Communication Disorders In Children

Children keep on listening throughout the day even if they are not paying entire attention to the speaker.

Mayuri Ramdasi, Consultant Speech And Language Therapist And Founder of Arula For Autism

Communications-Conversations-Expressions; if one asks, ‘what’s the prime key to highlight our identity in this fast-moving world?’ Then the aforementioned three things constitute for the same.

Ability of communication isn’t just a way to fraternize in society, but an adept communication helps to accentuate your identity, personality and most basically, your presence in this world.

Cultivation of those much-needed communication skills, in fact, happens at a very primitive stage- called ‘Childhood’. But often it happens so; some children fail to absorb these communicational requisites due to certain reasons. And these reasons are what we term as- Communication Disorders.

A child with a communication disorder has trouble communicating with others. He or she may not understand or be vocal. The child may also struggle with word choice, word order, or sentence structure.

There are several types of these disorders that a child may face like, Mixed receptive-expressive language disorder where the child has developmental delays and problems understanding the spoken language, also in speaking.

Expressive language disorder in which, a child faces problem associated with the presence of adequate vocabulary in his/her speech, etc.

Speech-sound disorders, here, a child is unable to articulate precise sounds and phonics in his/her speech. Childhood-onset fluency disorder which is also known as ‘stuttering’. It starts in childhood and can last throughout life.

Social communication disorder where a child has trouble with verbal and nonverbal communication that is not caused by thinking problems that results in restricted socialisation skills.

There are some most common symptoms of communication disorders in a young child like, not speaking at all, limited word choice for his or her age, trouble grasping simple directions or naming objects, poor attention span & eye contact, hyperactivity, inadequate display of emotions, unclear speech, stammering and lack of initiation of conversation.

Common conditions associated with communication disorders in children

  1. Autism: A neuro-developmental disorder characterized by lack of communication, lack of socialization, presence of repetitive-negative behaviour.
  2. Hearing impairment: Condition characterized by delayed speech and language, unclear speech and inappropriate voice modulations.
  3. Mental Retardation: This condition results in delayed comprehension as well as delayed expression of language.
  4. Apraxia of Speech (AOS): It happens when the neural pathway between the brain and a person’s speech function (speech muscles) is lost or obscured. The person knows what they want to say – they can even write what they want to say on paper – however the brain is unable to send the correct messages to speech muscles resulting in failure of vocal outcome of desired speech.
  5. Stuttering: commonly known as ‘stammering’. It is characterized by interruption in smooth flow of speech. Prolongations, repetitions, hard block, silent blocks, omissions -these are some of the symptoms of speech. The onset of childhood stammering is around 3years of age.
  6. Phonological disorders– Marked by unclear speech. The child is not able to pronounce the words clearly. These are also called as articulation disorders.

Every child with communication disorders if diagnosed early that is within the critical period of language and speech development can show wonderful outcomes. The critical period lies between 0-4 years.

Early intervention helps in development of physical (reaching, rolling, crawling, and walking); cognitive (thinking, learning, solving problems; communication (talking, listening, understanding); social/emotional (playing, feeling secure and happy); and self-help (eating, dressing) skills.

There are few important tips for parents to understand development of language in children. Language has got two parts; one is Comprehension of spoken language and Expression of spoken language.

This is nothing but speech. Comprehension (understanding) of language always precedes the expression of itself i.e. speech. This clearly means that in the process of language development, child always understands more than what he can express. Efforts should be made in such a way that the child understands what is spoken to him.

Let me give you an analogy for the same. Let us assume that we have an empty vessel with us. As we pouring water into it, the water reaches up to the brim of the vessel and thus the vessel gets full with water. Once completely filled, any excess of water would just simply spill out of that vessel, right?

This spilling of water is nothing but ‘speech’ – that is, child’s verbal output. Here, in order for water to spill out, it is essential for the vessel to get completely filled with it first. To put in simpler words, the child should primarily understand the language from all aspects till there is no space left for any doubts regarding what is spoken to him. And thus, will the speech start be flowing from the child.

This is to highlight the fact that speech is an automatic process. You need not teach the child to speak. You should put efforts towards enriching his understanding. What are the ways to enhance child’s understanding?

The only key to do so is- to develop listening skills within the child. Listening is a continuous and an ongoing process. Child keeps on listening throughout the day even if he is not paying entire attention to the speaker. Good listening skills form a concrete fundamental basis to the language.

To all the readers and parents, even though it is extremely difficult to confront the communication disorders in children; it’s still quite feasible to cope up with them and to treat them. Children are in their tender ages and thus, they reciprocate on a very resilient note to the essential and proficient therapy given to them.

While executing the therapeutic activities and tips given by the professional, it is extremely important to keep utmost patience and to never let your child feel short of your love, admiration and support. Never forget -a positive approach is an ultimate formula to attain success, always!

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