the situation, it is therefore recommended to consult a language specialist. The most important role of parents is to demonstrate that they support and love you.