If your child is suffering from speech disability like trouble pronouncing words, speech therapy may help improve language and communication skills.  As the name indicates, speech therapy focuses on enhancing a child’s speech and his/her ability to understand and express language that includes non-verbal communication as well.  Professionals who provide this service are called speech therapists or more appropriately speech and language pathologists (SLP).

Speech therapy consists of mainly three parts:

  1. Coordinating the mouth to produce sounds to form words and sentences (articulation, fluency, and voice volume regulation)
  2. Understanding and expressing language (through written, pictorial, body, and sign forms)
  3. The use of language through alternative communication systems (social media, computers, and tablets)

Your child may be referred to a speech therapist or an SLP for a variety of disorders.  A therapist can deal problems related to speech, hearing and swallowing.  A speech therapist or an SLP can assess and treat the following issues:

  • Stuttering and cluttering
  • Comprehension of spoken and written language
  • Cognition related issues like attention, memory and ability to solve problems
  • Characteristics of vocal tone
  • Auditory Rehabilitation — recovery techniques associated with speech, hearing & language disorders
  • Swallowing disorders — stroke and congenital disorders
  • Other services — some therapists will specialize in other services including professional voice development, accent or dialect modification, business communication modification, and voice hygiene

Does my child need speech therapy?

Some children may be good at pronunciation and able to read at an early age but even such children can benefit from the service of a speech therapist or an SLP to enhance the process of using body language appropriately in social situations.  This will help children to be relaxed during day-to-day purposes such as making requests, holding conversation, making new friends etc.

Other instances where a child may benefit from speech therapy are medical conditions such as brain injury or infection that has impaired their ability to express themselves in a stress-free manner and an identifiable disability such as Down syndrome.  Speech therapy service often begins at a young age and continues as the children enter school.  The earlier, the better.

Speech therapy for late talkers:

If your infant or toddler has arrived at a stage where s/he is supposed to talk and unfortunately it is not happening, you may seek the help of a speech therapist.  The therapist will try different child-friendly tricks to make him/her talk, that includes playing with him.  Sometimes, taking away a favorite toy until the child asks for it motivates the little one to talk.  For some children, other modes of communication such as sign language or picture cards may be tried to encourage them to talk.  If the speech therapist senses hearing loss, your child may be referred for further evaluation such as hearing tests.

Speech therapy for swallowing and feeding difficulties:

Speech therapists assessing and treating children for articulation, language and cognition difficulties is well known, but what the general public tends not to associate with speech therapy is therapy for swallowing and feeding difficulties.  It is not rare to come across children who have trouble talking have issues with feeding.  What immediately come to mind may be children with special needs, but it’s not unusual for other kids also to have both speech and feeding difficulties.  Both speech and eating require the fine motor movements, moving the tongue, jaw and lips in a synchronic fashion.  To put it metaphorically, that is not a walk in the park for many kids.

In order to strengthen the muscles used in speech and eating, the speech therapist may come up with unique programs such as blowing toys and whistles or funny games like blowing-the-cotton-ball, blowing bubbles etc.  These kinds of activities will strengthen the muscles involved in speech and eating.

Speech therapy for stuttering:

An article on speech therapy would be incomplete without mentioning “stuttering”, something that many of us suffer.  Stuttering is a problem that is common in childhood, but it can persist and develop along the adulthood as well.  Stuttering comes under the ambit of behavioral problems.  Different behavioral modification techniques will be introduced to the child who stutters, that in turn may help rein in their stuttering.  A simple and effective method that can be used on children with stuttering is to teach them to control the rate of speech, since speaking too quickly can make children stutter more.  Practicing speech in a slower and more fluent manner can help to get rid of this impairment to a large extent.

Unfortunately, if stuttering persists even after a full course of speech therapy, child may require follow-up sessions with the speech therapist to contain the problem.  It is quite natural to take time to get out of this seemingly simple but highly persisting disorder.

Teaching a non-verbal child:

There are children who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to communicate.  They need alternative communication methods.  School-aged children may be able to communicate through computers or tablets.  These days, touch-screen gadgets have become a great boon for children who cannot communicate as they can use the same super-cool device that their classmates use.  Moreover, the speech and language therapists can use these devices to foster communication through engagement and motivation in a novel way.

For enquiries related to Speech Therapy, send your messages to www.plexusnc.com