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Parents Confused about Children's Speech Problems

A recent survey reveals some common misconceptions about the cause of serious communication difficulties among children.

Long-term speech and language problems have traditionally, but wrongly, been blamed on parents not talking to their children and too much television. The charity says the exact cause of such problems is often unknown.

The poll was carried out, for The Communication Trust, to explore perceptions about children's speech and language development. It suggested half of parents thought serious communication difficulties were caused by parents not talking to their children enough and one in six blamed excessive TV-watching or computer use. However, 20% of those polled considered biological or genetic reasons as a possible cause of problems.

The survey also revealed that many people know little about the talking milestones a child should reach. Just one in four parents (25%) knew that on average, babies say their first word at between 12 and 18 months, while almost a third (31%) expected it to be at six to eight months.

England's communication advisor Jean Gross said that public understanding of children's communication difficulties remained worryingly low.

"The automatic response seems to be to blame parents or technology.

"This just isn't right. We need to clear up the confusion and myths that exist around the subject."

"Ten per cent of children, that's two to three in every classroom, have some form of long term communication difficulty that can affect them early, severely and for life.

"Their brains don't process language in quite the same way that other children's brains do."

She added: "For every child it is great for parents to talk to them and for the TV to be turned off for part of the time, but we should not be blaming parents for this big group of children's problems - these are based on biological difficulties."

She went on to explain that there were two groups of children, those with communication problems based on the way they had been nurtured and those based on nature.

31 Jan 2011
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