The professional who works with communication disorders is often called a ‘speech therapist.’ However, a ‘speech therapist’ evaluates and works not only on speech difficulties. Given this, I prefer to use the term ‘Speech-Language Pathologist’ (SLP), even though it does not describe our profession fully because we also evaluate and manage feeding and social difficulties. Furthermore, speech and language are different components of communication.
There are many facts that the majority of people, and most importantly parents, do not know about speech and language disorders. So, I am inviting you to take a look at 10 facts about speech and language disorders:
1. Speech disorders are quite common in young children. In fact, around 5% of six-year-olds, have a speech difficulty.
2. Males are four times more affected by stuttering than females.
3. It is quite common that around the age of three, a child will start to stutter. However, this becomes a problem if it persists more than six months.
4. People with autism have different severities. About a third of them have an intellectual impairment, and another third do not communicate verbally (non-verbal communication).
5. Around 15% of children have a degree of hearing loss.
6. Speech and language difficulties, if left untreated, can have a negative impact on the child’s life and her/his family.
7. It is essential to seek the advice of an SLP if you suspect that your child has a communication difficulty. As the child grows older, the communication difficulty may become more difficult to treat, and the challenges are more likely to persist into adulthood. Given this, if therapy is started at an early age, there is a better possibility that the difficulty will get resolved.
8. Children with communication difficulties are more vulnerable to bullies and as a result are more likely to suffer from psychological issues, which most often worsen the communication difficulty.
9. Many studies have shown that communication difficulties can impact the child’s future, such as poor-employment opportunities, poor mental health and a higher risk of developing literacy difficulties (reading and writing). That is why it is vital to address these challenges at an early age!
10. A positive family history of communication disorders will put the child at a higher risk of having a speech or/and language difficulty than her/his peers with no family history of communication disorders.
About the author:
Christian Farrugia is a speech and language pathologist (SLP) located in Malta. He is also the founder of Speech-Language Therapy Malta which provides therapy for children, young adults and the elderly. The therapy provided is individualized and tailor-made according to the patient’s needs.