Yesterday, a dear friend reached out to me with a simple question…”is it ever too late to fix speech sound disorders?”
These questions are a bit befuddling for me. Why? Because in most cases, I know this was not an independent thought, but bad information passed from one person to the next. After a few messages back and forth, my friend walked away empowered, as she had an inkling this information was no bueno…but still…how many out there don’t know? How may out there take this information as truth, eliminating the need to seek out professional advice?
Now, World Changers, I know that the information I provide is new to most, familiar for some, and trivial for others. However, my goal is to spread the message like wildfire to avoid those dreaded words “wait and see” when it comes to speech, language, and play development. We run from “wait and see” when it comes to our sugars growth and progress. And we avidly reject allowing ourselves the space to believe “a beautiful lie for an ugly truth,” (McBride, 2013).
So, to answer the question for any World Changer who may be sure, unsure, kind of sure, or want confirmation to be sure. Speech sound disorders do not resolve independent of support. Speech sound disorders are prevalent in children and adults. Speech sound disorders can be resolved no matter the age.
What qualifies as a speech sound disorder?
A speech sound disorder occurs when the co-articulators (lips, tongue, teeth, hard palate, soft palate, jaw) exhibit difficulties working in-sync (i.e. they are not working together). When this occurs, words (which are produced with multiple speech sounds) are difficult to understand. Or, it appears that sounds are replaced with other sounds like “tat” for “cat.” Speech sound disorders can be diagnosed as early as 3 years old and treated until…well…until they are resolved.
Who treats speech disorders?
Licensed speech and language pathologist treat speech disorders! In fact, people are familiar with speech therapist because they either had a speech disorder or knew someone who did. In some cases, more biological things occur that causes speech therapist to seek outside support from Ear, Nose and Throat doctors. While this is rare, we are your go-to for the initial referral.
What are the outcomes if I don’t get my speech disorder treated?
Well…I am not being funny at all…but, avoiding treatment of speech sound disorders can make speech production appear adolescent…even in adulthood. Why? Well…we expect for speech sounds to be mastered by the age of 8 years old. We expect our sugars to be intelligible by 4 years old. Not resolving speech sound disorders can leave you with an immature speech quality. While this has nothing to do with intellect, it can have an impact on how others perceive you.
Literacy can also be impacted by speech sound disorders. At an early age, we rely on our auditory feedback (how we produce sounds and words and how our brain interprets it) to help us decode words. Every time we produce a word, our brain takes that feedback and stores the information. Not only does it store the word, but it reinforces how our body physically produces the sound. Inappropriate reinforcement of these sounds can impact how we decode words when it is time to read. Our brain is smart, it seeks to make connections based on what we already know. However, when it is time to read “cat” and the brain reinforced “tat” than it can confuse the learning process.
What can I do?
Simple, seek the support of a licensed speech and language pathologist. Set up a consultation and determine whether you (or your child) is a great candidate for speech therapy. Go to asha.org and you can find a local professional in your area.
World Changers, I want us to win! That is why I do this. I seriously care about the outcome of your sugar and tooling you up helps change the trajectory in their lives. In most cases, it takes around a year to resolve a speech sound disorder. It is totally worth it! Make sure to take the time to get things checked out! Be proactive! And as always, I am cheerleading for you in the corner.
Until the next time, Take Care, C