Speech Therapists evaluate, diagnose and administer treatment for children and adults with various types of speech-language, cognitive, voice, and feeding/swallowing disorders.
Speech and language disorders may affect children in the way they speak, understand, analyze and/or process information. Speech disorders encompass issues in the clarity, voice quality, and fluency of one’s spoken words, while language disorders include children’s capability in holding meaningful conversations, understanding others, problem solving, reading comprehension, as well as expressing their thoughts through the spoken and/or written word.
Articulation is the production of speech sounds. An articulation disorder is when a child does not make speech sounds correctly due to incorrect placement or movement of the lips, tongue, velum, and/or pharynx. There are specific speech sound errors that are age appropriate. Mastering specific speech sounds may take several years.
Phonology refers to the speech sound system of language. A phonological disorder is when a child is not using speech sound patterns appropriately. A child whose sound structures are different from the speech typical for their stage of development, or who produce unusual simplifications of sound combinations may be demonstrating a phonological disorder.
The first few years of life are an exciting time of development for children. Below are important milestones for your child’s speech, language, and communication:
Please click on the attached link to view a developmental chart from ASHA outlining the milestones you should be looking for in children 0-5 years old. http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/chart
Expressive language includes the skills involved in communicating one’s thoughts and feelings to others. An expressive language disorder concerns difficultly with verbal expression.
Receptive language includes the skills involved in understanding language. Receptive language disorders are difficulties in the ability to attend to, process, comprehend, and/or retain spoken language.
Children with social pragmatic difficulties demonstrate deficits in social cognitive functioning. Diagnostic terms include: Asperger Syndrome, hyperlexia, High Functioning Autism, Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorders-Not Otherwise Specified and Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities. Individuals with social-pragmatic deficits have significant difficulties in their ability to effectively communicate and problem solve.
Making language the focus of everyday life is crucial in a child’s development. Encouraging language at home should be natural and not forced.
Here are additional resources to help you encourage language with your child: http://www.speechaccentsolutions.com/language_facilitation_techniques.html
Non-fluent speech is typical between the ages of 2-6 years old. It is typical for non-fluent speech to last up to six months, improve and then return. A speech-language evaluation may be in order if your child exhibits any other speech and language difficulties or was a late talker. Any child who is demonstrating any “struggle behaviors” (e.g., facial/bodily tension, breathing disruptions, blocks, grimacing) should be referred to a speech-language pathologist immediately.
Occupational therapists use assessment and treatment to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of individuals with a physical, mental, or cognitive disorder. Occupational therapists also focus much of their work on identifying and eliminating environmental barriers to independence and participation in daily activities.
Occupational therapy uses purposeful activities to enhance and encourage skill development. Guided by the client’s interests, the therapist provides fun and motivating activities that aim to provide a “just-right challenge” so that the client will develop the underlying skills needed to effectively complete functional tasks. The goal of occupational therapy treatment is to use meaningful activities to assist the client in achieving functional skills needed for daily living. When skill and strength cannot be developed or improved, occupational therapy offers creative solutions and alternatives for carrying out daily activities.
When evaluating a client for occupational therapy needs, the occupational therapist will assess many skills necessary for all domains of daily functioning. Parents/caregivers or teachers may be asked to complete rating scales in order to provide the therapist with specific information about the client’s level of functioning at home and school. Depending on the concerns expressed prior to the evaluation, the therapist may evaluate any or all of the following: