pediatric speech therapy Southwest Florida
How many times a day are you admonishing your child to please use their “inside voice”? As a Fort Myers speech therapist, I love it when kids are engaged and excited to participate in a conversation! That said, I also recognize that sometimes our little friends can get a bit TOO lively – and loud – for the situation.
The reality is all kids frequently yell, stomp, shriek, use screechy or whiny tones – and for all kinds of reasons.
Teaching kids how to control their volume – and practice using “inside voices” – is important because there are many real-life situations that require it.
Learning how and when to adjust voice volume is a life skill – one that may be particularly tough to grasp for kids with social communication deficits.
As a Fort Myers speech therapist, the goal isn’t just to teach kids how to communicate, but how to do so pragmatically, or in a way that is socially accepted and beneficial. That means teaching the “inside voice” (quieter) versus the “outside voice” (louder) is key.
Understanding Reasons Behind Voice Volume
The first step in addressing voice volume issues is understanding WHY kids are speaking loudly. Sometimes, they may feel they need to do so to get attention. They often don’t realize how loud they are actually being. And they also probably don’t understand that in certain spaces, they’re required to use a lower volume, and that failing to do so can have a negative impact on others in that space. (And for kids who are not neurotypical, it may take them more than a few reminders to remember.)
The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) reports that it’s only between ages 4 and 5 that kids start talking differently in different settings and with different people. As a Fort Myers speech therapist, I recognize it as a speech development milestone that ultimately paves the way for them to recognize almost instantly whether this a place is one where people are using “inside voices” or “outside voices.”
Talk About Voice Volume With Your Kids
The first step to helping your child know what noise level is expected in a given setting and/or with different people is to TALK about it. That means not only telling them what is expected, but also why.
Some kids are “language late bloomers.” A percentage will catch up to children their same age on their own. Others, however, will continue to struggle with language learning. We call this a developmental language delay. If these difficulties persist beyond the earlier stages of development (past the age of 5), it can significantly impact their reading, writing, math, reasoning, and social skills later on.
Kids whose language troubles can’t be explained by some other cause (such as a disability, syndrome or physical impediment) and continue until they’re in school are typically diagnosed with Developmental Language Disorder.
Some indications of a language delay may include:
- Not babbling by 15 months.
- Not speaking by the age of 2.
- Inability to speak in short sentences by the age of 3.
- Trouble following directions.
- Difficulty putting words together in a sentence.
- Leaving words out of sentences.
If you suspect your child may be struggling with language comprehension or expression, you do not need to wait until they are school age to have it addressed. In fact, you should have it assessed and treated much sooner, if possible. As noted by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), early intervention (before age 5 and preferably before age 3) can have a substantial impact on the long-term implications of a speech-language disorder or developmental language disorder.
Our early intervention speech therapy team at FOCUS Therapy can help your child struggling with language skills to catch up to their same-age peers, specifically targeting skills like:
- Cognitive thinking (problem-solving, thinking, learning).
- Communication (listening, talking, understanding, gesturing).
- Physical/sensory skills (seeing, hearing, crawling, walking, climbing).
- Social-emotional skills (playing, understanding feelings, making friends).
- Adaptive/self-help skills (eating, drinking, bathing, dressing, etc.).
If you think your child may need some extra help in the area of language development, here are four things to know: