When to a speech therapist with a child?

When is it necessary to go to a speech therapist with a child? A visit to a speech therapist is necessary when a parent notices that the child's speech development is abnormal, differs from peers, and when the child pronounces certain sounds incorrectly. Correcting speech impediments or malocclusions or anatomical defects is very important, as unrecured defects may make it difficult for a child to learn to write and read.

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1. Causes of speech impediments in children

Speech defects in young children are not fully mastered yet. The natural development of speech in a child looks approximately like this:

  • A six-month-old child is just babbling,
  • a one-year-old child can pronounce a few words,
  • a two-year-old creates sentence equivalents and other simple sentences,
  • a 3-year-old is able to build compound sentences and pronounce all oral vowels (i.e. "a", "o", "e", "u", "i", "y"), but sometimes confuses voiced and voiceless consonants (e.g. "d "z" t ") and omits some syllables,
  • a four-year-old may not pronounce the pre-lingual gingival sounds (ie "sz", "ż", "cz", "j") yet, instead he pronounces "s", "z", "c", "dz" or "ś" "," ź "," ć "," dż ",
  • a five-year-old can pronounce the pre-lingual-gingival sounds.

Possible causes of a child's pronunciation abnormalities include:

  • anatomical abnormalities,
  • poor control over the speech organs,
  • crooked bite,
  • poor hearing,
  • breathing problems,
  • swallowing problems
  • genetic predisposition,
  • mimicking someone around you who has a speech impediment.

2. When should I take my child to a speech therapist?

A visit to a speech therapist is necessary if the parent notices a delay in speech development in the child. Remember, however, that each child develops at its own pace and minor deviations from the norm do not have to be a cause for concern. However, a five-year-old who does not pronounce "sz", "ż", "cz", dż "should be examined by a speech therapist.

The speech defect that the child will not outgrow and which needs to be corrected is lisp, and in the case of children it is most often interdental lisp (although there are also other types of it). It is based on incorrectly pronouncing "s", "z", "c", "dz", and inserting the tongue between the teeth during their articulation. The cause of this problem may be weakness of the tongue muscles, which is corrected by pronunciation exercises, or too short frenulum of the tongue, which also requires exercise, and in some cases also the procedure of undercutting the frenulum. Sepsis can also be caused by a crooked bite that needs to be corrected in an orthodontist, or a third tonsil syndrome, which in turn requires an appointment with an ENT specialist.

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A frequent speech defect in children is de-voicing (ie replacing "d" with "t", or "b" with "p"). While it is completely normal for a three-year-old child, it requires exercises with a speech therapist in an older child. These will be exercises to strengthen the muscles of the tongue and lips. It is also important to practice phonemic hearing and to learn to distinguish between voiced and voiceless consonants.

3. Why is a visit to a speech therapist so important?

Speech defects in children often result from abnormalities in the structure of the speech organs that need to be corrected. Otherwise, the defect will get worse. Furthermore, a child with an untreated speech impediment may have difficulty learning to write and read later in school.

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