Speech delay is very common amongst kids these days.
It is not a rare sight of kids as old as 2 or 3 years using hardly few words and dependant mainly on sign language for most of their communication.
I feel, the major road block for kids not being able to pick up age appropriate speech is the ‘Its OK’ attitude of the family members.
“It’s OK .. he would start speaking soon”
“It’s OK, some kids pick up speech late”
I strongly contradict here.. yes he would start speaking soon and yes it’s correct that some kids do pick up speech late.. but it’s NOT OK to just leave him and his delay on its own.
If you are to catch a flight or attend an important meeting and you get to know you are running late than your scheduled time, what would you do ?
Would you think “It’s Ok .. we do miss flights some time “.. Or ” It’s fine ..some people do reach late on important events..”
No. We do make extra efforts to reach on time , like hiring a cab rather than taking public transport , checking fastest route etc.
Why ? Because we know it’s not just that flight or meeting. There are other linked events too that shall get impacted by our delay.
Same way it’s not just about the speech. His delay in picking appropriate speech is affecting his other growth parameters.
If a child can’t speak, he wont be able to read too and if he can’t read, his writing skills would be affected.
There are so many interlinked development patterns that get impacted.
So the very important aspect here is the realisation of the fact that we must act and not just assume things will fall back in place on its own.
If we overcome this barrier, half of the target is accomplished.
Now, let us come to the other half of the issue – the core issue.
Speech involves three factors –
willingness to speak ,
ability to speak and
words (vocabulary) to speak .
Willingness involves identifying the factors when the child feels the need to utter words in order to raise his demand.
As a parent or care taker despite having understood the need, we must prompt the child to speak . If we feel he doesn’t know the term , we can give him options.
Now, how you convey these options is also important.
Like Rather than asking , “Do you need milk ?” One may ask “Do you need milk or water ?”
By giving only one correct option , would again lead to a nod .. but giving more than one option.. you provide him with an opportunity to speak .
We must urge him to speak with as many opportunities as possible.
Next comes the ability part . Here we need to understand that our vocal system involves a close coordination between the tongue, cheek muscles, mouth, throat and other involved organs/ muscles.
We can enhance its abilities my giving him activities that involve high usage of these components .. like humming , playing flute , whistles , giving him straws of different widths for drinks.
You can also massage his cheeks gently with almond oil or any other oil to stimulate its muscles.
Touch and massage therapy bear long lasting results not only for the immediate issue in context but also in emotional development of the child.
You can have a fun time with your child by making wierd or funny facial expressions with your mouth in the mirror.
Then comes the vocabulary part. Without having sufficient and appropriate words to speak is like a skilled mechanic without his tools. We need to provide an environment for the child to learn new words as per his learning style .. now since the child is too young you might not yet know his preferred leaning style .
So better to use all. Pick up few frequently used words or alphabets, as per the learning stage of the child. Make sure to focus on a set of words at a time and use all means to promote that set.
You can prepare flash cards for those set of words, one side having that words and in the flip side a pictirial representation of that word.
You can also make him listen audio / video for those set of words ..as there are plenty available on net. But the catch here is to use this only under your close monitoring and just to introduce the concept to the child. I am in no way advocating dependency on mobile / tv / computer or any such gadget at such a tender age .
One can use chart papers and display these set of words / alphabets over his room / play area.
You can also label the part of his room, as far as possible like TV, Mirror, door, window , handle , chair etc .. to give him words for the things around him.
It’s important to develop the association between the word and its meaning .
Because usage comes only when the meaning of the word is quite clear.
To enhance his vocal skills , you can also try these :
– talking in front of mirror . Try talking with him facing the mirror , where he can see himself too.
– recording devices / toys where he can record himself and listen.
– musical instruments have a deep impact on the speech as it help him corelate with the magic of sound.
And last but not the least .. talk talk and talk ..
Talk to him even if he is not listening .. talk to him even if u know he won’t respond.. the idea is to engage with him as much as possible .
PS: Do not hesitate to seek Medical Advice, if needed. He / She might not express but could be in dire need of Help !!!
Copyright 2018 Parminder Kaur Sharma.