There are different types of speech disorders encountered by children. The problem is, it takes training and experience handling such conditions to be able to unravel the actual speech disorder that a kid may be suffering from.
In a previous article, we highlighted the difference between childhood apraxia and late-talking. In the post, we explained that while apraxia has more to do with developmental delays leading to the inability to coordinate the muscles used to produce speech, late-talking is a disorder caused by having a limited spoken vocabulary for a child of certain age bracket.
In as much as this explanation and similar ones that you can find on the internet is useful. You will still need a child’s speech-language pathologist to review your child’s medical history and conduct an examination of your child’s speech muscles and how he or she produces words, phrases, and sounds.
Diagnosing childhood apraxia isn’t a straightforward process. It often involves recognizing patterns of problems exhibited by a child, taking into consideration factors like age, the severity of the speech disorder, and how well the child cooperates with the speech-language pathologist.
Here are some of the common tests to expect when you visit a speech-language pathologist:
Hearing tests: To determine if hearing disorders could be the reason a child doesn’t talk as much as he or she should, your ENT (Otolaryngology) doctor may carry out hearings tests. This may be the first test the doctor will order for your child.
Oral-motor assessment: To determine the actual disorder and the likely causes, your child’s speech-language pathologist will check for structural problems such as cleft palate or tongue-tie. This will involve examining your child’s speech organs such as tongue, palate, lips, and jaw.
The child may be asked to perform activities involving the use of his or her tongue, lips, and jaw such as kissing, blowing, and smiling.
Speech evaluation: This stage of the test involves examining your child’s ability to produce sounds, words, and sentences during play or other similar activities.
Depending on the age of the child, he or she may be asked to name pictures so that the speech-language pathologist can observe his difficulty level with pronouncing speaking certain words or syllables.
During speech evaluation, the pathologist will also assess how well your child coordinates movement in speech as well as how he or she stresses words and syllables – that is, melody and rhythm of speech.
How a Speech-language Pathologist Can Help
First of all, If your child is showing any sign of speech disorder, it is very important to seek professional help as early detection can help to nip the problem in the bud.
A speech-language pathologist will help you to identify the actual speech disorder that your child is having. This is the starting point in determining an appropriate treatment approach for your child.
Secondly, depending on the severity of the disorder, a speech-language pathologist will help determine the appropriate frequency of therapy session that will help your child to improve.
In the same vein, individual therapy sessions allow children with apraxia more time to practice speech.
Lastly, it is also important to note that every child has a different learning habit. Your child’s speech-language pathologist will identify his or her learning habits and devise the most suitable pattern.