Are you concerned that your child could suffer from a speech impediment, but are unsure what traits set regular falters apart from severe stuttering? Stuttering is not an uncommon occurrence in everyday life. In fact, it happens normally occasionally to just about everyone. Severe stuttering goes above and beyond the normal word hesitancies, resulting in a legitimate struggle for the many individuals who suffer from it. If your child is experiencing ongoing stuttering and difficulty speaking, it is possible he or she may be dealing with speech dyslexia.
Before you can know the best course of action to take to help your child, it is important to understand what speech dyslexia is and how to detect it accurately. Read on to learn more about this speech impediment and what treatment options are available.
What Is Speech Dyslexia?
Speech dyslexia is described as wanting to respond to or describe something, and being left at a complete loss for words, unable to articulate the correct sentence or phrasing. Rather than the occasional forgetful moment when you see an actor whose face you cannot remember, speech dyslexia is akin to a compounded version of this issue. It happens constantly with many varieties of words. Children with dyslexia often have difficulty recalling certain words and sounds congruencies, leaving a particular phrase just within reach but not close enough to grasp.
This is very frustrating for an individual at any age, but for a child specifically, it can cause a considerable amount of distress and anxiety. This can worsen the situation considerably. If your child feels under stress or pressure when he or she struggles to remember a word or phrase, this will heighten the stuttering. If your child continuously finds it difficult or impossible to remember a word or phrase, and this goes on without relief it is possible that speech dyslexia could be present.
One of the most immediate ways to help your child to overcome these impediments and speak with confidence is to help them stay calm and try to allay their fears. The more time you give a child to complete a task that could cause a challenge to the speech impediment, the better chance he or she has to work through the dyslexia themselves.
Signs and Symptoms
Some of the most common symptoms of speech dyslexia include repeating either a part or the entirety of words and sounds repeatedly, elongating speech, opening the mouth to speak and having seconds pass before a sound comes out, continuously using the word “um,” and taking long pauses during speaking.
There can also be physical signs of frustration caused by the stuttering. Your child might blink, slap his or her leg, making motions and facial movements to show his or her distress at trying to make the words come out. With children, the stuttering associated with dyslexia manifests itself in some particular situations and additional ways. For example, the dyslexia may appear most often in playtime, home, or school activities.
Children may shun circumstances where their stuttering would reveal itself or only speak certain words that are less difficult to say. A severe delay in your child’s language articulation is also typical with speech dyslexia. It can alter a child’s overall confidence and may also affect social interactions.
Could My Child’s Severe Stuttering Result from Speech Dyslexia?
Speech dyslexia can often appear in children as young as 3 years old though it can sometimes be misdiagnosed as delayed development at first. Over time, it comes clear that these impediments are more than a delay but represent a palpable struggle for the child. If the speech dyslexia does not disappear on its own, it’s possible for children to learn how to work through it so they can speak more seamlessly.
Children who suffer from speech dyslexia are commonly right brain dominant. There is no one singular trait or set of traits that define children with this speech impediment as every individual is different and displays variant signs. There is not one test in existence which can affirm without a doubt that your child has is suffering from it. The best you can do is look at the associated traits, examine your child’s behavior, and strategize an appropriate course of action.
Things to Look For
With this being said, there are key traits to be aware of that can help you determine whether your child’s severe stuttering is truly caused by dyslexia rather than some other type of speech impediment. Many children with speech dyslexia do not start speaking until much later than normal, with some not speaking until they are 3 or 4 years old. Speech then comes suddenly and frequently, almost as if making up for lost time. If your child speaks rarely or incorrectly, he or she should take hearing tests to see if any other issues are at play.
Alternatively, some dyslexic children start speaking as young as 1 year, and in full sentences. This is due to the intelligence often associated with right-brained individuals. Language and picture skills may be good, but the child could show signs of struggles with numbers and letters. One of the most often thought of traits associated with speech dyslexia is a lisp or stutter.
The reason this is so common in children with speech dyslexia is because they think in pictures rather than words. As dyslexia is often congruent with phonetic dysfunction, waiting for the right words to come could be a distinct struggle. Syllables may become mixed up and confused.
In addition, children with speech dyslexia often have a hard time learning the sounds and names of letters, the alphabet, colors, shapes, the days of the week, and how to write and spell even their name. By thinking in picture form, letters and numbers do not fit into these concepts and are difficult to grasp, write or speak. Sequences may also cause a problem, such as saying the alphabet in order or counting from 1 to 10. Children with speech dyslexia may also have a confused sense of direction as their brain thinks 3 dimensionally. Concepts like up and down, left and right, and now or later are a puzzlement, and this can affect simple motor skills, like tying shoes, and it can spread other bodily functions as well.
Part of a dyslexic child’s unique brain alignment conveys to hand dominance, which usually isn’t determined until one reaches the age of 7 to 9. This means that both hands can be used for different purposes before this, and often are.
Children with speech dyslexia do not focus on the details; rather, they see the overall picture. As a result, exercises such as printing numbers or letters on a school test can be very challenging, because the child does not realize where the lines begin and end. The struggle to hear the individual sounds that spell and make up a word is common, with certain letters like “R,” “L,” “M”, and “N” causing particular trouble.
A normal struggle is trying to remember the word associated with certain objects or actions, which causes a discernible delay in language usage. As the dyslexic brain is image-focused, you may have noticed that your child loves reading picture books, comic books, and graphic novels. This is because he or she can memorize the story through your reading and the images themselves rather than struggle to parse out each word.
If you believe your child could be dealing with speech dyslexia, this does not mean that he or she cannot live a full and happy life. The nature of right-brained dyslexics is just a different way of perceiving information from the world and attributes associated with right-brain dyslexia may include a natural inclination towards artistic endeavors at an early age and being referred to as an “old soul” for having wisdom far beyond his or her years. The ability of dyslexic children to see 3-dimensionally and memorize large quantities of information to make up for reading difficulties is astounding.
In everyday speech, allow your dyslexic child time to think and ruminate on what they would like to say. Speak slower when talking to your child, do not negatively refer to the stuttering or even draw it out into the open at all. Rather, speak in normal, calm tones, and give your child the space and patience needed to articulate his or her thoughts in a pressure-free environment. Keep background noise like TV and music minimal when your child is trying to talk.
Practicing certain types of speech, engaging in breathing techniques, and helping your child reduce stress and anxiety factors will make a difference.
It could help your child to enroll in speech therapy and other programs to manage and learn how to work with dyslexia. Leaving dyslexia untreated will only make things worse. With the combination of a supportive and open environment, constant communication and encouragement, the help of qualified speech therapist professionals, and ongoing practice, your child can learn to overcome speech dyslexia impediments and articulate with confidence.