What is speech and language therapy?
Speech and language therapy provides life-changing treatment, support and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication, or with eating, drinking and swallowing.
The Role of SLP
Speech-language pathologist: A specialist sometimes called a speech therapist or speech pathologist with a role to assess, diagnose, treat and help prevent speech, language, cognitive-communication, voice, swallowing, fluency and other related disorders.
Types of Speech or Language Impairments
The characteristics of speech or language impairments will vary depending upon the type of impairment involved. There may also be a combination of several problems.
Articulation disorder, Child has difficulty making certain sounds. These sounds may be left off, added, changed, or distorted, which makes it hard for people to understand the child.
A good example of this is saying “wabbit” for “rabbit.” The incorrect articulation isn’t necessarily a cause for concern unless it continues past the age where children are expected to produce such sounds correctly.
Fluency refers to the flow of speech. A fluency disorder means that something is disrupting the rhythmic and forward flow of speech—usually, a stutter. As a result, the child’s speech contains an “abnormal number of repetitions, hesitations, prolongations, or disturbances. Tension may also be seen in the face, neck, shoulders, or fists.
Voice disorder involves problems with the pitch, loudness, resonance, or quality of the voice. The voice may be hoarse, raspy, or harsh. For some, it may sound quite nasal; others might seem as if they are “stuffed up.” People with voice problems often notice changes in pitch, loss of voice, loss of endurance, and sometimes a sharp or dull pain associated with voice use.
Language disorder refers to an impaired ability to understand and/or use words in context. A child may have an expressive language disorder (difficulty in expressing ideas or needs), a receptive language disorder (difficulty in understanding what others are saying), or a mixed language disorder (which involves both).
Some characteristics of language disorders include:
- Improper use of words and their meanings,
- Inability to express ideas,
- Inappropriate grammatical patterns,
- Reduced vocabulary, and
- Inability to follow directions
Evaluation, therapy and consultation services are provided for children and adults with communication impairments associated with the following areas:
- Autistic Spectrum Disorders
- Mental Retardation
- Hearing Impairment
- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
- Cerebral Palsy
- Cleft Lip & Palate
- Voice Disorders
The earlier a child receives services to address the effects of hearing loss, the more time there is to influence positive learning outcomes.
Children may hear a word but not be able to understand its meaning. They may have trouble getting others to understand what they are trying to communicate. These symptoms can easily be mistaken for other disabilities such as autism or learning disabilities, so, it is very important to ensure that the child receives a thorough evaluation by a certified Speech-Language Pathologist.