Speech Therapy

Speech Therapy

Speech, Language and Swallowing

The professionals who are educated to assess speech and language development and to treat speech and language disorders are called speech-language pathologists (sometimes informally referred to as speech therapists). Speech-language pathologists can also help people with swallowing disorders. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) help children of all ages who have spoken and written language disorders, speech sound disorders, stuttering (disfluency), and voice disorders. Audiologists help children with a hearing loss. Children may have one or more of these communication disorders.

Identify the Signs

Here are some of the signs to help you determine if your child has a speech, language, or hearing disorder. It helps to know about typical speech and language development. More information about identifying the signs of communication disorders is available at Identify The Signs.

Signs of a Language Disorder

A language disorder may be spoken and/or written (reading and writing). It may also be receptive (understanding) and/or expressive (talking, reading, writing, or signing).

  • Doesn’t smile or interact with others (birth–3 months)
  • Doesn’t babble (4–7 months)
  • Makes few sounds (7–12 months)
  • Does not use gestures (e.g., waving, pointing) (7–12 months)
  • Doesn’t understand what others say (7 months–2 years)
  • Says only a few words (12–18 months)
  • Doesn’t put words together to make sentences (1½–2 years)
  • Says fewer than 50 words (2 years)
  • Has trouble playing and talking with other children (2–3 years)
  • Has problems with early reading and writing skills—for example, may not show an interest in books or drawing (2½–3 years)

 

Ways to Help With Language Disorders

  • Listen and respond to your child
  • Talk, read, and play with your child
  • Communicate with your child in the language that you are most comfortable using
  • Know that it’s good to teach your child to speak a second language
  • Talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing
  • Use a lot of different words with your child
  • Use longer sentences as your child gets older
  • Have your child play with other children

 

Signs of a Speech Sound Disorder

  • Says p, b, m, h, and w incorrectly in words most of the time (1–2 years)
  • Says k, g, f, t, d, and n incorrectly in words most of the time (2–3 years)
  •  Produces speech that is unclear, even to familiar people (2–3 years)

 

Ways to Help With Speech Sound Disorders

  • Say the sounds correctly when you talk—it’s okay if your child makes some mistakes with sounds
  • Don’t correct speech sounds—it’s more important to let your child keep talking

 

Signs of Stuttering (Disfluency)

  • Struggles to say sounds or words (2½–3 years)
  • Repeats first sounds of words—”b-b-b-ball” for “ball” (2½–3 years)
  • Pauses a lot while talking (2½–3 years)
  • Stretches sounds out—”f-f-f-f-farm” for “farm” (2½–3 years)

 

Ways to Help With Stuttering or Dis-fluency

  • Give your child time to talk
  • Do not interrupt or stop your child while he or she is speaking
  • See an SLP if you are concerned (Many young children stutter for a short period of time; in most cases, the stuttering will stop.)

 

Signs of a Voice Disorder

  • Uses a hoarse or breathy voice
  •  Uses a nasal-sounding voice

 

Ways to Help With Voice Disorders

  • See a doctor if your child sounds hoarse or breathy or has a nasal-sounding voice
  • Tell your child not to shout or scream
  •  Keep your child away from cigarette smoke

 

Audiologists help with hearing loss.

Signs of a Hearing Loss

  • Shows lack of attention to sounds (birth–1 year)
  • Doesn’t respond when you call his/her name (7 months–1 year)
  • Doesn’t follow simple directions (1–2 years)
  • Shows delays in speech and language development (birth–3 years)

 

Ways to Help With Hearing Loss

  • See an audiologist if your child did not pass the newborn hearing screening
  • Go to an audiologist if you have any concerns about your child’s hearing (some hearing losses can begin months or years after birth).
  • Ask your audiologist about the need for hearing aids or cochlear implants.