What Is Speech-Language Therapy?

Speech-language therapy is the essential treatment for children who struggle with speech and/or language disorders.

What Are Speech Disorders?

Struggling to make sounds? A speech disorder may be the cause. Speech disorders come in various forms, such as:

  1. Articulation disorders: Articulation issues cause individuals to struggle with forming sounds in syllables and mispronouncing words, often making them incomprehensible for listeners.
  2. Fluency disorders: Speech impediments like stuttering can be incredibly disruptive, manifesting through abrupt pauses or partial-word repetitions (“b-b-boy”) and excessively drawn out sounds (sssssnake).
  3. Resonance or voice disorders: Voice disorders can be a disruptive force when speaking, affecting the pitch, volume and even sound quality of one’s words. Unfortunately, these conditions often cause vocal strain or discomfort for afflicted children.

What Are Language Disorders?

Struggling with communication? A language disorder may be the cause. These disorders can manifest in two ways: receptive or expressive, and involve difficulty understanding or using words to make meaningful conversations.

  1. Receptive disorders- Language processing difficulties can be a source of frustration and confusion.
  2. Expressive disorders- Struggling to construct sentences, having a meager lexicon, or failing to utilize language in an acceptable manner are some of the difficulties associated with communication issues.
  3. Cognitive-communication disorders- From memory issues to attention deficits, perception-based stumbles to organization and regulation struggles, communicative challenges come in many shapes and sizes. Solving these problems requires a well-rounded approach that touches upon all of the components involved.

What Are Feeding Disorders?

Dysphagia/oral feeding disorders- Eating and drinking disorders come in numerous shapes, sizes, and forms. Such issues include having difficulty with chewing or swallowing food, coughing or gagging while eating, as well as refusing certain types of foods altogether.

Who Gives Speech-Language Therapy?

Trained in the study of verbal communication, speech-language pathologists (SLPs), more commonly known as speech therapists, are experts at evaluating and diagnosing a variety of language-related issues. They use their knowledge to assess one’s abilities when it comes to talking, comprehending words or sentences, cognitive capacity for speaking effectively and swallowing food properly before providing an appropriate course of treatment.

SLPs have:

  1. Successful applicants must possess a minimum of a Master’s degree, along with state licensure/certification in the field and an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) certification of clinical competency.

An ASHA-certified Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) has aced the national exam and completed an accredited clinical fellowship under supervision. Alternatively, speech assistants may be tasked with providing speech therapy services; they typically possess either a two-year associate’s or four-year bachelor’s degree, all while being monitored by an SLP.

What Do SLPs Do?

As a speech-language pathologist, I work with children independently and in small or larger groups to help them overcome their communication difficulties.

Therapists often employ a multitude of approaches, including but not limited to:

  1. Language intervention activities: The SLP will engage with a child through games and conversation, encouraging language development using images, books, objects or current events. To reinforce the learning process, the therapist may demonstrate proper usage of vocabulary and grammar as well as incorporate repetition techniques to develop their language capabilities.
  2. Articulation therapy: Through articulation, or sound production exercises, Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) help children form correct sounds and syllables in words and sentences. These activities are tailored to the child’s age level and their individual needs during play-related tasks. For example, an SLP may demonstrate how to make particular sounds like “r” while showing them how they should position their tongue properly for each distinct sound.
  3. Oral-motor/feeding and swallowing therapy: To strengthen the muscles of the mouth for eating, drinking and swallowing, Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) often employ a variety of oral practices such as facial massage, tongue exercises, lip exercises and jaw movements. Additionally SLP’s may introduce different food textures and temperatures to build up a child’s sensory awareness during mealtime consumption or ingestion.

Why Do Some Kids Need Speech-Language Therapy?

Speech-language therapy is an invaluable asset for children, offering a multitude of advantages such as improved hearing and cognitive development, stronger oral muscles and fluency, better articulation capabilities, reduced respiratory issues like hoarseness or breathing disorders , the ability to more easily feed and swallow food items safely , autism support services , help with motor planning difficulties, assistance with cleft lip/palate treatment plans despite traumatic brain injury.

The earlier therapy begins, the more likely it is to be successful. Kids who begin therapy before age five tend to have better results than those who start later on in life. That being said, older children can still make improvements – they may just need additional time and effort since they’ve already developed certain behaviors that must now be reversed.