The first three years of a child’s life are crucial in developing vocabulary, grammar and other aspects of speech and language development necessary for children to identify and establish themselves in relation to the world around them. During this time, environmental and personal/developmental and other factors play an enormous role in either promoting this exponential development, or not. Kids with Childhood Apraxia of Speech generally do better if the appropriate treatment is started early. For this to happen, the subset of “late talkers”, ie those toddlers that are not babbling, or saying sounds and words by twelve to fifteen months, would be best served if parents and health care professionals recognize and intervene by appropriate referral early on. Know the signs, act early. Having said this, it is understood that, due to the inherent variability of the etiology (causes) of Childhood Apraxia of Speech, some children do better than others, so don’t start talking until very late and there are many factors that play into the response to treatment for this subset of children. Generally though, early intervention is bound to have a positive effect on treatment outcomes. There are however, few scientific studies in this area.
Early Speech and Language development affects the academic success and personal and emotional health and well being of a child. Children with Speech and Language disorders have been shown to have difficulties with literacy and learning as they get older. In addition, complex learning, problem solving and absorbing cultural nuances that affect social interaction and interpersonal relationships can be impacted. Poor literacy leads to other academic challenges and difficulties eg mathematics skills, social studies and learning related to more complex language and the understanding of complex concepts. Accompanying this, peer interactions can be affected, resulting in difficulties in social interactions and the establishment of healthy interpersonal relationships. These factors in turn lay an emotional burden on children, which they take into adulthood. The result of this can be adverse functional outcomes in adults, which then lays a personal burden on the individual in massive ways, as well as those that make up the society around them.
For more information see the Speech-Language Audiology Canada Position Statement:
Adapted with permission from the SAC Early Identification of Speech Disorders Position Paper, October 2012.