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Speech, language disorders are treatable

Amanda Bostrom, Speech-Language Pathologist

Talking Tots on Facebook live
Riverwood will host a Facebook live seminar on May 19 at 6:00 p.m. called “Talking Tots: Your Child’s Speech and Language Development” with Amanda Bostrom, speech-language pathologist. Her presentation will cover speech and language development for infants and toddlers and strategies to promote communication. Go to Riverwood’s Facebook page for the live presentation with an opportunity to submit questions during the program.

Seek help if a child shows signs of a speech or language delay

With speech and language disorders among the most common conditions that young children experience, local speech-language pathologist Amanda Bostrom at Riverwood Healthcare Center is encouraging parents and caregivers to learn the signs of communication disorders—and seek an evaluation now if they have any concerns. The message is a timely one, as May is national Better Hearing & Speech Month.

“Many parents have questions about their child’s speech, language, or social communication skills but are often told by family, friends, or even other professionals to wait and see if their child outgrows a potential problem,” Bostrom said. “Unfortunately, this often results in a delayed diagnosis of a disorder that is highly treatable—particularly when caught early. Good communication skills are critical, helping with behavior, learning, reading, social skills, and friendships. It is much easier, more effective, and less costly to treat speech and language disorders early. Now is the time to act on any concern.”

Speech and language disorders are evaluated and treated by speech-language pathologists. Speech is the ability to produce speech sounds using the mouth, lips, and tongue. A child may say sounds the wrong way, repeat sounds and words, or be otherwise difficult to understand. Language is the ability to use and put words together—and to understand others’ words. A child may have trouble understanding questions, following directions, or naming objects. Early speech and language treatment sets a child up for future school and social success.

Signs to watch for, tips for parents
Some signs of a speech or language disorder in a young child (age 3 and under) include:

• Does not smile or interact with others (birth and older)
• Does not babble (4–7 months)
• Makes only a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (7–12 months)
• Does not understand what others say (7 months – 2 years)
• Says only a few words (12–18 months)
• Says words that are not easily understood by others (18 months – 2 years)
• Does not put words together to make sentences (1.5–3 years)
• Produces speech that is unclear, even to familiar people (2–3 years)

Bostrom offers parents these tips to encourage a child’s communication development.

For young children:
• Talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing throughout the day.
• Play with your child. Work on turn-taking, cause-and-effect, imitation, etc.
• Listen and respond to what your child says.
• Use many different words with your child.
• Set up times for your child to play with other children.
• Spend at least 10 minutes a day reading aloud to your child.
• Teach basic sign language.
• Model simple short words and phrases. As your child gets older, model longer phrases.
• Play games such as peek-a-boo and sing songs with finger plays (i.e. Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider, etc.)
• Limit pacifier use after about 1 year of age. This can affect dentition which can impact speech development.
• Create communication temptations. Try not to anticipate your child’s needs. Encourage your child to use a sound, gesture, or sign to obtain what they want.
• Try to make screen time interactive by talking about what is happening, labeling items on the screen, etc.

Learn more about the benefits of early identification and treatment at IdentifytheSigns.org

Families may also contact Riverwood Therapy Services at (218) 927-5580 for more information. A referral from your child’s primary care provider is needed for an evaluation.

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