Speech and language disorders can affect the way a child learns and how he or she interacts with peers, teachers, and parents. It is important to mediate these issues as quickly as possible to encourage overall positive development. Speech therapy is an essential means of improving communication.
Who Provides Speech Therapy?
A speech pathologist or therapist is responsible for administering or overseeing all speech and language therapies. A speech pathologist has a minimum of a Master’s degree education and certifications from the ASHA and their state.
Who Needs Speech and Language Therapy?
Children with speech and language disorders may be children who have:
- Hearing impairments
- Cognitive delays
- Birth defects
- Motor planning problems
- Articulation problems
- Respiratory problems
- Traumatic brain injury
Types of Speech and Language Disorders
A speech disorder refers to a problem with the actual production of sounds while a language disorder refers to understanding or putting words together.
There are several types of speech disorders including:
- Articulation disorders- when a person can’t make certain sounds correctly.
- Fluency disorders- characterized by abnormal stopping during speech, such as stuttering or partial word repetitions
- Resonance or voice disorders- problems with pitch, volume, or quality of the voice.
Additionally expressive language disorders include:
- Receptive disorders involve difficulty understanding or processing what is being said.
- Expressive disorders occur when a person has difficulty putting words together, has a limited vocabulary, or difficulty using language that is socially appropriate.
- Cognitive communications disorders exist when memory, organization, attention, perception, or problem solving skills are limited.
Speech and Language Therapies
The type of therapy used will depend on the individual child and the disorder that is involved. It may take place one-on-one, in small groups, or in a classroom setting. Interventions may include:
- Language intervention activities: Pictures, books, or toys may be used to stimulate appropriate language development. Therapists often model appropriate choices.
- Articulation therapy: This can involve exercises to produce the correct sounds. It may involve the therapist directly showing the child how their lips and tongue must be to form a word or sound. Older children may use mirrors to watch their lips and tongues while forming sounds.
- Oral-Motor Exercises: This can include facial massages plus jaw, lip, and tongue exercises.
When Should Therapy Begin?
The younger the child is when speech and language therapy begins, the better the outcome will be. Those children who are under five years of age when therapies are started tend to have the best outcomes. Nonetheless, children who are older than five years old can still work towards better communication, and they often have excellent outcomes as well.