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How Can A Toddler Be Helped With Articulation Disorder?

Speech Therapist teaching children about articulation

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What is the basis of an articulation disorder?

For new parents, some of the most heart-warming things to hear are their child say their first words. By the time your child is two years old, they start picking up verbal cues. These developmental years of a child’s life are very important. Every child develops their speech and language skills at their own pace. However, sometimes it may take longer due to an articulation disorder. Speech therapy can help in making that part of life easier.

According to studies, one in every ten Canadians suffers from a speech or language disorder. A large number of those afflicted comprise of preschool children and toddlers. Of all pre-school children, 4% suffer from either a speech or language disability.

On the other hand, it is also very possible that your child is just slower in catching verbal cues and sounds. Oftentimes this delay is attributed to the physical part of articulation and speech. This means it may be difficult for your child to naturally make sounds, or move their mouth to form the words. In any case, there is a lot you can do in order to ensure that you help your child with speech.

Understanding when your child needs speech therapy

Every child develops speech at their own time, and at their own pace. Some of the best public speakers in history are known to have had speech defects in their childhood. It is something that is not impossible to overcome. Speech is something that your toddler learns through experience and demonstration. Although you might feel like your child has even crossed the reasonable stage for a late bloomer. In this case, there is no harm taking children speech therapy.

It is inadvisable, however, to do nothing about it. Speech defects can cause your child a lot of consternation in the future. Humans are social beings. Communication is part of our natures. Speech disabilities can cause problems for your child in the future.

Allow us to tell you about two of our clients, Amanda and Grant. Parents of lovely three-year-old Lila, they had no idea what to expect. Lila is their first child so they had no other children to compare her speech acquisition with. In a parent-teacher meeting, they learned that Lila was having speech difficulties. They found out that she had more difficulty responding to questions as compared to her friends.

By the time your toddler is three, they should be able to answer complex questions. These are questions that have more than yes or no answers. Lila seemed to have problems trying to get the answers out. Not being able to communicate properly often frustrated her. This made Grant and Amanda seek help at a professional level. This is what children speech therapy is all about.

What types of speech disorders are there?

Most people often confuse speech and language disorders. Speech disorders are related to difficulties in the production of sounds. Language disorders make it difficult to string thoughts together for understanding. Speech disorders are very common. Lila also was diagnosed by a speech disorder in her children speech therapy sessions.

There are three main types of speech disorders:

  • Articulation disorders: These are related to the creation of sounds and formation of words and sentences. This is the speech disorder type that was causing Lila frustration. She found it difficult to get the right words out in a way that was understandable. Much like the name suggests, she was unable to properly articulate her responses. She often strung together words but they became meaningless to her listeners.
  • Fluency disorders: Stuttering is a fluency disorder. Children with this kind of speech disorder either elongate sounds or have difficulty finishing words.
  • Voice disorders: This type is less common. Children with voice disorders often say things in a pitch or voice quality that is not legible.
  • Children speech therapy sessions can assist in all three of these problems.

What can you do to help your toddler’s speech?

A child develops the best part of their speech between the ages of two to three. If you or somebody you know is a new parent, it may help to follow some of these steps in order to ensure their toddler’s speech growth.

  • It is advised to create an environment at home that encourages communication. Ask your child about their day. Talk about everything. Ask them questions about where something is. Talk to them about the things they did that day.
  • Baby-talk really helps. Baby-talk is just another word for technical child-directed speech. Exaggerate your actions with facial expressions. This creates an understanding of what you are saying. It also demonstrates to the child the way your mouth moves when you say things. Children learn best by imitation. So make it easy for them to imitate your speech and sound.
  • Point and play while you ask them questions. Make understanding as effortless as you can. Break sentences down so it is easy for them to understand. Talk to them on the phone.
  • Use speech and sound exercises.

How child speech therapy helps

Amanda and Grant brought Lila into Pillars of Wellness for a diagnosis. The speech and language pathologist (SLP) assigned to her gave them a list of speech exercises to practice at home. Articulation therapy helped her form sounds in order to properly communicate. This is done during play activities. The SLP showed Lila physically how to create a specific sound. First, he made sure to understand what she was trying to communicate. Then he figured out her common speech pattern. Every child with an articulation disorder has a speech pattern unique to them. To them, it is perfectly clear, but may be difficult for others to understand.

After this, the SLP goes through speech exercises. Practice plays a key role in speech therapy. It is detrimental to her development for her to practice speech often at home. Speech therapy is most effective for children aged five and younger. If you know a child who seems to have symptoms similar to Lila’s, make sure to get a diagnosis. Speech therapy will help them in the long run!

Laurent Pinci
Laurent Pinci
Pillars of Wellness is a truly Integrated Healthcare Centre providing a high degree of collaboration and communication among health providers.