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How to recognize speech development delay


Speech Development Delay (SDD) is a set of disorders characterized by a delay in a child’s acquisition of written and oral skills according to their age. Statistics show that boys are four times more likely to have speech development delay. In this article, we will discuss how to recognize this disorder, how it affects a child’s development, and how to deal with it.

Symptoms of speech development delay

Symptoms of speech development delay should be classified according to the child’s age:

  • From 8-9 months, the child does not respond to the parents’ speech and does not instinctively turn their head in the direction of a sound signal, and there is a lack of babbling.
  • From 9 months, the child does not respond to their name, does not make sounds resembling speech, except for crying.
  • Between the ages of 1 and 2, SDD is accompanied by difficulty swallowing and chewing. The child is unable to recognize simple words and does not communicate with others.
  • Symptoms of SDD in children aged 2-3 are characterized by an inability to express their thoughts using simple sentences.
  • By the age of 4, symptoms of speech development delay in children include a poor response to adult speech, a lack of proper communication with adults and other children.

What age range does the diagnosis cover?

Many parents are concerned about the question: from what age is a speech and language evaluation conducted? If a child is developing language skills slower than what is expected for their age, a specialist is allowed to perform an evaluation up to the age of 4.

Why is delayed speech and language development so common nowadays?

Delayed speech and language development has become a trend in the 21st century. It is caused by a number of factors, including:

  • lack of social contact in children;
  • lack of emotional support for children;
  • excessive influence of technology on children.

These factors are supported by a number of studies. For example, researchers from one of the universities in the state of Ohio established a direct correlation between the lack of live communication and signs of delayed speech and language development. To do this, two groups of infants aged 6 months to a year were formed.

One group listened to sentences in Chinese from a native speaker, while the other group listened to a recording. During the study, it was found that the children who interacted with Chinese speakers had reactions to certain sounds, while the children who listened to the electronic device remained indifferent throughout the study, not attempting to imitate the words spoken.

Impact of technology on speech delay has been studied by Professor Catherine Birken from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Toronto. In one of her recent studies, 900 children aged between six months to two years participated. Of them, 30% had contact with an electronic device for 28 minutes a day. Gradually, the amount of time spent on a smartphone increased by another 30 minutes. After the experiment, the department’s assistants, led by Birken, found that children who had contact with electronic devices were 49% more likely to be at risk of speech delay. This study was recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics. As part of their recommendations, they advise against giving gadgets to children under 1.5 years old to avoid speech delay.

Why are boys more prone to speech delay?

Delay in speech development in boys is caused by the following factors:

  • Genetic. Western scientists confirmed this factor as early as the end of the last century. It is based on the fact that the gene that influences language development is located on the X chromosome. Therefore, boys who have only one copy of this gene may be more prone to delayed speech development.
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders. According to statistics, males are more often prone to this group of disorders.
  • Features of organism development. It is no secret that males, in general, develop more slowly than females.

How to recognize language development delay?

Above, we wrote about the age at which speech development delay is established for a child. Before turning to specialists, parents should independently clarify the following points to form a clear clinical picture:

  • Whether speech delay is accompanied by other disorders;
  • Whether the child uses non-verbal methods of communication;
  • Whether the child shows interest in various games and the surrounding world;
  • Whether the child has difficulties in understanding language.

It is important to determine the mechanism of occurrence of this disorder and identify nuances of speech disorders. To exclude and prevent severe delays in speech development, it is necessary to consult with a speech therapist, psychologist, pediatrician, or child neurologist. If the cause lies in pathological disorders of the body, specialists will prescribe a comprehensive examination for further treatment.

  • Neonatal ultrasound;
  • CT, MRI of the brain;
  • Electroencephalography;
  • Audiometry;
  • Laboratory research may be necessary to clarify specific clinical cases.

How can parents help their child cope with speech and language delay?

In many cases, the success of treatment lies with the family. To help the child speak faster, parents should also make an effort for their benefit:

  • Pay attention to physical development. Active and intellectual games generate interest in the child, and accordingly emotions that they will begin to express independently.
  • Communication. Direct communication with the child and other people in their presence will be a good foundation for their personal progress.
  • Joint reading, listening to music, watching movies. On the basis of cultural joint spending time, there is a great opportunity to enter into a dialogue with your child.
  • Reduce the time that the child spends with gadgets.

Having determined what is considered a speech delay, it should be noted that the disorder can have serious consequences for the child. Delayed speech development can directly affect success in school, social interaction, and overall quality of life. Therefore, it is necessary to seek advice from a specialist for diagnosis and start correction as soon as possible to help the child adapt as much as possible to society.

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