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Speech and Language
Although we have five direct senses (hearing, vision, touch, smell and taste) that ensure we can acquire information, there are only two main channels though which we can express ourselves, our body and our voice. The ability to understand and use language is one of the key developmental milestones that every parent looks forward to and any deficiencies in speech and language will be a major concern.
Many educational and health professionals place a great emphasis on the speech output, but often ignore the critical role that the hearing (speech input) plays in the proper development of speech and language. Please also explore the ‘Hearing’ pages on this website.
In the first instance you often can get a reasonable evaluation of how speech and language have developed in a person by simple observations you can make yourself. These can play a key role in uncovering what may lie behind learning, sensory, developmental or emotional difficulties.
Here we outline some typical observations that indicate speech & language difficulties. Please keep in mind that some of these are clearly age related – we would not expect a six month old baby to speak comprehensibly!
- Does not comprehend any language
- Does not speak or is late starting to speak
- Began to speak but regressed
- Speaks incomprehensibly
- Has a very limited vocabulary
- Uses Echolalia (literally repeating words)
- Speaks hesitantly
- Has a flat or monotonous voice
- Speaks with a lisp or speech impediment
- Stutters or stammers
- Often misinterprets verbal instructions
- Requires repetition before understanding
- Has difficulty with following sequential verbal instructions
- Needs time to process verbal instructions
Typical observations on their own may not be meaningful. However, where there is a cluster of indicators, possibly across a number of senses, and the person has learning, sensory, developmental or emotional difficulties, these can indicate that one or more of the senses are out of balance.