We sound out words and develop our speech in our toddler years. But for some kids, talking becomes a real challenge. For those children, help is available.
9-year-old Keleigh Tejral has struggled for years to verbalize what she wants to say. Keleigh has speech apraxia. That means her brain has trouble getting her mouth to form the words her brain knows. "For Keleigh there's kind of a kink in that system," said Therapist Pennie Tesch.
While every child doesn't have apraxia, some will still struggle with word development. "It's kind of typical for kids, especially, to say 'tat' for 'cat'. But then there are other kids that kind of get stuck in those patterns and can't develop past that," said Tesch. And when they can't get past those stumbles and struggles, child speech pathologists like Pennie Tesch can help. "A lot of modeling, saying it, bombarding with the correct way of saying it," said Tesch. That's what Keleigh and other clients do during therapy sessions. Say the words that bring their speech to a halt. "Where we can kind of say that word, and maybe stumble on it once, and then our brain fixes that plan, and corrects it, for her it takes maybe hundreds of times of saying that word before it gets more clear and more easy for her to produce it," said Tesch. Flash cards help. But for those who aren't at reading age, Tesch takes a different approach. "Younger kids its really play based. So you might be picking out toys that certain sounds and certain words and vocabulary within the pieces and parts of the activity," said Tesch. Keleigh has made great strides while working with Tesch, and is now tying words together in sentences.
How do you know if your child needs a little coaching with their speech? Pennie Tesch says to watch for developmental progressions. By 6 months, they should be making sounds that start with p, b and m. At one year old, toddlers should be able to say one or two words, like "bye-bye" or "mama." When they reach two years old, expect them to be putting two words together, such as "more cookie", or "no juice." And when they turn 3, children should be talking in 2-or-3 word sentences. The list goes on from there, but if you feel your little one isn't developing along those lines, talk to your doctor to see if you can have them evaluated by a speech pathologist.
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