Speech and language delays and disorders

What is a speech delay?

This indicates that speech and language acquisition is occurring in the expected sequence but at a slower rate than is expected.

What is a speech disorder?

This implies that speech and language development is not following the usual sequence suggesting specific difficulties that impact the child`s overall development including learning, literacy, social and emotional self. Examples are;-

  • Stuttering/ speech articulation disorder 9 colloquially referred to as stammering
  • Expressive language disorder ( unable to say it out)
  • Receptive language disorder ( unable to understand what is said)

What should I do if I suspect my child is having delayed/ disordered speech?

Bring them in to our child development centre for assessment. If the only problem that the child exhibits is in speech, he/she will be assessed by a speech/ language pathologist and given a diagnosis and plan of management.

What other related disorders are there?

  • Reading disorder (dyslexia) which is a difficulty with reading that involves a deficit in phonological processing skills. 4% of school children suffer this disorder and it is more common among males.
  • Disorder of written expression often coexists with dyslexia. It is a difficulty in spelling, syntax, grammar and composition. It is commonly noted when school work, assignments and tests shift from oral to written formats. This may be in Pre-primary 2, grade 1 or 2 in the current Kenyan curriculum.
  • Autism

What should I expect in my first visit?

The assessments are carried out on appointment basis so make an appointment beforehand to avoid disappointment

Chose at time of day when your child will not be tired, grumpy or hungry.

It is a good idea to have his/ her hearing checked clinically beforehand at the audiology centre. Bring in your report.

Carry all your child’s medical records that are available

If you are not the birth parent, try and fetch the child`s the birth/ infant & milestone history beforehand.

During the visit the pathologist will assess what the child can say. The volume, rate, articulation, fluency, coherence and approximate number of words that the child can say and understand.

What happens during speech therapy sessions?

  • The child actively taught how to articulate various sounds
  • The child is given exercises that strengthen mouth muscles and may be involved in swallowing and speaking
  • Demonstrations on how to move the tongue and create various sounds
  • Modelling and giving feedback on how to build these skills at home by the caregiver/ parent.

What else should I know?

Speech therapy takes months to years hence prepare for several sessions over a long duration so as assist your child.

Speech therapy sessions should be regular and given by a qualified practioner

Speech may be improved by interaction with other children and in school

Speech is best acquired at an early age and as one grows older (beyond 7 years) it gets harder and may require more intense sessions

Speech therapy sessions should be short ( XMin) and regular

If you are worried about your child’s speech development it is advisable to bring them in for assessment and either reassured if all is well or have a plan of management.

The earlier therapy starts the better the prognosis.

Frequently asked Questions:-

At what age should I be worried?

Does learning 2 or more languages at the same time affect a child?

Can TV help my child learn how to talk?

Does forcing a left handed child to use the right affect speech?