1. Developmental Apraxia of Speech Developmental apraxia of speech (DAS), or childhood apraxia, is a congenital disorder of the nervous system affecting a child’s ability to sequence and say sounds, syllables, and words. This occurs when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the body parts that produce speech.
Children with DAS often have limited speech-sound repertoire, groping for words or sounds.
2. Stuttering Dysfluency or stuttering is an interruption in the smooth, easy flow of speech.
When one stutters, the normal flow of speech is disrupted; words or syllables are repeated or sounded off longer than usual.
Stuttering is often first noticeable between ages 2 and 5, usually going away on its own within months. But some continue stuttering into childhood.
The root of stuttering is still unknown. Some studies suggest that genetic factors play a part, as well as a stressful home or school environment.
3. Lisping When a child produces “th” instead of “s”, like “thing” instead of “sing” or “yeth” instead of “yes”, or substitutes “w” for “l” or “r”, or other similar errors, then she has an articulation disorder called lisping.
Some therapists will not treat children with these errors until they are age 6 or 7. A child with articulation errors should always be evaluated when she is young, but if a speech-language pathologist feels that therapy is inappropriate at the time of evaluation, at least the child will be monitored on a regular basis until she is ready for therapy.
Early intervention Children who have speech and language difficulties have better chances of coping given an early intervention.
If your child struggles with any speech disorder, be patient with her. Talk to her slowly and be an attentive listener. Do not interrupt her by finishing her sentences. Putting pressure on the child will only worsen the speech disorder, so always try to provide her with a more relaxed environment.
EXPOSURE IS KEY “A child’s genetic make up will, in part, determine intelligence and speech and language development. However, the child’s environment also affects a child’s development,” says Dr. Aligada.
“Even if the child baby talks,” says Dr. Aligada, “try talking to him or her as you would to an adult. This will help improve the child’s language skills.”
THEY ARE KIDS, AFTER ALL Dr. Bowen posits that the important thing is that a child’s speech and language development proceeds steadily, not whether it is fast or slow.
The development of a child should be seen as a whole. The important thing is to immerse the child in a healthy, pleasant, and loving environment that will allow her to grow and develop fully.
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Rose Aligada, Ph.D. child development specialist and director, Learning Inn, Inc.
An Abregana, speech and language pathologist, The Medical City
Ages And Stages: Development Milestones For Receptive And Expressive Language Development: Speech And Language Development In Infants And Young Children Typical Speech Development by Caroline Bowen, Ph.D.