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If you are reading this article, you probably have a child  or work with a child with an “ism” or a challenge.  Yet, when you think about it, everyone has “isms.” I have been a speech-language pathologist (SLP) for over 30 years. I am also a mom and have had two siblings with defined “isms.” So I have been around a lot of people with specific challenges for most of my life. This is one reason I wrote the book [easyazon-link asin=”1935567209″ locale=”us”]Nobody Ever Told Me (or my Mother) That!: Everything from Bottles and Breathing to Healthy Speech Development[/easyazon-link]. However, the book was written for all parents, care providers, and pediatricians.

Prevent Feeding and Mouth Problems

In writing the book, I asked the question: How many parents, pediatricians, and others know the specific details of feeding, speech, and mouth development scattered throughout the speech-language pathology and other developmental literature? As an example, one often invisible disorder with “ism” in its name (i.e., autism) is characterized by early speech and communication delays. Some children with autism also had early feeding and mouth development problems. By keeping track of a baby’s development from birth, the “isms” that characterize autism and other developmental disorders can be spotted early and prevented or at least circumvented.

Track the Development

It is my belief and experience as an SLP that tracking specific feeding, speech, and mouth development from birth helps:

  • Parents and pediatricians identify babies who may be “at risk” for developmental disorders.
  • Parents of typically developing children keep their children “on track” and ultimately “off of therapy caseloads.”
  • Parents and others (e.g., daycare providers) identify skills needing encouragement at a particular age or developmental stage whether the child has a specific “ism” or not.

Avert Problems

Feeding and mouth development begins at birth. Problems can be avoided or fixed when parents and pediatricians know what to do. However, feeding and mouth development challenges can become life-long concerns if not properly addressed. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Chronic reflux can contribute to sinus and ear infections, asthma, and “picky eating.”
  • A high, narrow mouth roof can lead to both sinus and dental problems and may be prevented.
  • Spoon-feeding, cup-drinking, and straw-drinking introduction usually begins around six-months of age. Late introduction of these and other feeding skills can disrupt feeding development.

Socialization and communication also begin at birth.

  • Two to three-month-old babies say approximately five different vowel-like sounds and several consonant-like sounds. They make these sounds in response to speech, environmental sounds, and your smile.
  • Three to four-month-old babies take vocal turns with others and listen to speech addressed to them.
  • Six-month-old children can say most of the vowel sounds in their own language as well as a number of consonant sounds.

Speech and communication development goes well beyond the milestones of “one-word utterances at one year” and “two-word utterances” at two years that most parents typically hear.

Proactive parents, care providers, and pediatricians need the details of feeding, speech, and mouth development whether the child has a specific “ism” or not.

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Diane Bahr is a visionary with a mission. For more than 30 years, she has treated children and adults with feeding, motor speech, and mouth function problems. While she is a speech-language pathologist by training, she has also honed her skills as a feeding therapist, published author, international speaker, university instructor, and business owner. Learn more at Ages and Stages