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Speech, language and communication difficulties

Factors which may contribute to speech, language and communication difficulties include:

  • learning disability
  • gobal developmental delay
  • there may be a genetic disposition (There is some research which indicates that certain genes can cause difficulties with speech sounds or language learning)
  • difficulties in early childhood (such as acute or chronic illness, failure to thrive, abuse, neglect or environmental influences)
  • hearing status temporary or permanent hearing impairment. A history of fluctuating hearing loss at an early stage can be a contributing factor even if hearing status then improves
  • the child may have made excessive use of a dummy (after 1 year old)
  • brain injury (pre, peri or postnatal trauma)
  • low birth weight or premature
  • difficulties with movement and control of tongue and lips when feeding and speaking
  • mental health and or emotional and behavioural factors

Equally, there may be no clear explanation.

The Talk to your baby website  acknowledges that there is variation in developmental rates but most babies before turning a year old will:

  • enjoy watching a carers face
  • show delight when the carer replies to their chatter
  • love the carer imitating them
  • notice familiar sounds and voices
  • enjoy books and music
  • try to join in with familiar action songs
  • understand familiar daily routines such as bath and bed times

Indicators for concern:

  • lack of eye contact
  • little or no babbling
  • child does not respond to language (and a hearing has confirmed normal hearing)
  • baby has difficulty sucking or with adapting to texture in first foods

Resources are available to support families with promoting early communication skills within local speech and language therapy departments. ICan’s Talking Point website has ideas for encouraging early communication skills at 6-12 months.

See these websites for more ideas: