Understanding and Supporting Children with Speech Disorders

Understanding and Supporting Children with Speech Disorders

The development of speech in children begins during the first months after birth, starting with cooing and babbling and eventually progressing to forming words and sentences. However, not all children go through this process smoothly, and many require assistance. Delayed speech development and various speech disorders are among the most common reasons for parents to seek help from pediatric professionals. It is crucial for parents to recognize potential issues at an early stage, understand the possible causes, and be aware of modern corrective methods used by healthcare providers. This article aims to provide answers to these questions and more.

Let’s begin by discussing how to identify delayed speech development in children in a timely manner. Delayed speech development refers to a child acquiring speech skills later than expected. The following signs are worth noting:

  • In the first year of life, the child remains silent or produces repetitive sounds.
  • Lack of responsiveness to words addressed to them by the age of one.
  • Weak attempts to repeat words heard around the age of one and a half.
  • Inability to point out objects named by adults at around one and a half to two years of age.
  • Absence of spoken words by the age of two.
  • Inability to construct simple phrases like “give me an apple” or “I’m thirsty” between 2.5 and 3 years old.
  • Repetition of ready-made phrases from cartoons or books without independent speech by the age of three.
  • Reliance on gestures and facial expressions instead of verbal communication.

While it is important to remember that some children develop at a slightly slower pace than their peers, the information provided serves as a general guideline. If these signs are observed, it is advisable to consult a specialist.

Parents typically become more attentive to speech development issues when their child approaches the age of three. It is crucial to understand that preschool-aged children are particularly receptive to interventions for speech disorders.

Speech disorders and delays can have various causes, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive approach. These conditions can arise from perinatal conditions and diseases, congenital brain abnormalities, autism spectrum disorders, genetic syndromes, hearing and vision impairments, neurological diseases, and other underlying pathologies. Additionally, social factors such as educational neglect and limited family communication can contribute to speech delays and disorders. These factors also require attention.

Given the varied causes of speech retardation in children, an integrated approach is necessary. According to recommendations, a child should first be examined by a pediatric neurologist and speech therapist. Depending on the situation, a neuropsychologist (and sometimes a psychiatrist) and a hearing specialist may also be consulted. In some cases, a geneticist and an ophthalmologist might be involved. Individualized treatment programs should be developed for each child, as some may only require speech therapy sessions while others may need assistance from multiple specialists. This determination is made during examinations and comprehensive diagnostics.

Modern methods of correction of speech disorders

Modern technologies open up new opportunities for doctors, psychologists and speech therapists to significantly increase the effectiveness of therapy and achieve results in a shorter time. Such technologies that are now available to parents include the software and hardware complex “BOS” and the software and methodological complex ArtikMe (“Smart Mirror”).

Cutting-Edge Technologies for Speech Therapy

There are advanced software and hardware systems available that have revolutionized speech therapy practices. Two notable examples are the “BOS” complex and the “ArtikMe” software and methodological complex.

The “BOS” complex utilizes the method of biological feedback to teach self-regulation skills to both children and adults. It focuses on understanding the body’s functions and the physiological aspects necessary for skill development. During speech therapy tasks, the complex monitors breathing frequency and heart rate, providing valuable data for analysis. This information helps identify specific areas of difficulty and guides the selection of a tailored training program. To make the sessions engaging, the complex incorporates playful elements such as displaying cartoons or special computer games on the monitor. Children are rewarded for completing tasks, enhancing their motivation and facilitating the assimilation of information. Throughout the sessions, a speech therapist is present to reinforce the knowledge and support the child’s application of skills in daily life. This comprehensive approach positively impacts physical processes, emotions, intelligence, and attentiveness. It is particularly beneficial for various functional speech disorders, stuttering, voice disorders, speech impairments following traumatic brain injuries, and conditions associated with increased speech demands. The “BOS” method is suitable for children aged 4 and above, as well as adolescents and adults.

The “ArtikMe” software and methodological complex employs a smart mirror as an interactive device for speech therapy classes. Children see their reflection and a captivating world filled with enchanting characters that guide them in proper sound pronunciation, monitor their breathing, and assist in articulation and sound exercises. When a child successfully completes a task, they receive encouragement from the mirror’s hero. This “Smart Mirror” method enhances articulation, sound pronunciation, sound analysis skills, and vocabulary enrichment. It is recommended for children aged 4 to 10 with phonetic and phonemic speech underdevelopment, phonetic speech disorders, general speech underdevelopment, dyslalia, dysarthria, rhinolalia, and stuttering.

The “BOS” and “Smart Mirror” technologies are available at the Center for Neurology and Speech Development, known as “SM-Clinic,” which specializes in providing comprehensive treatment for children. The center’s team consists of multidisciplinary specialists, including neurologists, speech therapists, defectologists, psychologists, and others. Collaboratively, they design individualized treatment plans that incorporate these cutting-edge technologies. The center’s specialists are equipped to address a wide range of challenges in children of all ages, including motor, psychological, and speech developmental delays; neurological disorders; sleep disturbances; behavioral and self-esteem issues; excessive gadget usage; emotional instability; difficulties with memory retention; and conditions like tics, stuttering, and enuresis.