speech and language development

Speech Matters May 2011

Speak Well, Hear Well, Live Well”:  May is Speech and Hearing Month

 

Speech Matters

by Cheryl D. Lindsay M.S. S-LP

The month of May has been designated by the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, (CASLPA), as Speech and Hearing Awareness Month.

“One out of ten Canadians lives with a serious communication disorder.” (Source: www.caslpa.ca )

The goal for speech-language pathologists and audiologists is to enhance one’s quality of life by improving communication skills.

It is important that speech and hearing problems be identified as early as possible. In the past few years, and again this year, free speech and hearing screenings are being offered at the Early Years Centre, in Hanover, (ph. 519-376-8088).

A speech-language pathologist, (S-LP), is able to help assess, diagnose and treat many aspects of disordered communication. These include:

  • Voice:  clarity, volume, pitch, hoarseness
  • Articulation, or, how sounds are produced
  • Receptive language, or, understanding
  • Expressive language, or speaking
  • Swallowing
  • Dysfluency or stuttering
  • Respiration
  • Apraxia or motor planning
  • Phonological processing

An SLP, as part of a health care team, is also able to help people who have communication challenges as part of, or, in conjunction with, other diagnoses such as:  

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder, (ASD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
  •  Down syndrome
  •  Pierre-Robin Syndrome
  • Acquired Brain Injury, (ABI)
  • Central Auditory Processing Disorder
  • Cleft palate
  • Cerebral Palsy

Communication delays or disorders that affect children in infancy to preschool years, may have consequences that affect success in school, both socially and academically. Early identification and treatment can be critical to a child’s success.

If you are concerned about any aspect of your, or a family member’s communication, speech language pathologists and audiologists are here to help. To find a qualified professional in your area, visit www.caslpa.ca.

(Next Month: Taking care of your voice)

Speech Matters November 2010

What is a Late Talker? – Speech Matters – November 2010

By Cheryl D. Lindsay MS., S-LP

 ‘Late talker’ is “a term used to describe children 18 to 20 months old, who have fewer than 10 words or those 21 to 30 months old, who have fewer than 50 words and no two-word combinations. Typically, these children have no other problems.” (Source:  Contemporary Pediatrics. “The ‘late talker’ – when silence isn’t golden”, by Marilyn C. Agin, MD, 2004)

 Speech and language developmental milestones have been presented here in previous columns. As speech is developing, it is important to recognize that a child will follow a certain order through the stages, but may be delayed at reaching the milestones. The stages begin with reflexive sounds; cooing, (first using vowels); babbling, (reduplicated e.g., “mama” and then variegated e.g., “baba beee-ummm gubba dum-goo-ee?”); vocal play; jargon; first words and then putting two-words together. When the order of development is not typical, or where there is regression in some areas, there may be reason for concern. A speech-language pathologist can help by assessing your child’s speech and language development.

 Although most late talkers do eventually “catch up” and speak normally, it is wise to be aware of warning signs that may indicate a disorder rather than a delay.

Sometimes talking late may be a symptom of another condition such as a hearing loss, cognitive impairment, speech disorder, (dysarthria, apraxia, phonological disorder), language disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or another syndrome. These conditions would be diagnosed by the appropriate medical professional. If late talking is not just delayed but a symptom of another condition, it will not resolve itself, therefore, early diagnosis and early intervention are necessary.

 Receptive language, which is comprehension or understanding, develops before expressive language. An example of this would be asking your child to put on their winter coat and they do so because they understand the request, but are unable to use vocalizations to express themselves. If a child’s receptive language is delayed, this would be cause for concern.

 Children can still communicate without words or nonverbally, by using eye-contact, gestures, body language, facial expression, shaking or nodding their head for yes or no, or hand leading.  Ultimately though, encouraging vocalizations with these initial nonverbal skills should lead to using true words and more verbal communication.

 Late talking may result in the experience of frustration for the child and the caregiver. It is important to stay positive and encourage good self-esteem. Think of your child as ‘learning to talk’ rather than ‘being expected to talk’ and celebrate every small step!

 (Next Month:  Phonological Processes – A child’s normal patterns for simplifying adult speech)

Speech Matters October 2010

Speech and Language School Readiness-Speech Matters – October 2010

By Cheryl D. Lindsay MS SLP

 The education system in Ontario is moving toward full day, every day, Junior and Senior Kindergarten with some schools already implementing pilot programs this year.  “Let’s Learn Clinics” are being held at all area elementary schools. These clinics are an alliance of school boards with other ministries and agencies who come together to help ease the transition from home to school in conjunction with early registration. School staff and other professionals like speech-language pathologists are in attendance to help answer questions regarding preparedness for school entry. With “Let’s Learn Clinics” upcoming or currently taking place, the question on the minds of many parents is, “What do I need to do to help my child get ready for Kindergarten?” 

 Language acquisition begins long before school entry.  Parents have probably been told that they are their child’s first teachers, as well as being the most important people in their child’s life. They provide the speech models and the enriched environment within which a child progresses through the stages of speech and language development.

 There are many checklists that describe skills to be mastered before school entry. A wide range of skills including social, gross and fine motor, as well as speech and language are included in most school readiness checklists. When reviewing these checklists, it is important to remember that young children change quickly and often, therefore, something not mastered today, may be mastered a few weeks from now.

 Under the speech and language category, the following skills are very important for school readiness:

  • ability to follow directions,
  • speaking intelligibly;
  • identifying some letters, (perhaps letters in their name), counting to ten;
  • recognizing groups of items and being able to categorize, identifying beginning sounds of words (eg. “mom” starts with the /m/ sound);
  • recognizing and producing rhymes.  

(Source: Kindergarten Readiness Checklist Family Education.com)

 The Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) website offers parenting tips for helping children get ready for school.  Some of these include:

  • reading aloud;
  • listening when your child talks and  ‘reads’, or imitates/pretends to read;
  • being generous with praise;
  • setting limits;
  • modeling good language;
  • setting good examples.

 In a study done by the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and TVDSB, parents learned that several factors influenced a child’s adjustment to junior kindergarten. These included:

  • activities children engaged in at home, like helping with chores;
  • being read to, including indentifying and sounding out letters and identifying numbers,
  • engaging in literacy based activities on the computer, during crafts and when colouring;
  • visiting the library. (For more information about supporting reading, visit the South Grey Bruce Youth Literacy Council website at www.sgbyouthliteracy.org

The importance of language development during play, reading and activities of daily life in the early years sets the stage for success at school.  As parents are their child’s first teachers, preparing for Kindergarten entry should be a top priority.

 (Next Month:  What can be done for “late talkers”?)

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