Speech disorders are among the most common childhood disabilities and they are highly treatable in most cases. Dealing with parents on a regular basis I come across a lot of parents who are unaware of the early warning signs of speech/language disorders. As parents we want the best for our children but we must not encourage the ” wait and see” approach suggesting a child may grow out of communication issue. Delaying treatment means children may miss a critical developmental window where they acquire a majority of their foundational speech and language skills, which occurs between birth and five years of age.
The most common question from the parents is ” How long will it take?” well, no one has an answer for it and beware of anyone who does. Speech and language disorders are complex. There are many factors that can affect progress, some we can control and some that we cannot.
Being a child counsellor here are some tips for the parents to help your child overcome his/her speech disorder.
First and foremost take your child to a speech therapist or a paediatrician when you see warning signs like speech delay or your child being unable to achieve a milestone. Get a proper diagnosis done by a professional and start learning about the disorder and find the people who can help you.
This might sound obvious however many parents follow the advice “wait and see”. Parents are often told by well meaning friends and professionals that the child might grow out of it.
So instead of getting help they wait and see only to find out they should not have waited. This is very frustrating since another factor that affects progress is the child’s age. In most cases the sooner the better when it comes to therapy.Due to nature of brain. It is easier to learn language and communication skills before the age of 5.
TALK IT OUT
Talk with your child a lot. Read different types of books. Read every day, and talk with your child about the story. Help your child learn sound patterns of words. You can play rhyming games and point out letters as you read. Have your child retell stories and talk about his day. Talk with your child about what you did during the day. Give her directions to follow.
Talk about how things are the same and different. Give your child chances to write.
GIVE THEM TIME TO SPEAK
Because a child’s family members usually understand him or her best, it can be easy to rush in. Some parents and siblings, especially older siblings, begin answering for the child.
They want to protect the child, but helping your child have more confidence means you’re accepting their speech no matter how it sounds, and you’re not giving them a shot at trying. Be patient.
Remember language is everywhere, even if your child doesn’t understand everything you are saying, he or she needs the exposure. Car rides, walks outside, blowing bubbles are just a few examples. Describe what you see, and ask questions, e.g, “I see a dog. What does a dog say?” let your child learn from the things around him.
I stronglybelieve, Parents must avoid the “say this” tendency. Don’t pressure the child to speak; keeping the experience positive is important.
Instead pay attention to what the child says when he/she is ready.Ultimately, a child with a speech disorder craves to be understood. But it’s not always just in the form of speech: Sometimes, knowing that someone understands your experience can help you realize your voice is still worth being heard ,even if it sounds a little different.
Don’t focus on what your child can’t do. Focus on what he/she can do. Like a boss!
(The author is Counsellor, Jodhamal Public School)