When babies first come into the world they are often an enigma for their parents because their only means of communicating their wants and needs is to cry, and finally as they get a bit older and first learn to communicate in more advanced methods, it opens their world in new and important ways. Communication is vital to not only understanding the world around us and maneuvering through society, but is also our greatest tool in advocating for ourselves. When there is a difficulty that presents itself, especially for young children who are just beginning to tap into these tools, this is where speech therapy can be of benefit. If you are concerned that your child may be struggling with speech, understanding, reading or swallowing then an evaluation and individualized therapy can often offer significant improvements for the issues at hand.
What is speech therapy?
Speech therapy may seem like the obvious answer for when a child has issues with verbal speech, but what many don’t realize is that speech therapists address issues with communication overall and speaking is just a part of that. In fact, if a child is struggling with reading, comprehension of information or even physical acts such as swallowing, it would be in a speech therapists scope-of- practice to help with these issues.
Speech therapists will work on helping children to develop expressive language which is the ability to express our thoughts, emotions and share our ideas. They can also help with the mechanics of eating, including chewing and swallowing; difficulty with these functions is often referred to as dysphagia. Help with Language Mechanics also falls under a speech therapists scope and involves help to develop the ability to produce words and sounds that may be difficult for a child. In addition to all this, speech therapy can also help to develop the ability to understand the words that are spoken to us, which is also referred to as language reception. These four types of treatments are usually utilized or combined in a way based on an individualized treatment plan designed to meet the individual child’s goals and needs.
Usually treatments will focus on helping to restore lost function in areas of speaking, understanding or eating, but it can also help to improve a child’s existing abilities where they may just need a little help with something that they are having trouble with such as accurately expressing thoughts and ideas. All of these types of treatments can help to improve the ability to communicate, get proper nutrition for optimal health, and overall improve confidence and quality of life. Clear and Effective communication is a major life skill and giving your child the ability to do so is a huge benefit for their future in school, work and relationships.
What Conditions Does Speech Therapy Treat?
As we went over the general types of therapies that a speech therapist can utilize, these interventions can help with a wide variety of conditions. According to Kidshealth.org some commonly treated conditions include:
- Auditory Processing Disorders
- Fluency Disorders
- Neurological Disorders
- Oral Motor and Feeding Skills
- Chronic Hoarseness
- Speech Apraxia or Dyspraxia
- Voice Disorders
- Speech Delays
- Articulation Problems
- Phonological Disorders
- Expressive Language
- Receptive Language
- Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication Skills
- Augmentative/Alternative Communication Skills
- Communication for children with cochlear implants or Hearing Impairment
What should I Do If I suspect a need for Speech Therapy?
If you notice that your child is having trouble with their communication skills, whether they are having difficulty getting the right words out, trouble understanding what others are saying, or are struggling with swallowing, sucking, chewing or other problems related to eating and drinking, then speech therapy may be a good option for your child. The first step will be to refer your child for an evaluation so that a thorough assessment of your child’s strengths and weakness can be completed and a comprehensive treatment plan can be developed. At Solace, we have highly trained and compassionate speech therapists who can help develop a plan with the family and come to the child’s most comfortable natural setting to help them not only simply improve but to thrive.