Speech disorders affect millions of children each year, with almost 8% of kids under 17 showing some sort of communication disorder. The inability to connect with peers can be an emotional drain on school-age kids, leading to a myriad of both physical and mental problems that can persist into adulthood. Many children who are coping with a speech impediment experience a great deal of stress throughout the school day as they struggle to communicate with teachers and peers. Here are some of the ways that stress can affect a developing mind along with ways that adults can offer a positive intervention.
How Speech Disorders Cause Stress
A speech disorder can make day-to-day life difficult for a young child or teen. It can be a challenge for them to communicate wants and needs effectively to authority figures and peers. This can lead to alienation or even bullying, which discourages children from speaking and getting the practice that they need. A speech disorder can also prove to be a distraction in classes when a child is trying to read aloud or ask questions. What’s more, stress and anxiety can worsen an already persistent speech impediment, leading to a vicious cycle.
The Negative Health Impacts of Stress
It’s not always easy to recognize stress in children, but there are some common signs that parents and teachers can look out for in students with a speech impediment. They may have mood swings or act out, show changes in sleep patterns, or wet the bed. Teens may turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. Whatever the symptoms, stress left unchecked can have drastic mental and physical effects on children of all ages. Stress can lead to depression and anxiety, high blood pressure, eating disorders, and gastrointestinal problems that stunt growth.
Teaching Students to Cope with Stress
Kids with speech impediments may need to be taught different coping mechanisms to deal with stress that they are going through at home and school. Treatments such as music therapy work both to teach children the flow of speech as well as calm their nerves. There are other treatments for stress that can be implemented alongside speech therapy sessions, including meditation and yoga, pet therapy, counseling, and more.
Though coping with a speech impediment can be difficult for children, adults can help to make the situation a little bit easier. By showing support, parents and teachers can ease some of the stress and let kids know that they’re not fighting this battle alone. There are plenty of effective therapies that can be used to help treat children who are suffering from chronic stress.