While early intervention services are available for children, many parents are not aware that they exist. Some day care facilities and pediatricians know about EI and are willing to recommend it to parents of children that may have developmental delays. For many, a cute speech impediment and funny talk diverts the focus away from the severity of speech and language concerns. Often times, children will get into the school system and begin kindergarten without clear speech.
While this may not be alarming to many, speech deficits can impact a child for years to come. When a child has difficulty with speech, they may be hard to understand. This may cause problems with their social development. Other peers may not want to play or talk with them because they cannot understand the other child. If the student feels isolated from their peers, negative behaviors may appear. Studies have also shown that these early years lead to an increased risk of mental health as well as academic concerns.
We often forget that speech problems carry over to the academic world for children. While learning early literacy skills, speech sounds are imperative. Some children may drop sounds or alter them when speaking. This speech problem then moves along to struggles with early reading skills. If kids do not hear the words in their mind the right way, they may not realize what the word really is.
In addition to this, as developing readers begin to write, phonemic awareness problems will translate into errors. Children will interpret spelling based on what they say and hear as they practice. The longer this continues, the harder it is to turn around. Recognizing speech problems early allows early learners to get a better grasp on beginning, mid, and end sounds within words. Many kids with speech concerns have a hard time with phonological awareness.
Speech language pathologists must work with classroom teachers to test children that they have concerns about. With parental approval, they may begin to see what the cause of speech concerns are and work on them during sessions. If they are found in early elementary school or before this, students are less likely to have lasting effects within their academic areas. It is important to check within the school to understand protocol to follow. There are often specific ways that testing is done within a district to follow state and county regulations. Work as a team to get through the process and help children so they can start working toward their speech goals.