Your child is beginning to communicate through speech and you’re over the moon about the idea of being able to converse. Yet, you notice that your child is having some difficulty expressing themselves with words and you wonder what it might be. The fact is that 8%-9% of children have a speech sound disorder in the United States, but you should also know that there is help.
The team here at Celebrations Speech Group specializes in helping children with early communication problems, including speech disorders. In this month’s blog post, we take a look at some of the more common speech disorders in children.
Understanding speech disorders
There are several different types of disorders that can make it difficult for children to communicate and speech disorders are only one category, alongside language and voice disorders.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, a speech disorder occurs when a child has, “clinically significant difficulties producing the speech sounds of their language expected for their age.”
While it’s hard to put absolute numbers to communication, most infants begin making sounds at six months (typically babbling) and can say a few distinct words by the age of one. By the age of two, children can begin to put words together to express ideas (“want toy”) and between the ages of three and five, their language really takes off as they learn to put together sentences and pronounce more difficult letter combinations, such as “th.”
To put it simply, with a speech sound disorder, your child typically knows what they want to say, but they have difficulty forming the words or sentences.
Types of speech disorders
There are several different types of speech disorders and we review some of the more common here:
Childhood apraxia of speech
To speak, your brain sends signals to the muscles that control speech. With apraxia, the messaging between the brain and these muscles isn’t working properly. Some signs of apraxia of speech include:
- Difficulty with longer words
- Putting the accent on the wrong syllable
- Distorted sounds
- Pronouncing the same word differently
Apraxia of speech doesn’t go away on its own and can greatly benefit from our speech therapy.
This is one of the more common speech disorders and many children experience brief periods of disfluency in language when they’re first learning to communicate. If the issue continues for more than six months, however, the stuttering should be treated.
Signs of stuttering include:
- Repeating whole words or phrases
- Getting “stuck” on a sound or syllable
- Prolonged sounds
- Added words, such as as “um”
- Not finishing thoughts
Aside from continued stuttering, another warning flag is that your child begins to stutter later in their speech, after the age of three.
Speech sound disorders
Most children master language between the ages of four and five, including difficult combinations of letters, such as s, sh, ch, j, th, z, l, and r sounds. If a child is still having issues after the age of five or so with certain sounds, it’s likely attributable to a speech sound disorder.
This type of speech disorder tends to develop in children who were born with a cleft palate or who have tooth development issues. With an articulation disorder, there’s a physical issue that’s preventing your child from making certain sounds.
This speech disorder typically occurs on the heels of a brain injury that leads to weakness in the muscles used for speech.
Early intervention for speech disorders
No matter the type of speech disorder, early intervention can be highly beneficial. First, our expert team identifies the underlying issue and then recommends a speech therapy program with targeted exercises that are designed to help your child communicate more effectively.
If you’d like to learn more about speech disorders and your treatment options, contact one of our offices in Elk Grove, Brentwood, or Stockton, California, to set up an appointment.