Speech delay in children! When should a specialist be consulted?

Starting by accepting patients at Düzce University Hospital under the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Dr. Faculty Member Meltem Küçükdağ drew attention to speech disorders that are common in children today. Emphasizing that the child’s language development starts from birth, Küçükdağ said, “Children do not acquire the ability to speak as soon as they are born; for speech and maturation to occur in the desired time period, the brain and nervous system, hearing , the larynx and mouth structures also reach a certain level of development.

When should a specialist be consulted?

Dr. Dr. Küçükdağ said, “The baby’s crying now becomes a clear means of communication. Then they produce simple sounds and the first steps have been taken. Children begin to babble (make ba-ba-ba-ba sounds) between 6-9 months, which is actually the first stage of speech. By the 12th month, he begins to use some words and call his mother and father with verbal expressions. At the age of 2 years, sentences of two words begin to be used, and in this process 60-70 percent of what a child with normal development says can be understood. A 3-year-old child knows and can identify his age and gender, can use sentences of at least 3 words, and 80 percent of what he says can be understood. From 4 years old he can ask questions, tell stories and his speech can be understood almost completely. If; 12-15. without babbling for months; Does not understand simple instructions by 18 months; did not speak until age 2; If we have a child who can’t form a sentence until age 3 or has difficulty telling a simple story at age 4-5, we should definitely take him in for a detailed evaluation.”

Expressing delayed speech disorder as a language and speech problem that varies widely in stage and type, Küçükdağ pointed out that symptoms vary from person to person. Meltem Küçükdağ emphasized the importance of parents’ observations in defining delayed speech problems and listed the common symptoms in children as follows:

“They may experience functional problems in the mouth and jaw areas, such as swallowing, chewing, drooling. They have a limited vocabulary. They have difficulty forming sentences. Compared to their peers, they do not speak at all or use short sentences that are difficult to understand. They may have difficulty expressing their thoughts and wishes. They cannot express themselves. They have difficulty adapting to the environment and the new environment they find themselves in. They may act indifferent to the sounds and conversations around them, ignoring them and pretending not to listen. They may be reluctant to communicate. They can make meaningless noises. While expressing their wishes and thoughts, they may show reactions such as yelling, crying, hitting due to lack of expression. They may prefer pointing, gesturing, and mimicking rather than talking. They may prefer to be alone. They can have attention problems, so their attention spans can be short and scattered. It can take them a long time to understand and learn the concepts. They may not be able to transfer the acquired knowledge.”

“We question the lack of parental supervision and/or intense exposure to screens in the complaint of inability to speak”

Dr. Meltem Küçükdağ said: “When a child comes to us complaining that they cannot speak, we first ask about the lack of parental supervision and/or intense exposure to screens. Because the majority of speech-delayed patients who present to the outpatient clinic can improve when screen exposure is reduced and family attention increased. In this situation, which is very common even in our relatives, the child is interested in the phone / tablet / television from morning to night, communication within the family is limited, and even when this situation changes and the child becomes sent to kindergarten, speech can develop quickly.

By pointing out that excessive affection for the child and, as a result, does not give the child the opportunity to express their needs and complaints, growing the child in an environment of emotional conflict, constant fighting and chaos can lead to delayed speech. Küçükdağ said: “In the case of speaking more than one language in the living environment, speech delay may occur. It is necessary to speak the chosen native language mainly in the home environment, choose simple words and be patient. Children are abused and psychologically traumatized; reasons such as war, terrorism. Even if there is no problem in his body, speech delay and impairment are observed in cases such as the loss of a parent or exposure to violence.

Pathological conditions that cause speech delay

Noting that pathological conditions such as intellectual disability, bilingualism, selective mutism, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, language development delay and hearing loss can also cause speech delay, Meltem Küçükdağ said that in the case of intellectual disability, both developmental testing and clinical diagnosis can be made by special education and language use. He stated that he had been treated with therapy.

Early diagnosis is very important in autism spectrum disorder.

Noting that autism spectrum disorder is starting to be seen at a higher rate than expected, Dr. Faculty member Küçükdağ stated that early diagnosis and treatment clearly work. Küçükdağ stated that children with autism spectrum disorder also have problems in their social relationships apart from speaking: “Unable to make eye contact/has limited contact. He also has trouble receiving commands. A child psychiatrist should be consulted promptly and special education should be initiated as soon as possible.

“A child psychiatrist should be consulted for every child with a speech delay”

Expressing that the mother and father use different languages, that is, bilingualism, which is expressed as bilingualism, is one of the reasons for speech delay. Küçükdağ stressed that it is important to guide the family in speaking one language, at least until the child starts to speak.

Küçükdağ also provided information about the problem of “selective muteness” and said, “In this problem, the child can easily talk to his family, but not to strangers. In this case, pharmacological treatment may be required in addition to therapy.

Dr. Faculty member Meltem “Küçükdağ said: “However, families cannot make this distinction themselves. Therefore, a child psychiatrist should be consulted as soon as possible for any child with speech delay.

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