All parents want what’s best for their kids, but it’s often difficult to know what constitutes a genuine developmental problem along with what’s simply a normal part of their development. Needless to say, speech and language can be a particularly tricky area which for the most part come down to the way in which all children develop at different speeds and at different times. In addition, all kids will along the way fall into their own unique ways of ‘playing’ with language while they’re getting used to the proper use of words, which can make it even more of a task to pinpoint when and where a problem may arise.
Now, when and where a problem does arise there are of course thousands of highly trained language professionals and speech therapists up and down the UK ready to step in at any time. In most cases where a genuine problem has presented itself, addressing it at the earliest opportunity can lead to it being largely resolved in a relatively short space of time. And even where problems are more serious, nipping them in the bud is the best way of giving your child a solid chance of a quick resolution.
But in terms of identifying speech problems and bringing them to the attention of the appropriate professional, what can the average parent do for the benefit of their child?
Well, as is the case with most things in parenthood the key lies in constant interaction and high-quality attention. As a child begins to grow, it can be easy for their everyday ‘Ramblings’ to somewhat fade into the background as you naturally get used to hearing them talking all kinds of fantastical fiction day in and day out. Generally speaking, this doesn’t necessarily constitute a bad thing as when a child is talking so much that the sound becomes part of the everyday fabric of life, it’s a good sign that their confidence and language skills are developing.
However, it’s not until you stop simply ‘hearing’ your child and begin both listening and interacting with them that you’ll start to get a grip on how things are really going. The more time you can commit to them, the more opportunity you have to keep tabs on their speech and language development.
Picking Up the Signs
In terms of identifying a problem when and where it may present itself, the key is to pay close attention to both what your child says and what they don’t say – the latter often being the more pivotal. When it comes to certain childhood speech development problems like stammering, the warning signs can in many cases be very obvious. Stuttering over words and having trouble making sounds come out as intended is of course normal from time to time, but when it seems to be happening anything more than infrequently, it could be a problem.
At the same time, however, reluctance to talk can also be a strong indicator of a problem. In certain instances when a stutter makes it difficult for a child to talk, the frustration and embarrassment they feel will encourage them not to talk, or to talk as little as possible. So, if they appear to be frustrated when you’d normally expect a reply, there may be a problem to be looked into. Likewise, when your child reaches an age by which he or she should be able to answer simple questions and most certainly pay attention to the person talking at the time, any clear signs of obliviousness or deliberate avoidance should be taken seriously.
When to Involve the Professionals
In terms of when it makes most sense to involve the professionals, technically speaking, it’s never too early if you have any doubts in your mind whatsoever. There’s a good chance that there is not in fact anything to worry about and your child will be given the all-clear, but for the sake of their own development and your peace of mind, there’s really no sense in keeping your concerns bottled up.
A simple and affordable consultation with a language and speech therapist could make all the difference to your child’s development should it come to pass that they do in fact need a little help. And if they don’t, you’ll be able to return to your everyday routine with full confidence that everything is fine. Warning signs differ enormously from one child to the next and there’s no set rule to follow, other than to trust your instincts as a parent and go with your gut.