Speech & Language Questions

Language-learning can be a life-long journey, but the bulk of that journey takes place in our earliest years. In the first five years of life, when brain development is most rapid, children are more open to learning and more receptive to enriching experiences than they will ever be. Studies have shown that during this critical period, children learn language by participating in back-and-forth interactions with the important adults in their lives. When a child sends a message, whether it be with a gesture, a sound, or a word, his parents' or teacher’s responses serve as helpful feedback that reinforce and encourage his learning. This responsive feedback is an essential ingredient in the language-learning process for every child. If a child is communicating less than others his age, he is unlikely to receive as much of this essential feedback. Because he isn’t talking, adults naturally communicate with him less, so he doesn’t get the optimal, helpful input he needs to build his language skills. This is why it’s so important not to ignore any sign that a child’s communication development may be delayed. Some parents are advised that their child will likely “grow out of it”, and they simply wait for the child to catch up. But a “wait and see” approach can be very detrimental during this critical learning phase. Since children with delayed speech or language delays can’t participate fully during activities and conversations, they may fall even further behind if they are not provided with the help they need. On the other hand, when a child with a speech delay or language delay receives extra support from the important adults in his life, he can make significant gains. Early speech therapy intervention is critically important for these children to develop the communication skills necessary for future success in their academic and personal lives. Read more at www.hanen.org