As a parent concerned about your child’s apparent speech or language deficiency, you have probably begun to research speech disorders, and speech therapy seeking a way to correct it.  And it is more than likely that in this search you have come across either incomplete or misguided information.

For example, you might have found out that you shouldn’t worry about it since your child will probably outgrow his/her speech disorder. Or that you should be careful never to use “baby talk” with a tiny infant, or that if your household happens to be bilingual, your kid is at increased risk of developing a speech disorder.

You need the facts.  So, your next phone call should be to an expert clinician who knows the “ins and outs” of speech disorders and speech therapy. Have a thorough conversation voicing all of your concerns and get accurate information from a credible source.  In the meantime here is a quick guide to some of the more common myths.

Myth 1: Speech Therapy is only for lisps and stutters

While lisping and stuttering are perhaps the most “famous” speech disorders requiring speech therapy, they are by no means the only ones. The reality: speech therapy helps for a wide range of speech problems such as dysphagia, cluttering, aphasia and apraxia to name but a few.

Myth 2:  Don’t worry your kid will grow out of it

Let’s face it, many children grow out of their speech or language delay, but this is not often the case when there is an actual speech impairment.  You have no way of knowing that.  So it is always best to play it safe and get that evaluation early on and if necessary begin speech therapy as soon as possible.

Myth 3:  Speech Therapy is nothing more than playtime with the therapist

The goal of every dedicated speech therapist is to make the therapy work.  So with a child what makes more sense than to integrate the therapy into that which comes naturally: playing and having fun!  Playing and having fun promote the child’s full engagement in the session while giving the parents a model to replicate when working with the child at home.

Myth 4: Siblings of children with speech disorders are likely to develop a speech disorder

The theory goes like this.  Since other children hear the speech disorder of their brother or sister, those children will mimic that child and develop the disorder.  But the truth is that kids hear many people talking on a daily basis: parents, teachers, daycare workers, and others.  The positive influences on a child’s speech outweigh the negatives.

Myth 5: Talking to your kid in “baby talk” will be bad for language development

Don’t worry about talking to your baby like a baby.  The truth is that babies actually will direct more of their attention to sounds that are accompanied by exaggerated facial expressions and gestures or voices that are higher pitched.  In fact, infants respond well to “baby talk,” rhythm, word repetition and simpler sentences.

Myth 6:  Your child is at higher risk of a speech disorder in a bilingual home

Although kids who grow up in bilingual households sometimes go through a period where they speak less,  this doesn’t necessarily indicate a speech disorder.  More often than not it is because the child is working through the confusion of learning the grammar and words of two different languages.