Is there a difference between speech, language, and communication?
Speech, language, and communication are three different things. Knowing the difference between these terms can be helpful. If a child has a developmental delay, it is important to know which area the delay is in so that it can be treated.
Communication refers to sharing information and can include waving hello or using sign language.
Speech refers to communication through spoken words made up of sounds.
Language refers to the rules for what words mean, how to make new words and how to put words together to make phrases and sentences.
Children may not develop in all of these areas equally, and when they fall noticeably behind in any one of these areas, professional help should be sought from a Speech Therapist.
If I am concerned about a child’s speech or language development, what should I do?
Trust your instincts! Most people will tell you that your child will “outgrow” their speech and language delay. This may be true, but it may also be completely false. Early intervention is always best, so if your child needs help with his/her speech and language development, it is important that you get the help as soon as possible. Language problems often run in families, so if you have a family history of language problems, it is even more important to consult with a Speech Therapist.
A Speech Therapist is a health professional who will be able to help you with the evaluation and management of speech and language delays/disorders.
Will Using A Dummy Affect My Child's Speech?
Many children use a dummy and don’t have speech difficulties and dummies can play a very important role in comforting a small baby. However, once your child has turned 6 months old, you should start to consider how much they are using the dummy. By frequently using a dummy while awake, your baby is discouraged from exploring with sounds and babbling. Once your child starts saying words, it is highly recommended to get rid of the dummy and if you feel your child still needs the comfort, limit it to when they are sleeping. Having a dummy in the mouth discourages trying to talk, limits practising to talk, can lead to your child trying to talk through the dummy and can encourage the sucking reflex. Talking with a dummy in the mouth can definitely negatively impact the development of speech sounds.
My Child Has Had Many Ear Infections. Will This Affect His/Her Speech?
A child who suffers from a lot of colds or ear infections may be vulnerable to middle ear blockage, which means that their hearing may fluctuate. Children learn speech and language through hearing others. If they cannot hear properly, they may present with delays in certain areas of speech and language development. There has been evidence that children who suffer from chronic middle ear infection are at an increased risk of a speech and language delay.
I Understand What My Child Says But No One Else Does. Is There A Problem?
This depends on the age of your child. As a general guideline, from 19-24 months a person should be able to understand 25-50% of what your child is saying; from 2-3 years old a person should be able to understand 50-75% of what your child is saying; from 4-5 years old a person should be able to understand 75-90% of what your child is saying and from 5 years onwards a person should be able to understand 90-100% of what your child is saying. Always consider what others can understand, as it will be easier for you to understand your child as you are used to how they speak and have learnt to understand them.
What Is Normal Dysfluency In Young Children?
Many children experience moments of dysfluent speech during their years of rapid language development. This is between the ages of 2-5 years old. Normal dysfluency may include pausing, repeating words or sounds and stopping and starting while talking. The child will not appear to be bothered by these dysfluent moments.
What Is Stuttering?
Stuttering may develop when the normal dysfluencies occur very often and interfere with the communication process or when they cause distress to the speaker or listener. Relaxed repetitions become tense and your child struggles to finish a word. They become aware of the difficulties in their speech and may develop secondary behaviours to try and “help” them say the word, e.g. blinking their eyes, clenching their fists etc.