Speech therapy services are provided by speech-language pathologist that helps improve a child’s verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Depending on the area of deficit, speech therapy may focus on improving several different areas such as speech production, understanding and expressing language, social skills, and feeding or swallowing.
What is a Speech-Language Pathologist?
A speech-language pathologist is a professional who specializes in working with individuals to improve their communication and feeding skills. In pediatrics, a speech-language pathologist works to develop and maximize the child’s speech, language, and feeding skills in a motivating play setting with the goal of increasing their independence and ability to communicate.
How do I know if my child needs speech therapy?
Your child may benefit from speech therapy if:
- They are not meeting the expected developmental milestones during the first 15-24 months of life (i.e., cooing, babbling, producing first word(s), putting two words together to produce phrases and short sentences)
- They have difficulty coordinating and planning oral motor movements (tongue, lips) to formulate sounds/syllables or have weak oral motor movements (i.e., weak jaw and/or tongue strength)
- They have articulation difficulties where their speech consists of substitutions ( i.e., “f” for “th,” “w” for “l”), distortions (i.e., the “s” sound may be a lisp or sounds messy), omissions (i.e., the word “cat” is produced “ca.”)
- They have weaknesses in receptive language skills or the ability to understand language. These difficulties may include the following: following simple directions, identifying spatial and temporal concepts, understanding prepositions, identifying antonyms, synonyms, multiple meaning words, etc
- They have weaknesses in expressive language skills or the ability to communicate through words, facial expressions, gestures, or other nonverbal forms. These difficulties may include the following: formulating grammatically correct sentences, expressing relationships between word meaning, vocabulary development/word finding, answering –wh questions, sequencing, etc.
- They have difficulties in social situations, such as appropriate turn-taking skills, eye-contact, understanding a communication partner’s feelings, introducing and maintaining a topic, etc.
- They have a limited food repertoire or have a food repertoire that is limited to certain textures, such as puree.
- They have numerous disfluencies where they may repeat a sound, word, or phrase before completing a sentence.
They have poor vocal quality, such as a hoarse or weak voice as well as vocal nodules.