Speech therapy, along with language therapy, helps children having speaking and learning disabilities to cope with their studies and attain the level of expertise which their counterparts have in these areas faster. There are many children in the world who are affected by speech and language disorders. Learning or understanding a language and speaking it are interdependent and equally important. One would not be able to express a particular concept in their own words unless they know how to speak properly. Conversely, one's ability to speak would be of no use without understanding the content.
Problems Associated with Speech and Language Disorders
The affected kids face many difficulties while pronouncing both easy and difficult words. Their speech would not be clear enough for the listener to interpret the meaning of the said sentences. Moreover, they have a tendency of stuttering which is characterized by unnecessary and abnormal halts or breaks taken while speaking. Their voices are too low to be heard clearly. Language learning disabilities can be classified into two types - receptive disorders and expressive disorders. Children with receptive disorders find it difficult to understand and grasp a language, while those with expressive disorders fall short of words to describe things, have a weak vocabulary, and are unable to speak language in a grammatically correct way.
The roles of parents and speech-language therapist are equally important in the actual execution of this therapy. This therapy is very essential for kids with hearing disabilities, autism, problems of the respiratory system, brain injury, and difficulties in swallowing food.
Role of Parents
Kids spend most of their time with their parents. So, parents should take a keen interest and initiative in their child's overall development. They should teach their child the exact meaning and the proper ways to use words. It is imperative for these kids to know the context in which the answers are expected from them. Use of sign language, pictures, and charts would definitely make the learning process very easy. Use exaggeration in words and actions to create an interest in the subject. Choose easy topics to start with and then slowly and steadily move over to the difficult ones after judging the progress in the child's speaking and learning abilities. While teaching them how to speak, break the large sentences into smaller ones. This would make it easy for them to rehearse. Ask the child to repeat the data till they deliver the speech without making an error. At the same time, focus on the memory developing lessons as memorizing things is vital in the process of learning. Parents should also give special importance in strengthening their child's grammar base.
Role of Language-Speech Therapists
The therapists conduct many speech therapy activities for these kids. The first thing a therapist does is to evaluate the existing position of the child's disability and decide the therapy techniques based on the intensity of the problems. He engages the child in an interesting conversation by using objects having a certain meaning associated with them. Articulation activities which include teaching sounds and phonics with simple examples, are also carried out. Further, oral motor activities help to strengthen the muscles of the mouth which would interfere during fluent dialog delivery. These therapists also explain the difference between speech and language to the affected child. Moreover, they generate self-confidence in the affected kids and make them independent by helping them overcome frustration and sorrow, which are observed in these kids who lag behind in learning in primary schools. Before approaching a speech language practitioner, one should confirm whether he/she has a certificate from ASHA, as these certificate holders have passed the national level exams in this field, along with a clinical fellowship program.
As a responsible parent, one should never compare their child with other kids and make sure to have complete faith in his/her abilities. Avoid taunting the child which may develop an inferiority complex in them.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.