The preschool years mark an important period for language development in children. It is at this time parents and teachers can determine whether a child has a speech problem.
Comparisons and statistics prove useful at this time and can help alleviate many mothers’ concerns for their children. Prepare yourself for understanding preschool speech problems — this is one of those few times in which statistics might not bore you to sleep.
The Reliability of Speech Problem Statistics
Experts on language development can’t agree on the basic statistics for “speech problems” any more than moms and dads can agree on what movie to watch.
The problem lies in the definition of “speech problem,” which varies for each expert. However, it is safe to say that speech problems affect somewhere between 5 to 20 percent of the preschool population. While not a large number, this statistic shows the relative prevalence of speech problems.
Moms with children diagnosed with a speech problem should then know two things: Speech problems are commonplace and the definition of a speech problem is subjective. In other words, don’t worry yourself to death.
Prevalence of Speech Delay
Around 10 percent of children have at least one sort of speech delay. Speech delay is a speech problem that mainly affects speech production, leaving most other aspects of language — including speech comprehension — unscathed.
You will notice speech delay in a preschooler usually after you ask her age. When she says an age that is older than she seems, assuming you are judging her on speech alone, you have met someone with a speech delay.
Children who are 4 years old with speech delays, for example, might speak at a 2-year-old level. One in 10 children suffers from speech delay, making it relatively common.
Statistics on Speech Problem Origins
Statistics have shown developmental psychologists that they are right in not always blaming the environment for a child’s speech problem. Statistics show that for a child with a speech problem, 20 percent of his family members also have speech problems.
In other words, speech problems are highly genetic. If you have multiple family members with speech problems and your child has a speech problem, consider it normal. These speech problems can span several generations, so dealing with them could be a common issue in a family.
Autism is one of those disorders that makes itself clear first in preschool. Autism is relatively uncommon, affecting only one in about every 90 children. It is five times more common in boys. The important thing to know about autism is how it affects speech.
Many autistic children have problems communicating, and approximately half of them either appear to be mute, not speaking at all, or repeat the words said by others in a seemingly meaningless fashion.
Unfortunately, unlike other speech problems, those caused by autism cannot be corrected through training. Most moms fortunately do not have to deal with autism, but if you have an autistic child, know that some autistic children do successfully acquire language.