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What is speech and language therapy?

Speech and language therapy is the evaluation and treatment of deficiencies in a child’s ability to communicate. These challenges may be seen in both oral and/or written language. The need for therapy is determined by a speech-language pathologist after an evaluation of the child’s current communication strengths and weaknesses.

What is the difference between a Speech-Language Pathologist, Speech Therapist, and Speech Teacher?

A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) is a licensed professional with the following qualifications:

  1. Master’s degree in Communication Disorders or Speech-Language Pathology from an accredited University
  2. Passing score on a national exam in Speech-Language Pathology
  3. Completed a 9 month Clinical Fellowship Year under a qualified supervisor to achieve his or her Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP)

Despite these parameters, the titles are often used interchangeably.

How can I tell if my child’s speech or language is delayed?

Speech and language skills encompass different areas. Language typically refers to the ability to comprehend and use words in sentences to communicate. Speech refers to the specific sounds we use to make words. For a greater understanding of typical speech and language milestones, please see our child benchmarks.

Is “speech therapy” only for children with difficulty talking?

No. Many people believe that “speech therapy” refers only to stuttering or pronunciation. Although that is piece of what we do, the role of a licensed and trained Speech-Language Pathologist crosses many communication domains. We create treatment plans that are therapeutic, fun, and functional for children ranging in age from 18 months to high school.

What communication areas do you evaluate and treat?

Our team of nationally certified Speech-Language Pathologists evaluate and create treatment plans for:

  1. Speech Sounds
  2. Language Expression
  3. Comprehension
  4. Auditory Processing
  5. Toddler and Preschool Play Skills
  6. Pragmatic and Social Language Skills
  7. Voice
  8. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
  9. Behavioral Modification
  10. Swallowing and Feeding Patterns
  11. Stuttering (Fluency)
  12. Emergent Literacy Skills
  13. Reading
  14. Written Language
  15. Vocabulary
  16. Word Retrieval

How long will my child be in therapy?

The length of time that a child spends in therapy is dependent on his or her individual needs. Length of time is also dependent on consistent attendance and follow-through in natural settings such as your home and the child’s school. A strong home component and caregiver training is necessary for the child’s success.

Speech-language therapy is expensive. What options are available for families in need?

The Parkwood Clinic recognizes that speech-language therapy is expensive. A clinician that provides a positive learning experience, and delivers excellent efficacious therapy is a skilled professional. Outstanding clinicians are in demand! There are grants and low cost options for families that need speech and language funding.

What can I do to help my child outside the clinic?

Caregivers are critical for therapeutic progress. As your child is only in therapy a limited amount of time per week, generalizing learned skills outside of the clinic is essential. The course of treatment is improved by consistent attendance, caregiver training opportunities, and generalization of learned skills across natural environments like your home and at school. Talk to your clinician about ways you can collaborate on an individualized home program.

Where can I find out more information about my child’s speech and/or hearing disorder(s)?

The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) is a wonderful resource for information about speech and hearing. ASHA’s comprehensive website answers many questions about evaluation and treatment of speech disorders, evidence based research, support networks, and finding a certified clinician in your area.

How is therapy at The Parkwood Clinic different than therapy offered at school?

Research shows children need repetition to make progress. At the Parkwood Clinic we see children for individual sessions a minimum of twice per week. Our custom-tailored treatment plans are designed to be therapeutic, fun and functional– so you see your child’s skills improve outside the clinic. For more information please see Our Services. The Parkwood Clinic is different than therapy delivered in the school setting because school speech therapy is typically provided in small groups and for limited time intervals. In a school setting, the combination of group therapy, limited frequency, and short time durations, makes skill-building and dramatic treatment outcomes difficult. The Parkwood Clinic encourages communication with your child’s school therapist for consistency in treatment and collaboration across settings.

If my child has a speech delay will he/she have learning difficulties?

There is no way of knowing for sure when a child is very young if he/she will have learning difficulties later on. Depending on the type of language issues the child has and his/her age, there is frequently a correlation between expressive and receptive language difficulties and later difficulties in school with reading, writing, comprehending classroom material, focus, and attention. However, each case is individual and generalizations are not necessarily useful.

How do Speech-Language Pathologists Help with Reading and Writing?

Spoken language is the foundation for learning to read and write. Speech-Language Pathologists are often the first professionals to identify the root cause of reading and writing problems because of their expertise in language. Speech-Language Pathologists can help children of all ages build their literacy skills because of their expertise in:

  1. Phonics
  2. Decoding
  3. Phonemic memory
  4. Visualization strategies
  5. Word retrieval
  6. Reading fluency
  7. Reading comprehension
  8. Spelling
  9. Grammar
  10. Punctuation
  11. Organization
  12. Summarizing
  13. Paraphrasing

If you are concerned about your child’s reading and writing skills contact a Speech-Language Pathologist for an evaluation.

My child has trouble with reading, could they have dyslexia?

Because language and reading go hand in hand, children who need support in language often demonstrate difficulties in reading and writing. Dyslexia is an isolated reading challenge in comparison to a sea of strengths. Many people that are dyslexic can read, the problem is the effort required for them to do so fluently. For more information please visit the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity.

What are feeding and swallowing disorders?

Feeding disorders are problems related to the gathering of food and getting ready to suck, chew, or swallow it. For some children this may be difficulty picking up their food and getting it to their mouth. Other problems include inability to successfully close their lips to keep food from falling out of their mouth or excessive drooling. Speech-Language Pathologists are specially trained to assess and treat feeding and swallowing problems.

How may we encourage our child to be bilingual?

There are many ways to teach children to speak more than one language. Some approaches include:

  1. Use two languages right from the start. Many children grow up learning two languages simultaneously.
  2. Use only one language at home. Your child can learn the second language when he or she starts school.
  3. Give your child many opportunities to hear and practice both languages in their everyday routines.

Will learning two language cause speech or language challenges for my child?

No. Bilingual children develop language skills following the same pattern that monolingual children do.

What should I expect when my child learns more than one language at a time?

All children are unique. Polishing skills in two languages depends on the quality, time, and experience the child has with both languages. As with other children, most bilingual children speak their first word around one year of age, and combine words in two-word phrases around two years of age. Common errors in children who are bilingual include mixing up grammar rules and/or using words from both languages in the same sentence. Some children may even go through a “silent period” when another language is introduced where they may not talk much for a while. All of these patterns are normal in bilingual learners.

What resources may I use to help my child become bilingual?

Books. Books are a wonderful resource, and reading in both languages will help your child build valuable vocabulary, grammar, and world knowledge in a comfortable setting. Check out your local library, neighborhood bookstore, or internet for bilingual literacy resources.

Music. Music in other languages can help your child acquire sentence structure and pronunciation skills. Singing is also a wonderful way to introduce a second language to your child.

Movies and TV. Children’s movies and television programs are available in many languages. Look for quality programs that educate children about numbers, letters, colors, and basic vocabulary and concepts.

Language Programs. There are many language camps and/or bilingual education programs available for families that are interested in bilingualism.

For more information about bilingualism, see ASHA (Learning More Than One Language).

Ready to Begin your Journey?