Speech disorder is increasingly becoming a problem among the new generation. Even children without any physical issues have problems in speaking. Nuclear families and new-age living styles are cited as the main reasons behind this phenomenon. The number of speech and hearing centres all over the state stand testimony to the fact that speech disorder is a wide-spread problem in the state. These centres consist of speech and hearing therapists, led by an audiologist. Many reputed hospitals have audiology departments, which are considered as important as cardiology departments.
Mohammed Rafeeque, an audiologist at Almas Hospital, Malappuram, said that speech disorders arise due to structural issues faced by families and society. “A newly-born child tries to speak after watching the lip movements of others. At present, many parents do not spare time to talk with their kids. This impair the efforts put in by children to speak. Grandparents used to inspire children in joint families by narrating stories and singing songs. Many new-generation children have no chance of interacting with other children. In the beginning, nuclear families used to interact with each other. Children also interacted with their neighbours. Nowadays parents do not allow children to interact with others due to various security concerns,” Rafeeque said. “People who live in flats face various security issues. Due to this, parents engage the time of children via television during daytime,” he added.
Many audiologists claim that parents do not care about responding to the gestures of children in the beginning. “It is the first communication made by a child. A child living in the four enclosures of a room does not get a chance to increase its speaking ability. Speech disorder is a common problem among NRI children. Strict laws in the Gulf make social interactions difficult. As a result, many children live inside a flat or room up to four years with their caretaker or mother. They only watch television. Therefore, many children get addicted to television programs,” speech therapists said.
Ambili, an NRI parent from Chengannur, said that they had approached an audiologist for curing the speech disroder of their five-year-old child. “I lived in Saudi Arabia for around four years. Our child did not speak properly until we took speech training from an audiologist in Tiruvalla. At present, my daughter speaks properly and studies well. Earlier, I had no idea of the problem my child was facing. Many housewives who live in the Gulf spend their life in rooms or flats. They cannot facilitate interactions for their children. I think training for good parenting is needed,” she said.