What is it?
Some children have problems with speech or with language; this is called Speech-Language Delay. Speech problems have to do with producing sounds, for example stuttering or lisps. Language problems have to do with understanding meanings. Language delay may be associated with cognitive difficulties.
Speech problems include:
- Difficulties producing sounds or pronouncing words.
- Difficulties with the flow of speech
- Problems with the pitch or volume of the voice
Language disorders are either:
- Receptive: difficulties understanding language
- Expressive disorders: difficulty producing language
What causes it?
Speech problems can be caused by a structural problem like a cleft lip or a neurological problem like cerebral palsy or acquired brain injury. Language problems may result from any number of learning disabilities or conditions such as autism.
Some physical speech problems can be treated by surgery. Problems like stuttering are treated by Speech-Language Pathologists who teach children how to deal with their particular problem.
Language problems can be addressed in a number of ways including the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), however it all depends on the nature of the language problem.
Eating and swallowing disorders are often associated with speech disorders and can be treated by a Speech-Language Pathologist. In some cases hearing loss is the root cause of speech or language problems, so it is important to test for this.
Looking down the road
Many speech problems can be resolved to the point they do not present serious ongoing problems. The impact of language problems on life depends of the extent of the problem and whether it is part of a broader condition, however in all cases treatment helps children achieve their potential.