It has been reported in a recent study that language checks should become a routine for all toddlers and that speech and language checks should be as regular as those for checking a child's weight and growth.
It is said that without the necessary help, children with undiagnosed speech problems could suffer a life of failure if they go unchecked and unaided. By two years old, children are already destined to failure or success at school.
The review stated that children with problems just slip through the net and that without help they could literally find themselves with greater problems in later school life. Waiting until school age is just too late. By the age of five the problem is just too ingrained and children are likely to never catch up with their fellow school mates. They are more likely to be unemployed in later life and even end up in prison!
Although the screening and helping of children will cost money, it is estimated that for every £1 spent on children with impairments, the return on the investment is actually over £6. It could be costly while the child grows up, but it will effectively negate the cost of dealing with problems in later life.
It was even suggested that better literacy and speech education may have prevented last year's riots, and it was estimated that 90% of the rioters were illiterate.
Many children stutter - it occurs when a child cannot articulate a word without repeating it over and over, or indeed repeating the first letter over and over before getting through the whole word. It is something they cannot appear to control or seem to overcome and is a common issue. Stutters may start young or seem to develop over time.
One form of stutter is known as Normal Disluency. This occurs around 2-6 years old. Most cases actually disappear by teenage years without any intervention at all. Sometimes it is just a stage or a trick the child is trying out to see what response they get. It is common and quite normal.
Why Does It Happen?
- The brain is unable to transmit the messages correctly.
- Genetics may play a role.
- Head injury or trauma in the early years.
- Environmental factors.
You may find that is stressful situations the stuttering gets worse, it be be worse after a big event such as the birth of a new sibling, moving house or school and is generally worse in boys. Children may have restricted vocabulary because they are nervous about trying new words so will keep to what they know.
If the stuttering last more than a 6 months or so, go to the doctor or health visitor for some advice. They may suggest a hearing and speech test. You may also be recommended to try speech therapy. This will help teach the child different ways to articulate and techniques to overcome any problems with word formation. Or counseling may be advised to help the child with any anxiety they may have or fears.
Help you can offer yourself:
- Try not to correct or interrupt your child when they talk. Ask family members not to correct or intervene either.
- Try not ask them to say it again "properly" or tell them to hurry up.
- Don't ask them to practice or draw attention to the issue.
- Make sure you speak slowly and carefully yourself.
- Talk a lot together and read lots of fun books.
- Try to reduce any stress or keep the child shielded from any problems there might be.
Parents, grandparents, celebrities and people from all walks of life have chosen to adopt a word in order to support the charity I CAN the children’s communication charity.
Some celebrity choices are shown below:
- Sara Cox: blossom
- HRH The Duchess of Cornwall: grandmother
- Sir Paul McCartney: gift
- Stephen Fry: wordy
- Graham Norton: frolic
- Dr Tanya Byron: mummy
I CAN promotes and supports parents and teachers, and indeed children, with communication. They claim that one in ten children has a communication difficulty and they try to help. Communication is so important because it impacts on all aspects of a child’s life. Apart from academic issues (reading and writing, passing exams etc.) there is also the fundamental issues like making friends, playing, reading etc. where communication is vital.
Why not adopt a word too and lay claim to a piece of our language for a whole year?! Go to the Adopt a Word website for more information.
Babbling is not just a load of nonsensical rubbish that babies produce, it is actually an important part of verbal development and without it talking would just never happen. Most baby's develop at a similar rate and you can spot the changes as follows:-
- Month 3 - this is the month when babbling and cooing and gurgling usually starts. It becomes apparent to the baby that everyone likes it (because we all laugh and encourage it) so they do it more and more!
- Month 6 - they will babble in conversation like a grown-up might. They watch and copy and imitate as much as they can.
- Month 9 - they can actually imitate the noises they hear and copy the adults and children around.
How to get your little one talking
By interacting with your baby, you can encourage your baby to learn to talk and to learn words and their meanings:-
- Make your voice and facial expression seem encouraging. Lots of smiles and praise to show you are happy with them and give them more confidence to do it again.
- Try making baby babble back to your child and see whether they enter into a "conversation" with you.
- Do some proper talking with them too: point to things and name them.
- Use different voices as well as your normal voice to get their attention.
- Sing songs, do rhymes and read books together - no matter how young the children are.
- Use props too if you can when signing (animals for Old MacDonald's Farm etc.)
- Use tools when chatting: baby microphone, toy telephone etc.
For many children, speech comes naturally - they babble sounds and copy words spoken to them, then they start saying a few words on their own and before you know it they are speaking in sentences and chatting to anyone who will listen.
However, sometimes they stumble over consonants and make errors especially if they get excited or are constructing a long sentence. They ask for some "ninner" rather than "dinner" or say "wellow" rather than "yellow". But this is perfectly normal. There is nothing to worry about .
For many, it is simply that they don't have the muscle co-ordination to enunciate properly. Or it may be a new word that they need to practice. Or they are just trying out a new sound. In each case, try not to make an issue of it. Just repeat the word back to the correctly. Do you want some Dinner? The ball is Yellow, isn't it.
Between 18 months and about 3, it is natural that toddlers will make mistakes. They are exploring new word sounds and beginning to remember which letter sounds make up which words. They may even correct themselves if a word doesn't sound right.
Once they hit three, most of their words should be perfectly understandable, with a few errors here and there.
If however your child seems not to talk much, or even never,then you should consult a GP just to ensure everything is OK.
If they are still making frequent errors by age six, you may wish to ask you GP about it, just to be sure. Speech problems, may hide a hearing problem or indeed a learning issue that a doctor can help with. A speech therapist can offer exercises and game sto help with muscle control and speech formation.
Parents who have the television on the whole time are affecting their children's speech, according to recent research in America. Parents who tend to keep the television on even when not watching it are less likely to talk to their children and the children actually end up speaking less and having a worse grasp of language.
A study of babies and children aged between 2 months and 4 years found that for every hour the TV was on during the day, the parents used between 500 and 1,000 less words.
The study was published in the journal Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and the researchers said that this may explain the association between watching TV and delayed speech in some children. Over 300 children were studied on random days over a 2 year period.
Children were sometimes left alone in front of the television, or were not addressed while the television was being watched, or the parent was watching the screen and not interacting with the children.
30% of homes in America, the research said, have TV on all the time. The American Academy of Paediatrics discourages television before the age of two. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in the UK does not issue guidelines.
It's something that many parents have said for years: that boys don't pick up talking as quickly as girls. A recent survey has endorsed this theory. One in six children found it difficult to learn to talk, with boys finding it more difficult than for girls of the same age. The survey was carried out by YouGov asking over 1,000 parents with children under seven how their children found learning to talk. 13% of girls had problems and 22% of boys had problems learning to talk and understanding speech.
When it came to significant problems, 5% of boys and only 2% of girls had difficulties.
The survey was carried out by Jean Gross, England's new communications champion. She commented that a person's ability to communicate was fundamental and is one of the most important skills a child can master.
Learning to talk is a natural process, so many of the problems that children experience are short lived. The most important aspect is to make your child feel understood. If they feel you are always correcting them, they may not take chances and try out new words and phrases. Children also develop at different rates in different ways. Some say nothing for a long time, but when they talk their language is completely clear and easy to understand. Others try out words which are more difficult to understand but are happy to chatter away.
Just talk as much as you can with your child: read books, sing songs, say rhymes and have fun together. If there's anything you're concerned about just speak to your GP or health visitor.
1 in 1000 babies are born with hearing problems, some of which can be corrected, all of which need to be managed, so it's important to test your baby's hearing early on to diagnose problems. Within hours of birth, you may be offered a hearing test called an automated otoacoustic emission (AOE) test. 'Oto' means ear and 'acoustic' is sound; in this test a probe is placed in your baby's ear and a clicking sound played out. The ear should respond with an echo created by the outer hair cells in the cochlea. The test only takes a moment and can signal if there are likely any problems. If there are, a further test can be arranged.
A more involved test is the automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) screening test. This involves sensors being placed on your baby's head and soft earphones placed over their ears. Sounds are played out and again the response is measured. Surprisingly, both the AOE and AABR test can be carried out while your baby is asleep!
Hearing problems can lead to difficulty acquiring language skills so it's very important to catch them as early as possible. It is also believed that if the brain isn't stimulated to process and create sound within the first 6 - 12 months that the ability to develop spoken language may be completely lost.
Sign language is taught to babies and young children in most preschools and schools. Even though there may not be any children present with hearing difficulties, sign language assists the development of language more broadly, particularly for children that haven't mastered the ability to speak: children can communicate by signing long before they are able to communicate through speech.