A Lazy Talker?

We hear this so often in our work as Speech Pathologists; a comment often made or question posed by parents or educators about children who have speech, language and communication challenges.

Yes, children may have delays in their development.

They may have specific challenges in areas of communication.  They may have speech sound disorders which result in them being difficult to understand.  They may not talk much at all.

None of these scenarios suggest to me, however,  that a child is choosing to be lazy.  In fact, quite the opposite.

Using clear, spoken language is the most efficient and effective way for us to communicate with others.

Not using clear, easily understood spoken  language creates far more ‘work’ for a child than does using words.  Think about it for a moment as we put ourselves in a little child’s shoes.  If you were limited to pointing and grunting / whining to communicate your needs to another human….imagine the scope for misinterpretation and the limited range of methods you would have access to in order to then clarify your message.  Incredibly frustrating, right!?  If you were learning how to say a new sound and could finally say that new sound correctly in words AFTER your parent WHEN your parent was using lots of gesture and support (phew, that took lots of work) …it would take lots and lots of practice before you could use that new sound in words and sentences during everyday conversation when that adult support was not readily available.  Imagine for a moment that I requested you to say all of the words you currently use that start with a /b/ sound and to change these to starting with a /f/ sound.  I want you to do this at all times, with all people in all situations.  You can say a /f/ sound right?  Okay, so what is the problem?  Are you being lazy?  Hmmmmm…..

In each of these scenarios,

laziness is simply just not a factor when we really boil it down and look at what is going on for a child.  Learning to use speech and language happens gradually and when children experience hiccups in their development for whatever the reason may be (yes, a topic for another blogpost), we do them a disservice if we describe those challenges as arising due to a child being lazy.  Would we describe a child learning a new skill such as how to ride a tricycle but stumbling along the way  to achieving this goal as ‘lazy’?  No, we would see this for what it is…a child learning a new complex motor skills and needing lots and lots of practice until this skill becomes automatic.  Learning to talk and to communicate takes practice. Young children are still learning.

Yes, all of us can be lazy from time to time and display this in our mood and behaviour but rarely is it a cause or even a factor when working with children who have genuine challenges with speech, language and/or communication skills.

So, what can […]