Reader Forum: questions on speech-language development, disorders, and treatment

This is the place where I respond to your questions and feedback. Please keep in mind that I cannot diagnose or treat any child I have not seen.

This page, indeed this entire site, is for the purpose of offering information of a general nature; any treatment decisions you make regarding your child should be in consultation with a qualified professional.

If you'd like to make a query, please use the form on the "Contact me" page. I will only post your query on this page if you give me permission to do so, and I will protect your confidentiality by not including your name, your child's name, or any other identifying information. Submissions may be edited for spelling, clarity, etc.

A letter from school about a speech evaluation (which was probably just a screening)

My granddaughter is 5 and just started kindergarten at a private school. She was sent home with a letter from the school stating that they did a speech evaluation and she is being recommended for speech therapy. They mentioned her area of trouble being articulation of /ch and /j/ sounds. Is a five year old developed enough in speech to have mastered this? Where do we go from here? They have asked for a meeting! We are expected to come with questions. What would you be asking of them? Your help is greatly appreciated.

Click here for Robert's response.

TV and AD/HD

I heard on the John Tesh radio show about research that discusses children age 4 and under watching a lot of TV. It said that there is a connection between watching TV and ADHD. It apparently is due to neural pathways being developed and being used to things that are presented quickly on TV (as well as video games, etc). When the child is ready for school the pace is slower than the child is used to and the child becomes bored and distracted. Apparently many of these kids end up with a diagnosis of ADHD.

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Waiting for services.

I recently took my 4-yr-old daughter for an initial speech evaluation with the school board. They verified she needs services, but it will be months before they can get her in for a second evaluation. Then she still needs the 2nd evaluation and a staffing meeting before we actually start therapy sessions. She has major articulation problems, and no one outside the immediate family understands most of what she says. English was not her first language, although her vocabulary is incredible in English, and she follows directions well.

What can we do while we wait for therapy? Are there specific books you recommend, or do I just check out "everything" related to speech therapy in our local library? I read that you don't recommend the do-it-yourself approach, but isn't working on one sound while we are waiting better than nothing? Or do you think we'll make things worse by trying to help her? I have to admit we already were correcting her on one letter, because she sounded like she was saying something bad/inappropriate, and I didn't want her to start preschool school like that. I'm a seasoned educator with NO background in speech therapy. Thank you.

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Growing up bilingual: good or bad?

I am concerned with the speech development of my 20 month old grandson. Although he understands very well, he is not actually talking. His daily caretaker speeks to him in Polish, and he shows signs of understanding this language. My question is: Is speaking to this child in two different languages delaying his talking in either of the languages?

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A talking toy ... with an articulation disorder?

Hi, I have a 19 month old who has a new toy. When you press the button it says, "Hello, I am (and it sounds like) Edgerton". When you read the instruction manual, it says the toy's name is Edison, but it definitely sounds like Edgerton. Here is our debate - my husband believes that we should say it is Edison, and correct our son if he starts saying Edgerton. I, however, believe that he should try repeating what he hears as sounds, and that correcting him will cause confusion. When he is older and reads the instruction manual, I'm sure we can explain the differences, i.e., that technology sometime distorts sounds, and that also accents can too. Would like to know what we should encourage. Thanks.

Click here for Robert's response.

Kindergartener with receptive-expressive language disorder.

My son is 5 years old in kindergarten and is doing well so far, but he has major issues with syntax. When he speaks, sometimes his words are in the wrong order. I know how to follow his train of thought, but I know for others it must be difficult. Is this going to be permanent, or is this correctable? He's seeing a SLP, but do you have ways for him to overcome this? Also, have you come across a child like this, and how is that child today?

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16 Months, just a few words.

My son is 16 months old and is not truly talking. About once a week you can get him to say mamamamama. But not really mama, as if he were directing it towards me. He grunts often and makes other noises, but no other words. He does point to things, but only sometimes does he seem to know what he is pointing at. He shakes his head no, but about 95% of the time he means yes and the other times we don't know. He does have a history of persistent ear infections, but received tubes back in February 2008. They also did a hearing test at that time, and it was fine. He also does not imitate facial expressions or play peek-a-boo or patty-cake. I will demonstrate it to him and he simply smiles. I talk to him, read to him, play music and sing to him. I have a medical background and have seen speech therapy in action. I try and apply all that I learned from that. He does like to spend a considerable amount of time alone watching TV away from the family. We try to engage him and eventually he just ends us back in the room by himself. Should I be worried about any delays? Is it time for me to talk to the doctor? I just feel like something is not right.

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Sensory integration issues and speech delay.

My son has a speech delay and has some mild sensory integration issues. He is a picky eater and prefers certain textures, i.e. crunchy, hard vs. soft foods. The occupational therapist who evaluated him said that many times when you resolve the sensory issues, the child's speech progresses. How are the two related? What sense is involved with the speech process? If the sensory integration affects speech, what activities help with the speech process?

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4-year old, stuttering.

My son, who just turned 4, stutters. Sometimes he just gets stuck stuttering on the first sound of a word (b-b-b because) and sometimes he repeats an entire word several times before getting out the rest of the sentence. My husband and I have not made an issue of it, hoping that it will just resolve itself. Our son was evaluated by an SLP at preschool last year and, though she noticed it, she felt that it was something he would out-grow. Should we be more actively seeking help or is waiting really the right course for us? At what point should we pursue professional help for him?

Click here for Robert's response.

3-year-old, Apraxia.

I'm worried my son might have Apraxia. His speech therapist said it's a little too early to tell, but she would not rule it out. My son is one month shy of his 3rd birthday. He is currently in speech therapy twice a week and also has group therapy twice a week. He also has a child development class once a week for his cognitive delays. He has so many great qualities. He loves when I read to him, playing with Thomas the Train, singing (only saying one word for the whole song), and going to class. He knows his ABC's and can count 1-10 (however he has a hard time saying the numbers), and knows his shapes and primary colors. I'm even teaching him how to read small words like cat and hat. He is a smart boy who is just having a VERY hard time talking. When he first started therapy in March of this year he only had a vocabulary of about 15-20 words. He now has a vocabulary of about 50 words. My son does not put two words together yet. He will not even try. I had his hearing tested and it's fine. His therapist also does not see any signs of autism. However, my gut feeling says it's more than delayed speech. Do you believe he could have Apraxia? I am still very concerned for him. He puts a lot of vowels in his words! Any suggestions would be great. Thank you!

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Encouraging bilingual language development.

I want my daughter to grow up bilingual. How do I encourage language development in two languages at the same time?

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Vitallinks Therapeutic Listening.

What do you know about the Therapeutic Listening program from My son is getting services for his speech delay (no diagnosis) and has been since the age of 16 months. He is in a center-based preschool and gets an extra hour of Occupational Therapy besides for sensory gym. I have heard of the listening program and auditory integration therapy. The OT I have is trained in doing The Listening Program. I realize that there is no clear statistical evidence and the Speech and Language association takes a dim view of it. I want to know what you have seen of it if anything.I want to try it and my husband is convinced it's "snake oil" or a hoax.

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