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Communication Interrupted: Why Does One in Twelve U.S. Children Have a Communication Disorder?

Witnessing and participating in a baby’s acquisition of language is one of the most delightful chapters of parenthood. For most children, the progression from babbling to words to simple phrases unfolds seamlessly within the first two to three years, and by five years of age, they are able to use adult grammar and tell stories. However, a growing subset of American children suffers from speech delays or other language difficulties that are cheating families out of sharing these exciting milestones and the children of their potential for a full and productive life. According to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), nearly 8% of children aged 3-17 had, in the previous year, one or more communication disorders, defined by the CDC as problems with speech, language, voice or swallowing. Of the four categories, problems with speech (stuttering or difficulty making correct sounds) and language (difficulty learning, using or understanding words or sentences) were by far the most frequent communication disorders. Among those with communication disorders, fully a third of younger children and a fourth of preteens and adolescents had multiple communication disorders. The NHIS also confirmed what study after study has shown—that male sex is a strong risk factor for communication, language and speech impairments. Communication disorders were present in 9.6% of boys who participated in the NHIS versus 5.7% of girls.  Read more.....



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