The most typical disorder we treat is a speech, or articulation, disorder. Almost all children will experience some errors when they are learning to speak. We become concerned when children continue to have errors in their speech as they get older.
Some children also have very distinct patterns to the errors in their speech. They may leave off all the sounds at the end of words or replace every sound that requires air to be blown out the mouth (like f, s, or th). These are two of the most common patterns, or processes, that children sometimes use when learning to speak, but there are many more. Still other children have speech errors because of problems coordinating the muscles used when speaking.
Every language has characteristics and rules that children learn as they interact with others, and that will eventually result in normal comprehension and expression during conversation. These characteristics include vocabulary, social skills, sentence structure (or sentence building), and grammar. Children are not born knowing the rules of language. Instead, they learn them as they interact and speak with others. One of the best ways to teach your child good language skills is to use good language skills while talking and playing with the child.
Many children who have a hearing loss will also have problems with their speech and language skills. Depending on the severity of their hearing loss and the level of amplification, these children may have anywhere from relatively unimpaired speech to a complete lack of speech.
Oral speech and/or sign language are both options that can be taught to or used with children who have a hearing impairment.
Disorders, Impairments, and Syndromes
There are many developmental disorders, physical and cognitive impairments, and syndromes that can affect a child’s speech and language development. The most common ones we work with at our Center are Autism, Asperger’s syndrome, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and Fragile X; however, there are many more that can result in speech and language disorders. Feeding and Swallowing Some children may have problems chewing and swallowing food safely.
Others can have problems with certain textures or consistencies. Once children start eating foods, other than just breast milk or formula, they have to learn how to chew and swallow the new type of food. As they grow and their diet becomes more complex, they may have problems handling textures or consistencies that other children their age enjoy without difficulty.
Problems swallowing some or all consistencies of food may be a health hazard and can make getting proper nutrition difficult. Fluency Children who have a disorder of fluency, most commonly known as stuttering, are often very self conscious of their speech. They may repeat sounds, parts of words, or whole words. They may even have difficulty getting certain words out at all, and can have odd or distracting physical or vocal routines that accompany their stutter.
Some people, children included, develop disorders of their voice because of physical problems, like vocal polyps or nodules, or because of abusive vocal habits, like yelling or using a harsh quality when speaking.