Our son has been trying to talk for a while now, and he tends to be reasonably understandable when he wants something. Every once in a while, he’ll even surprise you with a full comprehensible sentence — maybe once a month. It’s clear he understands complex thoughts and long sentences based on his response to instructions. So, what gives? Why is he not speaking clearly on a consistent basis?
It turns out his speech pattern isn’t following the typical path most children’s speech takes. He pulls the corners of his mouth back significantly more than he should. While he’s perfectly capable of closing his lips when he wishes to do so, he usually doesn’t do it when speaking. As a result, some of his sounds are difficult to understand, and others are completely comprehensible but formed improperly. Unfortunately, abnormal formation of the existing words will cause him trouble down the road. This issue is probably the reason he hasn’t picked up a whole lot of new words or sounds lately.
We have plenty of time to coach him and change the habits he’s developed into typical speech patterns. I’m not worried about our son. He has all the support he needs to get through this and all of his other challenges. My real concern is other children may be struggling similarly but because they’re making progress speaking it’s going unnoticed. Here are some things to look for to figure out if your child may be struggling:
- Saying the letter “s” significantly earlier than is typical. “S” is one of the hardest letters to make properly. Making it early, generally, means it’s incorrect. If “s” was one of your child’s first handful of consonants, check with a speech therapist.
- A hissing sound on letters where it’s not appropriate. This sound can indicate abnormal sound formation.
- Inability to say age-appropriate letters regardless of having more advanced letters. Sometimes having a difficulty can cause a narrow issue.
If you have doubts about how your child’s speech is developing, definitely have them seen by a certified speech therapist who regularly works with your child’s age group. This information is simply to draw attention to the fact feeding difficulties and speech issues are closely related. Both eating and talking are performed by the same muscle groups. If you know what health issues your child is at higher risk for due to their feeding difficulties, you can be on the lookout for them and get them addressed significantly sooner than they would be otherwise.
I hope this helps! Feel free to contact me with any other topics that might be useful to you.