The paper will look into the factors that cause delayed speech in children. The differences between boys and girls in terms of early speech and language development will also be discussed. Furthermore, the paper will establish the role of parents and their perception of language development. The paper will also discuss children’s age, their required language level, as well as diagnosing and treatment of the condition. Psychotherapy is one of the approaches used to treat people with emotional problems. Theories explaining the causes and treatment of the condition of delayed speech and language development will also be analyzed. Some of the theories include the theory of mind, executive function, identification of autism, and their effectiveness with the consideration of controversies of its treatment (Levine & Munsch, 2011).
Delayed speech and language development is a condition that usually develops in children and renders them incapable of communicating well. The condition is detected when the child reaches the age her/his peers are able to communicate well, whereas she/he is not. The condition is very frustrating to both the child and the parents. Some parents become seriously stressed out because of the situation of their children (Albright & Raaf, 1954). However, it is important to note that if the condition is detected early enough, it can be easily corrected. According to psychoanalysts, delayed speech and language development is a disorder that is characterized by lack of self-development and alteration of sense of others (Rhyner, 2009). The condition is explained in terms of psychoanalytical aspects, such as dysfunctional behaviors of a person and his/her identification.
Despite being two different things, speech and language are often confused. A clear distinction between the two is important for proper understanding of the condition of delayed speech and language development (Levine & Munsch, 2011). Speech is the act of uttering sounds through a person’s mouth. For communication to be effective, it should be understood by other people. Therefore, when a sound produced is not understood by others, it becomes a problem. Some problems may include stuttering, stammering and mispronunciation of some words (Rhyner, 2009). Unlike sounds, language has more to do with the meaning and is used to measure a person’s intelligence. The problem of language delay can be more dangerous than the speech problem. Language delay can be defined as a condition where a child’s language development is in the right sequence, but it is developing at a very slow rate. The condition of delayed speech and language development affect about five to ten percent of preschool children (Rhyner, 2009).
The following description is the normal pathway of speech and language development. A child who fails to exhibit any of the below is considered to have this condition; therefore, the child’s parents should seek a pediatrician’s advice.
Language Development Level
A child should be able to cry.
A child should be able to cry differently in different situations; Cry for hunger and that of pain should be different.
A child should babble randomly
A child should be able to babble rhythmically.
A child should be able to babble while imitating the speech and expression of adults.
A child should be able to say one to two words. It should be able to recognize its name, imitate some familiar words or sounds and be able to understand simple instructions.
A child should be able to use at least five to twenty words, including names.
Between 1-2 years
A child should be able to make a 2-word sentence. A child’s vocabulary should be growing. It should imitate sounds of familiar animals and wave goodbye to people. It should utter words like ‘more’ to mean what it wants and be capable of comprehending ‘no’.
Between 2-3 years
A child should be able to identify parts of the body and even call itself ‘me’ instead of its name. It should combine nouns and verbs and make use of short sentences. It should be able to match colors and tell the difference between big and little things
Between 3-4 years
At this age, a child should be able to tell a story by using sentences of about 4-5 words. A child’s vocabulary should include about 1000 words. A child should be able to know its last name, the name of the street it lives in and several nursery rhymes.
Between 4-5 years
A child should be able to use sentence of 5 words and make use of past tenses. A child’s vocabulary should increase to about 1500 words. It should be able to identify colors, and shapes, as well as ask questions mainly starting with ”Why”? and “Who”?
Between 5-6 years
A child should have a vocabulary of about 2000 words. It should be capable of telling what objects are made of and identifying the right hand and the left hand. A child should be able to identify similar and different things. More importantly, a child should be able to use all sentences and count from one to ten.
A child who does not measure up with the above stated level is considered to be a late-bloomer or one that has delayed speech and language development. It is not easy to differentiate between the two until parents seek a pediatrician’s advice (Levine & Munsch, 2011).
Causes of Delayed Speech and Language Development
The first and foremost cause of speech/language problems is the speech and language developmental disorder. The disorder is caused by failure of brains that tend to work differently. It is a learning disability that renders children incapable of producing speech sounds, making use of spoken language to communicate, and understanding what other people say. Another factor that contributes to delayed speech and language development is the hearing problem. If a child suffers from hearing loss or has a hearing problem, its speech and language development will be affected. Therefore, a child’s hearing should be checked (Miles, 1975). Some children born with intellectual disability may also suffer from delayed speech and language development (Wood, 1964).
Hearing enables children’s speech and language to develop well. Extreme environmental deprivation of a child whereby it is not able to hear, talk and socialize with people will constitute a major cause of her/his delayed speech and language development. Children will imitate what they hear from others; and through this they are able to develop their speech (Miles, 1975). Delayed maturation may also affect children’s speech and language development. Furthermore, some children have problems with decoding speech sounds. They are unable to comprehend spoken words and this consequently makes them unable develop their speech and language. However, the condition can be improved through speech and language therapy (Wood, 1964). Delayed speech and language development can be caused by neurological problems, too. Some of the neurological problems, such as cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury, may affect the muscles required for speaking. Autism is another major factor that contributes to delayed communication. Some structural problems like cleft lip or cleft palate often interfere with normal speech, thus affecting language development (Albright & Raaf, 1954).
The rates at which a girl child and boy child develop are different. Studies and research have shown that a girl child tends to mature faster, with the part of the brain responsible for language development becoming specialized earlier. Therefore, a girl child leads in the number of words produced, understood and combined to form sentences. The differences are also thought to be caused by the socialization practices of caregivers and parents. A girl child spends a lot of time with her mother, while a boy child is often outside and may not hear as many loving words and parental conversations as a girl child does.
Parents often give undivided attention to their first-born child. They will always want to be close to their child by joking and playing with it. Therefore, first-born children tend to start talking earlier than the late-born ones. However, the difference can disappear if children experiences rich and personalized language interaction in their childcare (Wood, 1964).
The Role of Parents in Helping Children with Delayed Speech and Language Development
The problem of speech and language development should be identified early enough to enable a child to get treatment. It is important to note that treatment of these problems can start before a child starts talking (Levine & Munsch, 2011). This is because children start to know about the language long before they can speak it. Parents should start talking to a child at birth by responding to its coos and babbling. They should also play some simple games with a child, and more importantly, listen to it talk. Parents should talk a lot with a child by asking it questions and answering them to encourage a child to talk. They can also combine gestures and words to try to expend on what a child says. Moreover, they should avoid criticizing a child’s grammatical mistakes, but instead model good grammar (Miles, 1975).
In conclusion, delayed speech and language development in children is a problem that can be corrected and should not cause a lot of worry to parents. Parents should help their children in developing speech and language. Caretakers and teachers also contribute greatly to language development; and, it is, therefore, important for them to understand how language is developed.