The goal of speech-language therapy is to improve communication skills. Speech-Language Pathologists work with children and their families to diagnose and provide treatment for articulation/sound disorders, language disorders, fluency/stuttering disorders, hearing impairments, social communication, cognitive-communication, developmental delays, hearing impairments, and alternative/augmentative forms of communication.
Other problems that have been associated with speech-language disorders include apraxia/dyspraxia, autism spectrum disorders, and other medical complications. Early recognition of concerns and age-appropriate initiation of intervention/treatment are important for success in meeting communication milestones and goals.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech or language, know and identify the signs, learn what to expect from your child from birth to five years of age, and get help early.
Getting help early is better than waiting. You may be able to get free or low-cost services for your child. Talk to your doctor or contact your local school. They can tell you about ear-ly intervention programs and other services.
Speech-language pathologists, or SLPs, help children who have language, speech sound, stuttering, or voice problems. Audiologists help people who have trouble hearing.
Look for an SLP or audiologist who has earned the Certificate of Clinical Competence, or CCC, from ASHA. ASHA-certified SLPs have "CCC-SLP" after their names. ASHA-certified audiologists have "CCC-A" after their names.
- Reacts to loud noises
- Smiles when spoken to
- Recognizes voice of parents
- Stops sucking in response to sound while feeding
- Makes pleasure sounds
- Cries differently for different needs
- Follows sounds with eyes
- Responds to changes in a parent’s tone of voice
- Listens to music
- Laughs or babbles when happy
7 Months- 1 Year
- Plays games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
- Turns and looks in the direction of sounds
- Understands words for common objects (e.g., shoe, juice)
- Responds to simple requests (e.g., stop that)
- Babbles in simple syllable shapes (e.g., baba, tata, upup)
- Imitates speech sounds
- Has 1-2 words by 12 months
- Recognizes body parts
- Follows simple commands (e.g., throw the ball)
- Asks simple questions (e.g. “where’s a mommy?”)
- Points to pictures when named
- Enjoys listening to stories
- Puts 2 words together (e.g., More juice)
- Uses many consonant sounds at the beginning of words
- Has a word for almost everything
- Uses 2-3 word phrases
- Easily understood by family members and friends
- Uses k, g, f, t, d, and, n sounds
- Responds when you call from another room
- Answers simple WH questions (e.g., who, what, where)
- Uses sentences with 4 or more words
- Will listen to a short story and answer questions about it
- Understands most of what is being said at home and school
- Uses detailed sentences
- Stays on topic
- Uses most sounds correctly (with exception of TH, R)
- Names letters and numbers
- Appropriate grammar and sentence structure
Early Identification/Identify the Signs
Speech-Language Pathologists help children who have language, speech sounds, hearing, stuttering, or voice problems. They all have difficulty communicating, but their problems are different. Some concerns are acquired, chronic, or developmental. Below are some guidelines to help you understand what skill development areas are evaluated and treated.
Language is made up of the words we use to share ideas and get what we want. Difficulties occur when a child has difficulty expressing information (expressive language) and/or understanding others (receptive language). Language includes speaking, understanding, reading, and writing.
Speech Sound/Articulation Disorders
Speech is how we say sounds and words. It can be normal for young children to say some sounds the wrong way, and some sounds develop later. Speech sound disorders occur when a child has difficulty producing speech sounds correctly. They have difficulty “articulating” specific speech sounds or words, sometimes making it difficult to understand their speech.
This is difficulty utilizing (using) communication for social purposes, such as understanding rules for conversation, modifying communication for different communication partners, and understanding figurative language. This can be in the form of verbal or non-verbal communication. These types of impairments are typically found in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, traumatic brain injury, and similar scenarios.
Aural rehabilitation is provided for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. A speech-language pathologist will work with an Audiologist in these cases.
Some children have difficulty organizing thoughts, paying attention/attending to tasks, planning, solving problems, or remembering information.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
When a speech or language disorder requires another mode or form of communication, an augmentative (in addition to speech) or alternative (to replace speech) methods of communication are used. These may include but are not limited to sign language, pictures, low tech or high tech speech output devices, or “talkers”. These children usually present with more severe forms of communication disorders.
Stuttering (Fluency) Disorder
This is the rhythm of our speech. Children will sometimes repeat sounds or words, or pause while talking. Children who present with more severe forms of this type of speech may have stuttering or fluency disorder. Some issues are developmental and will go away over time.
This is how we use our vocal cords/folds and breathing to make speech sounds, which can be related to loud or soft volume, high or low pitched, or hoarse, raspy sounding voice. Children can hurt their voices by talking too much with the above issues, yelling, or coughing too much. This is sometimes referred to as resonance.
This is a difficulty in planning the motor movements necessary for articulation and speech. Children could also have difficulties with sequencing speech sounds to form words.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Children with autism spectrum disorders, following proper diagnosis by a physician or specialist, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech difficulties, and nonverbal communication.