Language and Speech Therapy for Children
Just like all the other skills, the age at which kids learn language and start talking can differ. If your little one isn't able to say words such as “mama” or “dada” either clearly or unclearly by 12- 15 months of age, understand the terms such as “no” or “yes” by 18 months of age, talk in short sentences by 3 years, he or she might require the help of a speech-language therapist.
Speech and Language Therapy: What are they?
Speech-language therapy is a life-changing treatment, support, and care offered for kids who have communication problems, speech disorders, language disorders, and difficulties in eating as well as swallowing.
Speech therapy involves the treatment to improve articulation and targets how sounds and words are produced. It includes all vocal tract components, including the vocal folds, jaw, tongue, lips, and teeth, and the hard and soft palates.
This therapy involves other techniques that are used to improve communication, such as language intervention activities and others depending on the speech or language disorder one has.
Language therapy mainly targets vocabulary as well as the ability to put words together to form
sentences. It may also address listening skills, question skills, and social language skills.
A speech disorder refers to a condition in which a person has difficulties or problems creating or forming speech sounds. Common speech disorders include:
- Articulation disorders: This type of disorder involves difficulty in articulating specific sounds in syllables. It involves the substitution of one sound in place of another, slurred speech that can be difficult to understand, or indistinct speech.
- Phonological disorders: Kids having this type of speech disorder fail to use certain speech sounds (such as g, k, or r) that children of their age usually use. And instead, they make a different sound or often leave sounds out. Due to this mispronunciation, others find it hard to understand.
- Fluency disorders/Disfluency: These include an interruption in the flow of speaking, most commonly referred to as stuttering. If a child has fluency disorder his/her speech will be interrupted by unusual stops, partial-word repetitions (“g-g-girl”), or prolonging sounds and syllables (bbbbbook).
- Voice disorders or resonance disorders: This involves problems related to the pitch, voice quality, or volume that distract listeners from what’s being said. A child with a resonance disorder may have difficulties projecting their voice and may also experience discomfort when speaking.
Language disorder is a kind of communication disorder that refers to the difficulty of understanding or putting words together for communication. They are of three types:
- Expressive language disorder : Children with an expressive language disorder may find it difficult to convey or express needs, information, or ideas in the form of speech, writing, sign language, or gesture. They may often leave words out of sentences, repeat phrases or parts of sentences, and mix up word tenses.
- Receptive language disorder : A child with a receptive language disorder may find it difficult to understand what is actually said to them. The symptoms differ between children, but the problems with language comprehension mostly begin before three years.
- Cognitive communication disorders : This type of language disorder includes problems related to communication skills that involve memory, organization, attention, perception, regulation, and problem-solving.
How do speech and language therapy help your child?
Speech and language therapy can help your little one in so many ways. This includes:
1. Articulation skills/ speech intelligibility
Produce difficult speech sounds or sound patterns thereby increasing the overall speech intelligibility.
2. Expressive Language Skills
Learn new words and teach them how to put these words together to form phrases and sentences to communicate well.
3. Receptive Language / Listening Skills
Improve your child’s vocabulary and make them use that knowledge to answer questions, follow directions, and engage in simple conversations.
4. Speech Fluency / Stuttering
Teach your child strategies on the ways to control stammering, thereby increasing his/her speech fluency and intelligibility.
5. Voice and Resonance
Work with your child to decrease hoarseness caused by vocal abuse and repair the strain/damage of the folds.
6. Social/Pragmatic Language
Teach the basic social language skills to participate appropriately in conversations with others. This includes – using language to communicate in different forms (such as greeting others, requesting, asking questions to gain information, etc.), changing language according to the people or place, and following the rules for conversation (taking turns in conversation, staying on topic, using and understanding verbal and nonverbal cues, etc.).
7. Cognitive-Communication Skills
Build cognitive-communication skills such as self-monitoring, problem-solving, planning, attention, memory, abstract reasoning, and awareness.
8. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
Some children have severe delay/disorder the oral speech method is not practical for them. In such a case, SLP’s ask the child’s family to come with AAC systems.
If you are not sure what the AAC system is, let us explain it to you.
AAC refers to all forms of communication excluding oral speech that are used to express or convey thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas.
AAC methods are not always meant to replace speech but also used as a bridge to speech. Experienced SPL’s help children use the AAC methods to communicate while still working on developing as well as improving speech skills.
Your child may have unique needs and as a parent, you have to understand what type of therapy your little one needs. Sometimes he/she may not have a speech delay but still need your support with speech and language skills.
On the other side, he/she may understand language with no difficulty but struggle to produce words and sentences. Make sure to give them the words of affection and endearment, words that give positive guidance all say, “I love you, I care about, and I’m there to support you.”
If you think your child is having speech or language difficulty and needs treatment, don’t delay, take them to an experienced Speech-Language Pathologist.
At Maudsley Health, we offer Individual and Group Sessions using speech therapy and skills training programs to help your child gain communication, problem-solving, executive functions, cognitive, receptive language, expressive language, pre-language, and school skills.
We have experienced SLP’s who are compassionate and are trained to work on many types of learning differences.
This article is a part of a series of posts on Speech and Language Therapy and will be covering related topics in upcoming articles.