If your child has a speech, language or hearing disorder don’t just wait and hope it will go away as he or she gets older. The sooner your child gets help, the better.
An audiologist can help your child with a hearing problem. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can help with voice disorders, speech sound disorders, fluency issues like stuttering, and language disorders.
There are also things you can do at home to help your child overcome these conditions. Here are some ways you can help:
If your child doesn’t understand language well and doesn’t try to communicate at his or her age level, make sure you are communicating clearly with your child to help him understand and learn to use language to communicate.
• Listen when your child talks and respond to what he says or gestures he uses.
• Interact with your child by talking, reading and playing together.
• Use the language you are most comfortable and fluent in to communicate with your child. It is good for young children to learn multiple languages.
• Vary the words you use when talking to your child. Don’t try to stick to a small selection of words.
• Talk to your child about what you and your child are doing.
• Vary the length of sentences and use longer sentences as your child grows older.
• Make sure your child has opportunities to play with other children.
Speech Sound Disorder
If your child pronounces certain sounds incorrectly, such as confusing p, b, m, h and w your child may have a speech sound disorder. You can help him or her learn the correct sounds by using them correctly when you speak. So be sure to speak clearly.
Don’t correct your child when he makes a speech sound error. Let him keep talking while you continue to model the sounds correctly when you talk.
Although waiting him out may be hard, it is important to give a child who stutters plenty of time to get the words out. Don’t interrupt or stop your child when he is speaking and help him know that you will give him time to talk.
Many young children stutter for a short time then stop on their own. If you are concerned about your child’s stuttering, see an SLP for evaluation.
Children with a voice disorder may sound hoarse or breathy or may have a very nasal-sounding voice. Encourage your child to play more quietly without shouting or screaming. And be sure to keep your child away from cigarette smoke.
Talk to your doctor to make sure there is no physical cause for your child’s unusual speaking voice.
If you have any concerns about your child’s speech or language development, your pediatrician can recommend a speech-language pathologist for an evaluation. The SLP can also help you understand how to help your child communicate more effectively.
If your child does not react to sounds or respond to his name, he or she may have hearing loss.
• All newborn babies should be screened for hearing. If your child did not pass this screening test, see an audiologist for further testing.
• Children can develop hearing loss at any age. Take your child to an audiologist for evaluation as soon as you suspect he might have a hearing problem.
• Talk to your audiologist about possible ways to help your child hear better including hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Children learn to communicate by hearing and responding to people around them. This development is especially critical during a child’s first three years.
Early detection and treatment for communication disorders can help your child catch up with other children his or her age and prevent delays in learning and social development.
If you suspect your child has a speech, language or hearing disorder, talk to your child’s doctor right away.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Early Detection of Speech, Language, and Hearing Disorders. Web. May 6, 2014.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Identify the Signs: Know the Signs. Web. May 6, 2014.
Reviewed May 14, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith