An Interview with Mike Howland, CEO
Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center
What are the main causes of speech and language disorders in children?
Speech and Language disorders may be the result of a variety of etiologies and many disorders have no clear cause but they may include:
- a motor speech disorder (Apraxia),
- a physical/ structural cause (cleft palate, overbite, short frenulum),
- be a symptom of a syndrome (Down syndrome, Fragile X),
- a neurological problem (Cerebral Palsy),
- a traumatic event (traumatic brain injury, lack of oxygen at birth),
- a sensory deficiency (hearing impairment),
- Auditory Processing Disorders,
- intellectual disability,
- developmental delay,
- language based learning disability,
- environmental deprivation.
In short, there are hundreds of possible causes that can facilitate the need for speech and/or language therapy.
What is the first step I should take if I notice my child’s speech is delayed?
Speak with your Primary Care Doctor about getting a referral for a Hearing Test, if one has not already been completed, as well as a referral for a Speech & Language Evaluation.
How can I tell if my child’s speech and language is on track?
There are expected language behaviors for different ages. For example, by 1 year of age, a child should use one or two words, follow simple requests (ie. “Come here”), and understand simple questions (ie. “Where are your shoes?”). By 2-3 years of age, the child should be using two or three words sentences to talk about and ask for things and following two requests (ie. “Get the ball and put it on the table”). Parents should also understand the child’s speech most of the time. Children are individuals and do develop at slower or faster rates than expected. What is most important is that the child shows continuous language growth.
For more detailed look at the developmental milestones at each age refer to www.asha.org for the following:
- ASHA’s publication “How Does Your Child Hear and Talk?” offers guidelines for Speech and Language Development from Birth to Five Years. This can be found on their website http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/chart/.
- ASHA’s Brochure “Identify the Signs of Communication Disorders” can also be found at http://identifythesigns.org.
What is the difference between a speech disorder and language impairment?
When a person is unable to articulate or produce speech sounds correctly or fluently (ability to speak without stuttering), or has problems with his or her voice (e.g., hoarseness, vocal nodules), then he or she has a speech disorder.
When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), or interacting and having appropriate social skills with others (pragmatics), then he or she has a language disorder. Both children and adults can have speech and language disorders. They can occur as a result of a medical problem or have no known cause.
How can I help my child with a hearing problem cope at school?
Federal law allows students with hearing loss to have a free and appropriate public education alongside non–disabled students, to the extent possible, up to 12th grade. Even though a child may have a hearing aid or cochlear implant they will probably still need assistive technology, modified acoustics, and accessible teaching strategies to participate fully in noisy classrooms. In post-secondary institutions students must advocate for accessibility through the school administration. Many schools have disabled student offices that can coordinate accessibility requests.