Leading Myths about Speech-Language Development in Children

by Team Stamurai

The first three years of a child's life are critical for proper speech and language development. During these years, a child's brain absorbs and reciprocates to language. A child's speech and language skills best develop in an environment filled with diverse sounds, language, interactions, visual cues, and the speech of others.

Parents often feel worried or confused when their children do not conform to the speech and language milestones. Very often they rely on information available on the web to determine if their children are experiencing developmental delays.

Sadly, along with factually correct information, parents often come across misinformation or myths surrounding speech and language delays on the web. It is difficult to tell the truth apart from the myths unless you have some knowledge about speech and language development in kids.

It is crucial to review the sources of such information before trusting them and passing them along. Here are 10 of the most common myths about speech and language development in children that our experts have come across in recent times.

Speech-Language Development Myth #1: Children Will Learn Speech and Language by Themselves

A child growing up in an environment rich in sounds, speech, and interactions may learn to babble between 6 and 12 months. They may also say their first word around their first birthday.

The truth is that language learning is not entirely innate.

We need to provide good models of speech and communication for a child to reach their speech and language milestones on time.

Children need to interact and socialize with other people to receive the necessary stimuli that enable them to absorb and produce language.

Speech-Language Development Myth #2: All Children Will Develop Language Skills in Their Own Time

It is correct that no two same-aged children will show the same level of speech and language skill acquisition. However, it is also true that some children need extra help in acquiring speech and language skills in the early years.

If your 12-month old doesn’t babble, respond to your voice or look in the direction of loud noises, it may be signs of a hearing problem. Leaving the child alone because all children have different developmental rates may turn out to be a huge mistake!

If you have reason to believe that your infant or toddler is experiencing a speech delay or regression in language acquisition, you should visit their pediatrician immediately.

Speech-Language Development Myth #3: My Child Doesn’t Talk or Respond Yet Because S/He Is Lazy!

It is one of the most common speech development myths. Young children are hardly ever lazy or lethargic.

A healthy infant or child should be curious, explorative, and instinctive. They should explore and exhibit their speech and language skills naturally as they emerge.

Children rarely hold back talking or interacting with others out of laziness.

Yes. Some children may be shier than others. So, you may find them quieter in front of new people, but that should not stop them from talking to their parents or caregivers in familiar environments.

Speech-Language Development Myth #4: Interactive Phone Games, Flashcards, and Apps Will Fix All Language Development Issues

Language development is partly innate and partly stimulated by the child's environment. However, replacing human speech, communication, and interactions with smartphone apps and flashcards does not help!

Children need to observe real interactions and communication to learn expressive language skills. Spending quality time with your infant, taking them out to meet other children and adults, and reading to them can stimulate language development in infants and children.

Speech-Language Development Myth #5: Siblings of a Child with Speech-Language Disorder Will Also Have a Speech-Language Disorder

A child may have a speech-language disorder due to various reasons. Unless there's a genetic or hereditary component involved, there is no reason to believe that the sibling of a child with speech-language disorder will also need to deal with a similar disorder.

Hearing disfluent speech or growing up around a child with a speech disorder cannot incept speech disorder in another child.

Speech-Language Development Myth #6: You Can’t Get Your Child Tested For a Speech or Language Disorder before Kindergarten

Pediatricians and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have the resources to check for speech and language disorders in children who are too young to speak!

If you have reason to be concerned about your child's language development, you should speak to your pediatrician and an SLP immediately. You can also consult a licensed speech-language pathologist at Stamurai App as well.

Do not wait for the issues to resolve by themselves. Children do not and cannot grow out of disorders like childhood apraxia of speech and dysarthria by themselves.

Speech-Language Development Myth #7: My Child Is Slow in Developing Language Because S/He Is a Second/Last-Born

It is adorable when the older siblings talk to the younger ones, but it often leads parents to believe that it is the reason for the younger ones' speech delays. That is not a fact!

First-born and later-born children should follow similar language and speech acquisitions. Birth order does not determine speech and language acquisition in children.

Older siblings may often interrupt their younger siblings or talk for them, but that does not seem to affect language development in infants or toddlers.

Speech-Language Development Myth #8: Using a Dummy/Pacifier Is Delaying Their Speech and Language

It is a common belief that a dummy delays speech in children. However, no research study supports this theory. Hence, most speech-language pathologists (SLPs) consider this to be a misconception about language development in kids.

Several children who have used dummies since infancy show typical speech and language development. And there are several other cases where a child with speech and language delays has never used a pacifier.

The constant presence of a dummy in their mouth may deter a child from age-appropriate babbling. So, try to restrict the hours during which your child uses a dummy. When they are out for a stroll and interacting with others, you can keep the dummy out of the scene!

Speech-Language Development Myth #9: Speech and Language Delays Run In the Family

There is some truth to this statement, but attributing delayed speech entirely to heredity or genetics isn’t correct.

Sometimes, children may experience repeated ear infections, which might delay their speech and language acquisition. Even though their father or grandfather had a history of late-talking, the child may reach the milestones on time if their ear infection is treated correctly.

The child may have better chances of catching up with their peers if they receive immediate medical attention and care.

Some children may require additional stimulation in their first 3 years to develop speech and language skills on time.

Speech-Language Development Myth #10: Learning More Than One Language Will Harm the Child

Children can successfully learn more than one language at a time. Initially, they may mix up words and syntaxes of two or more languages.

There is no evidence to support the second language acquisition myth. No research shows that learning multiple languages will hinder their speech or language skills in any way.

What Should You Remember about Speech and Language Development in Children?

Being aware of the language development myths will help parents seek the correct counsel and treatment at the correct time for their children. Speech and language development is not uniform in every child. However, your child should not be left behind because you could not find the truth about speech and language delay.

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