Speech Disorders and Language Disorders
A speech disorder refers to a problem with the actual production of sounds, whereas a language disorder refers to a difficulty understanding or putting words together to communicate ideas.
Language disorders can be either receptive or expressive:
- Receptive disorders: difficulties understanding or processing language.
- Expressive disorders: difficulty putting words together, limited vocabulary, or inability to use language in a socially appropriate way.
Speech disorders include:
- Articulation disorders: difficulties producing sounds in syllables or saying words incorrectly to the point that listeners can't understand what's being said.
- Fluency disorders: problems such as stuttering, in which the flow of speech is interrupted by abnormal stoppages, repetitions (st-st-stuttering), or prolonging sounds and syllables (ssssstuttering).
- Resonance or voice disorders: problems with the pitch, volume, or quality of the voice that distract listeners from what's being said. These types of disorders may also cause pain or discomfort for a child when speaking.
- Dysphagia/oral feeding disorders: these include difficulties with drooling, chewing, swallowing, limited diet, and food aversions.
Our Advanced Specialists in Speech-Language Therapy
Advanced Therapy's Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), also known as speech therapists, are professionals educated in the study of human communication, its development, and its disorders. Our SLPs hold at least a master's degree and state certification/licensure in the field, and a certificate of clinical competency from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Our SLPs will assess speech, language, cognitive-communication, and oral/feeding/swallowing skills to identify types of communication problems (articulation; fluency; voice; receptive and expressive language disorders, etc.) and the best way to treat them.
In speech-language therapy, one of our speech therapist will work with a child one-on-one or in a small group to overcome difficulties involved with a specific disorder.
Our team uses a variety of strategies, including:
- Language intervention activities: Our therapist will interact with a child by playing and talking, using pictures, books, objects, or ongoing events to stimulate language development. The therapist may also model correct pronunciation and use repetition exercises to build speech and language skills.
- Articulation therapy: Articulation, or sound production, exercises involve having the therapist model correct sounds and syllables for a child, often during play activities. The level of play is age-appropriate and related to the child's specific needs. The therapist will physically show the child how to make certain sounds, such as the "r" sound, and may demonstrate oral movements to produce the specific sounds accurately.
- Oral-motor/feeding and swallowing therapy: The therapist will use a variety of oral exercises, including facial massage and various tongue, lip, and jaw exercises to strengthen the muscles of the mouth. They may also work with different food textures and temperatures to increase a child's oral awareness during eating and swallowing.
When Is Therapy Needed?
Children may need speech-language therapy for a variety of reasons, including:
- hearing impairments
- cognitive (intellectual, thinking) or other developmental delays
- weak oral muscles
- excessive drooling
- chronic hoarseness
- birth defects such as cleft lip or cleft palate
- motor planning problems
- respiratory problems (breathing disorders)
- feeding and swallowing disorders
- traumatic brain injury
- Overall speech and language delay
Speech Therapy should begin as soon as possible. Children enrolled in therapy early (before they're 5 years old) tend to have better outcomes than those who begin therapy later. This however does not mean that older kids are unable to make progress in therapy; they may progress at a slower rate because they often have learned patterns that need to be changed.
How Can I Help My Child
Speech-language experts agree that parental involvement is crucial to the success of a child's progress in speech or language therapy.
Parents are an extremely important part of their child's therapy program and help determine whether it is a success. Children who complete the program quickest and with the longest-lasting results are those whose parents have been involved.
Ask our therapist for suggestions on how you can help your child. For instance, it's important to help your child do the at-home stimulation activities to ensure continued progress and carry-over of newly learned skills.
The process of overcoming a speech or language disorder can take some time and effort, so it's important that all family members be patient and understanding with the child.