Why is my child’s speech so hard to understand?

 

Developing intelligible speech is not so easy. It means that your child has to correctly produce enough sounds to be understood. So what could be causing your child’s difficulty in producing intelligible speech?

There can be several causes. It may be because he hasn’t learned the correct placement or manner of production for certain sounds. It could be because he is only able to inconsistently produce the sounds he has mastered. It is also possible that your child’s speech is difficult to understand because of structural problems or oral weakness.

The role of a speech pathologist is to evaluate why your child’s speech is difficult to understand.  Finding the underlying cause/s for your child’s reduced speech intelligibility is essential to correctly treating the condition.  Understanding the cause should aid in the rate of progress toward improved articulation.

If your child is over the age of 3 and their speech remains difficult to understand by you or others, consider consulting with a speech pathologist.

Help! … My Child Drools

It is common for infants to drool.  Although less common in the very young child, mild drooling is still considered normal.  Drooling in infants and children to age 2 is generally due to an immature neurological system and or teething.  Over the age of 2, drooling is no longer considered typical and further assessment is warranted.

After age 2, drooling is less socially accepted.  If there is no direct medical cause, drooling may be secondary to the poor development of oral motor skill and or strength of the muscles of the head and trunk.  This lack of development can lead to difficulty managing saliva.  Chronic droolers may show minimal or reduced awareness of saliva loss.

When to seek help:

Does your child drool beyond his lower lip?

How frequently do you need to wipe his/her chin?
Change their shirt?
Is your child aware that he/she is drooling?

Is your child’s mouth most often in an open position?

Is your child able to completely close both lips during swallowing?

Does your child have difficulty managing foods or liquids?

Where to seek help:

If you have concerns about your child’s drooling, consider an oral motor evaluation of his/her oral motor skills, conducted by a speech and language pathologist.  Treatment of drooling may improve your child’s feeding, speech and hygiene.

Winter Vacation

Winter vacations can be a great time to spend time together as a family.  They are also full of opportunities to grow vocabulary and language!  We all have phones that take pictures now.  When you are out and about during winter vacation, be sure to snap some shots of the places you go and things that you do.  These can be used to retell events using sequencing and event specific vocabulary.  Don’t forget to take pictures of relatives that you visit – these are great for WH question practice!  Who did we see? Where do they live? When were we there? Print your pictures and glue them into books so that you can use them over and over, retelling events and solidifying vocabulary retention.

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition caused by recurring seizures impacting three million people in the United States. It’s slightly under the population of Chicago. While you’re are exploring the streets of Chicago, a stranger, a family member, or friend may have been affected by seizures. A seizure is caused by neurological sparks in the brain. Imagine flashes of lightning on a stormy day or confetti bursting at a New Year’s Eve celebration to some this may be a way to describe Epilepsy.

In order to diagnose and treat seizures, a neurologist may recommend an EEG or MRI to determine the best treatment method. This can often can be a long and daunting experience for a family to undergo. Explaining seizures to a child, siblings, or a school classroom can be challenging. A book called, Wally The Whale: A Tale About A Whale With Seizures or Great-Katie-Kate-Explains-Epilepsy capture a child’s perspective of a living with seizures.

Anticonvulsants or seizure medications are used to mitigate the risk of a seizure. Lack of sleep, missed medication, and stress can increase the likelihood of a seizure happening. Newer technology, such as wearable devices may be utilized to help better manage seizures.  To learn more about Epilepsy check out the links below:

http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/epilepsy-101/facts-about-seizures-and-epilepsy

https://www.wearable-technologies.com/2016/07/wearables-rescue-epilepsy

https://www.amazon.com/Wally-Whale-Tale-About-Seizures/dp/1463441606/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1477498700&sr=1-1&keywords=Wally+the+Whale

https://www.amazon.com/Great-Katie-Kate-Explains-Epilepsy/dp/1626340072/ref=pd_sbs_14_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=57CT82J9C3ACXHW6JE8V

An interesting approach to public speaking

As students enter middle school, high school, and beyond giving presentations is a crucial part of the learning process.  For some, this can provoke speech anxiety. They are told to practice multiple times in front of a family member to ease their public speaking jitters. An article by the New York Times offers other alternatives to practicing public speaking skills, such as speaking in front of a furry creature or using a virtual app.

To learn more about this topic check out the link below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/education/edlife/how-to-give-a-better-speech-talk-to-a-dog.html?_r=0

 

Noise and Early Language Learning

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have recently conducted a study examining the affects of background noise such as TV, radio, and people talking on early language learning in toddlers. Three studies were performed overall, with the first two only differing in the age ranges among participants. The first two experiments examined the toddlers’ abilities to recognize unfamiliar objects that were labeled after they were presented sentences containing the novel words. They concluded that only the children who were given the sentence in a quiet environment were able to learn the novel words. In the third and final experiment, the toddlers were read aloud a sentence containing two new words without background noise. They were then exposed to the same background noise as the first two experiments and taught object-pairings for the first set of words and then were provided with two additional words. They found that the children only learned the words that were given in a quiet environment. Researcher and co-author, Jenny Saffran states “Hearing new words in fluent speech without a lot of background noise before trying to learn what objects the new words correspond to may help very young children master new vocabulary, but when the environment in noisy, drawing young children’s attention to the sounds of the new word may help them compensate.”