The first step in assessing the condition is to rule out other conditions such as hearing loss. Usually, a person who does not hear well will also have trouble speaking correctly. Tests need to determine whether the speech problem is due to auditory problems. If the hearing is acceptable, the next step is to have the child examined by a pathologist.
The pathologist will examine the speech organs to determine if there are any physical irregularities which diminish the speaking ability. The tongue, the lips and jaw are examined as well as the muscles involved in the movement of those organs. There are various types of tests to determine if particular coordination problems are present. This assessment also endeavors to determine if particular vowels or particular consonants present unique problems to the child.
After the testing is completed, speech disorder treatment focuses on the areas of need in order to help the child to communicate more effectively, even if his speech skills are defective. If the child is actually suffering from apraxia, the remedies do not focus on muscle strengthening activities but on production activities. The muscles are not the problem with this condition.
Often speech disorder treatment uses a lot of practice and involves becoming aware of the senses when speaking, particularly the senses of touch and sight. The victims of this speech problem spend much time watching videos of people speaking as well as watching themselves in a mirror as they pronounce particular words or phrases. This helps them to concentrate on areas which are problematic for themselves.
Of course, the foremost goal in speech disorder treatment is to help the child to learn to speak more normally and feel confident and comfortable while speaking. When a child has confidence in his speaking ability, his disorder tends to diminish somewhat. Often his reading ability and reading comprehension improve as his speech improves.
Learning to speak normally is a long process for the victims of speech disorders. It usually involves their families, teachers and other school personnel as well as the children themselves. There are assigned activities for the child to practice at home and school. A motivated child with a supportive family can expect to see positive results after working on his own problem for a long period of time.
In a few cases, a child’s speech disorder treatment involves the use of other, more technical equipment to help him see improvement. Such equipment could be computerized systems which help the victim to write and produce speech sounds. For those who need these systems, the dependence on them seems to become less necessary as time goes on. The child learns to reproduce the correct speech sounds himself and uses the machines much less.
Speaking problems do not necessarily mean permanent social obstacles. Early detection and speech disorder treatment are helpful to many children.