Someone whose speech is not clearly distinguishable is continuously asked, “What did you say?”. Speech is mumbled and weak, rapidly spoken and intonation is insufficient. Children as well as adults can have problems with this in making and maintaining social contacts.
Indistinguishable speech can be recognized as early on as infancy. The child may speak, for instance, but in a very monotonous tone and rather sloppily. Sometimes there is too much saliva in their speech, or the child speaks very fast. Words with longer syllables are merged together, speech sounds are mixed up, and pronouncing longer words properly is difficult. The child will not correct itself, because the child doesn’t hear that the speech is indistinguishable. It is possible for the child to become withdrawn, because of the many negative reaction the environment gives on the child’s speech.
Adults who have speech which is difficult to distinguish could face problems in their career if higher standards of speech are required.
There are various causes of indistinguishable speech. Weak development in sensing the language can, for example, play a part, as can diminished use of lips, tongue and palate, or hearing which does not function well. Brain damage, too, can diminish distinguishable speech, for instance in Parkinsons’ disease.
What does the speech therapist do?
The speech therapist is a professional in the area of speech, he/she will investigate the speech and compose a treatment plan. The treatment will first of all be aimed at becoming aware of incoherent speech. The speaker will learn to judge their own speech, using recordings. Children will get this listening training by playing games as often as possible. The speech therapist will pay attention to good posture during speech and train the breathing. A lively speech is taught; the mouth muscles will then be activated by tongue, lip, palate and jaw exercises. In the case of a weak language basis, attention will also be given to formulating clearly. Learning will continuously be put into practice.
The result of treatment depends on the cause of indistinguishable speech and on personal cooperation and motivation.
The investigation and treatment for indistinguishable speech will, as a rule, be reimbursed by medical insurance, and almost every individual health insurance company, provided it has been recommended by a doctor or medical specialist.
What is delayed speech development?
We refer to delayed speech development when this development deviates from certain standards. Although there can be a lot of variation in speech development, it is still possible to determine certain minimum standards of speech.
- A young baby can only cry.
- After five or six weeks they begin to make long or short noises which may coincidentally sound like speech tones.
- After around eight months a baby will start to listen to the sounds in his environment, and the babbling will begin to sound like language that surrounds it.
- When the child is between one year and eighteen months old, the first meaningful words will come, often not well pronounced.
- At around the age of two, the child will use two-word phrases.
- At three years of age the child should be understood by others outside the direct environment, and at around five most speech sounds should be pronounced correctly.
Delayed speech development can be caused in different ways. For example, there may be deviations in the tongue, lips or palate. Neurological damage, problems in hearing, a language handicap, or simply an environment which does not encourage speech can all be problems which hinder speech development.
Ordinarily it is the parents or guardians who become concerned with their child’s speech at one time: it is at this point that advice from a speech therapist should be called for. Professional help should also be sought if the child becomes withdrawn because it is not understood.
What does the speech therapist do?
The speech therapist is a professional in the area of speech, he/she will investigate which disorders influence the child’s speech. In some cases this involves examination by a paediatrician or Ear Nose and Throat specialist.
Speech therapy treatment can be direct or indirect. Indirect therapy involves the therapist instructing and guiding the parents or guardians towards the best way of stimulating their child to speak. It is important in this case, for instance, that they do not continuously correct the child’s speech, and for them to try and speak in short, clear sentences.
In direct therapy treatment the exchange between child and therapist is central. The speech therapist will try to initiate words from the child with well spoken sounds as if playing a game. The parents or guardians will be advised on which speech exercises to practice at home.
Delayed speech development can be treated well; the result depends, among other things, on the cause. The investigation and treatment for delayed speech development will, as a rule, be reimbursed by medical insurance, and almost every individual health insurance company, provided it has been recommended by a doctor or medical specialist.