What is Speech Therapy?

Frequently, when we are talking about speech therapy, parents assume that it just means their child has trouble pronouncing words with “r” or “s” sounds. But there is so much more that speech can work on! Speech and effective communication are essential skills for daily life. It is a skill we use as soon as we are born and will continue to use throughout our entire life. So, what is speech therapy exactly? Keep reading and we will tell you about the different types of skills we can work on in speech therapy and the benefits of speech therapy.

Types of Speech Therapy

A speech therapist, also known as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), is a licensed therapist who is trained in helping children improve their communication and more. Speech therapy can be used for more than just pronunciation of words. When starting pediatric speech therapy at PediaPlex, we will perform an evaluation to determine what your child’s individual needs and goals are so that we can develop a treatment plan for them. Our evaluation is based on the following areas:

-Articulation: This is when children have difficulties producing specific sounds in words. An example could be when a child says “wed” instead of “red.”
Augmentative and Alternative Communication: This is also known as AAC and is used for nonverbal children who need a device to help them communicate. These types of devices can help children express themselves and request things based on their needs.
-Expressive Language: This is when a child has difficulties with their verbal or written expressions. For example, this would be when a child is unable to tell you that they need to use the bathroom or that they are hungry.
-Feeding: Speech therapy for feeding difficulties can help when a child has trouble with feeding themselves or swallowing foods- this is most often referred to as Feeding Therapy.
-Fluency: This would be when a child has a stutter or is unable to speak or read with proper speed and accuracy.
-Oral Mechanism: Oral structures that are functional for verbal speech output. Speech therapists will check that the facial features are symmetrical with adequate cheek, tongue, jaw, and lip strength/movement.
Pragmatic Language: Social skills fall under a child’s pragmatic language skills. This includes understanding nonverbal communication, conversation skills, and other language skills used during daily interactions with others.
-Receptive Language: If a child is having difficulties understanding language or directions that are said to them, it falls under receptive language. An example of this is when you ask your child to put their coat on or brush their teeth.
Voice: This will look at a child’s vocal quality, pitch, intensity, and resonance.

Benefits of Speech Therapy

There are many benefits to speech therapy far beyond having improved speech sounds. Speech is a skill that is essential in your daily life and is a crucial part of your child’s development. It can help your child become more independent, confident, perform better in school, and even reduce anxiety and frustration. Speech therapy can help your child with the following:

Confidence: For school-aged children, it’s extremely important to be able to communicate effectively with peers. Having improved articulation, vocal quality, and fluency will help children when speaking to others and can improve their confidence.
-Expression: With the help of speech therapy, children can learn how to express themselves. Whether it’s expressing their thoughts and ideas, or their wants and needs, it’s something that children will need to be able to do their entire life.
-Non-Verbal Communication: Non-verbal communication is a skill that many can struggle with. Speech therapy can help your child learn how to understand and appropriately use non-verbal communication skills like body language, facial expressions, and gestures.
-Oral Motor Skills: Speech therapists can also help when it comes to mealtime. They can work on helping picky eaters, swallowing foods, and other oral motor skills that will help your child to safely eat independently.
-Social Skills: Speech therapy can teach your child how to start conversations, how to appropriately respond to situations/conversations, and how to interact with others.
-Speech Generating Devices: For nonverbal children, speech therapy is a great way to help train them on speech generating devices (also known as alternative communication devices (AAC)). With these devices we can teach them how to use picture exchange communication systems (PECS),  text to speech programs such as Proloquo2go, and others.
-Vocabulary: With the help of speech therapy, your child can build their vocabulary and learn how to form sentences.

Speech therapy is an essential part of your child’s life. It is a skill that they will use their entire life so it’s important for them to develop these skills early and continue to grow them. If you think your child might benefit from speech therapy, give us a call today! Our team of speech therapists at PediaPlex are here to help.

-The PediaPlex Family