Speech therapy has been practiced for many years to help treat children with communication challenges.
You may be wondering what exactly IS speech therapy?
Most importantly, what is speech language therapy for children?
These are common questions we ask ourselves as parents or caretakers who have a child that may need speech therapy.
This post will break down what you need to know about speech therapy from what it is, how it works, signs to look, tips to enhance your child’s speech, and more.
Let’s dive in. 🙂
What is a Speech Therapist?
A speech therapist is actually more considered to be a speech-language pathologist (SLP).
SLPs do not just work with adults or children with speaking issues, but also work with children or adults that suffer from a communication diagnosis such as auditory processing disorder or dyslexia.
A speech therapist is just like a doctor and needs a master’s degree as well as a license to practice in this field of work.
What is Speech Therapy Used For?
Speech therapy is used for a WIDE range of things, some of these things include:
Working with a SLP might be able to help change the characteristics of vocal tones.
If a patient has problems stuttering and speaking their fluent language, a SLP can work with the patient to help them become more fluent.
Some patients don’t have the ability to solve problems, have trouble remembering and/or have a hard time paying attention. Speech therapy is used in some of these cases too.
Speech therapy helps the patient have the ability to understand the language, both written and spoken.
If the patient has a problem sounding out words or forming words, speech therapy may benefit in helping them. This is often called articulation.
Some patients of a SLP (although rare in children), have had a stroke and are in need of a type of rehabilitation to learn how to communicate in either a different way or work with a SLP to get some of their ability to speak and write back.
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Those who suffer from congenital disorders, such as cleft lips, cerebral palsy, or down syndrome, may also benefit greatly from using speech therapy.
Speech therapy is also used to rehabilitate a patient who lost their speech, hearing or way to communicate due to things such as illness or injuries.
A SLP can also specialize in other services regarding a patient’s speech including: professional voice development or accent modifications.
How Do I Know If My Child Needs Speech Therapy?
Since children all develop differently and in their own time frame, it is hard for a parent to know if their child needs services to help them reach certain milestones such as speech.
Your child may need to see a SLP and go through speech therapy if they are having problems with one of the following things:
- Having Language Delays. If a child can sound out and form words but cannot put together more than two words when speaking they may have a language delay.
- Having Speech Delays. If a child is trying to communicate and express themselves but is hard to understand when using words or phrases, your child may have a speech delay.
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Signs To Look For
When your child is 2 years old you should be able to understand at least 50% of the words that they are saying, phrases they are saying and sentences they are forming.
When your child reaches the age of 3 years old you should understand at least 75% of the words that they are saying, phrases they are saying and sentences they are forming.
By the time your child reaches the age of 4 even strangers should be able to understand most of all the words and sentences your child is saying.
Signs your child might need speech therapy include:
See a doctor right away if your newborn or baby doesn’t seem to be responding to sounds, babble, cry, or fuss.
1 Year Old (12 Months)
If your child is not using body communication such as waving hello or good-bye, or pointing at people, objects, or things.
1 ½ Years Old (18 Months)
If your child prefers to communicate using body language or gestures over vocalizing their communication.
If your child has trouble understanding certain vocal requests.
If your child has trouble imitating sounds.
2 Years Old (24 Months)
If your child doesn’t vocalize or communicate anything but their immediate needs.
If your child is nasal or raspy sounding when they are talking and trying to form words.
If your child doesn’t produce any words, phrases or sentences spontaneously.
If your child cannot respond to simple words, phrases or commands.
What Happens In Child Speech Therapy?
A SLPs treatment will vary depending on the situation, diagnosis, or other issues and problems with communication the child is having.
Children are usually worked with in a classroom, a small group or one-on-one with the SLP.
Children who start speech therapy at early ages before they turn 5 years old have better results with speech therapy.
Some treatments/strategies used by a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) include:
Your child’s SLP will use or try out a range of oral exercises to strengthen muscles in your child’s mouth to make it easier for them to eat, drink, and/or swallow.
Different textured foods or temperatures of foods may be used by the SLP during these exercises so that your child will develop awareness in their mouth.
Your child’s SLP will play with, read to, show pictures to, or talk to your child to stimulate their language skills and development.
Sounding Words Out
To help your child better form words, a SLP may use exercises like showing the child the position their tongue should be in while sounding out certain letters and words, or play games and activities with your child while using correct sounds and syllables when speaking to your child with words and sentences.
Things I Can Do At Home To Help Improve My Child’s Speech
Aside from seeing a speech therapist (SLP), working with your child at home will benefit greatly in their speech therapy.
Your child’s SLP should provide a list of things that you can do with your child to work with them and help them communicate better.
Some examples of things you can do with your kiddo to help them at home to improve communication include:
- Talking frequently with your child. You can do this by narrating the day such as “We’re going to eat lunch now. I made macaroni and cheese.” or “You’re going to take a bath now, the water is nice and warm with lots of bubbles.”
- Listening to music and singing with your child. Listening to music and hearing you sing might get your child motivated to want to join in on the fun and sing along with you.
- Telling your child stories. This doesn’t have to be just a bedtime ritual, storytelling with your child could help develop not only their communication skills but their imaginations as well.
- Reading to your child. Reading stories to your child by using simple books and working up to bigger books might develop their willingness to learn to read. Libraries and bookstores often have storytimes for children and are usually free events to promote reading.
Children may need speech therapy for various reasons such as developmental problems, hearing problems, autism, or even breathing disorders.
To see a speech language therapist (SLP) you will most likely need a referral from your child’s doctor or their teacher.
Earlier the better to begin speech therapy with your child.
It doesn’t mean older children will not benefit from this type of therapy but it may take longer because they have already developed habits and behaviors. They will need to learn new behaviors.
When you child is going through speech therapy keep in mind that it will take effort and time to see results. Do not get discouraged. 🙂
Keep your precious one in a positive state of mind and offer words of encouragement.
Hopefully, this post has added value to your research efforts in understanding speech therapy for kids.
If there are questions you may have or anything you’d like to add that I did not cover in this post, please feel free to comment below.
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