The development of speech and language is an ongoing
process, beginning at birth. The period from 0-5 years is recognised as
important for all aspects of development in a child, including hearing,
language and speech. Every
month, the baby matures in each of these three interwoven areas, and gradually
learns the skills of communication with the help of those around him. The
development of communication skills is essential for every childâ€™s emotional,
social and intellectual growth.
The acquisition of language is an extraordinarily complex
process though it may seem that babies develop speech naturally and without
much effort. Some parents may not realise the importance of their
role in helping their child develop adequate communication
Developmental skills such as crawling, sitting, standing and
walking seem to occur without much help. However, the child
must be taught to talk by his parents and by the other adults around him. Without
the right kind of help at the right time, the child may learn communication
skills late, inappropriately, or not at all.
If parents can familiarise themselves with the process of
communication development, they can offer great help in this important aspect
of growth and development. To achieve this end, we begin by listing down
the pre-requisites for normal development of speech and language.
Speech and language is acquired primarily through hearing.
The maturation of a childâ€™s hearing occurs systematically in the early months
and the child gradually learns to comprehend the spoken language. The
presence of adult speech in the environment stimulates the development of
speech and language. Therefore it is essential that a child is born with normal
hearing sensitivity and develops good listening habits.
A stimulating environment, i.e., an environment that
provides adequate verbal interaction with family members and peers, is vital
for a childâ€™s speech and language development.
To acquire language, a child must have optimum mental
capacity to reason, to make associations and generalisations, and to store
items in his memory.
of Body Movements
Since speech is a very rapid and complex motor act; it
requires finely tuned neurological regulation and normal coordination of body
movements controlled by the brain.
Normal Functioning of speech mechanism: - Normal
structures and functioning of The lips , tongue, palate and voice box
(larynx) should be structurally normal
and also function optimally, that is each of these should be able to move
appropriately and with age appropriate finesse.
Adequate Physical and
Adequate physical and emotional health of the child is
necessary to support the growth of language. Physical and emotional illnesses
can affect, restrict and distort relationships with family members.
A number of communicative disorders are known to result if
any of the above pre-requisites are not fulfilled. A variety of factors could
prevent the availability of these pre-requisites. However, timely intervention
can prevent the limiting effects of such disorders.
If your child does not understand spoken speech and is not
able to express age appropriately, check for the above prerequisites. Consult an
Audiologist and Speech â€“ Language Pathologist without much delay.