Will my child grow out of this?
Will My Child Grow Out of This?
This is a common question asked by parents who, in turn, have heard from well-meaning relatives and sometimes other medical professionals, “Give him/her time…he/she will grow out of this!”
The Truth: It Depends...
The Speech Language Pathologist’s response to this question is often highly individualized and based on the specific concerns of the parents, communication/language/speech behaviours of the child, and case/family histories. Therefore, the answer is usually, “It depends…”
Speech disorders include stuttering, resonance, voice, articulation, and oral motor difficulties. The rate of improvement without intervention, is quite varied. For example, stuttering which begins between the ages of 2 and 6 is very common, and has a spontaneous remission rate of 90% (with no intervention).
Articulation difficulties in young children (2 – 8) are quite common and often follow typical developmental patterns. However, children who do not follow this typical development and who are extremely hard to understand may have more severe disorders which require SLP intervention.
Language disorders include difficulties in understanding or using vocabulary, grammatical structures, narrative (story) forms in both spoken and written formats (reading/writing). Sometimes, language delays are evident from a very young age. Whether these difficulties persist or not, is, again, variable. However, we do know that early language delays can lead to literacy issues in the elementary school years, and these can eventually be diagnosed as a Language/Learning Disability (by a Psychologist). We also know that these early signs of a Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) can cause difficulties with social skills and can result in maladaptive behaviours (using crying, screaming, tantruming, throwing, hitting, biting etc., rather than language, to communicate wants and needs).
Communication disorders which involve difficulties in non-verbal communication and pre-linguistic skills are most concerning. Babies and toddlers who do not develop communication skills, such as eye contact, joint focus of attention, use of gestures, facial expression, and vocalizations with varying intonational patterns, are at risk of more severe communication disorders (e.g., Language Disorder associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder). A referral to a Developmental Paediatrician is paramount in these cases and an SLP could help parents determine the need for this type of referral and could provide intervention to help develop these vital skills.
A Speech Language Pathologist Can Help
In any case, consultation with a registered Speech Language Pathologist can help to determine whether the speech, language and communication difficulties of an infant or child should be addressed or whether they could ‘grow out of it’. As professionals regulated by the College of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists, SLPs are uniquely positioned to provide their clinical expertise to any parent concerned about their child’s communication needs.
Corina Murphy is a Speech-Language Pathologist who is excited to provide individualized and holistic intervention to children and their families and who is passionate and dedicated to helping children “understand and be understood.”