Speech and Language Rehabilitation

Speech and language are the processes through which human beings share their ideas, feelings, and emotions with their fellow beings. The receptive and expressive skills of children grow fast in the first three years of development. Cognitive and neurologic abilities and musculoskeletal skills combine to enable babies to pronounce words and syllables. It is an admitted fact that babies imitate their elders until the age of nine months and speak the first word until one year.

The speech and language development in the growth years enables the babies to pronounce certain words and even short sentences by 2-3 years. However, some babies experience speech and language disorders that delay the speaking power. You may need speech and language rehabilitation to improve the speaking ability and vocabulary of such babies.

Table of Contents

What are the Speech and Language Disorders in Children?

Speech is a collection of different words to create sound and communicate with others. Language is the selection of words to express thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Language and speech disorders are the inability or difficulty to find words and make sentences to articulate their thoughts. Many children worldwide do not meet their age’s developmental milestones because of the slower development of speech and language skills. The impairments in these children’s cognitive, hearing, and speaking skills make it difficult for them to express themselves. These may become self-esteem issues with the increasing age.

What are the Causes of Speech and Language Disorders?

Speech and language issues in children may arise due to different reasons. Some of the causes include:

  • Vocal cord damage
  • Hearing impairment
  • Brain damage
  • Autism
  • Muscle weakness
  • Various psychological issues
  • Respiratory weakness
  • Vocal cord paralysis
  • Polyps or nodules on the vocal cords
  • Strokes
  • Certain diseases like oral and laryngeal cancer
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Dementia and various other developmental issues

Here, it is pertinent to mention that these disorders may be hereditary in some children. However, a few develop speech and language disorders over time.

Symptoms of Speech and Language Disorders

Research shows that 61% of children show speech and language disorders till two years of age, while 2.44% continue to face these issues till school age. Various speech-related problems make it difficult for the parents to recognize the common concerns. However, the most common speech and language disorders in children are:

  • Childhood apraxia of speech
  • Speech sound disorders
  • Stuttering
  • Dysarthria
  • Voice Issues
  • Orofacial Myofunctional disorders
  • Preschool language disorders
  • Learning disabilities including listening, reading, and learning
  • Selective mutism
  • Articulation disorders
  • Disfluency
  • Phonological disorders

Typical Speech and Language Disorders in Children

Depending on the causes of speech and language disorders, various symptoms may appear in children at different ages. However, common symptoms include:

  • No babbling till the age of 12-15 months
  • Repeating sounds, the most common symptom in children suffering from a stutter which is mostly hereditary
  • Adding certain extra sounds and words
  • Visible frustration while communicating with others
  • Poor pronunciation and articulation
  • Difficulty in following directions
  • Frequent eye blinking while talking
  • Taking pauses again and again
  • Difficulty in combining words to form sentences
  • Leaving some words out of a sentence
  • Elongating and distorting sounds while speaking
  • Jerky head movements
  • Inability to talk at 2-3 years age

Pathologies of Concern in Pediatric Speech Problems

Delayed or slow speech and language development can cause many problems for toddlers and parents. The experts consider lack of communication its root cause. It is also worth mentioning that pediatric speech problems make it difficult for the parents to detect their health issues. Therefore, pathologists have formulated various exercises for the development of speech and language issues. Following are the pathologies that parents and pediatricians should always consider during the growth of infants. Timely identification of these can help reduce speech and language development issues.

1-Difficulties in Baby Feeding

Feeding is one of the basic needs of infants to provide their bodies with necessary nutrients. It is critical in infancy and continues to gain importance as the baby grows. Any issue in feeding can create severe problems in growth and development. Feeding issues cause a lack of nutrients in the body that cast adverse health effects. The experts have divided the feeding difficulties into three stages. It becomes easy to identify the problematic stage and start the rehabilitation process timely. The three steps of feeding are:

  • Oral stage
  • Pharyngeal stage, and
  • Esophageal stage

The oral step involves the chewing of food and forwarding it to the throat. The pharyngeal stage consists of swallowing, while the esophageal tract relaxes and tightens to move the food towards the stomach for digestion. About 35% of babies face feeding difficulties at any of the above stages. The symptoms of feeding difficulties are vomiting, gagging, and allergies.

Have you ever noticed that some babies refuse to eat or drink? It may also be due to feeding difficulties that require proper redressal. Any negligence in this regard may decrease the nutritional intake and cause further health concerns.

2-GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) is one of the chronic diseases that babies may have to face during the first two years. Usually, the effects of this disease last long. It is a digestive issue that pushes the nutrients up to the esophagus. GER (gastroesophageal reflux) and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) are two separate issues where the former is less severe than the latter. GER symptoms appear in babies after birth and begin to fade after 12 months.

GER may also get severe in many infants and cause GERD. It can cause feeding issues in infants, toddlers, and even teenagers. Common symptoms of GERD include:

  • Frequent vomiting and gagging
  • Difficulty in breathing at times
  • Hard to feed babies
  • Usually, the symptoms remain till 14 months age and affect babies twice a week

Speech and language therapies are among the authentic treatments of GERD. You can make the children spell different words. Showing them food textures can prove even more rewarding. Pathologists use several therapeutic strategies to get rid of GERD in children.

The experts recommend frequent communication of the therapists with the children. It is far better to communicate the importance of food to the children. ‘Messy Play’ is among the most commonly used therapeutic strategies to improve speech and language development.

3-Gastrostomy Status

Gastrostomy is the insertion of aaa long tube into the stomach that runs through the abdomen and assists feeding for 4-5 weeks. This external opening into the gut helps to maintain the nutritional requirements of the body through assistive feeding. Usually, a lack of communication between the children and parents intensifies the issue and result in serious complications.

This surgical treatment plan is necessary when the infant fails to communicate the symptoms and suffers from malnutrition. Different types of gastrostomy tubes are available to overcome the difficulties in feeding.


Many infants suffer from dysphagia which refers to the issues in swallowing food. It takes more time and effort to move food from the esophagus to the stomach in babies suffering from this disease. Here, it is pertinent to mention that dysphagia slows down the swallowing in some infants, while others cannot swallow at all. Usual signs of dysphagia are coughing, choking, bringing food back up through the nose, persistent saliva drooling, inability to chew, a sensation of food stuck in the throat, and a gurgly wet-sounding voice. Retrograde is the most painful issue related to dysphagia, where food enters the nasal cavity. Dysphagia may cause:

  • A need for intravenous nutrition arises
  • Motility disorders
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Compromised pulmonary Status
  • Oral aversion
  • Choking risk
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration, and
  • Aspiration pneumonia

Identification of Speech and Language Issues at an Early Stage

Early-stage identification of speech and language issues is necessary for timely and effective treatment. The parents should be conscious and realize the importance of early identification to avoid malnutrition. During infancy, the body needs more nutrients to build up the immune system and speed up growth. Poor communication causes issues because the infants cannot communicate the feeding issues they are facing.

Therefore, experts recommend regular check-ups of the babies. Usually, pediatricians trace such issues by weighing the babies at times to check growth. If the doctor detects feeding issues, he should advise further tests to determine the problems.

Treatments for Speech and Language Issues

Treatment for speech and language issues is a bit different. However, toddlers do not need treatment for mild speech issues because these decrease over time. Treatment also depends on the nature and severity of the problems. Speech therapy is the most recommended treatment that strengthens the muscles in the mouth and throat. The speech therapists recommend some exercises that improve the way your words sound. If the baby is suffering from embarrassment, nervousness, and depression, you can use talk therapy and discuss ways to boost confidence and facial outlook.

A speech-language pathologist can assist children in getting rid of language issues. He will develop and implement a treatment plan for every child depending on the type of problem. Never forget to consult a neuropsychologist if the baby has underlying health issues.

Role of Long term Rehabilitation

Long-term rehabilitation is the priority requirement of infants because acute treatment alone is not sufficient for them. Children with speech and language problems have to pass through specialized treatment programs. The experts recommend long-term rehabilitation because it helps them to treat pediatric patients for a longer time. Initial care may help the parents reduce the risks that result in complications at later stages. Assessment is the basis of making long-term specialized programs for such patients. It enables the pediatricians and parents to identify the underlying medical issues and apply a specialized treatment.

Rehabilitation includes care services and medical treatment management. Spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, musculoskeletal and neuromuscular problems also require rehabilitation for more extended periods. You can arrange an in-patient or out-patient setting for providing long-term rehabilitation to infants and toddlers. Professionals usually assess individuals and formulate specific rehabilitation programs for each. These programs help the children adapt to disabilities caused by illness or injury.

A speech-language pathologist can assist children in getting rid of language issues. He will develop and implement a treatment plan for every child depending on the type of problem. Never forget to consult a neuropsychologist if the baby has underlying health issues.


After going through the entire discussion, we can say that speech and language development are essentials for infants’ proper growth. Any lack of communication can cause malnutrition and various other medical issues. Speech therapy is among the most effective treatments that help babies express themselves and communicate the difficulties in eating and swallowing.



CMRC Hospital is the specialized provider for Long-term Care and rehabilitation services in Saudi Arabia. With one main facilities in Saudi Arabia, which are designed in a rehabilitation and long-term care hospital with a capacity of 66 beds.

CMRC provides an interdisciplinary clinical approach for Vent Rehabilitation Services which is customized for adults, adolescents, and children. The best rehabilitation services are not only our goal but our ultimate objective is to customize the care plan for each patient and make sure that the patient’s family and their members are integrated into the treatment plan.

When you joined Saudi Arabia hospital for any kind of our rehabilitation services or even for long-term care you will feel as if you are at #Your Second Home.