Possible (and impossible) words
Helping parents worried about the speech of a child who can’t be understood
What do I offer? Trained as a speech and language therapist
The Science of Speech & Language.
Work with speech and language impairment is helped by the science of speech and language, known as ‘linguistics’. I follow a tradition going back to the 1660s. Although I have been trained as a speech and language therapist to treat a wide variety of conditions, voice disorders, and more, I now specialise in the area where I have special training, experience and expertise – problems with the formation of sounds. words and sentences and related aspects of reading and writing, often diagnosed as dyslexia. Or where there is either no speech or language, or the speech is either limited or hard to understand, where the speech is either incomprehensible or unintelligible. Significantly, these problems often run in families and go together.
What difference does linguistics make?
Points of Action
While the role of the tongue and the lips in speech is obvious and indisputable, this can’t be the end of the story. Speech and language evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. Where speech, language, or literacy is an issue, it makes sense to investigate the speech and language against the background of evolution. An evolutionary perspective dictates an essentially positive approach, as far as possible copying the natural process of learning to talk, minimising pressure on the child, and maximising the child’s experience of success.
Linguistics and clinical linguistics
Solving a puzzle
It is obvious and indisputable that most people can and do learn at least one language to the point that they can understand and repeat jokes and plays on words and rules and laws. But for some children this can be problematic. For me, the point of clinical linguistics is to work out why the problems take the form they do, and how best to minimise their effects.
By some theories, including the now widely-discredited behaviorism, the task of the child-learner is to learn words, how to say them, and how to put them together. But if this is so hard, how is it that almost all children seem to seize so quickly and easily on just those words they are not allowed to repeat aloud?
From my experience, research, and reading of the literature, I believe that the learner’s task is not about words, but POSSIBLE words – a much larger, but, I think, more exciting task. So the clinical task is one of helping children discover how to build words as and when they want.