With 11% of children ages 3–6 having a speech, language, voice, or swallowing disorder—and almost 15% of school-age children experiencing some degree of hearing loss—communication disorders are among the most common disabilities in children nationwide.
Timely intervention is key, as untreated speech/language and hearing disorders can lead to problems with reading and writing, academic success, social interactions, behavioral problems, and more. Parents are encouraged to learn the warning signs of these disorders and seek help early:
- Does not smile or interact with others (birth and older)
- Does not babble (4–7 months)
- Makes only a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (7–12 months)
- Does not understand what others say (7 months–2 years)
- Says only a few words (12–18 months)
- Words are not easily understood (18 months–2 years)
- Does not put words together to make sentences (1.5–3 years)
- Has trouble playing and talking with other children (2–3 years)
- Has trouble with early reading and writing skills (2½–3 years)
Speech Sound Disorders
- Says p, b, m, h, and w incorrectly in words (1–2 years)
- Says k, g, f, t, d, and n incorrectly in words (2–3 years)
- Produces speech that is unclear, even to familiar people (2–3 years)
- Repeats first sounds of words—“b-b-b-ball” for “ball”
- Speech breaks while trying to say a word—“—–boy” for “boy”
- Stretches sounds out—“ffffff-farm” for “farm”
- Shows frustration when trying to get words out
- Uses a hoarse or breathy voice
- Uses a nasal-sounding voice
- Shows a lack of attention to sounds (birth–1 year)
- Does not respond when you call their name (7 months–1 year)
- Does not follow simple directions (1–2 years)
- Shows delays in speech and language development (birth–3 years)
- Pulls or scratches at their ears
- Has difficulty achieving academically, especially in reading and math
- Is socially isolated and unhappy at school
- Has persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise (regular and constant listening to electronics at high volumes)
These disorders are highly treatable and, in some cases, can be reversed or even prevented. If you have any concern, don’t wait and see if there is a change. Trust your instincts, and get it checked out.
Families who are interested in discussing outpatient speech-language or swallowing therapy services may contact Katie at HealthSource Saginaw, 3340 Hospital Rd., Saginaw, MI 48603 (989)790-7896 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Families can learn more about these signs, get tips for helping their child, and find a searchable database of the professionals who treat communication disorders at http://IdentifytheSigns.org.
You can also contact your local Intermediate School district (ISD) or Public School District (PSD) to see what services are available to you.