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    Physicians' Focus: Speech Problems

    Speech and language problems have a large effect on a child's world, particularly in the social, academic, and behavioral areas. The sooner a speech problem is identified and treated, the less likely it is that there will be worsening or long-term effects.

    Modern Medicine has gathered together, in one place, its most useful and practical articles on speech problems. These articles provide coverage of the "late talker," selective mutism, and 2 studies—one of which discusses persistent middle ear effusion and developmental impairment and the other discusses gestational age versus birth weight as indicator of developmental delay. And, at the bottom you’ll find links to helpful Web sites.

    The "late talker"—when silence isn't golden
    This article covers the possible speech-language disorders that might be present in children who are "late talkers." A primer is provided on speech-language disorders, what the potential issues are if there is a problem and no help is sought/provided, and when and where to refer if you do suspect a problem.

    What to do if your child should be talking—but isn't yet (PDF)
    A handy guide for parents, accompanying the article above, is designed to help parents encourage their child’s speech development, and it offers resources on language delay.

    "Shy" child? Don't overlook selective mutism
    Mutism is defined in this article, and its prevalence, characteristics, diagnosis, management, and treatment are described.

    Persistent middle ear effusion and developmental impairment
    This study, which found that persistent middle ear effusion in otherwise healthy infants and toddlers does not adversely affect developmental outcomes (of speech, language, cognitive skills, or psychosocial adjustment) at age 4.

    Study: Gestational age matters more than birth weight
    Presented here are a discussion and results of a study on preterm infants, finding that gestational age gave a better indication than birth weight as to the specialized care—such as speech therapy—the child may need by age 5.


    Frequently Asked Questions: Speech and Language Disorders in the School Setting
    The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Web site’s useful links include this one on language disorders in school-age children.

    Frequently Asked Questions: Speech Sound Disorders: Articulation and Phonological Processes
    The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Web site’s many helpful resources include one defining speech sound, articulation, and phonological disorders as well as diagnosis and treatment of speech sound disorders.

    NIH: Study Shows Variety of Approaches Help Children Overcome Auditory Processing and Language Problems
    The National Institutes of Health’s NIH News item discusses the results of a study that compared 4 interventions for children struggling to learn and use language.

    Selective Mutism
    The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Web site’s page offers a definition of selective mutism as well as signs and symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and other resources for the clinician and family.

    Speech and articulation Development Chart
    This chart from the Talking Child Web site, founded by 2 speech-language pathologists to develop products to promote speech in children and equip parents with ideas to do the same at home, provides a general guide for the age at which children should master each specific sound.

    Speech sound disorders: Benefits of speech-language pathology services
    This Web page from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association helps answer questions about what a speech-language pathologist does and the benefit and efficacy of using one. Links to research articles and other resources are included.