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Health Information For Parents
Speech-language therapy is the treatment for most kids with speech and/or language disorders.
A speech disorder refers to a problem with making sounds. Speech disorders include:
A language disorder refers to a problem understanding or putting words together to communicate ideas. Language disorders can be either receptive or expressive:
Dysphagia/oral feeding disorders are disorders in the way someone eats or drinks. They include problems with chewing and swallowing, coughing, gagging, and refusing foods.
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), often called speech therapists, are educated in the study of human communication, its development, and its disorders. SLPs assess speech, language, cognitive-communication, and oral/feeding/swallowing skills. This lets them identify a problem and the best way to treat it.
An ASHA-certified SLP has passed a national exam and completed an ASHA-accredited supervised clinical fellowship.
Sometimes, speech assistants help give speech-language services. They usually have a 2-year associate’s or 4-year bachelor’s degree, and are supervised by an SLP.
In speech-language therapy, an SLP works with a child one-on-one, in a small group, or in a classroom to overcome problems.
Therapists use a variety of strategies, including:
Kids might need speech-language therapy for many reasons, including:
Therapy should begin as soon as possible. Children who start therapy early (before they’re 5 years old) tend to have better results than those who begin later.
This doesn’t mean that older kids won’t do well in therapy. Their progress might be slower, though, because they have learned patterns that need to be changed.
To find a specialist, ask your child’s doctor or teacher for a referral, check local directories online, or search on ASHA’s website. State associations for speech-language pathology and audiology also keep listings of licensed and certified therapists.
Your child’s SLP should be licensed in your state and have experience working with kids and your child’s specific disorder.
Parents are key to the success of a child’s progress in speech or language therapy. Kids who finish the program quickest and with the longest-lasting results are those whose parents were involved.
Ask the therapist what you can do. For instance, you can help your child do the at-home activities that the SLP suggests. This ensures the continued progress and carry-over of new skills.
Overcoming a speech or language disorder can take time and effort. So it’s important that all family members be patient and understanding with the child.
Knowing what’s “normal” and what’s not in speech and language development can help you figure out if you should be concerned or if your child is right on schedule.
Hearing problems can be overcome if they’re caught early, so it’s important to get your child’s hearing screened early and checked regularly.
Speech-language pathologists help kids with speech problems related to a cleft palate. Find out what they do.
Hearing impairment occurs when there’s a problem with or damage to one or more parts of the ear. Find out its causes and what can be done to help correct it.
Do you know someone who stutters or has another speech disorder? Find out how speech disorders are treated, how you can help a friend or classmate cope, and lots more.
You might visit a speech therapist if you’re having trouble speaking or understanding others. Find out more in this article for kids.
Do you or does someone you know ever have a hard time getting words out? Get the whole story on stuttering and other speech problems in this article for kids.
Many young kids go through a stage when they stutter. Stuttering usually goes away on its own but in some cases lasts longer.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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