Over the years, there’s been some debate about whether “baby talk” helps or hinders speech-language development for infants and toddlers. Before our Brecksville speech-language pathologists weigh in, it’s important to note there is a key difference between “baby talk” and “parentese.” Both are often cutesy and sing-song-y, but baby talk typically involves nonsense words (“shoesie-woosies” or “toesie-woesies”), while parentese involves exaggerated sounds and simple words and grammar (“Goooooo-dd morn-iiiiing!” and “haaaa-ppyyy!” and “brr-iiiiiight!”).
For all our differences across languages and cultures in the world, parentese is one near universal when it comes to teaching children to communicate. That is to say, parents and caregivers appear naturally drawn to use this speaking style around small children, perhaps because it’s proven so effective in getting a baby’s attention. It’s one of the first tools we offer to help babies learn to verbalize.
Extensive research shows that parentese – which has roots in “baby talk” – is actually critical for helping children learn language. Although there’s nothing inherently wrong with baby talk, at least really early on, parentese takes it to the next level with conscious attention to intonation and gestures. It’s also grammatically correct, even if simplified.
Kids will soon be back in school, and that means homework, class projects and tests. As the school year gains momentum, some parents may begin to notice their child is lagging a bit behind developmentally in terms of their speech, language comprehension, and overall communication. As a speech therapist in Brecksville can explain, every child develops at a different pace. That said, you don’t want to wait too long to address a speech-language delay or problem. Early intervention can help your child catch up to where they need to be, so they don’t lose too much ground academically.
Many kids who receive our speech therapy services start before they are school-age. That’s because their speech-language delays were evident before they turned 4 or 5. However, sometimes there are issues that don’t become evident until a child becomes a bit older.
Some examples of struggles with which a speech therapist may be able to help:
- Stuttering. This occurs when speech flow is interrupted by unintended repetitions, pauses, words or phrases. Speech therapy helps your child learn to limit speech interruptions and boost their confidence. A pediatric speech therapist can also help your child learn to control patterns of speech by monitoring their speech rate and breath support.
- Dyslexia/delayed phonological awareness. Phonological awareness refers to a broad set of skills kids typically develop in preschool as they are being prepared to learn how to read and write. It’s the ability to focus on and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words, and it’s one of the most accurate predictors of how well a child will learn to read in their first few years of school. Kids at risk of reading difficulty struggle with phonological awareness, but there are a number of ways a speech therapist can help. A child who struggles with phonological awareness might have dyslexia. This is when a child struggles with reversing words and letters, decoding, and spelling. The problem is often the phonological language component. An experienced pediatric speech therapist can help identify the issue and also help treat it
- Reading comprehension problems. Reading comprehension refers to one’s ability to successfully process words, understand their meaning, and integrate them with existing knowledge. Speech therapy can help your child improve their ability to comprehend what they are grappling with things like understanding the meaning of words, connecting ideas in a passage, glossing over or omitting details or difficulty concentrating while reading. A speech therapist can work with your child to help them improve these skills. Not only do we want to help them with reading comprehension (an important life skill), we want to see them actually like reading!
- Inaccurate use of vocabulary. Let’s face it: English is a confusing language. But some kids have a harder time grasping it than others. For instance, if a kid uses the words “on” and “in” interchangeably or in place of the word, “under,” they might be struggling with accurate vocabulary. As longtime pediatric speech therapists in Brecksville, we work with them to help them understand the correct way to use these words and improve their confidence/reading abilities.
- Difficulty with reading fluency. As a Brecksville speech therapist can explain, fluency refers to one’s ability to read with speed, accuracy, and expression. If you or your child’s teacher notices he/she needs more time to complete reading assignments than other kids or that they read each word by itself instead of grouping them together to form phrases with meaning (past the age when they should be more fluent in their reading), speech therapy could be an excellent resource.
Even if you don’t have major concerns, the start of the school year is a good time to revisit the American Speech Hearing Association’s speech-language development chart to make sure your child is on-pace for their age group.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
More Blog Entries:
Akron Speech Therapists Use Sign Language For Kids With Communication Difficulties, June 9, 2021, Brecksville Speech Therapist Blog
As a long-time Brecksville speech therapist (and mother) I know well the fact that children develop at different paces and in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to speech and language.
Because let’s be honest: Learning a new language is hard!
Although human children are hard-wired to master their native tongue, slight delays are fairly common, and often will resolve themselves over time.
However, if you have concerns about your children’s speech and language progress, don’t let anyone – pediatrician, family member or even a spouse – stop you from trusting your gut and least getting an opinion from speech therapy professionals.
At Therapy & Wellness Connection, we recognize families are already pinched for time as it is and concerns about a child’s speech delay can be stressful. We’re not here to pile on services your child doesn’t need. What we do want is to give every youth the best possible opportunity to succeed long-term. If there is evidence of a noteworthy delay or challenge, we don’t want the skills’ deficit to snowball (and left untreated, it can). That’s why we recommend early intervention.