Children with speech and language disorders have communication problems. In particular, they have difficulties with oral motor movements and functions. These disorders range inability to learn or understand language, to hearing loss, neurological disorders, physical impairments or vocal abuse. Other disabilities such as mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy and attention deficit hyperactive disorders (ADHD) could be related as well.
The late bloomer
When a child's speech or language ability is noticeably slower than his peers, he is considered 'delayed'. Speech disorders range from stuttering to problems with pitch, volume, and quality of voice. Listeners may have problems understanding what the child is trying to say. Language disorder refers to the inability to understand or use words in context, both verbal and non-verbal. Children with language disorder might see or hear words but do not understand its meaning, making it hard for them to get others to understand what they are trying to say.
Some characteristics of children with communication include:
inability to follow instructions
difficulties in syntax
difficulties in articulation
hoarseness, breathiness and harshness
Of the symptoms, stuttering is a particularly interesting one. It usually appears at pre-school and may spontaneously disappear by adolescent. However, speech and language therapy should still be considered.
Depending on the combination of symptoms, a complex communication disorder may present itself. For example, a child with hearing loss may appear to have difficulty with communication, though the inability to hear properly is the real cause. Thankfully, we can detect the presence and severity of hearing loss even with newborn babies and provide assistance.
Many speech and language disorders are developmental rather than physiological. Good language experiences are central to a child's development. In the past, children with communication disorders are singled out and often removed from regular classes. This only serves to worsen the problem.
More and more educators are beginning to realise that keeping the child as mainstream as possible is the better way to help the child develop their communication skills. To accomplish this goal, the child's teachers, parents and therapists must work together to help the child learn.
Publication of article by courtesy of MOHD FIRDAUS BIN MAZALAN Speech & Language Therapist Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia