May is Better Hearing and Speech Month which presents a good time for parents to become educated about communication disorders in children. Audiologist and speech language pathologists have sounded the alarm, saying that the majority of parents don’t know the signs and symptoms of communication disorders in young children – a time in a child’s life when it matters most. Early detection and treatment of speech/language and hearing deficiencies is critically important because the majority of speech and language skills are learned between birth and age three. Any deficiencies in these areas will directly impact a child’s development.
When surveyed, the majority of professionals1 said that most parents are unaware of the signs and symptoms of speech/language and hearing disorders in children that can result in developmental delays.
- 69 percent of audiologist and speech language pathologists said parents of young children are not aware of the signs and symptoms of communication disorders
- 70 percent said parents need to be better informed of how vital speech/language and hearing are to a child’s early development
- 56 percent said that parents are not aware that early treatment leads to less expensive treatment
- 32 percent said that the signs of hearing loss go undetected in children for a year or more
The adage that knowledge is power is certainly true in this case. The more that parents know about communication disorders, the earlier they can seek effective treatment for their children.
There are four categories of communication disorders
How to detect signs of a language disorder in young children:
- No smiling or interaction with others
- Babbling by the child is absent between four and seven months of age
- Words spoken between the ages of 18 months and two years are not easily understood
- Trouble playing with and talking to other children between the ages of two and three years
Children can experience disorders in the way they say words, known as a “speech sound” disorder. Some of the symptoms include:
- Pronouncing the consonants p, b, m, h, and w incorrectly between one and two years of age
- Pronouncing the consonants k, g, f, t, d, and n incorrectly between the ages of two and three
Stuttering is a speech disorder that can occur early in a child’s speech pattern. There are several different types of stuttering:
- Constant repeating of the first letter of a word, i.e., saying “bbbbbball” instead of “ball”
- Speech breaks in front of a word the child is trying to articulate, i.e., “the (pause) boy” instead of “the boy”
- Exhibited frustration when attempting to utter certain words
Hearing loss can begin any time after birth. Signs that the child may be experience some hearing loss can include:
- Doesn’t pay attention to sounds from birth to one year old
- From seven months to one year, there isn’t a response when his or her name is called
- Between birth and the age of three, a delay in speech and language is exhibited
- Is unhappy at school and/or seems socially isolated from other children
- Has trouble learning at school
Each of these issues can be addressed if parents know the signs and can report them to a audiologist and speech language pathologist for examination and diagnosis. If you think that your child is having trouble with any speech or hearing issues don’t wait to see if they will get better. Have your child checked immediately. The sooner that hearing and language issues are addressed, the more you can ensure that your child will develop in a healthy way.