For a long time before speech therapy became widely available, people developed their own beliefs around speech and language issues based on the information they had at the time, with a little unintentionally-faulty logic thrown in for good measure.
Unfortunately, some of these old beliefs still linger, but passing these ideas around do more harm than good.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of myths and truths, so that you can act on real information in deciding what steps to take to help your child.
MYTH: My Kid Doesn’t Need Speech Therapy. They’ll Grow Out Of It
Growing up, some children have delayed speech development.
Some will have an actual, noticeable speech impediment.
There is a wide spectrum of speech disorders, and the old ‘wisdom’ was that kids would learn to speak properly as they grew older, and as they learned proper pronunciation from adults around them.
The truth is that most children will catch up in speaking, if it’s a simple delay in developing speech or language.
However, with an actual impairment, it isn’t that black and white.
A real speech disorder may resolve over time, and perhaps with some at-home effort, but that is not guaranteed at all.
Some speech issues need a trained professional to properly, permanently correct.
MYTH: It’s Your Fault Your Kid Has A Speech Disorder. You Tried Teaching Them Too Many Languages
Back before the internet and affordable travel allowed the average person to roam internationally and soak up different cultures and languages, there was a belief that learning multiple languages could cause people to have trouble pronouncing their own.
There were times where parents were shamed for trying to expose their kids to ‘foreign’ languages, which was often the case with new immigrants from other countries, or families of foreign descent who tried to keep their mother tongue alive in the next generation.
Well, as it turns out, nothing is further from the truth.
Kids learn sounds well when they’re young, and as we age, we gradually lose this ability; children are programmed to pick up new sounds and languages, because their survival depends on being able to communicate well.
Learning a different language may cause your child to speak less for a period of time, though this is more likely to indicate them working through different grammar and vocabulary in order to get it right.
Don’t be afraid of this; it does not necessarily mean your child has a speech disorder.
MYTH: It’s Your Fault Your Kid Has A Speech Disorder. You Keep Using Baby Talk
Parents get criticized a lot, sadly, and this is one that many used to hear.
There used to be a time when baby talk was frowned upon, and children were expected to behave and speak like little adults.
The myth is that speak baby talk to your infant or young child will encourage speech disorders.
While there is a right time to move on from baby talk, it’s not something you need to worry about when your child is still a baby.
In fact, babies will be more attracted to people who have a higher-pitched voice and exaggerated facial expressions.
They also respond better to baby talk, as long as it includes rhythm, word repetition, and short, simple sentences.
So go ahead and enjoy it – it’s more important to have a connection with your developing child through ANY kind of communication, rather than avoid it.
MYTH: Your Child Picked Up Their Speech Disorder From A Sibling/Family Member/Friend
Back in the day, people thought that children could ‘catch’ a speech disorder from someone who suffered from one themselves.
Be it a family member or a close friend, the logic was that children would hear it and mimic the disordered speech, and then develop that disorder themselves.
The simple exposure to a speech disorder does not imply that a child will mimic it.
If children pick up speech or language patterns from people around them, consider how many OTHER exposures they have – all to people with regular speech patterns.
Other siblings may have perfect speech, or teachers, parents, neighbours, friends, local shop keepers, and many others.
They will have ample opportunity to hear ‘normal’ speech, and they are much more likely to mimic the majority of speech patterns than the exception.
MYTH: My Kid Doesn’t Need Speech Therapy. They Don’t Stutter Or Have A Lisp
When speech therapy was not as common, parents would generally only take their children to correct a stutter or lisp.
That’s probably where this myth came from.
Although these two disorders are the most common speech disorders, they are far from the only ones that need treatment.
Speech therapy is important for helping children find their voice and become comfortable with it.
It helps them to feel confident with their communication, because as they get older, they will need it in more – and also more varied – situations.
That’s why we also treat issues such as dysphagia, aphasia, and apraxia – they all contribute to clean and clear speech and communication.
MYTH: Speech Therapists Are Just Glorified Babysitters
When speech therapists work with children, they do it in a way that allows children to participate eagerly – with fun and play.
However, this has led to the idea that all we do is play with kids, which is patently untrue.
Speech therapists have studied for years to be able to guide your child through correcting their speech; we leave the child-minding to the ECE experts.
As mentioned, we use play in order to work with children where they are.
Play allows parents to take away a strategy for helping their children at home between visits, and it gives them an easy way to incorporate the lesson.
Play is a powerful tool for learning, and learning correct pronunciation is what we’re focused on.
Book An Appointment With District Speech
As you see, there is a lot of false information that has been passed down through the years.
To be fair, speech therapy has also changed over the years, but today it’s a well-researched, well-respected branch of medicine.
If your child is difficult to understand or has a noticeable speech impediment, do them and yourselves a favour and call us at District Speech to set up a consultation.
We can help your child grow into a clearly-spoken communicator.
If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our speech and language therapists, feel free to contact us.
Until next time,
District Speech and Language Therapy
1331 H St NW, #200,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech & Language Therapy specializes in speech and language solutions from children to adults in the Washington D.C and Northern Virginia area.