Children at their early ages are most likely to face speech and language disorders. It is a very common problem in infants, but as time passes it becomes more than a passing concern for parents. However, when they try to fish out information about language disabilities and speech therapy, they often come across misleading information. While some people tell them that speech therapy treats only stuttering and lisping, some advise them never to use “baby talk”. In this way things might get very confusing for parents. So here some of the myths have been debunked to reveal the truth behind them. Read on…
Speech therapy can treat only lisping and stuttering
Many people have this idea that speech therapy sessions can only work for patients with lisping and stuttering problems. But to tell the truth, a speech pathologist deals with different kinds of speech disorders. Lisping and stuttering are just two of them. Aphasia, apraxia, dysphagia are some of the speech, language and swallowing impairments that can be treated with regular therapy under the supervision of an experienced speech language pathologist.
Speech therapy only involves talking
Do you think that speech therapy exercises are simply about talking? Think again! The speech language pathologists offer different programs for different difficulties. Each session is tailored to suit the requirement of an individual. The techniques or exercises blanket a wide range of tasks, from using sign language to verbal communication and the execution of communication aids to language comprehension. They also treat people with swallowing difficulties. The use of advanced methods enables a person to eat, drink and swallow food easily.
Children get bored of it
It is true that parents find it very difficult to keep their kids hooked to these therapies. But today many therapeutic centers have recreated their exercise techniques. They have made speech therapy exercises interactive and person-centered. While there is a chance to talk to the speech language pathologist face-to-face and discuss problems, for children they have introduced games, apps, toys and other playful activities to develop their interests. To get the best result, they have brought forth the most innovative and thrilling ideas for kids.
It’s an extended playtime for kids
These therapists often go back to the naturalistic approach for treating children. This suggests that they combine playing with teaching. For example, if a therapist is teaching a particular “d” sound, he/ she will take the help of a “doll” to familiarize the child with that exact sound and speech pattern. Similarly, for “t” sound, the kid is introduced to a “truck” or “train” for identification and speech improvement. As a result, the child learns to talk faster and more importantly, say things while visualizing the same. So this is definitely an extended playtime for children who can learn about a lot of new things while playing. In this process, parents can also stimulate interest in their sons/daughters about language by encouraging them to ask questions as well as reading with them.
“Baby talk” prevents language development
We often talk to infants in high pitched baby voice with exaggerated facial expressions and gestures to grab their attention. Contrary to impeding language development in babies, it actually helps in a number of ways. Here are few of them:
- Babies quite like the rhythm of the sing song baby voice. Even newborns seem to enjoy this talk.
- It helps babies know that the conversation is about them. They begin to learn new words related to people and the world as well as get to know many things about the world itself.
- It enables them to differentiate between words and sounds. As they begin to separate speech, the variations in pitch help them understand the difference between words and sounds in a stream of speech.
- Shorter and simpler sentences with frequent repetition of words make it easier for the tiny tots to comprehend what other person is saying. This, as a result, encourages them to communicate and integrate into social sphere.
Telegraphic speech helps kids learn to talk faster
The term “telegraphic speech” refers to short phrases and words without saying grammatically correct full sentences that are used by children at early age. For example, we often hear kids saying “Where glass?” instead of “Where is the glass?” or “Mom bag” instead of “This is Mom’s bag.” In a recent research, Prof. Marc Fey of the University of Kansas Medical Center has found that telegraphic speech can prevent a child’s learning of words and grammar. It particularly hinders them to utter complete sentences that are meaningful and grammatical correct. In a way, they fail to convey their message to others. It also deprives them of the useful information which comes from grammatically correct speech. In this case, the speech pathologists teach these children how to construct a sentence with short and simple words yet express their ideas without a hitch. The experts take various approaches including listening to language and grammar with picture cues that enable children to understand and learn new words and their meanings.
Bilingualism affects speech
Many parents believe that learning a second language can lead to speech disorder of their children. Though, in some cases, it proves to be true, the latest survey by the Department of Hearing and Speech completely denies it. A research on English-French bilinguals shows that children who know two languages perform better than those who have learnt only their mother tongue. Be it a cognitive task or a language skill test, they can do better. In fact, children who are learning two languages simultaneously will roughly go through the same development patterns as those learning only one language. Additionally, the speech experts say that the earlier a child learns another language, the better. Early age is a prime time to learn new things and the language around them. However, if a child is unable to grasp the new linguistic rules and patterns of another language, parents must not force it. Or else, they might mix up the vocabularies of two languages and be unable to use any of them properly.