Speech and language is an essential part of any child’s development. Language development impacts your child’s social interactions, behaviour and academic skills. As a baby, kids start making sounds of their own, communicating with the parents in their very own language. As they get older, they learn to mimic the sounds that they hear. If your child, at the stipulated age, is not matching the desired milestones or demonstrate normal speech development, a speech therapist can help.

In conversation with TC46, Audiologist and Speech Therapist Dr Devangi Dalal explains the importance of language and speech development in kids and 8 factors of speech therapy that help boost your child’s overall development.

1. Speech therapy is for anyone who doesn’t have clear and normal speech

Speech Therapy is given to children when their talking and listening needs are concerned, there’s no medical treatment available and if the child is unable to speak clearly or fluently. In short, if a person doesn’t have clear and normal speech, that’s when speech therapy is required.  

2. Built-up frustration over the difficulty in speaking can impact a child’s overall development

0-5 years is the best age for a child to learn a language. If there is no clarity within this period and their speech is ambiguous then speech therapy is the best way forward. If the child faces difficulty in speaking, later on, they build up frustration, guilt and lose their confidence. They face issues in their education, employment and even in society. 

3. Delayed speech hampers your child’s progress in today’s rat race

If the child doesn’t start speaking by the age of 1.5-2, one needs to assess their condition and begin treatment. In today’s rat race, the communication demands are very high so if the speech gets delayed then they might be left behind. Issues in fluency could result in stammering too. Hence, the sooner you begin speech therapy, the better. 

4. Today’s available technology helps provide speech therapy to everyone who needs it

When you figure that even after 1.5-2 years, the child isn’t speaking; you must immediately consult a speech therapist. The perfect speech comes from good hearing and understanding. Speech delay can be because of problems with hearing, understanding language, or other metabolic disorders. A speech therapist helps you find the root cause of the problem and provides treatment accordingly. If the hearing problem can be medically treated, then a regular treatment shall work. If not, like in the case of hearing-impaired children then hearing aids with the best technology according to their requirements should be given along with the therapy so that they can speak like regular people. If there is a language delay because of poor brain development, say, in the case of mentally-retarded patients or borderline children, they’ll be unable to grasp things quickly like any other person. That requires psychological treatment with speech and language therapy. In case of articulation or fluency issues in other normal children, speech therapy is definitely required. With today’s available technology in all areas, speech therapy can be provided to every person and their issues can be treated. 

5. The benefits of speech therapy for kids include language, speech, articulation, and voice

The benefits are that once the child undergoes speech therapy, as far as their language, speech, articulation, and voice are concerned, the child can deliver the same confidently. This reflects in the overall development of the child’s learning and communication with their peers and others. Speech therapy is basically required to enhance the overall development of the child. 

6. Parents, under professional guidance, should do activities with their child

First, we need to get the child diagnosed with the exact problem. Post that parents need to accept that there is a problem because to overcome abnormalities we need to first understand the difference between normal and abnormal and then work to overcome it. Similarly by taking the help of a professional plan the therapy for your child as per his or her requirement. But if you look for faster and better results, as parents you should also start doing activities with your child by taking guidance from professional. It’s teamwork if professional and parents both work together child will learn the language faster.

7. Speech therapy depends on the individual’s difficulty 

Speech therapy depends on the individual’s difficulty. If the child is facing articulation problems then minimal therapy sessions do the job but if the child has a disability and has speech problems then it requires a longer duration of time. Generally, speech therapists work for 30-45 min per session with a child but for the remaining 23 hours, the child is at home with their parents. Hence, parents’ counselling and involvement give better results. The faster the teamwork, the better are the results. 

8. Speech-hearing or voice concerns can be treated with the right diagnosis at the right time

Audiology and speech-language pathology is the branch that isn’t much recognized by people. It plays a vital role in an individual’s life. Hence, speech therapy is extremely useful. The earlier it is done, the more beneficial since there are certain psychological hazards in the development of the child because of speech delay. The psychological problems are in turn affected too,  and the child learns to grow normally. As an Audiologist and Speech Therapist practising for the last 30 years, I feel that every problem, be it with a special child or a normal child with speech-hearing or voice concerns, can be treated with the right diagnosis at the right time to achieve the best results.

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