Language and speech pathology is concerned with issues surrounding speech-language communication disorders. Child maturation includes many milestones, including taking their first step, eating solid foods, as well as speech. The maturation of speech is one of the most critical milestones in the maturation of any child.
For most children, speech comes easy, but some may have difficulties and will need extra attention (possibly with a speech language pathologist).
Studies have shown approximately 10% of all children have some form of language development pathology that will cause issues for them later on in their maturation if not corrected. Speech is defined as the expression of or the ability to express thoughts and feelings by articulate sounds in a particular language. Speech-language is a very complex mechanism.
The actual speech-language includes coordination of musculature, breathing, teeth, and mental/neurological capacities. A child’s actual speech begins with a baby’s crying and how it learns to communicate its needs and desires.
This is why a baby has developed different cries shortly after birth. Most mothers can differentiate a cry of pain from a cry of hunger. At about six months of age, most babies begin to make sounds very similar to speech. They are attempting words but are not quite there just yet in their speech development. For most children, this will develop very quickly over the next six months.
When the actual talking begins, words are formed in isolation and not in complete sentences. Some kids acquire words and language very quickly and amass a more extensive vocabulary early. In contrast, others move at a slower pace of maturation. There is quite a large spectrum of what is considered normal versus abnormal.
Speech Pathology Disorders
A speech-language disorder refers to an issue with the actual sound production. A disorder refers to a difficulty understanding or combining words together to communicate correctly. Speech disorders can include:
Difficulties in producing sounds in syllables or saying words incorrectly to the point that listeners are unable to understand what is trying to be communicated.
Fluency disorders (Stuttering)
Stuttering is characterized as abnormal stoppages of speech, repetitions, or prolonging sounds and syllables.
Issues with the volume, pitch, or quality of the voice distract listeners from what is actually being spoken. These types of disorders can also cause pain or discomfort for a child when speaking.
Oral feeding disorders
These disorders include difficulties with eating, drooling, and swallowing.
Two Categories Of Language disorders
Difficulties in processing or comprehending language.
Difficulty putting words together, limited vocabulary, or inability to use language in a socially appropriate way.
How Do Teeth, Tongue, and Oral Cavity Affect Speech?
Teeth, tongue, and other oral structures play a pivotal role in the pronunciation of the consonants f, v, s, z, etc. Typically, children can compensate for minor oral issues and not have a problem with speech. Some dental issues can be more extreme and may prevent or hinder pronunciation.
This open bite is an oral malocclusion in which the front teeth do not close together. Many speech sounds require the front teeth to be closed to enunciate correctly.
2. Short Frenum
This is the attachment under the tongue. The tongue will position itself in different areas to produce t,d,n,l,r sounds especially. This frenum issue can usually be relieved with a minor surgery with an Ear, nose, and throat physician.
3. Lack of Teeth.
This can be due to early loss or lack of normal tooth development, front tooth loss can make it extremely difficult to produce speech well.
4. Cleft lip or Palate.
Lack of complete closure of lip or Palate allows air to disrupt the proper formation of speech. Surgical closure of the palate or lip helps to fix the problem, but speech therapy is generally still needed.
5. Thumb Sucking (Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder) After Effects.
Prolonged thumb sucking can push your child’s front teeth forward, causing an open bite, and deform the Palate as it develops. This combination can make proper speech development a challenge.
6. Tongue Thrust.
This tongue thrust occurs during swallowing or speaking, pushes through the teeth. If a tongue thrust is not addressed with orthodontics, myofunctional therapy, or orthodontic appliances, the problem will cause movement of teeth and increased difficulty with speech. Tongue thrust needs to be diagnosed by your dentist along with a speech language pathologist.
Since speech is an essential part of maturation, disorders may hinder your child’s social, personal, and educational experience. Your dentist may be able to help your child with diagnosing oral issues related to your child’s speech issues and develop a treatment plan. Proper referrals to specialists or speech language pathologists can help get your child on the right path to appropriate speech maturation.