Speech-Language Therapy

Daniel Webster is quoted as saying “… if all my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all the rest."

Language is our most human characteristic. It is essential to learning, working, and enjoying family life and friendships. There are many ways to express language. Speaking, using sign language, writing, and using computerized communication devices are some of the most common ones. The professionals who are educated to assess speech and language development and to treat language and speech disorders are speech-language pathologists (sometimes informally referred to as speech therapists). Speech-language pathologists can also help people with swallowing disorders. *Taken from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

What Is Speech-Language Therapy?

Speech-language therapy is the treatment for most children with speech and/or language disorders. A speech disorder refers to a problem with the actual production of sounds, whereas a language disorder refers to a difficulty understanding or putting words together to communicate ideas.

What is involved with ST?

Speech disorders include the following problems, according to Diane Paul-Brown, PhD, director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association  (ASHA):

  • Articulation disorders include difficulties producing sounds in syllables or saying words incorrectly to the point that other people can't understand what's being said.
  • Fluency disorders include problems such as stuttering , the condition in which the flow of speech is interrupted by abnormal stoppages, repetitions (st-st-stuttering), or prolonging sounds and syllables (ssssstuttering).
  • Resonance or voice disorders include problems with the pitch, volume, or quality of a child's voice that distract listeners from what's being said. These types of disorders may also cause pain or discomfort for the child when speaking.

Language disorders can be either receptive or expressive. Receptive disorders refer to difficulties understanding or processing language. Expressive disorders include difficulty putting words together, limited vocabulary, or inability to use language in a socially appropriate way.

Benefits of Speech-Language Therapy

Speech-language pathologists assess individuals and create a plan of care based on the individual strengths and weaknesses.  Treatment goals should focus on an individual's needs.  Treatment can be play based or instructional and should be motivating to the child.  Everything should be individualized to the person.  For instance if a child is demonstrating a receptive language disorder with specific deficits in the area of spatial concepts, treatment would include activities where the child can put things in, out, on, over, under, and through.  If a child has oral sensory-motor deficits or feeding-swallowing deficits, direct stimulation of the oral and pharyngeal muscles may be indicated. 

  • Increased independence with communication-recpetive and expressive communication. 
  • Increased cognitive skills. 
  • Increased academic preparedness and success in the classroom. 
  • Increased nutritional status. 
  • Increased ability to orally feed safely and take an age appropriate diet.

Who needs it?

Children require speech-language therapy for a variety of reasons; the following conditions may need speech or language therapy:

  • hearing impairments
  • cognitive (intellectual; thinking) or other developmental delays
  • weak oral muscles
  • birth defects such as cleft lip or cleft palate
  • autism
  • motor planning problems
  • respiratory problems (breathing disorders)
  • swallowing disorders