Is your child struggling with speech delay? An expert tells you what to do

Can speech delay cause issues in a child’s development? How can it be tackled? Here’s all you need to know from an expert.
Talk to your child often. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Shuchita Dua Published on: 9 January 2022, 16:30 pm IST
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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.

Not all children are the same. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

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.

Causes of speech delay

1. Fewer opportunities to converse:

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.

2. Cerebral defects:

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.

Also Read: The pandemic has affected children’s social development. Help them bounce back

Cerebral disorders may interfere with your child’s ability to speak. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Bodily defects:

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.

Diagnosis and intervention for speech delay in a child

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.

Don’t leave your child alone. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What else can you do to correct speech delay?

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.

Also Read: Help your child combat the stammer with yoga

The last words

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.

About the Author
Shuchita Dua

Shuchita Dua: DGM- Clinical Head, Online Vertical, Mom’s Belief She is an experienced Psychologist and Behavioural Training Expert with over 14+ years of experience in a wide range of clinical and therapeutic environments. She has worked extensively with children of age groups ranging from 2-18 years and is a staunch advocate of early identification and intervention. Her client database includes working with individuals, couples and children of all age groups.

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