Speech problems in kids
Speech problems in kids can be characterised as either a speech delay or a language delay. Speech and language delays are different in terms of where the difficulty lie:
Speech delays: This describes the vocal expression of language and refers to specific articulation errors. Thus, difficulty forming sounds and words correctly.
Language delays: This describes impairments in the processing of linguistic information. This may include difficulty with grammar (syntax and/or morphology), semantics (the meaning of language) or other aspects of language. These impairments could refer to receptive language (difficulty with language comprehension), expressive language (difficulty with language production) or a combination of both.
The following are common signs of speech problems in kids:
- Difficulty interacting socially- this could be due to a child’s inability to communicate effectively with peers.
- Struggling to understand and follow instructions. Some children with speech difficulties might have trouble processing what they hear.
- Delays in expressive and receptive language
- His/her words are not easily understood by others.
- Not connecting words to form age appropriate sentences and/or not structuring sentences appropriately.
- Pronounces certain sounds incorrectly in words (that is not age appropriate).
How speech problems in kids effect over all wellbeing:
Speech problems in kids does not only affect their ability to communicate successfully, but also effects their self-esteem and self-confidence. This in turn will influence how they interact with the world around them; it has an impact on their behaviour, relationships with others, ability to learn. These kids might become reclusive due to the impact that speech problems have on their quality of life. Therefore, kids with speech problems benefit from multi-dimensional approach to target not only the speech impairment, but also the difficulties that exist with, and because of speech problems.
Intervention for speech problems in kids:
At Catch Up Kids, our approach to therapy emphasises the importance of addressing all the difficulties coupled with speech problems in kids. A tailormade program is designed based on the child’s specific strengths and weaknesses. Therapy includes goals to assist with language development (expressive as well as receptive), emotional coping, academic support and the planning and organisation of speech. In addition to this, all therapists at Catch UP Kids are also fully trained in PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Motor Phonetic Targets) to assist with articulation errors. PROMPT is the use of tactile-kinaesthetic cues, on the facial area: This includes the jaw, tongue (under the chin) and other facial areas such as the lips, cheeks and smile lines. Further cues are given by applying pressure on the chest and larynx. This help to develop or restructure speech production output. However, and more importantly, PROMPT is about the dynamic way a child is viewed and treated. Depending on the nature of the delay or disorder this perspective may derive from normal child acquisition models of development or from models that stress maximising the child’s potential in spite of disordered or damaged systems. In its truest sense PROMPT is about developing appropriate, interactive oral communication for use in relationships and learning. Furthermore, receptive and expressive language development are addressed by creating an individualized program based on the child’s specific needs.