Communication is generally defined as “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, information or opinions by speech, writing, or signs.’ Communication skills starts developing from infancy, much before the emergence of the first word and continue to develop throughout life. Communication disorders includes problems related to speech and language and in related areas such as oral motor function. The delays and disorders can range from simple sound substitution to the inability to understand or use of language.

Nowadays many of you would have come across with speech and language disorders like Hearing loss, Autism, Down syndrome, mental retardation or cleft lip or palate, which are common causes of communication disorder. However, many parents bring their children with communication difficul-ties for the evaluation when they would have already crossed their critical age for language acquisi-tion. It is really important to remember that children have a “critical period” for learning language. This is true no matter which communication tools and communication strategies you choose to help your child to learn language. Children learn language best during early childhood (0-5 years) and after which language acquisition is difficult or slow and eventually less successful. If your child exhibits a definite communication problem, don’t wait and expect that your child will outgrow it in later years of life as early spoken language disorders would also result in problems with academics, behavior and social communication skills.

Early detection will help in providing early treatment and better will be the prognosis. Here are some of the signs to help you determine if your child has a speech and language disorder. It will help you to know about typical speech and language development. If you have identified the problem and has serious concerns regarding your child’s speech and lan-guage development it is very important to seek professional help.

A speech language pathologist can determine if your child’s speech difficulties are age appropriate or if they would further benefit from speech-language therapy.  A comprehensive evaluation with the help of interview and differ-ent standardized tests will help to determine whether the child has any other underlying issues and to decide the need for therapy services. Depending on the results of all the tests, he/she may also suggest appropriate home training activities to stimulate speech and language development and may recommend further evaluation by other health professionals such as an audiologist, ENT doc-tor, psychologist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, neurologist or a pediatrician.

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