Language delay is more common than you think
When you are a child, what makes learning fun is to be able to communicate your ideas, thoughts and often, children speak much faster than they should. The main reason is the excitement to tell a story. Human beings are social by default. Communication is a necessity for our well-being. The advent of language is millennia old. The ability to communicate and get your thought across to someone else is truly a blessing. A child’s first words are always a cause for celebration in any part of the world. This also means that there is a standard age where parents might begin to expect their child to babble their first words. Most children do so at their own pace. Sometimes, however, it takes a child longer to articulate their first word. This may be because of a language delay.
We’ll take you to the story of Adam and Jane to serve as an example. Adam and Jane are the adoring parents of two little children; Mary is four years older than her brother Tom. Soon after Tom’s first birthday, Jane started to feel like something was amiss. She recalled Mary babbling and constantly trying to form words quite early in her infancy. Tom was quieter and more reserved. He had not begun to babble even after he turned one.
As Tom grew older, he continued to be quieter than his sister had been at his age. He replied to direct questions with monosyllables or actions. Sometimes it was hard to catch his attention. This caused Adam and Jane a great deal of worry. They took Tom to a specialist when he was two. It was then that little Tom was diagnosed with a mild hearing impairment. This was causing a delay in his language learning.
What exactly is a language delay?
A language delay is a particular kind of communication disorder. Communication disorders are often misdiagnosed as behavioral problems. Like in Tom’s case, a hearing disability might cause a language delay. Such a thing is completely out of the child’s control. 1 in every 10 Canadians has a speech or hearing disability. A language delay is rather common in children under three years of age. The reasons attributed to its existence are mentioned further below.
Language delays are not like speech disorders. Speech disorders are sound disorders. Children with speech disorders often mispronounce words. They also have slurred or unintelligible speech. Their communication skills in the language department might be all right. A language delay occurs when a child is unable to communicate properly. Speech and language disorders are independent of the other. Oftentimes language delays in children do not require proper treatment. These clear out as the child grows older. Some even excel at times in the field. Being spoken to and read to more often assists the child in developing resistance against a language delay.
Who is most likely to have a language delay?
It has been found that language delays are more common in male children than in female children. This is also a nod to the fact that the children mostly misdiagnosed for behavioral problems are boys. Male children are four times likelier to have a language disorder. This brings us to the second tier of children at risk. These include those with a genetic history of similar language impairment. Around 4% of the pre-school population in Canada has either a speech or a language disorder.
Language cannot be explicitly taught. It is acquired through practice and social interaction. The more you speak with your child, the more the child will understand the importance of communication. Language delay is mostly of two types. It can be either primary or secondary. Secondary language delay is due to another hidden factor. This is why it is a symptom for hearing impairment, global developmental disorder or autism. Like in Tom’s case, language delay was secondary.
Primary language delay occurs without any second difficulty causing it. It is not easy to identify a core reason for this kind of language delay. For some children, it might get better with constant rigorous practice. For others, it might need added help like a language and speech therapist.
How can you help a child with a language delay?
There is a great deal that can be done to assist a child with a language delay. Parents of children with a language delay should effectively try to get their children to ask for things. Here are a few techniques that can assist in this task:
- Communicate with your child as much as possible: Try to get your child to speak to you. If not speech, then get them to communicate with hand signals.
- Read to them: Reading aloud is like a verbal display. It follows the rhythm and affects the brain. Try to read things that can be of interest to your children. Get them to pay attention.
- Enunciate and speak plainly: Try to be plain and simple while asking your children to do things. Keep your language simple and easy.
- Seek out a speech and language pathologist: This is extremely important. Treatment is an important part of anything that might be affecting the natural course of life. If your child, or a child you know, is showing signs of a language delay, do not hesitate in seeing a specialist. Due to the fact that it is so common, speech and language pathology actually works. Do not base your child’s language development on the off-chance that they might “grow out of it”.
Speech therapy and Language Delay
At Pillars of Wellness in Burlington, Tom was shown to an SLP. An SLP is short for a Speech and Language Pathologist. Also known commonly as speech therapists, these specialists are trained to recognize language and speech disorders. This is where Tom was properly diagnosed with a hearing disability that was hindering his language skills.
With proper auditory exercises and language exercises, a speech therapist ensures that the language delay is dealt with. A child with an undiagnosed language delay can become reserved and socially distant. Do not hesitate in seeking out help for a child you think might have this problem. Help them get better with the help of a speech therapist.