What is child speech delay?
Child speech delay is characterised by a child having difficulty understanding or using spoken language and it is unusual for that child’s age. A typical 2-year-old can say about 50 words and speak in two- and three-word sentences. By age 3, their vocabulary increases to about 1,000 words, and they’re speaking in three- and four-word sentences.
If a toddler hasn’t met those milestones, they may have a speech delay. Developmental milestones help gauge your child’s progress, but they’re just general guidelines. Children develop at their own rate. If your child has a speech delay, it doesn’t always mean something is wrong. You may simply have a late bloomer who’ll be talking your ear off in no time. A speech delay can also be due to hearing loss or underlying neurological or developmental disorders.
If the speech delay does persist there are a variety of avenues that can be explored to help them. This article will discuss the role that upper cervical chiropractors play in helping these children and the reason why it is important to get your child’s spine and nervous system checked.
A common factor we find with a lot of the children we work with in our practice is that they have experienced varying levels of birth trauma or went through a stressful birthing process. This may include breech births, emergency or planned c-section, or forceps/vacuum delivery. All of these events can put considerable stress on the spine and in particular on the neck. Oftentimes this area goes unchecked as the doctors and nurses are checking that both mum and baby are not having any life-threatening complications, and rightly so. However afterwards it is a good idea for the child’s spine and nervous system to be checked to make sure any areas of concern are addressed early before symptoms arise as the child develops.
So, what has the spine got to do with speech delay? At the top of the neck where the first vertebrae meets the base of the skull there is a structure called the brainstem. This is one of the most important parts of our nervous system as it is responsible for all of the functions that occur in the body that keep us alive that happen without us needing to think about them. The top bones in the neck help to protect the brainstem, however when trauma occurs in the neck this bone can become misaligned with the base of the skull and cause stress to the brainstem, this will then impact nervous system function.
The brainstem also has a collection of very important nerves coming off of it called the cranial nerves. These nerves supply all of the parts of our head, neck and face; this includes the eyes, ears, muscles of the face, mouth, and throat. When there is stress placed on the brainstem due to a misalignment of the bones at the top of the neck the cranial nerves can become dysfunctional. This dysfunction may contribute to speech delay. If the nerve supplying the ears is impacted this may result in a hearing deficit, making it difficult for the child to understand and learn language. If the nerve supplying the larynx is affected it may make it difficult for the child to produce the right sounds, and if the nerves supplying the tongue are affected it may be difficult to form or pronounce words.
By assessing the child’s spine, locating areas of dysfunction and their impact on the nervous system, and then making the appropriate corrections it is very possible to see improvements with child speech delay as we have done with many children in our office.
To find out more, book a complimentary call with one of us to discuss how we can help.