A communication disorder is a problem with language, speech, and hearing. Communication disorders can affect the way children talk, understand, analyze, or process information.
Speech disorders include:
Language disorders include problems being able to:
Hearing disorders include:
Millions of children under the age of 18 have a communication disorder. Two-thirds of these children are boys.
There may be certain genes linked to communication disorders. Researchers are also studying if a problem during pregnancy or environmental factors, such as exposure to chemicals, may be a cause. Communication disorders may result from:
You should be concerned if your child:
Parents or teachers usually notice problems early in grade school. Do not wait to see if a problem goes away or continues. You may miss many months of valuable therapy. Take your child in for an evaluation.
Your child's healthcare provider will examine your child and ask about symptoms. Your child will also have hearing and vision tests. The provider may refer you to a speech/language pathologist. A speech-language pathologist will identify:
Speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and learning assistance are helpful. Speech and language therapy will:
Treatment may also involve a developmental pediatrician, learning specialist, neurologist, otolaryngologist, or mental health specialist. Psychotherapy may help if communication problems seriously interfere with school, socializing with friends, or daily activities.
Help your child relax and feel accepted. Help your child gain a sense of success through a hobby or other activity in an area of strength. Sometimes the more your child wants to communicate, the harder it will be. Do not put pressure on your child. Do not say "You can't have it unless you say it first."
Most school districts have special programs to help children with communication disorders. Find out what services are available through the school district or your community.