Addressing the Issue of Speech Disorders for Today’s Youth

Collaborative interdisciplinary team

The children of today must grow up in a much different world than any of us had to. Every new medium of communication introduced through human history — the telegraph, the telephone, film, radio, television, digital computers, and most recently the internet — has come with its own set of challenges when it comes to language. Recent studies suggest that school-aged children of today struggle far more with spelling, grammar, and essay-writing than children who grew up in the 1960s and 70s. Recognizing speech disorders at an early age can help these children overcome adversity and strengthen their receptive and expressive language skills.

The Modern Challenges of Speech and Language Development

Speech and communicative disorders can haunt children for their entire lives, potentially leading to decreased social interaction with peers and a general lack of self-confidence, not to mention other pressing academic concerns. There are approximately 3 million Americans who stutter with boys being twice as likely to stutter than girls — this number increases to three to four times as likely as females as those boys continue to stutter into adulthood. Many parents are allowing tablets and television to interact with their young children, but since children younger than 30 months cannot interact verbally with these devices it may actually be detrimental for young children to have constant exposure to tablets, smartphones, computers, and televisions.

Developing Early Responsive and Expressive Language Skills

Many parents fail to recognize how crucial the first few years of life are to the development of their children. The public school system may offer speech therapy for children older than three years of age, but the longer a child struggles with a speech disorder the greater the challenge to correct it later down the line. Children between the ages of two to three who are unable to produce speech sounds correctly such as k, g, f, t, d, and n may have a speech disorder. Finding an early speech and language therapist can help correct early speech disorders and save parents money on speech or hearing therapy services later on in life — every dollar spent early on is estimated to save up to seven dollars later on. Speech therapy is more than just learning how to communicate properly; it is an investment of confidence into a child’s future.

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