Understanding speech-language disorders
Today, there are millions of otherwise normal, healthy children, rich and poor alike, who are shut off from communication, even with their own parents. For these children, hearing, speech, language, or learning problems could arise from a variety of reasons. Research continues on the causes of speech and language development disorders, as well as associated learning disabilities in children. Because there is a wide age range for children to begin talking, parents may not, at first, recognize these communication disorders. As they wait expectantly for the first intelligible word uttered by their child, they may gradually become concerned that something is amiss.
Speech-language disorders affect approximately six million children in the United States. However, many of these childhood problems do not mean there is any mental deficiency or emotional disturbance. Often, these children have at least average or even superior intelligence. What they lack is the ability to exercise this intelligence through normal speech and language channels. RiteCare® of Minneapolis-St. Paul is committed to helping children with communication disorders receive treatment so they can be empowered to hear, to speak, to understand.
HOW TO IDENTIFY SPEECH AND LANGUAGE DISORDERS AND ASSOCIATED LEARNING DISABILITIES
Children who have these problems are sometimes hard to detect. As noted before, there is a wide age range for children to begin talking. Parents may become concerned later than desirable, may not recognize, or may misinterpret the symptoms. These children are often slow in developing a vocabulary or are difficult to understand, using incomplete or incorrect sentences.
They may have difficulties with attention, memory, or word retrieval. They may be slow in processing auditory information. There are many technical diagnostic terms for these problems, and some of them can sound terrifying to parents. However, parents must remember that these disorders do not mean there is any mental deficiency or emotional disturbance.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY EVALUATION AND TREATMENT
In the past few years, there has been increasing recognition of the importance of evaluating and treating childhood problems at the earliest possible stage. The chances of a child with a communication disorder attaining his or her peer group level are much greater if the child receives help at an early age.
WHAT TO DO IF A PARENT SUSPECTS A CHILD NEEDS HELP
A parent with concerns about a child’s language or learning ability should contact a qualified Speech and Language Pathologist for guidance, or contact appropriate municipal or state organizations. The first step is a complete evaluation of the child’s condition by medical professionals. In most instances, a child identified as having a communication disorder can be helped by speech and language therapy. However, a child who demonstrates overall developmental delays or severe handicapping conditions may require other forms of treatment, such as physical therapy or a full-time special education program. Any of the trained speech-language pathologists can recommend programs specializing in advanced treatment. The main thing parents should remember is to seek help as soon as possible if there is any indication that the child has a problem.