Experts share ways to help overcome a speech impediment

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As it turns out, a speech impediment is a common problem, and there are ways parents can help their kids overcome it.

Poet Amanda Gorman, who was invited to read her own poem during President Joe Biden's inauguration, admits she suffered from a speech impediment. She used the song "Aaron Burr, Sir" from the musical "Hamilton" to help overcome it. The song is packed with R's and fast-paced rhymes. She kept repeating until she tackled her R's.

It's something speech language pathologist Kaitlyn Cazalas says that kids and adults can do to improve their speech and quality of life.

President Biden said he overcame a stutter as a child by breaking up speeches with slashes after every few words, which forced him to slow down when read aloud.

"There are a lot of children and even adults that we've noticed that still struggle with some of those speech sound errors," Cazalas said.

When it comes to learning and meeting virtually, Cazalas said she found that children with speech impediments really need more of a hands-on learning environment and a face-to-face approach.

According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association, more than 3 million Americans stutter. Approximately 5-10% of all children will stutter at some point in their lives, but most will typically outgrow it within a few months or years. Early intervention can help children overcome stuttering.

For 1 in 4 of these children, the problem will persist into adulthood and can become a lifelong communication disorder.

Listening to music and repeating the words can help with speech disorders, experts say.

"We know that music stimulates multiple areas of the brain, including the speech and language centers, and the areas that are responsible for motor movement and coordination," Cazalas said. "These are skills that we practice all the time."

Another method experts recommend is to make a list of trigger words with your child, and encourage them to skip those words if it's helpful.

Practice writing poems that are packed with the sounds or letters that they struggle with and have them read aloud.

"In the home setting, they can implement a bunch of different strategies," Cazalas said. "Just like Amanda Gorman, they can practice in songs. Maybe they have practiced some of those sounds at home and the child just continues to struggle. Maybe they are just not able to get that correct tongue placement. That would definitely be the time to seek a professional such as a speech language pathologist."

Speech therapy costs between $48 and $200 for an hour-long session, but if therapy is deemed medically necessary, it may be covered by most insurance plans.

Follow Brhe Berry on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.