Communication disorders refer to a variety of disorders that may affect a person’s ability to detect, comprehend, or apply speech and language to effectively engage in discourse with others. Over 10% of children suffer from communication disorders. A problem in a particular area of communication can affect other areas. For example – hearing impairment in a child can disrupt his/her ability to adjust the tone or pitch of voice, leading to voice disorders.
Types of Communication Disorders
Communication disorders are classified into several types –
Signs Indicating Communication Disorders in Children
Each child with a communication disorder may show unique symptoms. Nevertheless, the most common ones observed in a child are –
Most children with the above disorders are able to speak by the time they enrol in a school. However, they may still face problems communicating. Children of school-going age may have problems forming and understanding words, while teenagers often face trouble expressing or comprehending abstract ideas.
Even though the symptoms may seem like an indication of some other health problem, be sure to take your child to a therapist for proper diagnosis.
How are Communication Disorders in children diagnosed?
In most cases, children with communication disorders are referred to as an SLP or a Speech-language pathologist. A complete evaluation involves –
How to treat Communication Disorders in children?
Treatment for communication disorders in children may include one or more of the following types of approaches –
Speak with your therapist or counsellor about the needs of your child, as they can prepare a treatment plan to help your child cope with the difficulties they face with communication disorders.
Every child is different so are their developmental pace. Some children may have difficulty in their growth that either led to slow or late development. Children may have a problem in their speech which makes it difficult for them to talk and communicate with others that can affect their personality and overall development.
Oral Placement Therapy or OPT is a kind of speech therapy that uses a combination of visual stimulation, auditory stimulation, and tactile stimulation to help improve speech clarity and feeding skills. Oral Placement Therapy is utilized to improve and develop articulator awareness and stability, muscle memory, and placement including grading, dissociation, and direction of movement, that play a significant role in the development of speech clarity.
Elements of Speech
There are four significant elements of muscle movement which result in speech. The first element is awareness of the oral structures, which is the sensory element of movement. If the child is not able to feel the muscle position, feeding abilities and speech clarity will be compromised. A child may be tactile defensive or hypersensitive, hyposensitive to tactile input, or may have a fluctuating or mixed response to tactile inputs. These kinds of reactions can be seen in children diagnosed with conditions such as ADHD, autism, down syndromes, cerebral palsy, visual impairments, apraxia, and others. The Awareness of the oral structures helps in developing and improving speech clarity and feeding abilities.
Another critical element of speech is the placement of the oral structures. OPT does not include traditional methods, instead, it adds the tactile stimuli to explain and teach oral placement structures. Particularly in children with dyspraxia or childhood apraxia of speech, tactile cues play a significant role in improving feeding skills and speech clarity. OPT employs various therapy tools such as bubbles, jaw grading bite blocks, grabbers, horns, straws, chewy tubes, and others. These tools are used in a structured and hierarchical manner to help children maximize all their sensory systems to improve their skill levels.
Once the child becomes aware of his/her oral structures and has learned about the placement of jaws, tongue, and lips for particular sounds and feeding skills, OPT starts working on building a child’s endurance, stability, and muscle memory. It means that movements are taught to the muscles via increased repetitions to make the movements become automatic and so that they are not lost. The number of repetitions is based upon endurance, muscle memory, stability, and adequate strength requirements and should be followed closely by the therapist.
The last element of speech is the production of speech sounds or talking, which is not as easy as it seems. Speech production is a result of a lot of brain processes. One needs to be aware of his/her oral structures, placement of his/her oral structures, possess required stability, muscle memory, strength, and endurance to be able to produce speech sounds or movements required for appropriate feeding skills. One should have a strong, graded, and stable jaw to develop the foundation for good speech production skills.
Oral Placement Therapy is used to help children and individuals to have speech clarity and feeding skills. This therapy works in a structured and hierarchical manner including four critical elements of the Speech. Parents and guardians should understand the need of their child if he/she has difficulty in speaking and feeding skills and should consult a therapist to help their child develop these skills.
Some children have more difficulty building vocabulary and articulating sounds as compared to others. In such cases, a speech therapist can help. A speech therapist will help your child learn to enunciate properly, build their vocabulary and help them communicate better. Many speech problems such as stuttering begin in early childhood and if left untreated, can continue into the child’s adult life as well. Working with a speech therapist can help prevent this. Some of the benefits of consulting a speech therapist include:
Speech disorders refer to the conditions that affect an individual’s ability to form sounds that allow them to communicate with others. They are not the same as language disorders. Speech disorders stop people from producing correct speech sounds. A language disorder, on the other hand, affects one’s ability to comprehend language and learn words. Nevertheless, both disorders make it difficult for a person to express feelings and thoughts in front of others.
Types of Speech Disorders
Speech disorders can affect anyone, at any age. Some common types of speech disorders are the following –
Stuttering – This type of speech problem interrupts your normal speech flow. Frustration, excitement, or stress can cause stuttering to become more serious.
Apraxia – This refers to brain damage resulting in impediment of an individual’s motor skills. Speech Apraxia specifically refers to the damage of motor skills affecting a person’s ability to create speech sounds correctly, even if they are aware of the right words.
Dysarthria – This occurs when brain damage causes the face muscles – lips, tongue, or throat – to weaken. Muscle weakness in certain body parts can make it difficult for a person to speak correctly.
Symptoms of Speech Disorders
If you have a speech disorder, you are likely to experience symptoms such as –
Prolonging or repeating sounds
Adding syllables or sounds to words
Difficulty in pronouncing
Psychological Rehabilitation for Speech Problems
Psychological rehabilitation includes certain programs like speech therapy and physical exercises that help the disabled person cope with the physical as well as emotional aspects of the impairment.
The rehabilitation program provides support to the patient when performing routine activities, which might be challenging to cope with otherwise when you have a certain speech disorder. A team of professionals offer assistance with behaviours, emotions, and developing coping skills.
When a child has difficulty forming sounds it may affect their development and other aspects of their lives. For example, a child with an articulation error may have difficulty completing schoolwork or interacting socially with their peers. This is where articulation therapy comes into play. The goal of articulation therapy is to help a child produce challenging sounds and achieve age-appropriate speech.
Proper articulation helps children
Let's start with a definition of articulation. Articulation is the process of physically producing a sound, syllable, or word. This is accomplished by using the lips, tongue, teeth, jaw, and palate to control the flow of air. Articulation errors come in four varieties: substitution, omission, distortion and addition; the acronym soda may help you remember them.
Substitution occurs when one sound is replaced with another, such as sorry/sowwy. In very young children, this isn't always a cause for concern. Omission is the removal of a difficult sound when forming a word. Think of dick van dyke's atrocious cockney accent from the movie, chitty chitty bang bang'ello guvnah! distortion errors occur when a child can't produce the correct sound; for example, children with a frontal lisp may have difficulty with the /s/ sound. An addition error involves the use of an incorrect sound or syllable, such as ending all words with an /s/ sound.
A key point in understanding articulation errors is their relationship to physiological, rather than psychological, issues. A child who has a rhotacism, or the inability to pronounce the letter /r/, understands how to pronounce the letter and sound, but has a physical impairment that prevents him or her from producing them correctly.
Autism is a developmental disorder that is usually diagnosed within the first three years of a child’s life. Speech disorders and an inability to communicate with others are characteristic symptoms of autism. Speech therapy can be very beneficial for such children. Thus, it is often a major part of a treatment plan for autism. Some of the benefits of speech therapy for autistic children include:
Speech therapy does not follow the same techniques for all children. For therapy to be effective, the therapist must work in close collaboration with the child’s parents and caregivers to set the right goals and monitor the child’s progress. Some of the techniques that may be used include the use of electronic talkers, typing or signing, picture boards, facial exercise and massages, using rhyme to help construct sentences and using sounds to help the child expand speech sounds. If the child is non-verbal, the therapist may also introduce alternatives to verbal communication.
As a parent, you feel a special deep panic when you realize that your child—your beautiful, clever, funny child, who regularly surprises you with precocious bons mots, who built an ingenious bow out of tubing and rubber bands that can shoot a chopstick across the living room with remarkable accuracy—is having trouble learning to read.
Meanwhile, all the other kids appear to be breezing along, polishing off Harry Potter books while your child stumbles over the difference between "how" and "now." You don't want to be one of those hysterical parents who gets all crazy about every little developmental bump in the road, but, hey, your kid can't really read yet, and the others can. In your darker moments, you feel the desolate urge to ratchet down your ambitions for your child from valedictorian to graduating at all.
Such fears may be exaggerated, but they're not irrational. Reading ability does predict school achievement and success (which is, of course, related to income, health, and other factors), and reading gains ever greater importance beyond school, as more jobs are now based on information and technology. Failure to read places significant limits on how one fares in other parts of life. And a lot of people never do learn to read well: Approximately 40 percent of fourth grade children in the United States lack basic reading skills; 20 percent of all graduating high school seniors are classified as functionally illiterate (meaning that their reading and writing skills are insufficient for ordinary practical needs) ; and about 42 million adults in the United States cannot read. So, you're not nuts to take a reading problem seriously.
Now for some perspective. First, let's take a moment to recognize that compared with the development of oral language, the acquisition of reading is unnatural. Speech and the ability to understand speech can be considered the result of a natural process in the sense that the requisite skills emerge without formal training. Several species of animal employ sounds such as clicking, whistles, song, or foot-tapping in a fashion that constitutes focused and targeted communication (and dolphins actually seem to have names for one another). Before children can speak fluently, they move from sounds to words, words to phrases, and so on, acquiring their growing expertise from exposure to the speech around them. They then make efforts to speak, with little formal guidance. By contrast, children must be taught to read.
The good news for kids who have trouble reading is that while a deficiency in reading may look like an across-the-board failure, it is often a local problem in just one or two of the components that add up to the ability to read. Reading, like golfing or playing the guitar, is not one big global skill but a constellation of many smaller ones. When we read fluently, the little skills weave together so seamlessly that they look like single expertise.
It's important to look at the components because a holdup in the development of any single one may be at fault in a child's poor performance in reading. If we can identify the component that's not doing its share, we can do a great deal to improve reading. The components that makeup reading are interrelated and overlapping, but distinguishable:
As a parent with no particular professional expertise in teaching literacy, there's a lot you can do on the level of normal play and routine home life to promote reading—and without turning it into a chore or a high-pressure struggle.
Parents can begin working on the components of reading when their child is still an infant and extend the process throughout childhood. To begin with, the more the child knows about oral language, the better. When she begins to read, she will draw upon a reserve of expertise that she first built up as a speaker and listener: vocabulary, comprehension, phonological awareness, connecting words to things.
With infants, talk to the child and encourage him to make a range of talk like sounds. Begin reading to the child, and keep books around, including some within the child's reach. Do what you can to make reading fun, enjoyable, peaceful, and engaging, setting the stage for what comes next at the toddler level. You are building command of sounds, love of reading, and an appreciation of the value and importance of books.
With toddlers and pre-schoolers, it helps to connect reading to some routine such as bedtime, nap time, or a pre or after meal lull. Select topics she likes; let the child select books for you to read. Get in the habit of activities or games that rhyme and otherwise play with sounds: songs, jingles, made-up phrases (e.g., "Billy is silly" to catch the rhyming sounds, "Sally sounds silly" to catch the sound of the initial S). Nursery rhymes are especially rich in words, rhyming, and other fundamentals. Talk about a greater range of subjects, even very mundane ones—like pointing to the parts of a car or animal in an illustration and labeling them. As you read, stop and ask a gentle question: "What do you think Babar is thinking here?" or "What do you think will happen next?" These are great for comprehension. If the question is too difficult, offer a little more guidance by attaching a statement: "I'll bet Babar is a little lonely. What do you think would make him feel better?" Also, you can encourage your child to experiment with writing, which helps reading because she uses sounds to try to write the word. You might see the child write "sn" for "sun," a great start that shows awareness of sounds and the breakdown of words into sounds.
As your child continues in elementary school and begins to work hard during the school day on reading, it's a good idea to continue reading with and to him, mixing in casual writing practice (some kids will go for the idea of alternating entries in a journal with a parent) and talking over dinner and in other family settings about what the child has read.
If there's a series of books that speaks to one of your child's enthusiasms, helping him get into that series will allow him to become familiar with continuing characters and engage with a larger story, which makes even new books seem familiar.
Keep a dictionary around and easily accessible, and use it once in a while, inviting your child to do this with you. The dictionary not only reinforces vocabulary and comprehension, it helps your child decode words by showing that they are composed of syllables that can be sounded out.
Makeup word games to play while driving or in a store. "Think of words that sound like snow" is good for a first or second grader, but you can work up to more complicated games for older children. If you make the play competitive (if your family is into that), please resist the temptation to rattle off 50 words in a row and then do your special taunting wiggly victory dance.
And, of course, continue to show by your actions and not just your pronouncements that reading is engaging, relevant, and a path to fresh experiences. Keep books around where your child can pick them up in the natural course of things. And don't forget to pick up a book yourself. Model the desired intimacy with books; doesn't just preach it.
You can't add becoming a full-time reading tutor to the already fulltime demands of parenting, and children will vary in interest, ability, and attention, so you'll inevitably have to select just a few of the many possible activities to promote reading skills. In general, go for regularity—a little almost every day, as part of a routine that links reading to the more relaxed moments in the day—rather than a Shakespeare marathon one Saturday a month. And when setting priorities, bear in mind that two activities are clearly the most critical:
Reading may be important and complex and very scary when your child has trouble with it, but parents should take heart in remembering that mundane low-pressure practice during games and other activities with you can make an enormous difference. Even a slightly increased sensitivity to breaking down sounds or rhyming, even a slightly heightened familiarity with books and motivation to engage with them, can provide a significant boost at school. Reading preparation is at the top of the list of factors that make a difference in school achievement. Such preparation need not - and should not - feature threats, severity, and drudgery. Instead, help your child to read by doing what you do anyway - playing with him, talking with her - in a slightly more purposeful manner.
People who suffer from language disorder can have problems in expressing themselves and also in understanding what other people are saying. They seem to interpret things in a completely different manner and out of context. This language disorder, which was previously known as receptive-expressive language disorder, is most prevalent among young children.
Around 10 to 15 percent of the cases occur among those, who are under the age of 3. This is according to the University of Mississippi Medical Centre. By the time, children attain the age of 4 years; language ability becomes stable and can get measured in a more accurate fashion, whether or not any deficiency exists.
Before looking into the ways through which language disorders can be treated, we will go deep into the concept and understand better by way of the symptoms related to expression, symptoms related to understanding other people and the causes behind language disorder.
Symptoms and Types
Related to Expression: Language disorder is usually noticed in childhood for the first time. There could be overuse of “uh” and “um” as they are unable to find the right word.
Some other symptoms include:
Lack of vocabulary as compared to other children of the same age.
Their ability to frame sentences becomes limited.
Have a problem in using the right set of words to explain something.
Children are unable to converse properly with others.
Related to Understanding Others:
Another important aspect of language disorder is when children face a hard time of trying to understand others when they say something. This can lead to face difficulty while following instructions given by others regarding the directions to get to home and school. Now, if at 1.5 years of age, a child does not respond verbally to questions or at least through a nod or headshake, then that could be a clear case of language disorder.
Causes behind Language Disorder
The cause of this disorder is often not known. There is a possibility that genetics and nutrition can have a role but till now they have not been proved.
Language disorder, thereby leading to a delay in language development might well be related to:
Other developmental problems might also arise, including:
Loss of hearing
A person can become autistic.
The best treatment option for those suffering from language disorder would be speech and language therapy. Both these therapies help in getting people out of the difficulties faced while trying to communicate or even while trying to eat, drink and swallow. The therapists work in tandem with parents, caretakers, doctors and nurses.
Language disorder might well be accompanied by emotional and behavioural problems, which could be treated by way of Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
Psychotherapy helps to find out where the problem lies, get to the root of the problem and by making a person expresses his or her problems through careful questioning, can help them get rid of the problems.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is also a talk therapy, which allows people to manage their problems by helping them change their way of thinking.
The role of parents in language development of children is a primary one. Basically, it will be a one way communication as babies will not respond but that should not deter you from speaking to them. It has been shown that talking to children early on helps them to talk faster and learn more words. The number of words a child hears is directly proportional to the amount of vocabulary he/she will be able to master.
6 ways to help your baby learn speaking:
1. Let them listen a lot
Children learn speaking by listening first. So more and more words they will listen, so do they will speak. Make sure your child comes in contact with children in the peer group and plays with them. Many words they will learn with the help of their friends.
2. Read a book
You should start to read to your child as early as possible. The type of book is not as important as you may use various touch and feel books such as graphic novels. Initially, you may start with board books and then move on to picture books and finally to story books. It helps in increasing the child's vocabulary.
3. Talk as much as you can
Part of a child's ears and brain that respond to sound are developed since birth, so even though talking to your baby may not make much sense, talking to them enhances their development of speech. The infant absorbs the words which facilitates speaking.
4. Look for cues
If the child is interested in something such as a book or a toy, then engage with the child on that subject. Encourage him/her to ask questions and interact as much as possible. These interactions help in enhancing the child's language skills.
5. Limit television
Using television to teach vocabulary to your child is not as effective as talking directly. The primary reason is that characters in television do not react to your child's cues. This does not allow the child interact which results in reduced language learning.
6. Treat ear infections early
It is important to treat ear infections early as this causes hearing problems which in turn delays language learning. Consulting a pediatrician to get treatment for ear infections of your child is advisable. You should see to it that the child is being administered medications at regular intervals.
Some children find it too hard to communicate with others through speech. Thus it is imperative for them to learn how to communicate their thoughts and needs, make choices and interact with others. This is where a speech therapist can help.
Here are some of the ways a speech therapist can help non-verbal children.