July 27th 2010 -
Communication is an ongoing, evolving process that every human experiences. From the cries and coos of an infant, to the mumblings of a young baby, verbal noises are perhaps our most effective form of indicating our wants and feelings. Most babies begin speaking actual words, to some degree, at around 18 months of age. However, there are a number of different circumstances that can result in delay of speech for a child. Speech delay comes in two forms. Some children can understand and process the sounds and speech of others, but have difficulty producing their own words, which is known as expressive delay. Conversely, other children may struggle to interpret and comprehend the words of others, making them incapable of expressing a response, referred to as receptive delay. If the speech delay is receptive, it may be caused by a hearing impairment or mental disorder such as autism or mental retardation. A child with receptive delay onset by a mental disability may also exhibit visual language disorders such as struggling with recognition of people or objects. Expressive language delays are usually due to either some sort of speech impairment, which can usually be ameliorated with therapy, or simply a child who naturally develops speaking skills later than most. An expressive language delay is often more easily overcome than a receptive delay. Parents can do things such as narrating their activities to a child throughout the day to increase their familiarity with words associated with common activities. Reading to a child is one of the best ways to help with this issue. Using picture books, so that a child can learn to understand and recognize what objects are called, helps employ both the visual and verbal skills that must be connected for speech to progress.