Don’t Wait Until it is Too Late When it Comes to a Child’s Speech and Language Skills

Written by admin, April 30, 2015

April 30, 2015 – May is Speech and Language Month

According to Peterborough Public Health, strong communication skills are essential for children’s growth, development and future success, as these skills help them learn new things, including reading and writing.

“Every word counts when it comes to a child’s speech skills,” says Leisa Baker, a Public Health Nurse with Public Health. “Parents and caregivers need to play, talk, listen and read with children to encourage speech and language development.”

May is Speech, Language and Hearing month and a great time to listen closely to their child’s vocabulary. Read a few extra books with your child this month.  Research shows that ‘reading aloud by parents is the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading.  The more words a child hears as a baby and toddler, the larger his vocabulary will be by school age.

Baker notes that approximately one in 10 Ontario preschool children will experience a communication delay, a discovery that can be a surprise to parents and caregivers. Some parents may think their child is just quieter than other children, or that his or her frustration over words will work itself out over time. In reality, these may be indicators of speech and language problems, she says. Other warning signs to watch for in children include: difficulty following directions, having a hard time being understood, relying on gestures to communicate, and not pronouncing words clearly.

“Some parents may ignore these warning signs, thinking the problem will fix itself,” Baker adds. “Parents shouldn’t delay, and instead should address any speech and language issues. If identified early enough, the problem can usually be addressed.”

A good way for parents to assess a child’s communication ability is by using the Ontario government’s speech and language milestones for children up to the age of five years. The milestones and other resources are available at www.kidtalk.on.ca. People concerned about a child’s speech and language development can also turn for assistance to the District Preschool Speech and Language Program by calling Public Health at 705-743-1000 and speaking to a nurse.

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For further information, please contact:

Leisa Baker, RN
Public Health Nurse
705-743-1000, ext. 312