Most children can communicate reasonably well by ages 4-5.
They can generally tell you what they want, you can reason with them, and they can hold an often funny conversation with you, but for a certain number of otherwise healthy children the onset of normal speech patterns is delayed.
In Florida that number is on the rise by an alarming amount according to one speech clinic.
Although no research has yet been done on the topic, the clinic director Jaclyn Theek believes that mask mandates are to blame for the surge in childhood speech delays her clinic is experiencing.
Theek explains that children learn and recognize speech largely by watching the facial and mouth movements of others; Masks largely obstruct these features of the face.
We do not yet know the cognitive, speech, psychological, and social implications that lockdowns and Covid-19 policies have had on our children as of yet.
Longitudinal data takes a while to acquire—hindsight is always 2020.
One thing is for certain though, reports alleging or suspecting that Covid-19 polices have had significantly negative effects on both society, and children in particular are becoming more common.
Here’s more on the story:
Masks hide facial expressions. Gestures & facial expressions help children make sense of new words, which builds vocabulary & strengthens language skills.
Disparities already existed among kids w/speech & language delays due to poverty.
Early intervention improves outcomes.
— . (@serve_all_) January 19, 2022
and we wonder why lots of children at the moment have speech delay… I cannot understand a word most people say in these silly masks 🤦🏽♀️🤷🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️ children rely on watching as well as listening!! It’s time to end all this madness #makeitmakesense @BorisJohnson end this today!!
— Becky (@Rolive21) January 19, 2022
ABC 25 reports:
“This has been a very challenging year,” said Jaclyn Theek, a clinic director and speech-language pathologist at the Speech and Learning Institute in North Palm Beach.
She said that during this pandemic, her speech therapy clinic has seen an enormous shift in the ages of its patients. Before the pandemic, only 5% of patients were babies and toddlers, while today it’s soared to 20%. Many parents call it “COVID-delayed.”
My mother also relies on lip reading and now has no idea what doctors / pharmacists / etc are saying to her.
And kids and their educators. No – no masks. Shouldn’t be an option. Babies / toddlers read lips to learn how to speak. This is essentialhttps://t.co/G8HK5GL1Qg
— Frustrated Canadian (@GetHerHome) January 18, 2022
The National Pulse explains:
The clinic experienced a 364 percent increase in patients who were babies and toddlers amidst the pandemic. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, only 5 percent of the clinic’s patients were in the age group, while today it stands at 20 percent.