Recognition and Examination
If a speech problem is noticed in a child, it may be recommended to the parents to send the child to a speech-language pathologist. This is the first step in the process of speech therapy. When examining the child, the pathologist will use a series of tests in order to assess the child’s level of speech in comparison with the average capabilities of other children the same age. The pathologist will also examine the child’s comprehension, verbal communication skills, non-verbal communication in addition to the motor capabilities of the child’s mouth.
There are several reasons as to why a child’s speech might be hampered or poorly developed. Factors that play a part in developing speech include one’s aural abilities, physical development and general habits. If the speech development is poor, it may be due to one or more of the reasons that we will now look at. Should a child have a hearing impairment, this may affect his or her ability to speak correctly. This is because children learn how to speak through hearing and intimidating the speech of others. Some children may have some learning disabilities that cause them difficulty when they are trying to understand the meaning and proper use of language. Other children may have difficulties with speech due to bad habits they have picked up whilst initially learning the language. These bad habits include improper pronunciation, and if these errors go unchecked, they may be difficult to counter in future years.
Speech therapy involves practice and repetition. The child will be taught the proper form of speech through demonstration and will be asked to practice both in front of the therapist and also while alone. Essentially, the child is being taught how to use his or her mouth correctly and for most speech problems, adopting the correct lip, mouth and teeth placements will solve the problem. If the problem is not simply clarity of speech, a therapist may employ the use of games in order to enhance the child’s comprehension.
Parents or guardians also play an important role in speech therapy. The parents of the child need to ensure the child maintains the practice sessions set by the therapist, as well as providing encouragement and positive feedback. Those in charge of the child also need to find opportunities to work the lessons of the speech therapy into the child’s everyday life.