Missing words, incorrect sentence order, less enjoyment in conversation: language development disorders in children are increasing. The number of adolescents with deficits has increased significantly in recent years, said the KKH Kaufmännische Krankenkasse in Hanover, citing data from its insured persons. According to the KKH data, in 2012 one in 18 children nationwide was diagnosed with a speech and language disorder, but in 2022 it affected almost one in 12. The pandemic also played a large part in this, because the language development of many adolescents is due to closed daycare centers and schools had stalled.
"The house is colorful", Eddy instead of Teddy - many children struggle for words. This includes omitting or swapping sounds, as well as incorrect sentence structure, a vocabulary that is not age-appropriate, stuttering, lisping or even falling silent. More and more children are receiving speech therapy. The proportion of affected KKH insured people between the ages of 6 and 18 increased by around 59 percent from 2012 to 2022. Nationwide, almost nine percent of 6 to 18 year olds are affected - almost one in ten boys and around one in 15 girls. The rate of increase in a ten-year comparison is highest among 15 to 18 year olds at almost 144 percent (girls plus 160 percent, boys plus 135 percent).
“Language and speaking are the cornerstones of a child’s development,” says Vijitha Sanjivkumar from the KKH’s medicine competence team. "Language competence is one of the keys to communicating needs, thoughts and feelings, to opening up the world, understanding it and helping to shape it socially." The triggers for the deficits included undetected hearing impairments, genetic predisposition and anatomical reasons such as a malformed jaw as well as problems in the family or strokes of fate.
Another reason: “In many families there is too little communication with the offspring, even at mealtimes,” emphasizes Sanjivkumar. This is often due to intensive use of smartphones, PCs and other digital media. She advises parents: "Depending on their age, read stories aloud, encourage speaking using hand puppets or role-playing games, sing together, accompany your child in consuming media and talk about shared experiences, thoughts and feelings." In addition, parents should seek advice from their pediatrician at an early stage, even if people have different development speeds and not every abnormality hides a profound disorder.