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10 Myths in Language Development
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Publishing Date: May 17, 2020

Speech and Language Therapy is a profession little known to the general population, originating myths and ideas about their areas and ways of acting. So, in order to demystify some of these myths, in this case about language development, this article appears with 10 examples:

1. “Speech Therapy is for children who don’t speak well.”

We can say that Speech and Language Therapy is not limited to speech itself, as the name of the profession indicates. This professional can support children, adults and the elderly, in the most varied areas of intervention. In general, we have language, verbal and non-verbal communication, phonological awareness, reading and writing, swallowing, motor skills, oro-facial sensitivity, voice and speech.

2. “You don’t need therapy, that goes with age and speaks well.”

In some cases, this happens and the child overcomes the difficulty with the continued development. However, it is not something observable in all cases and expecting that to happen may aggravate the problem and increase the delay in language development.

3. “Premature babies start talking later.”

Premature babies who are born healthy, usually have a rhythm of learning and development equal to that of premature babies, who have had neurological or physical sequelae, may have difficulties in language development. In such cases, follow-up in Speech and Language Therapy is advised.

4. “The birth of teeth disturbs speech.”

The birth of teeth requires an adaptation of the tongue, however, this process is imperceptible to the child. They may feel pain and be irritated by the appearance of their first teeth, but that does not mean that it affects language development.

5. “The child who does not speak at 2 years old, has hearing problems.”

To be sure, it is advisable to perform a hearing exam with an Audiologist, as the cause of the delay in language may be related to hearing or not. You can make an assessment with a Speech and Language Therapist to better understand what could cause this problem in your child.

6. “Before 3 years old, there is no point in doing therapy.”

The Speech and Language Therapist’s intervention is not restricted to ages. Language development begins in pregnancy, because the human brain is “pre-programmed” for language. Babies’ journey begins with a pre-linguistic phase in which words are not yet used. Thus, by observing and interacting with the child, the speech therapist can verify whether the language development proceeds normally or not, avoiding major and more complicated changes in the future.

7. “Now he doesn’t speak, but when he starts speaking he says complete sentences right away.”

As before we started running we learned to walk, we also didn’t start producing sentences before we were able to say isolated words. Sometimes, when the child’s speech intelligibility is compromised, the caregivers, family or professionals who care for the child, may not take care that the child uses meaningful words. Thus, caregivers think that the child has gone directly to the sentence construction because, in that sentence, through the context, they understand what he wants to convey.

8. “He is lazy, when he wants to say the sound alone but does not say it in words.”

It is normal for the child to be able to repeat a certain sound when asked, but do not pronounce it correctly in words. It is not a matter of “laziness”, but a habit that the child has acquired and that now must be replaced by the correct form. You may need support to learn how to produce the sound correctly, and then start producing it in words following a line of gradual difficulty.

9. “When stuttering occurs in childhood, it becomes chronic.”

Physiological disfluency, known as stuttering, is common up to 5 years of age and tends to disappear with the child’s development. This happens as a result of the learning process that the child is going through, that is, his thinking may be faster than the ability to produce the words he wants to transmit.

10. “Speech therapy is for stutterers and lisp.”

Speech and Language Therapy intervenes in cases of stuttering and sigmatism (lisp), however this is only a small part of what a speech therapist does. Professionals in this area can specialize in one of these speech disorders, working only with cases of this kind. However, most are not restricted to just one area.