10 points to overcome speech delay in kids

My son took a little longer to start his talks. Until his first birthday, he could pronounce only two or three words. On one hand, where my mother in law used to compare him with the girl of my sister in law, who was an early talker, I was giving him time. I wanted my son to develop his own timeline.

 

Howbeit, being a working mother, his speech delay gave me pangs of guilt many times. He used to spend the whole day being inside the home with my mother in law. And I assumed myself responsible for his slow progress in this front as his outside exposure was very limited.

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When he was one and a half, my worries got worse. Other kids of his age were talking like a charm. They were mastering new words and even making a complete sentence. My son was still struggling to use words and phrases to express himself but it was difficult to understand for others. What was more heartbreaking that he could not pronounce “Mamma” till very late. To defeat my guilt, I read many articles on speech delay in kids. I understood the reasons and asked my mother if any kid in the family had this problem. I came to know that one of my cousins had short frenulum (the fold beneath the tongue). This limits tongue movement for speech production in kids and a small operation was needed to fix my cousin’s tongue impairment.

And then something changed our lives. I enrolled my son in the daycare at my office. Initially, he faced problems in communicating with other kids and in expressing himself. However, among other kids, he quickly overcame his shortcoming. He picked up his speech super fast and within the next three month, he was talking like a parrot. I was relieved and informed both. As I read so much about speech delay and saw my little champ winning over this problem, I now feel confident in giving suggestions to other parents. Of course, I am not an expert and the best advice only a doctor can give.

Speech delay mostly happens due to three reasons:

1. First, is oral impairment just like the case of my cousin which is related to problems with the tongue or palate.
2. The second reason for speech delay in kids is oral-motor issues. The area of the brain responsible for speech creates difficulty in coordinating the lips, tongue, and jaw to produce speech sounds for the kid.
3. The third most common reason is a hearing issue in kids caused by an ear infection that makes understanding, imitating, and using language challenging for young kids.

Here are some of the things parents can do to avoid speech delay in kids. And even if they see the sign of speech delay in their kids, they should do these things:

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1. This is the side effect of today’s lifestyle that we keep our kids inside mostly. Allow them outside exposure. Take them for a walk, visit your friends and relatives. This gives them chance to socialize even when they are below 1 year of age.
2. Communication is the key. From their cradle time, talk, sing and encourage imitation of sounds and gestures.
3. Read for your child and read out loud. Kids are very good at imitating. They try to follow lipsync and facial expression for pronouncing words.
4. Look for age-appropriate soft or board books or picture books that encourage kids to look while you name the pictures. Slowly encourage them to take names of pictures.
5. Play fun games with your kid, like peek-a-boo. When the kid understands the game, in place of saying peek-a-boo, say other words or small sentences like “Here is Mamma..”, “Here is Papa..”. The kid will quickly catch these sentences as his play.
6. Let your child enjoy the company of other kids. Kids inspire and encourage each other a lot. Kids of similar age group understand each other’s body language and support each other big time. Take your child on play dates and let her enjoy the troop of kids. This helps.
7. To strengthen your child’s speech and language, talk your way through the day. For example, explain what you are doing as you cook a meal or clean a room. Point out objects around the house. Make different sounds and acknowledge your child’s responses. Keep things simple, but avoid “baby talk.”
8. If you see that your child is misunderstanding the words or gestures, repeat them as much as possible and each time the kid pronounces it wrong, lovingly correct her.
9. If you notice the child has to put extra effort into uttering some of the words, check her tongue movement. If it looks twisted when the kid speaks, you should visit the doctor. This can be an oral impairment.
10. Also, if the kid has an unusual tone of voice (such as raspy or nasal sounding) despite she is above 1 and a half, call for a doctor.
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Parental involvement is an important part of helping kids who have a speech or language problem. Use ways to encourage speech development at home in the child. And if with age, the kid is not showing the signs of improvement, parents should visit the doctor. Identifying and treating speech and language delays on early stages is the best approach. With proper therapy and time, the child will be better able to communicate with you and with the rest of the world.