Speech problems in young children are frequently related to a hearing deficit. This may be a temporary condition linked to chronic ear infections or 'glue ear'. A child learns to speak by copying our sounds. If they are finding it a problem to hear clearly often a young child will 'switch off' trying to talk and make themselves understood and turn to pointing as a means of communication.
This is frustrating for both the child and the parent and may be solved by assessing the hearing, and advice on how to go about getting a hearing test can be got from your family doctor or health visitor. The more stimulation they receive by us talking to them and encouraging them the easier they will find learning to talk.
Occasionally there are congenital problems with the shape of the palate (the roof of the mouth) and this may also need assessing. A child should be babbling by about 9 months and saying and saying a few words by 1 year.
In adults speech problems can occur as a result of other problems. Oral surgery or treatment/disorders of the Larynx, can lead to speech problems. A stroke affecting the left side of the brain in a right handed person can also lead to a condition known as Aphasia, where there is a disorder of language affecting the generation of speech and its understanding.
For some people the 'loss of speech' or the inability to speak properly can be connected to an emotional or psychological disorder.
Stammering or stuttering is considered to have a psychological basis to its cause. In its mild form only certain letters can cause a problem in severe cases long pauses between words makes it difficult for the listener to follow what is trying to be said and certain initial consonants can prove almost impossible to pronounce.
There is a condition known as cluttering, where speech is erratic, non-rhythmical and comes in rapid short bursts. Both these conditions can be helped with speech therapy, as can any speech problem arising from a predisposing illness.
Some people find that they can sing without stammering so this should be encouraged.
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