What is Speech-Language Therapy?
Speech-language therapy is the assessment and intervention provided by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) more commonly known as a speech therapist. The child works directly with a speech therapist in a one-on-one or group setting.
Speech-language therapy addresses many skills including those related to the following common disorders:
- Receptive Language Disorder or difficulty understanding what is being said to them. This can include difficulty understanding vocabulary, specific concepts, following directions, etc.
- Expressive Language Disorder or difficulty or inability to talk at an age appropriate level. This can include vocabulary, sentence length, grammar, word finding, etc.
- Articulation/Speech Disorder or the inability to produce age appropriate speech sounds causing decreased intelligibility. A speech disorder may also have a more specific title such as apraxia of speech, lisping, or a phonological disorder.
- Pragmatic Language Disorder or difficulty interacting/socializing with others as expected for the child’s age. This includes turn taking, conversation skills, use of eye contact and gestures, understanding facial expressions, changing language to fit the situation, etc.
- Feeding and Swallowing Disorder or difficulty chewing or swallowing foods and liquids that causes a decreased diet repertoire or decreased safety during feeding and drinking. This includes oral motor difficulties, eating a variety of foods (including taste, texture, temperature, and food groups), transitioning from bottle to solids, and transitioning from tube to oral feeding.
- Auditory Processing Disorder or difficulty attending to and retaining auditory information, poor listening skills, difficulty filtering out background noise, difficulty discriminating speech sounds, etc.
- Stuttering/Fluency Disorder or difficulty producing fluid speech without repetition, prolongation, or blocking of sounds.
Diagnoses that are often treated with speech and language therapy may include:
- Asperger’s Syndrome
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Cerebral Palsy
- Childhood Apraxia of Speech
- Chromosomal Anomalies
- Cognitive Delays
- Developmental Delays
- Down Syndrome
- FAS/FAE (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/ Fetal Alcohol Effects)
- Feeding Issues
- Non Verbal Learning Disability
- Oral Apraxia
- Oral Motor Weakness
- Oral/Pharyngeal Dysphagia
- Traumatic Brain Injury
Why Speech-Language Therapy?
Did you know Speech-language therapy is not solely about teaching a child how to speak? It is also about teaching them how to communicate effectively whether it is with words, signs, facial expressions or gestures. Speech-language therapy helps a child to build confidence and build relationships. When family, friends, and teachers have difficulty understanding a child, it can compromise those relationships. Children need to be encouraged to explore, grow, play and develop. Communication difficulties can cause a child to feel as though they are not free to participate and develop like other children. Also, these difficulties can affect the child’s self-esteem and social development. Speech-language therapy gives a child the confidence they need to build relationships and to feel as though they have something to contribute to the world around them.
Speech-language therapy can offer a child the following benefits:
- Early intervention: A key time in your child’s development is from birth to 6 years old. This is a time when children learn significant core communication skills that will form a foundation for later skill development. Children learn best during this time period.
- Increased communication skills: Language skills are closely linked with how a child will perform in school. Children learn by listening to spoken language and reading written language throughout their schooling. A child may have difficulty learning specific vocabulary and concepts that may be a part of their lessons if they do not have the same communication skills as their peers.
- Decrease frustration: Children often feel frustration when they are unable to communicate. When a child experiences communication breakdowns they may exhibit negative behaviors such as hitting, throwing items, and having tantrums. A child may also withdraw from others choosing not to participate in conversations because they know that they may not be understood or may not be able to understand their communication partner.
- Increased relationships and socialization skills: Some children have difficulty building friendships and relationships because they do not always have the appropriate use of language in social situations. For example, knowing what to say, how to say it, when to say it and how to act around other people during a conversation. As children get older and more social skills are demanded, peers may avoid conversations with children who are not as socially appropriate as other children.
Additional Speech Therapy Programs: