Speech and language disorders include problems in communication and related areas such as oral motor function and can hinder communication in children. Stammering/stuttering, nasality (speaking through the nose), incorrect syntax, mutism, lack of speech clarity due to hearing impairment, difficulty in following multiple instructions, learning social pleasantries are some of the commonly observed disorders.
According to cdc.gov, “Children are born ready to learn a language, but they need to learn the language or languages that their family and environment use. Learning a language takes time, and children vary in how quickly they master milestones in language and speech development.”
It adds, “Parents and caregivers are the most important teachers during a child’s early years. Children learn language by listening to others speak and by practising.”
Neelam Lulla, AVT therapist and speech therapist at The Aditya Birla Integrated School (TABIS) tells EducationWorld how to help children overcome speech disorder using speech therapy and what can parents do.
How does speech therapy help students to overcome these disorders/communication challenges?
Children with learning disabilities are prone to speech and language disorders. A speech-language therapist conducts a detailed assessment with the help of standardised tests and feedback from parents to identify the child’s weak areas. Therapists then work on them via individualized therapy programs. During the session, a speech therapist uses appropriate apps, exercises, drills, specific goal-based home plans which can help the child to achieve his goals.
The therapist gives specific targets to the parent to follow up. For example:
- Mutism: If the child speaks very softly in the house, the family members should pretend not to hear, thus motivating him to talk louder.
- Usage of articles [the] [a] [an], when the child needs something, he has to verbally ask for it using the appropriate article.
- Rhyming words: Use rhyming words through the day in a fun way e.g. Do you want something rhyming with the moon? Oh! Do you want the spoon?
How can parents help groom such kids?
Parents play a very essential part.
- A therapist has limited time and opportunity to work with the child whereas the parents have unlimited opportunity.
- A speech therapist works in a controlled setting whereas the child gets generalisation skills at home.
- Parents are given specific goals e.g., work on plurals, similes.
- Reading storybooks with the child.
- Relating the events of what happened in school, birthday party or picnic.
- Keep conversation cards on the table during mealtimes e.g. What was your favorite part of the day?/Which is the next festival?/What shall we do for our summer vacation?
- Playing games like carrom, Monopoly, Scrabble Slam, Rummikub, Ring it, Vocabo, Ludo, etc.
- While traveling playing games like I spy game, Makes of the car, Colours of the car, Note the number plates of the cars with double digits and Riddles
Parents provide an insight into the achievement or failure of the given targets. The extended family gets encouraged to participate in the child’s development seeing the progress. Anxious parents leads to anxious children while happy parents create happy children.
In summary, children by nature are social beings. They are rejected, ridiculed, or bullied by their peers if they have speech and language disorders. This leads to a host of other problems like behavioral problems, anxiety, aggression. Early intervention is essential for successfully overcoming speech and language disorders.
Can you elaborate on the speech therapy programmes that TABIS offers?
The speech therapist works in tandem with special educators, occupational therapist, behavioral therapist, counselors and paediatric psychologist. The entire team has regular meetings to discuss the progress of the child. If the therapist feels that the child is not progressing adequately then a brainstorming session is held to get to the root cause. The timetable is structured in such a way that the child’s interest is maintained, and the energy is optimised. The child is provided individualised speech therapy on the premises itself. It saves energy and time for the child and the parents. This is very conducive for all-round development.
The child is provided with pet therapy, chess, sports, funfairs where they have to exhibit and talk about their project which leads to orator skills and this improves all aspects of speech and boosts their self-confidence.
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