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.
Trouble with speech arises from a number of issues in the brain or the nerves that are responsible for the control of the larynx, vocal cords and facial muscles. Muscular disorders end up affecting the teeth, mouth and jaws which in turn will invariably impair speech. Sometimes many of the health conditions are present since childbirth whereas others might occur because of infections, injury, tumors and metabolic diseases.
There are different kinds of speech disorders; they are -
As most of the cases of speech disorders start to show early on in childhood, how can you tell if your child needs speech therapy?
Here are five signs that you should keep an eye out for:
Most children are known to be talkative. However, some children may find it more difficult than others to speak clearly and expand their vocabulary. In such cases, a speech therapist may be needed. Here are a few frequently asked questions about speech therapists.
What is speech and language therapy?
Speech and language therapy is aimed at helping individuals develop better communication skills. These therapists can help a child enunciate properly, build a wider vocabulary, construct sentences and interact better with others. They can also help treat stutters and swallowing problems.
What does speech therapy involve?
Speech therapy can be practiced at home, in a clinic or at schools. The first step of this therapy is to set a clear goal. This goal should be measurable, realistic and be attached to a time frame. Therapy sessions may be in the form of group sessions or one-on-one sessions. This also includes parent education programs to help build an environment that fosters learning.
Can speech therapy benefit children with learning disabilities?
Speech therapy can be very beneficial for children with learning disabilities like autism or down syndrome. In such cases, a speech therapist can help the child develop better speech patterns and help them express themselves. By doing this, they can also make the child a better listener and help them follow simple instructions and answer questions.
When does a child need speech therapy?
If a child does not meet the general milestones for his or her age by the age of 2 years, he may need to see a speech therapist. This includes a limited vocabulary, using single words instead of phrases, answering questions by repeating the question etc. Not being able to pronounce vowels could also be a sign that speech therapy is needed.
How long will a child need speech therapy?
Each child learns at a different pace. Hence, there is no uniform duration of speech therapy. The duration of the therapy depends on the severity of the problem, the improvement shown in sessions and reinforcement available at home.
How can parents help with speech therapy?
A therapist has limited time available with the child. Hence, the responsibility of evaluating the child’s progress falls largely on the parents. Parents are involved in the therapy right from the stage of setting goals. Later, they can also help by reinforcing the therapist’s exercises at home. For this, the therapist may share instructional videos with the parents.
Stammering or stuttering is a speech disorder resulting in discontinuity in the pace and rhythm of the speech. Stammering usually results from such physiological factors as neuromuscular problems, obstruction in the speech organs, difficulty in moving your lips and tongue, inability to control the muscles that are vital to speech. Difficulty in pronouncing a word, repetition of a word or emphasizing on a particular word for a long time, often followed by certain signs such as shaking of lips, rapid blinking of eye- these are the usual signs of stammering.
Although more common among children at an early age, stammering can affect people of all age groups. The most common and effective treatment suggested by doctors and healthcare professionals to help reduce stammering is speech therapy.
Speech therapy requires time and patience. You will need to sit with your speech specialist for multiple sessions, say twice or thrice a week. Each of the therapy sessions takes about 2-4 hours. The time period and amount of stammering therapy needed vary from one person to another, depending on how much progress you make. During a speech therapy session, your doctor will teach you the following-
For those who have been handicapped with this speech disorder since many years, it may take much longer time to get rid of the negative feelings associated with stammering, but there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Speech therapy is a simple yet effective treatment to overcome stammering in the long run.
Autism is a kind of developmental disability, which usually crops up before a child attains the age of 3. It is just part of a group of neurological disorders, which involve impaired communication along with impairment in social interaction and cognitive skills. It is better known as Autism spectrum disorder, it might well be linked with a wide variety of traits.
The traits include:
Activities done on a repetitive basis.
Extreme level of resistance to changes brought about in daily routines.
Very unusual reactions to things like touch.
Problem having interactions with the environment.
Children suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder can have some of the major problems with regard to both speech and carry out communications in a non-verbal manner. Social interactions might also become very difficult propostions for them.
This is where, speech therapy comes to the rescue of these patients. It is the central part of treatment for autistic children. The speech therapy can help take care of a wide variety of communication problems occurring among people with autism.
Common Speech and Communication Problems Associated With Autism
Social communication, development of language and speech can get adversely affected by autism in more than one way.
A person with autism can have the speech problems, wherein they may:
Not communicate at all.
Tend to utter cries, grunts, shrieks, harsh or throaty sounds.
Talk or just hum in a musical manner.
Utter words, might can sound to be alien or robotic.
Often look to repeat whatever another person says.
Around 30% of people, suffering from autism has problem in producing speech sounds to ensure effective communication with others. The language, even if it is present, can be too difficult to be understood by others.
Communication problems can occur in various ways, for people who suffer from autism. The challenges faced by them while communicating are as follows:
Communication requires a person to make eye contact with another person or even make certain gestures. People with autism will have serious trouble in meeting up with the conversational skills.
They would have difficulty in understanding the meaning of words, which are out of context from what they have actually learned.
They would have very little understanding of the meaning of words and symbols.
Treatment through Speech Therapy
Speech therapy can help children get rid of the problems in speaking, as well as those related to communicating and interacting with others. This involves non-verbal skills such as making direct eye contact, taking initiative in conversations and understanding of different kinds of gestures.
This therapy can also teach children the art of expressing themselves by using picture symbols, computers or through sign language.
Five Principles of Speech Therapy
There are basically five principles used as a framework, to work upon in speech therapy with children, suffering from autism. They include:
Establishing Functional Communication In A Spontaneous Manner –
Providing Social Instruction in Different Settings throughout the Day
Target Peer Interactions
Even Provide Training and Support to Other Adults
Look to Fine Tune Communication Skills as Other Areas Improve.
Language disorder is commonly known as language impairment, it is a common childhood disorder, which makes it difficult for kids to understand what the people around them are saying to them and to face difficulty in following simple directions, it also includes difficulty in expressing the thoughts and feeling through speech.
Language disorder can be classified as:
Symptoms of language disorder:
What you should do?
As language disorder is one of common issue in kids, this can be managed and cured well to improve after all the required knowledge and best practices to follow.