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The Importance of a Parent Reading to a Child With a Speech Delay

By Meghan Palmer ; Updated June 13, 2017

If you are the parent of a child with speech delay issues, it is important that you read to him regularly. It may be more challenging to capture the attention of a child with speech sound disorder or SSD, but finding ways to do so while reading will help him develop speech and language skills.

Speech and Reading

A study at the University of Denver, published in the "Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research" in 2009, linked children who exhibited SSD with elevated levels of reading disorder. According to Nicole Hess, a speech language psychologist, this is because the development of speech, language and reading are interconnected in the brain. Because of this complex connectivity between all the parts of language and communication centers in your child’s brain, reading to her will help her develop verbal expression faster as well as give her a better start developing reading skills.


Helping your child to connect phonetic sounds with words on the page reinforces language and speech connections in his brain, but there is even more to this activity than meets the eye. While you and your child are reading in close proximity, your brains are releasing dopamine. According to an article on the "News-Medical" website, physician Ananya Mandal, dopamine is the feel-good chemical that soothes your child and makes it more likely that he will pay attention to your speech and the words. Dopamine can also help boost his learning process and solidify his memory.


A child with SSD may have difficulty paying attention to your reading. Her mind may wander so that sitting and reading with her feels less rewarding and more frustrating. Exploring different ways to help her pay attention can help keep your stress levels down. Reading in short bursts and breaking up the story by pointing out illustrations or asking her questions may help her focus. The more she enjoys reading with you, the more her mind will engage and she will strengthen those important neural pathways.

Root Cause

Your child’s SSD may be caused by disorders of the voice, problems articulating via muscle control or an issue rooted in the brain, such as stuttering. SSD can also be related to a lack of understanding of the meaning of words. A speech therapist can work out the underlying cause of your child’s SSD, but the importance of reading to your child remains the same. Reading to your child will help him learn to speak and read better, no matter what is causing his SSD.

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