Speech delay, as the name suggests, refers to a condition in which a child is not able to develop speech at the anticipated rate. This essentially means that their speaking skills lag in comparison to peers of the same age. An average human child starts speaking basic words with varied levels of articulation by the age of 2 to 3.
Children around this age also begin to understand the meaning of elementary words such as “yes” or “no” in at least one language. If a child this age is experiencing trouble interpreting basic words or speaking them in a comprehensible manner, it may be a sign of speech delay.
Speech delay is a common condition and can be caused because of several factors. Depending upon the root reason of its cause, a speech delay may or may not indicate a greater underlying problem.
If a child is mostly isolated, or does not frequently witness adults conversing in their presence or with him/her, they might develop a speech delay. This is simply because whatever a child learns, is essentially learned by mimicking their surrounding environment. If a child does not get much exposure to conversations, he/she might face problems in learning how to communicate.
A speech delay may also stem from an underlying cerebral issue. Speech delay has been linked to various forms of intellectual disabilities, including cerebral palsy and autism. Thus, if a child is exhibiting symptoms of any such health problem, they may experience a delay in development of speaking skills.
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A common reason for speech delay may be hearing impairment. It is observed that a child learns how to pronounce words initially by listening to adults and imitating sounds. However, in a scenario where they face hearing difficulties or complete impairment, it becomes tough for them to understand speech and they miss out on what and how to speak.
It is a rather common phenomenon in children and can be caused by a spectrum of reasons, some of which have been discussed above. Now, the question that arises is, how one can recognize a delay in a speech on time, and what can be done to improve the situation?
To identify a possible speech delay, parents need to be well-informed and aware of the various symptoms. It is essential to keep track of how your child is advancing in his/her cognitive and speech development. In case of any delays in learning, you should check in with a specialist or a doctor. Take expert guidance before trying any at-home intervention. Speech plays an important role in a child’s social-emotional development. Speech is also important for academic success.
Besides the obvious connection of written and verbal communication with learning, there are also other roles speech plays in academics.
A good way of bolstering your child’s journey is by frequently conversing with them and giving them opportunities to learn and grow. A healthy and nurturing environment can drastically elevate a child’s learning and retention, as they feel safe and supported. An expert in the field will be able to tell you if there’s a cause for concern and would nudge you in the right direction.
There are several solutions available that aid skill-building for speech. These include speech therapies, consultations with speech pathologists, psychologists, or regular therapists.
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Speech delay is a frequent problem in children, and in most cases, it is solvable. Parents are advised to be calm and supportive towards their children who may be suffering from this delay. Being aware with respect to what to expect and how to help your child may be a good step. If you notice symptoms of a possible delay in your child, it is best to get a checkup with an expert and seek timely medical intervention to curb or clear the problem in time.
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