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Why is my son talking in broken sentences?

Q: I am worried about my 3-year-old son's speech problem. I am a working mother. He is a bright child since childhood and was exposed to 4 languages – Hindi, English, Malayalam and Bengali. He speaks in broken sentences. He only speaks when he wants to speak otherwise he has a tendency to repeat what others say. He needs to listen to something 3-4 times to pick up. He knows every nursery rhyme, songs, alphabets, counting, pages of the bible and I have noticed that he has an amazing memory. There are times when we are stunned by his memory. He is very friendly and mixes with selected children of his peer group. He is generally friendly to strangers but very attached to me. His teachers says that he's a little slow in conversation but very observant and picks up fast to interacts with other children. I have asked his paediatrician and others if he is autistic, but they tell that he's normal. However, he's a little slow on speech due to less peer interaction. The whole day he is with my mother and my maid and has no proper peer interaction. Should I get him checked by a speech therapist? I was a late speaker myself but I never used to repeat.

A:When their 3 to 5 year old child begins to hesitate/stammer or stutter, parents naturally become worried about this and may unknowingly handle the problem incorrectly resulting in increasing rather than decreasing the stammering. Here is a typical case history: Mu..mmm..mum..mummy! We wa.wa.wa..won the mmm..mmmatch! Mrs. X's body tenses up whenever she hears her 10-year old son stammering. She becomes desperate herself, when Amit gets stuck on a word and struggles so hard to speak it out. His younger brother speaks absolutely normally which makes it even more difficult for Amit. Mrs. X: Sometimes, a classmate might tease him and that makes Amit feel as if he is abnormal. Last year he used to come home crying. He speaks quite well with everyone at home or with some of his friends. He has no difficulty when he sings or recites from memory. But when the teacher asks him to read in class, he breaks down into severe stammering. The problem is especially noticeable when he is excited or angry. Talking on the telephone is also difficult for Amit. From the time he was 4 years old and had started stammering, we had mentioned it to our paediatrician but he advised us not to worry because it would disappear when Amit reached 6 years of age. Now, 4 years later, the problem is in fact increasing. I feel helpless. - Mrs. X, New Delhi. Children who have a case background history similar to Amit's need to be handled with special gentleness and support from parents. Feeling increasingly concerned about their child's speech problem, parents employ a variety of corrective methods ranging from scolding or even beating the child (in extreme cases) to frequently correcting him or promising him rewards if he is fluent to getting angry or upset with him. All these techniques only indicate the degree of the parent's worry and need to be changed. Continued parental counselling is provided. This forms half of the therapy plan. Alongside, the child is given certain simple therapy practices to help him time his speech better and to develop habits of easier breathing patterns.


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