Has your child been diagnosed with a speech delay? If so then you will be fully aware of the enormous stress which speech delays can cause. Not only is the child often in a frustrated state but his parents worry about their social and educational development pretty much all the time!
Speaking and communicating is a very important human need and when a small child finds that he is struggling to make his thoughts known, he can become angry or upset.
What is a Speech Delay?
A speech delay is what it says on the tin; it’s a situation where a child’s speech is developing more slowly than that of his peers’. It need not mean that the child’s speech will remain delayed…it is a delay and not a permanent situation.
Some children struggle due to muscular weakness, this can sometimes be called “Speech Apraxia” whilst others struggle due to their understanding not being in line with their peers’. So whilst a child with Speech Apraxia may be perfectly able to understand commands and questions they may struggle to pronounce consonants.
A child with delayed understanding may struggle with expressive or receptive speech. Expressive speech is the ability to make oneself understood and to voice thoughts and desires, whilst receptive speech is understanding the speech of other people.
Some children may have only one area of speech which is delayed whilst others may have a more complicated situation to deal with.
Speech and language disorders are often a hidden disability, they affect a child greatly but because they are not instantly recognisable they may be missed.
There is an enormous amount of help and advice available to parents with children who have speech delays and some very good organisations who will advise at the start of your journey towards helping your child.
Your first port of call if you have concerns should be your Health Visitor or your GP and they will be able to refer your child for hearing tests which is often the first stopping off point on the road towards helping a child learn to speak. After a hearing test, the next port of call is often to see a Speech and Language Therapist, sometimes referred to as SALT.
Speech therapists can work towards diagnosing your child’s particular difficulties and providing them with the help they need to get to where they need to be in terms of speech.
It can be a long road or a short road; some children surge ahead once they begin school; being in an environment with lots of other children may help.
If your child is struggling to make themselves understood remember that as their only advocate, it is your job to get them the help they need and while it can be a frightening prospect, it is also an exciting one.
Learning to talk isn’t all plain sailing for some children but help is out there and charities such as ICAN which is a well established organisation designed to assist children and their parents to get all they can from the services which are out there.
With dedication and patience your child can receive the help necessary to get them talking.