Parent Q & A

1. We use a different language at home. Should we stop using our home language now that our child has a speech sound disorder?A: The research supports continuing to use the home language. Exposure to two language does not contribute to speech sound disorders. However, exposure to heavily accented English can contribute to speech sound disorders. Children need to develop a strong mental representation of words and sound combination rules. If words sound differently from one person to another, that makes it harder for children to organize the sounds and use them correctly. I would generally encourage a family to use the language with which the parents are most fluent. If they speak English without an accent, great. If not, maybe using the home language would be best.
2. My child speaks our home language without difficulty but makes speech sound mistakes in English. Does this mean he has a speech sound disorder?A: Probably not. Speech sound disorders occur whenever the child speaks, no matter what the language is. This may be a second language issue, which is not a disorder. However, it is hard for me to say definitively without hearing the child.
3. Why do different therapists use different methodologies? How can you say that whistle/straw therapy or another methodology does not work when another therapist says it does?A: This is a complex issue. Therapists have varying familiarity with research and evidence to support or disprove a strategy. Some therapists graduated from school many years ago and have not updated their strategies. Companies sell materials with claims that they will work, and therapists may believe them without looking into the research or lack of research. Other companies market workshops teaching strategies that they claim will work for certain disorders, especially apraxia, and again there may be a problem with therapists taking them at their word. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recognizes this problem and has commissioned various studies and established committees to address this problem. Those committees have summarized the research and tried to get the word out about therapies that are not proven or are even disproven, but it is up to each therapist to accept the evidence.