Child Speech Problem
The development of speech and language skills do not follow the exact time frame for all children although there are developmental milestones at set ages and formal path of progression. By the ages four to five 90% of their speech can be understood and by six to seven articulation of all consonants and blends have been mastered. When a child does not meet these milestones in terms of language and speech, there is a possibility that the child may have a speech problem. The difference between a child language problem and a child speech problem is that child with a language problem is likely to have difficulty understanding what people are saying and might struggle to express their thoughts, a speech problem on the other hand is having a hard time uttering the correct sounds and combinations of sounds that make up speech, making it difficult to be understood by other people.
When looking at child speech problems one will undoubtedly be met by a variety of different possible problems/disorders. Hyponasality, Hypernasality, Oral Apraxia, a fluency disorder, articulation disorder, Dysarthria are all a form of child speech problem but what does this all mean and what can you as a parent do to help your child?
- Oral Apraxia – Using the muscles in and around the mouth (tongue and lips) voluntarily in order to create the correct sequence to make sounds needed in speech may be difficult. Speech has articulation inconsistencies.
- Dysarthria – Poor motor planning, paralysis or weakness of the muscles of the mouth. Speech is slow, slurred or sound is produced through the nose (hypernasal).
- A fluency disorder is, more simply put, stuttering. Speech is riddled with repetitions, elongated sound productions, hesitations, speech does not “flow”.
- Articulation disorder – During speech sounds are left out, uttered incorrectly or replaced by a different sound. Often presents itself as a lisp.
Unfortunately, the impact of a child speech problem reaches far beyond the difficulty of being understood by others. It is difficult enough navigating social interactions and a school environment without the added stress of having a hard time speaking. A child speech problem may cause anxiety, low self-confidence, a withdrawal from social activities and interaction with peers, it could also cause some academic difficulties when it comes to speaking in class, joining discussions, etc.
Catch Up Kids is a programme developed for children who have had a tough time keeping up in the school setting. The one on one teaching approach ensures that very specific areas that are of relevance to the child can be targeted. The programme often includes PROMPT, an acronym for PROMPTS for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets, which improves articulation, fluency, resonance, pitch and tone. PROMPT is used in combination with teaching skills to improve self-confidence, social interactions, promote self-regulation to decrease anxiety as well as areas such as cognition and executive functioning if needed.
Visit www.catchupkids.co.za for more information on how you could start improving a child speech problem and help your child catch up.