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My child cannot speak properly, what do I do?

Friday, 13 June 2003
Answered by: S. Anandalakshmy
Consultant in Child Development & Education

Chennai
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Q. My problem is related to my son. He is now 4 years old but cannot speak properly. He can speak a few words like tata, bye, namaste, papa, happy birth day to you, some Hindi words and some sentences also. Initially we suspected that he cant hear properly but later on we found that he can pick up even the slightest of sound. Actually he is very fond of watching TV and he picks up his favourite Ads and songs even when the volume is very low. He is very meticulous in his work - if he picks up something then he makes sure that he must place that thing in the original place. He is very fond of books and writing. He identifies various colours and plays with blocks. We are consulting one person Bipin Kumar Singh who is trained in speech therapy and dealing with mentally weak children. He has improved a lot after his consultation.

A.  Your son sounds like a very bright child. His speech may be a little bit later in developing fully than other children's for a variety of reasons. Perhaps he hears two or three languages at home. Some children need to sort it all out in their heads and speak only when they can speak each of the three languages correctly. Others will make a mixture and communicate somehow. Children are not alike. There is a wide difference in temperaments or innate natures. In my own observation, little boys are so interested in how things happen that they speak as much as necessary to survive! Little girls tend to use language a bit earlier. But these are only generalizations. Perhaps attending a Play School or Nursery school would also be useful, but not if it is a place where children are tested before they are admitted. However, since you have located a Speech therapist, who is doing him good, you might wish to continue his treatment for a little while longer. But by far the best treatment for childrens language development is for parents to speak with them, read stories to them, teach them songs and play with them. Finding one or two children to play with him will also be a good idea. Their play and spontaneous activities will require him to talk. You could also ask him, playfully to name the objects in the room etc. and invent indoor games which are fun for everyone. It is good that you observe him closely. Continue your active parenting!

A.  Your son sounds like a very bright child. His speech may be a little bit later in developing fully than other children's for a variety of reasons. Perhaps he hears two or three languages at home. Some children need to sort it all out in their heads and speak only when they can speak each of the three languages correctly. Others will make a mixture and communicate somehow. Children are not alike. There is a wide difference in temperaments or innate natures. In my own observation, little boys are so interested in how things happen that they speak as much as necessary to survive! Little girls tend to use language a bit earlier. But these are only generalizations. Perhaps attending a Play School or Nursery school would also be useful, but not if it is a place where children are tested before they are admitted. However, since you have located a Speech therapist, who is doing him good, you might wish to continue his treatment for a little while longer. But by far the best treatment for childrens language development is for parents to speak with them, read stories to them, teach them songs and play with them. Finding one or two children to play with him will also be a good idea. Their play and spontaneous activities will require him to talk. You could also ask him, playfully to name the objects in the room etc. and invent indoor games which are fun for everyone. It is good that you observe him closely. Continue your active parenting!

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