Speech is the mechanical means of the oral motor mechanism to create sounds. Intelligible speech requires sufficient muscle tone for the lips, jaw, tongue and cheeks to work together as a team to produce functional verbal communication. Sometimes people use the word “articulation” for speech.
Language, on the other hand, is how the brain processes the information that it hears. Language can be receptive (understanding) or expressive (communicating). Receptive language allows a person to give meaning to what is heard. It is comprehension. It begins to develop in the first year of life in a typical child. Expressive language is the ability to be able to share thoughts, ideas and feelings. It can be verbal (with sound) or non-verbal (with gestures, signing or use of technology). It generally does not begin to emerge until the second year of life.
What will your doctor tell you about your child’s speech and language development?
Lack of the emergence of speech and language is one of the first areas of concern for parents. Your pediatrician may tell you not to be so concerned, as all kids are different, or that boys talk later. He or she may also recommend a hearing test to rule out auditory problems. If the child is over two, he or she will usually suggest an evaluation from a speech-language pathologist, or at a communication disorders clinic, or refer you to your local early intervention services.
Another way to think about speech and language development:
Early intervention is imperative! If you suspect a speech-language delay, the earlier you recognize that your child is not meeting developmental milestones and implement intervention strategies, the better the chances of more effective outcomes for your child. Time is of the essence!
The most important goal is to discover WHY a child lacks understanding of what is said or is not talking. Look at all possibilities. The answer is rarely one thing; it is usually a combination of some or all of the following: biological, auditory, visual, a problem with primitive reflexes, vestibular, structural, or something else.
While a hearing deficit is an obvious reason for speech and language delays, very often, some underlying biomedical reasons that are not so obvious are at play. Researchers have recently made great gains in the understanding of these areas. For instance, defects in the detoxification pathways, nutritional deficiencies in the brain with the B vitamins folate (B9) and methyl B12, malabsorption of fatty acids (fats), or other biological processes could be the problem. Once underlying biological issues are addressed speech and language may improve gradually, or could even emerge spontaneously.
Other senses besides hearing can also impact upon speech and language. The body’s vestibular system, which creates balance and equilibrium, plays a significant role. Children with vestibular dysfunction may have auditory and language processing problems. Similarly, children with speech and language delays often have problems with vision, and because vision sequesters so much of the body’s energy, a vision problem can actually impact speech and language! If your child has a speech delay, consider having their vision checked by a Developmental Optometrist.
Speech and Language check list to start here:
- Eat whole foods and buy organic whenever possible. Remove casein, gluten, soy, chemical preservatives, dyes, GMOs, and all sugars from the diet.
- If that doesn’t help, eliminate foods with phenols and salicylates, naturally occurring substances in some “healthy” foods.
- Make sure your child’s diet include plenty of good quality fats such as coconut and olive oil, avocados, wild salmon, organic chicken and turkey, ghee, etc.
- Supplement with a good probiotic. Check with resources below for further supplements on important fats and other nutrients.
- Give the child many opportunities for unrestrained movement. Create fun sensory activities at home with your child. Put the child on a swing to stimulate the vestibular system. Get an evaluation from an occupational therapist (OT) with experience in primitive reflexes, vestibular dysfunction and sensory integration. Ask about using brushing therapy to calm down the nervous system https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrqciJXVkYM
- Find a therapist who will work inside a child’s mouth to evaluate and treat oral motor issues. This may be the OT, a talented speech-language pathologist, or someone with training in CranioSacral therapy.
- Get a developmental vision evaluation by an optometrist specializing in children with special needs. Many kids with delayed speech and language have an undiagnosed eye turn, or lack of binocularity that can confuse the brain and negatively affect the emergence of speech and language. Prescribing special lenses or vision therapy improves the brain’s processing of both auditory and visual information, and thus improves speech and language.
- Reduce exposure to EMFs, turn off Wifi at night, and eliminate all electromagnetic smog in your home as much as possible.
If you have addressed these issues and are still dealing with speech and language problems:
- Ask your pediatrician to run some laboratory tests that give information about possible food sensitivities and allergies, Test for IgG,IgA,IgE and IgM. Other testing could show deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, bacterial overgrowth and gluten and casein sensitivities.
- Do genetic mutation testing to look for difficulties with detoxification and other biological processes.
- Find a therapist who does Auditory Integration Therapy, which modulates music to calm the nervous system and improve auditory processing.
- Consider a one-on-one educational program in the home and at school – Vince Carbone Clinic or CARD (Center for Autism and Related Disorders)
- If your child had a difficult birth resulting in insufficient oxygen to the brain, or has lack of blood flow to the brain for other biological reasons, consider Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).