How to Spot and Deal With Your Toddler’s Speech Problems

If you believe your toddler is having a problem properly developing speech, a doctor specializing in speech pathology can help put your worries at rest or create a positive therapy regimen to get them back on track. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if a toddler has a problem, or is just developing differently. Each child develops at their own rate, and they have different personalities. One child may be particularly talkative and another may have excellent speech skills, but simply be more reserved. It’s easy to get worried about your child, but by keeping in good communication with their doctor, you can address any problems, should they arise.

For a toddler, some issues with speech are typical, such as difficulty making certain sounds or periods of not talking much because of contentment or shyness. If you have reason to believe there may be an issue beyond the normal circumstances, then take a few notes before your child’s next doctor’s visit. The more information that can be provided to the doctor, the better the diagnosis they can make through speech pathology. Start with the words that your child understands. Pay attention to how well they comprehend when you ask them questions, tell them stories, and interact with them.

It is said that it is quite normal for toddlers to understand words perfectly, but not quite have the skills to use them. It takes time to develop vocabulary. Watch how much they talk when they interact with you, and what other things they do to make their point. If your child wants something, they simply may not know the words. Speech pathology supports that if they use complex gestures, like grab your hand and walk you to an item or point to something out of reach, then they are on the right track. It means they are learning. Once they have comprehension, children normally begin speaking within a short time. It could be helpful to praise them when they do use words, rather than gestures.

Speech pathology studies prove that making certain sounds in the English language are complicated and difficult for most young children to do correctly. Some medical professionals believe that you should encourage them to try. If they get it wrong, praise them for the effort and gently repeat the word with the correct pronunciation. Pay attention to how their words are formed and if there seems to be a problem with forming any particular sounds. Common sense dictates that with practice, they will soon get it right. However, it could be smart to mention to the doctor if you notice a consistent problem.

In order to asses if your child is developing at a normal rate, or if they need a little help, the doctor will perform a few simple tests. The field of speech pathology has a few benchmarks by which they can measure your child’s aptitude. The information you provide about their daily interactions is key. A hearing test might be used, along with some simple interactions for the doctor to assess cognitive levels. In many cases, the child is just fine and simply needs more time to continue on their path. In other cases, the issues can be adjusted with simple therapy methods. Often, children continue to develop, with no trace of the former issue.

Breathing Exercises and Speech Pathology

There are so many types of speech disorders, and many of them have something to do with the way a patient breathes. If you are a speech pathologist, you are probably aware of the many ways in which “wrong” breathing aggravates disorders, and regulated breathing exercises can improve a patient’s condition.

For instance, a stutter is at least partially rooted in a lack of coordination between breathing and speaking. Most people are able to perform the processes around each other quite naturally, but stutterers often have a hard time pacing their inhalations and exhalations in such a way as to allow normal speech.

Breathing is also connected to the aspects of speaking disorders that are all in a patient’s mind and feelings. Many speech impediments or disorders have psychological roots as well, as demonstrated by the fact that bouts are more likely to happen when the patient is nervous or distressed. Deep breathing exercises can help to keep a person calm, not just when he or she has to speak, but an overall calmness and mental clarity that will help his/her general psychological health.

Also, as pathologists know, not all speech impediments involve an inability to get the words out. A person may be unable to mentally form coherent sentences, while at the same time speaking so rapidly that he/he is unintelligible. This disorder is known as cluttering, and also has linguistic aspects. Breathing exercises may make a person more mentally disciplined and able to control their linguistic ability. They may also be better able to access their memory, a significant help for disorders when the patient feels that he/she is suddenly unable to remember words.

Some speech disorders are the result of a stroke. In that case, breathing exercises will probably be included in other aspects of the patient’s post-stroke therapy, already. Still, you should ensure that breathing exercise routines include procedures especially designed to restore normal speaking, insofar as that restoration is possible.

Regulated breathing has uses outside the treatment of severe cases of speech disorders, and may even be applied to improve the speech of the general population. After all, if one follows the strict rules, one must conclude that the “normal” speakers are a minority in the population. Most people have some slight ailment or impediment, and this is not a big problem. It is only the very grave cases that get brought to specialists. Still, even people with very mild, near undetectable disorders can benefit from proper breathing. Perhaps some of your loved ones are like this. You might even be one, yourself.

Of course, breathing therapy is not everything. There are certainly other components, such as memory and enunciation exercises, or even surgery, if the disorder has something to do with the formation of speech-related organs like the larynx. There are also the extremely grave disorders, which are so bad that they render a patient mute. Breathing therapy is likely to have only limited effectiveness there. Still, knowledge of breathing exercises and their effects is an indispensable tool in a speech pathologist’s arsenal.