Speech is one of the main ways in which your child starts communicating with those around him. It develops naturally, along with other signs of normal growth and development. In certain cases, children might show speech or language problems, which once diagnosed and treated properly, would compensate the delays.
I visited Yasmine Darwish Shamseddine, speech and language therapist, who has been in this field for the past 14 years. Yasmine also works in scholastic and media domains, in order to spread more awareness, not only about language development, but also about learning skills. She explained and offered suggestions on how to diagnose if a child needs speech and language therapy.
1. When should someone consult a speech and language therapist?
“A mother can consult a speech and language therapist as early as the age of 8 months , to check for instance if the babbling is fine. “Consulting” should not be a taboo verb, it can actually be done whenever she feels she either needs tips or answers to her concerns.”
2. Does a speech and language therapy only deal with verbal language problems?
“Language delays, speech problems, pronunciation (or articulation), stuttering, learning difficulties, dyslexia, dysorthographia, dyscalculia, dysphonia and so on are among the cases that speech and language therapists deal with. Sometimes, the need of other therapists is essential in order to contain the symptoms better, and reach properly the objectives of the therapy.”
Language comes throughout the simplest form of play
3. What are the signs of a language delay?
“Each child learns at different rates, however all children follow general milestones; these exist to evaluate, approximately each child’s skills. If he/she does not show the following in these age ranges, consulting a speech and language therapist would be helpful and recommended.
Between 12 and 23 months:
– says mama/baba/dada
– uses gestures as a non-verbal mean of communication
– babbles many different sounds
– starts pointing at familiar objects or people
– makes sure he/she is understood by using different modes of communication
– plays in a more structured way
Between 24 and 35 months:
– responds to simple commands
– imitates actions
– starts using word-phrases: putting 2 words in a sentence even if grammatically incorrect
– initiates questions, even if in their own “ terms”, as a way of interacting with others
– sings, even if not very intelligible
Between 36 and 47 months:
– uses short sentences, with a better grammar structure, month after month
– repeats easier after someone
– articulates better some sounds
– understands more directions, complex ones included
– masters better foreign languages”
4. Starting which age can the child start speech therapy?
“Since we mentioned the basis of the milestones, whenever we feel that the child is not meeting half the points, speech and language therapy sessions can start. Sometimes, we start the therapy with parental guidance sessions, as a part of the child’s objectives. It provides limits, for both parents and children, consistency in dealing with children’s reactions and continuous involvement according to each child’s span.”
5. When does a child start showing improvement in therapy?
“Speech and language therapy hits both concrete and abstract developmental skills, therefore directly implemented objectives such as articulation show “faster” improvement than dealing with stuttering issues or reading skills- these take “more time”; however the child starts learning and applying the techniques from the beginning.”