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Martha Jefferson Healthwise -- July 1st

July 1, 2009

As toddlers grow and develop their speech skills, deciphering their words can sometimes be challenging at best. However, if children are late to talk or they are hard to understand, it could indicate a speech or language disorder.

Joining us for this week's Martha Jefferson Healthwise is speech-language pathologist Cindy Kyle with tips to gage whether your child’s speech development is on track.

BD: Is there a difference between “language” and “speech?”

CK: Yes. “Speech” refers to the sounds that come out of our mouths, or how clearly and fluently we pronounce sounds in words and sentences. “Language” refers to knowledge of words and the rules that govern the combination of words into phrases, sentences, and text.

BD: When listening to a young child speak, what should parents look out for to determine if their speech development is normal?

CK: Children develop their speech skills at different rates. However there is a normal pattern of development for the acquisition of speech sounds in children. For example, most two- year olds can pronounce b, d, h, m, n and p, such as in the words “dada,” “mama” and “baby.” A good general speech guideline is that by age 3, an unfamiliar listener should understand about 75% of what the child says.

BD: What therapy options are available for children with speech disorders?

CK: For children ages 0-3, there is Early Intervention in our community, and Early Intervention therapists come to the child’s home to evaluate and provide therapy for the children and provide education for parents. For pre-schoolers, school-age and adolescent children, we offer speech therapy At the Martha Jefferson Outpatient Care Center. Therapy consists of age-appropriate activities, which for the younger children is play, and for the older children is play combined with activities designed to support their success in school and with their social skills.

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