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Communication Disorders are More Common in Kids than you think

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Dr. Timothy Teague, AuD

If you are a parent, then you are most likely juggling a lot. From playdates to carpools to considering your child’s health, there are so many things to account for. We all want our children to succeed to their highest potential and that means paying attention to their interactions and making sure they have the best tools at their disposal. Did you know that over 10% of children have a communication disorder? These are the most common disabilities among kids. In fact, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that:

 

  • Of children between the ages of 3-17, nearly 1 in 12 has had a disorder related to voice, speech, language, or swallowing. 

 

  • Almost 11% of children among children ages 3-6 have a communication disorder 

We do the best to identify any potential issue our children may have, but these statistics show that communication disorders are much more common than we may first suspect.

 

Identifying a Communication Issue Early

It is estimated that 2% of all children born each year will have a communication issue connected to speech and or language delays. Communication issues can affect social, academic, and future career potential if not addressed. Many children will develop normal speech and language skills by the time they reach school, but many will not. The sooner you identify these language issues the better. Research shows that children know a great deal about their language even before the first word is said. You can evaluate your infants ( under 3 years old ) for communication disorders such as a delay in speech, language or hearing. If ignored or undetected a child can quickly fall behind, but early detection increases the chances for improving communication skills.

Common Communication Disorders 

There are several broad disorders that may present on a scale, mildly to profound. Common disorders with speech, voice, and language comprehension include: 

  • Phonological Disorder: This pertains to children with speech issues. Kids affected by this disorder struggle to develop the level of speech appropriate for their age. Issues arise articulating words, producing complex sentences, and in the substitution of words.
  • Expressive Language Disorder: Struggles with verbal communication. This occurs when a child struggles to recall words, use the proper tense and has a limited vocabulary.

Hearing Loss and Communication Issues

One of the most common causes of communication disorders among children is hearing loss. Though hearing loss is commonly associated with old age, nearly 15% of children have some degree of hearing loss in one or both ears. This can be present at birth or develop due to an infection, exposure to loud noise or genetics. When a child suffers from hearing impairment it can be identified if you notice your child struggling to communicate. A hearing loss can cause sounds to be perceived as muffled or slurred. It can be more severe in around noise as your child struggles to separate words in sentences and makes it difficult for them to follow conversation.

Other Causes of Communication Disorders

Hearing loss is a common cause of communication disorders. Other common issues include:

  • Autism
  • Brain injury 
  • Nervous system disorder  
  • Attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder 
  • Developmental or neurological disorder

Diagnosing Hearing Loss in Children

If your child 1-5 does not react to loud sounds, has trouble with the localization of sound, or does not react to voices, even when being held, this could be a sign of hearing loss. As your child reaches school age, there are other signs to be aware of:

  • If your child struggles to follow simple commands,
  • falls behind with speech and communication skills
  • Must look at you to hear
  • Struggles with localization 
  • Experiences problems keeping up at school, grades slipping, or has behavioral issues

Treatment Options

There are several successful ways to treat communication disorders including:

  • Behavioral Therapy: This therapy focusing on developing skills to manage disruptive behavior.
  • Speech Therapy: focuses on building communication skills including the development of g language, articulation, and fluency. 
  • Changes to Environment: a quieter environment can help a child with a communication disorder focus and secede.

If you do suspect that your child has a communication disorder it is a good idea to schedule a hearing test as soon as possible. We can test your child’s hearing and help you find the best treatment to help them communicate and get the very best from life. Schedule an appointment today.