Treatment of delayed speech and walking in toddlers

delayed speech and walking in toddlers

Baby’s gait development requirements

A child needs many skills to be able to walk; Including achieving balance, coordination, standing, and the ability to support the weight of the body from one leg to the other, and with the age of the child.

The number of skills that the child learns increases, as well as increases in complexity, and it should be noted that crawling and pulling to stand can build valuable muscle strength and several skills ; Balance and coordination, which are essential for walking and running later.

Tips to help a child walk

There are a set of tips offered to parents that contribute to supporting the child and helping him to move and walk, and the following is a statement of the most prominent of them:

  • Placing toys and objects a little further away from the child, forcing him to make an effort and crawl to reach them.
  • Putting stable furniture so that the child can settle on it and use it when trying to stand.
  • Not putting the baby in a walker.
  • Enroll the child in activity centers designated to enhance the child’s movement and gait, provided that the period the child spends in them does not exceed half an hour each time.
  • Allow the child to walk and move barefoot at first, taking care to avoid wearing shoes that may prevent his ability to move.

Children walking

The child goes through important changes during the first year of his life, including learning how to hold the milk bottle, roll, and stand, and usually at the end of this stage the child can start walking without assistance, but parents may feel concerned if their child does not walk after reaching 14 months, especially when Comparing it with other children.

But the arrival of the child to this stage without his ability to walk does not indicate a problem in many cases; As it is normal for some children to start walking between the age of 16-17 months, but you should pay attention to the presence of signs of movement in the child by the age of 14 months.

Otherwise you should consult a doctor, and one of the signs of movement is standing and moving the child to himself with the furniture, this indicates that The child is about to walk, and the doctor should also be consulted if the child reaches 18 months without being able to walk.

And it is important here to note that if the child was 14 months old but his birth was 3 months early, the default age of the child is 11 months, and this It would make the child need two or three additional months to learn to balance and walk.

Reasons for delayed walking in children

There are a number of different reasons that may lead to delayed walking in children, including the following:

Delayed motor maturation: Delayed motor maturation can be defined as the presence of a delay in walking in a child while being normal in other respects; In other words, the motor skills are normal, but they are delayed, and this may be associated with hypotonia as well, and this condition may be accompanied by severe learning disorders in some cases, which include delays in learning language and social skills.

  • Muscular hypertonia: Hypertonia accompanied by delayed walking of the child may indicate cerebral palsy.
  • Muscular dystrophy: Delayed walking is one of the initial signs of Duchenne muscular dystrophy in some cases, which is the most common genetic disease affecting muscles and nerves, and symptoms of the disease may be delayed to appear between 4-6 years of age. The child, as for children who suffer from Becker’s muscular dystrophy, their injury does not lead to delayed walking in many cases.


Other factors: Some environmental factors may affect brain development, or may affect the child’s ability to walk directly, and these factors include the following:

  • The expectant mother was exposed to some types of infections or toxins before birth.
  • Exposing the fetus to some types of infections, such as meningitis, encephalitis, and cytomegalovirus infection.
  • The fetus’s head was injured.
  • Suffering from malnutrition.
  • In rare cases, motor skills may be affected in children who are frequently kept in bed, as well as in children who suffer from a disease that causes the child to stay in bed for a long time.
  • The child suffers from rickets, and it is worth noting the possibility of reversing the effect of the disease on the child’s ability to walk if the disease does not develop severely.

Helping children to walk

Some children whose ability to walk is delayed only need more training. The child can be trained to walk by parents or caregivers by sitting him on the floor, holding his hands, raising him to a standing position and slowly directing him to walk.

This method helps to teach the child how to raise his feet and move forward in the room, strengthen the muscles of his feet and develop his balance, and it is worth noting that increasing the time the child spends on the ground while avoiding being carried by the parents accelerates his learning to walk.

And although baby walkers are used as a means Teaching to walk, but it should be noted that baby walkers may be a reason for delaying walking for some children, and it is also worth noting that some parents think that wearing shoes helps the child to walk faster, but the fact that shoes may make taking the first steps more difficult.

Where it was found that many children who do not wear shoes at this age learned to walk faster indoors than children who wear shoes, so it is recommended that the child wear shoes outside the house only.

Risk factors for delayed growth in children

When should i worry about toddler speech delay?
There are many reasons that may lead to a child having one of the growth and development problems and disorders that are often difficult to identify, and many cases of one of these disorders occur before the child is born.

And the most important factors that increase the risk of developing a developmental disorder are genetic factors and disorders, such as infection Down syndrome, or premature birth.

It is worth noting that delayed growth in children may indicate that they have a specific health problem, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, autism, and cerebral palsy, in some cases.

Delayed speech in a child

There is a disparity between the abilities that children have in many aspects that go through them and their lives in childhood, such as the disparity in starting to speak. Delay is normal and does not need to be worried.

And it results from the parents not talking continuously and extensively with the child, and in other cases the delay is for an unnatural reason and needs follow-up and treatment by the parents, so that they can solve the problem of delayed speech in their child, and make him able to speak naturally.

Causes of delayed speech in children

What causes speech delay in toddlers?

Delayed speech in a child has a number of reasons:

Physical disabilities

Weakness in the mouth and palate can affect a child’s ability to speak. A child’s ability to speak can also be affected by the unusually small gap that holds the tongue in the lower mouth. These physical problems are often recognized by a pediatrician before they begin The child speaks, and in some cases these cases can be missed from a young age until the child’s exposure to the dentist begins.

Speech problems

Most children have difficulty speaking due to the presence of problems in the areas of the brain responsible for speech, which makes it difficult for the child to coordinate the lips, tongue and jaw to produce sounds, and it is possible for these children to suffer with other problems related to the mouth such as feeding difficulties.

Where this problem centers on Speech dyslexia occurs in children, and the child may have problems controlling the muscles and parts of the body that are used to speak, and these problems may exist on their own or along with other movement difficulties such as eating problems.

Intellectual disability and psychological issues

A variety of intellectual disabilities can cause a child to delay speaking and speaking, examples of these disabilities are dyslexia and other learning difficulties, and in some cases many psychological and social issues cause speech delays in children, for example severe neglect can lead The child has problems with language development.

Hearing problems

Hearing problems are usually associated with a child’s speech delay, and therefore a hearing test must be taken by audiologists if there is a suspicion that the child is unable to speak. The child is unable to master and understand the specific words and thus prevents him from imitating the words and using the language fluently or correctly.

Ear infection

Ear infections, especially chronic infections, can affect a child’s ability to hear, although minor injuries to the ear that have been treated should not affect speech, and as long as there is normal hearing in at least one ear, speech and language should develop normally.

Other causes of delayed speech

Among the other reasons that are considered the most common in the delay of speech and pronunciation in a child:

  • Slow development.
  • Mental retardation.
  • Social deprivation where the child does not spend enough time talking to others.
  • Autism.
  • Being a twin.
  • Cerebral Palsy.

Treatment of delayed speech in children

What are signs of developmental delays in toddlers?

To solve the problem of delayed speech, several steps must be taken that lead to the treatment of this problem:

  • Do many things that draw the child’s attention to different sounds, such as the sound of the doorbell, and let the child try it more than once, and he can be drawn to his attention by bringing him toys that make different sounds such as the sound of animals and other sounds.
  • Participation of the child when he is playing, and making some sounds from the mouth of the person who is playing the child.
  • When talking with the child, some simple and easy syllables of speech should be inserted, such as saying “toot”.
  • Using some signs when talking to the child, such as making certain movements with the hand, and that is when warning him in case he commits any mistake with the first word, not with making a sign indicating that and it is by hand.
  • Teaching the child his name and how to pronounce it, calling him regularly, and calling the people around him by their names.
  • Keep talking to him when doing anything related to him.
  • Teaching the child different colors through many means such as colored balls.
  • Graduation with the child while teaching and teaching him how to construct and pronounce some simple sentences.

Treatment of speech difficulties in children

Early treatment prevents the development of speech difficulties and the worsening of the condition, and there is no harm in telling the pediatrician responsible for the child’s condition of all the things that his parents notice.

The child undergoes a simple speech examination, which includes a set of tests aimed at determining the type of speech disorder that the child suffers from, its severity – if any – and whether it is accompanied by other disorders.

This plan is required to specify the type of speech disorder that the child suffers from. Speech therapy for children aims to improve the child’s ability to speak and make it more clear, as well as to increase the child’s self-confidence during various daily practices.

Vocal disturbances

Phonological disorders are one of the speech difficulties associated with not forming the sounds necessary for speech properly.

A child with a vocal disorder does not have the ability to form the sound accompanying words, as other children of the same age group. Voice problems disappear on their own before the age of six if the condition is mild and requires treatment if it is more severe. In fact, early detection of vocal disorders in a child may enable them to overcome any speech problems.

The speech pathologist sets a treatment plan that includes the following:

  • Fix bugs and correct erroneous sounds.
  • Teaching the child how to correct vocal problems on his own.
  • Practice saying some words and sounds.
  • Provide a set of exercises for the child to practice at home.
  • Refer the case to an ear, nose and throat specialist or an orthodontist if necessary if the cause of this speech problem is organically in the mouth.

Speech disturbances

These are the phonemic problems that lead to the child’s pronunciation of a word incorrectly, and the treatment here relies on the traditional methods of repeating the word phonetically for the child and teaching him how to make the sounds of letters and then spell one word into syllables until he pronounces the word correctly and becomes able to form sentences, in this way the child gets used to on this learning technique and start applying it outside.

Dysarthria

Dysarthria is a speech-motor disorder usually caused by damage to the muscles responsible for controlling speech.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, people with dysarthria suffer from weakness in the muscles of the mouth and respiratory system, which in turn affects the ability to speak.

In fact, the treatment depends on the type of dysarthria and the symptoms that the child suffers from, but in all cases the specialist improves the child’s speech skills, and the following are the desired goals of the treatment plan:

  • Giving the child special motor exercises for the mouth to strengthen the muscles of the jaws, lips and tongue.
  • Training the child on how to produce the sound to make speech clearer and providing different ways for family members to communicate with the child.
  • Speech speed assessment.
  • Improving the ability to breathe during pronunciation so that the voice is louder.
  • Use oral movement exercises to strengthen the lips, jaw and tongue and increase their movement.
  • Use boards containing gestures, pictures or letters if it is difficult to communicate with the child and the dysarthria is severe.

The treatment of dysarthria works on two aspects: increasing the motor strength and range of motion of the affected muscles with a number of specific exercises, and working to reduce the effect of dysarthria with a combination of strategies. The specialist also takes into account how to make the child’s speech clearer by certain mechanisms, such as:

  • Looking at the addressee while talking to him.
  • Slow down the speed of speech.
  • Take a breath before speaking.
  • Speak in shorter sentences with regular pauses.

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