Speech Therapy for Kids : Everything You Need To Know

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May 5, 2020

Reading Time: 7 minutes

During the growth stage of a child, it is often noticed that he/she faces certain issues in the way they communicate with others. This may include the wrong pronunciation of specific words or the fear of conversing with someone who is unfamiliar. If not dealt with this issue in the early stage, it may turn out to be a major problem for the child in their future. Therefore, to help children combat this problem at an early stage, we bring forward this article to address some major questions with regard to Speech Therapy for kids.

 

Table of Content

 

What is Speech Therapy?

Speech Therapy is the assessment and treatment of communication problems and speech and/or language disorders. It is an intervention service that focuses on improving the speech abilities of people. This includes both verbal and nonverbal communication language. Speech therapy techniques are used to improve the communication style of people. It includes articulation therapy, language intervention activities, etc. depending on the type of speech/language disorder. It includes two components: (1) coordination of the mouth to produce sounds so that words and sentences can be formed; and (2) understanding the expressions and style of a language. 

 

Why does a child need Speech Therapy?

A child might need speech therapy if he/she is suffering from any of the following speech and/or language disorders: 

  • Articulation disorders: It refers to the inability to pronounce specific words, or saying words incorrectly which sometimes are beyond understanding.
  • Fluency disorders: It includes problems such as stuttering, or taking unusual stops or partial-word repetitions ("b-b-boy”).
  • Resonance of voice disorders: Problems with regard to the pitch, volume, or quality of the voice which often distract the listeners. 
  • Receptive disorders: Problems with understanding or processing what others are saying.
  • Expressive disorders: Problems with putting words together or framing sentences i.e. inability to convey the information.
  • Cognitive-communication disorders: Problems that involve memory, attention, perception, organization, regulation, and problem-solving.
  • Aphasia: A communication disorder to speak and understand others. It often affects a person’s ability to read and write too. 
  • Dysarthria: Inability to control the muscles used for speech which leads to slow and slurred communication. 

 

Who provides Speech-Language Therapy?

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), often known as speech therapists, are the people who provide Speech-Language Therapy. These are highly educated people in the field of human communication, its development, and disorders. They assess the speech, the language, the cognitive-communication, and the oral/feeding/swallowing skills in order to identify a problem and its solution.

SLPs have at least a master's degree or a state certification/licensure in the field or a certificate of clinical competency from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

 

What happens during Speech Therapy?

Step 1: The SLP will first assess your child. They will look at all areas of speech and language development to find out which are the areas that are affecting your child.  They will then decide upon this by comparing your child’s performance to developmental norms.  Upon a careful assessment, they will try to figure out all the possible types of solutions available for the cure.

Step 2: Next, the SLP will delve deeper into the details of the solutions which are available. It is often noticed that a child with a speech and/or language difficulty has problems in several areas. Therefore, it is important to begin the therapy by selecting a reasonable number of goals to address. 

Step 3: For example, if a child is only able to speak a few words and also faces trouble with the /s/ sound, the speech therapist will choose to teach him/her more words before beginning to address specific sounds. Therefore, a correct implementation of the proposed solution is also very important. The process takes a step by step approach to reach the final goal.

Step 4: Each child is different and will respond to different therapy methods in a different way. The job of an SLP is to choose the right therapy technique for each child and perform regular follow-up sessions to notice the changes that a child is adapting.

 

How is the speech therapy provided to children?

It may be in a one-to-one interaction in a classroom or in a small group depending upon the type of speech disorder. It may include:

  • interaction through talking and playing, and using books, pictures and other objects

  • modeling correct sounds and syllables for the child in an appropriate manner

  • providing strategies and homework for the child and the parent 

 

Where will I find a Speech-Language Therapist?

Ask for a reference from your child's doctor or teacher, check out local directories, or search on ASHA's website. 

 

Can we provide speech therapy at home?

Yes, you can do speech therapy at home. Finding an SLP can sometimes be a very tedious task and for this reason, parents are often interested in the techniques which they can implement to do speech therapy at home. This advice should not replace a consultation with a speech-language pathologist. This is just the initial groundwork that parents can do before visiting an SLP. 

  1. Parents can download the Linguisystems Guide to Communication Milestones. This guide summarizes the current research of what a child typically does at a certain age. This could be a start as it will give you an idea about what skills your child needs extra assistance with.
  2. Choose 2-3 areas of your child’s weakness to address. Remember, these kids are different. Therefore, it is advisable to go slow and show patience. It is the responsibility of a parent to also keep the child happy and motivated to learn. Choose to work with your children and keep them involved. Only then can you expect some good results from them.
  3. Though an SLP has a Master’s Degree, they do have some basic approaches that parents can try during speech therapy at home. The idea in large is to break each skill down into smaller or simpler steps and specifically teach them to your child. For example, if you want to teach your child the /f/ sound, you can start by teaching how to pronounce the sound by itself (“fffffff”), then in syllables (“fuh”, “oof”), and at last in words (“fish”, “roof”).

 

Point of Interest:

Did you know there is a correlation between Speech Therapy and Mathematics too? Yes, you read it correctly. There are a number of games that will help your kids develop their mathematical abilities along with solving their speech/language problems. Some of the math games which we recommend are:

  1. Monopoly/Business: This will help your child develop the habit of mental calculations

  2. Chess: Considered to be the best brain game developed

  3. Building Blocks: Helps to build your child’s logical thinking abilities and understand shapes and colors

  4. Abacus: There are various coaching classes for this activity taking place too

  5. Math Puzzles: This helps your kid to analyze the pictures and figures

  6. Mobile/Computer/Video games which involve an exercise of the mental capabilities

Problems related to math contain a lot of languages. They help kids to think and imagine beyond their abilities. Mathematics problems have a lot of practical applications to which students easily connect to while learning. Mathematics structures the thought process of the child in a logical manner during the speech therapy process. They also develop an ability to distinguish between different shapes and colors. They learn about signs and symbols, weights, and measurements and their comparisons. They also tend to develop a habit of regular and daily practice for improvements and better results. As parents and teachers, it is important to:

  • Encourage the child to involve themselves in such activities

  • Actively participate in the task

  • Help them to think and solve their doubts

  • Increase the difficulty slowly and steadily

  • Ensure regular revisions

 

What are some of the activities that can be performed while providing Speech Therapy?

  • Use simple sounds like “da”, “ma”, “ba”, etc. Make the child distinguish between vowels and consonants.

  • Speak slowly so that your child can understand and process every word.

  • Read books with lots of colorful pictures and words in it.

  • Show your child colors on colorful building blocks and other items and shapes.

  • Use a lot of hand movements like clapping, peek-a-boo, waving, etc.

  • Singing and rhyming.

  • Introduce new words.

  • Encourage communication by making eye contact.

  • Play games like building blocks, color sticks, etc.

 

How can Parents be of help in this case?

Parents play an important role and are the key to success for a child's progress in speech or language therapy. It is often seen that kids who finish the program quickly are those who have the support and the involvement of their parents. Ask the therapist about what parents can do to combat this issue. For example, you can help your child do his homework or other activities that the SLP suggests. This will ensure continued progress over time.

 

How long is Speech Therapy?

The amount of time it takes to cure a person who is suffering from any such problem depends upon a number of factors like:

  1. Age:  Some speech disorders start showing their symptoms early in childhood. These can be solved by the time a child enters his teenage years. But, some other types of speech disorders continue into adulthood and require long term therapy and maintenance.
  2. Type and Severity of the speech disorder: Different types and levels of disorders demand different time periods to get cured completely.
  3. Frequency of therapy: If the frequency of taking regular checkups and therapies is high, then a person can get cured faster.
  4. Underlying medical condition: The time period to get cured also depends upon other medical issues (if any) that a child is facing.
  5. Treatment of the other underlying medical conditions that the child is undergoing.

 

What are some of the benefits of Speech Therapy?

  1. It can help kids learn to speak more clearly and fluently. This will make the child feel more confident and less frustrated while speaking to others. 
  2. Kids can benefit socially, emotionally, and academically from speech therapy.
  3. They can start hearing and distinguishing specific sounds in words. For example, the word bat breaks down into b, a, and t sounds. This will improve reading comprehension skills and will encourage kids to read and write more.

 

How successful is Speech Therapy?

Based on the factors mentioned above, the success rate of speech therapy varies from person to person. Speech therapy for children is more successful when it starts at an early stage and is practiced at home with the involvement of a parent. Speech Therapy for adults follows a slow pace but emerges to be successful in 65% of the cases. Therefore, with early intervention, speech therapy can show signs of improvements in communication and boost self-confidence.

  
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