Pediatric Speech Therapy
What is Pediatric Speech Therapy?
Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) address communication and swallowing disorders in patients. If a child has trouble comprehending or expressing spoken or written language, a speech-language pathologist can help. SLPs help a child understand and use vocabulary, grammar, and the social aspects of language and metalinguistic skills. Some children respond to traditional therapy interventions while others may benefit from use of an alternative or augmentative communication system. SLPs also assist children with articulation, voice and fluency disorders. All children develop the sounds that make up words at different rates. However, when a child’s development in this area falls below developmental norms or affects his or her ability to be understood, an articulation disorder may be suspected. Finally, if an individual has difficulty with any aspect of swallowing, a SLP can assist in the development or rehabilitation of the oral and pharyngeal stages of swallowing.
Our Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) specialize in speech and communication disorders as well as swallowing disorders. SLPs work with patients on components of speech production and language as well as oral motor and feeding.
Components of speech production include: phonation, the process of sound production; resonance, opening and closing of the vocal folds; intonation, the variation of pitch; and voice, including aeromechanical components of respiration.
Components of language include phonology, the manipulation of sound according to the rules of the language; morphology, the understanding and use of the minimal units of meaning; syntax, the grammar or principles and rules for constructing sentences in language; semantics, the interpretation of meaning from the signs or symbols of communication; and pragmatics, the social aspects of communication.
Speech Therapy Treatments
Articulation (phonetic mastery) refers to the correct production of individual speech sounds. Assessment involves the use of standardized tests to identify errors in the production of individual speech sounds (phonemes) in initial, medial and final positions in single words. The child may have an articulation disorder if errors continue past the expected age. Phonological development looks at the development of speech sound patterns observed in the production of syllables, words or longer units of spoken language. Assessment involves the use of standardized testing to evaluate patterns of errors such as “final sound deletion” (/ha/ for “hop”). “velar fronting” (/ti/ for “key”) and “initial voicing” (/bat/ for “pat”).)
You may feel as though providing your child with an AAC device is the equivalent of giving up on speech therapy, but in actuality, studies have shown that children who use AAC devices are encouraged to increase their nonverbal and verbal communication. These children are also less likely to be socially isolated or to become frustrated because they cannot express themselves. AAC devices are intended to complement speech therapy, not replace it. Consider AAC devices to be another tool in your arsenal of speech therapy treatments, much like using Speech Buddies to encourage correct pronunciation.
During an evaluation, an SLP will note the number and types of speech disfluencies a person produces in various situations. The SLP will also assess the ways in which the person reacts to and copes with disfluencies. The SLP may also gather information about factors such as teasing that may make the problem worse. A variety of other assessments (e.g., speech rate, language skills) may be completed as well, depending upon the person’s age and history. For younger children (ages 1-5), it is important to predict whether the stuttering is likely to continue. Factors that are noted by many specialists include a family history of stuttering, stuttering that has continued for 6 months or longer, presence of other speech or language disorders, and/or strong fears or concerns about stuttering on the part of the child or family. It is typical for children between the ages of 1 and 5 to have some speech disfluencies or stuttering. Pediatric clients who are determined to be appropriate for therapy based on the assessment criteria listed above are taught to use fluency enhancing techniques to reduce or eliminate the occurrences of stuttering during spontaneous speech.
For older children and adults, the question of whether stuttering is likely to continue is somewhat less important, because the stuttering has continued at least long enough for it to become a problem in the person’s daily life. For these individuals, an evaluation consists of tests, observations and interviews that are designed to assess the overall severity of the disorder. In addition, the impact the disorder has on the person’s ability to communicate and participate appropriately in daily activities is evaluated. Information from the evaluation is then used to develop a specific treatment program, one that is designed to help the individual speak more fluently, communicate more effectively and participate in more fully in life activities.
The PPHC Approach
The commitment of PPHC is to provide high quality, outcome-oriented healthcare to patients requiring specialized pediatric rehabilitation services in the home. This commitment is shared by every employee of PPHC as we strive daily for clinical excellence, high standards of patient care, partnerships with our families and communities, and ongoing therapy education.
By providing Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy we are able to provide a valuable multidisciplinary approach that serves all the child’s therapy needs. In addition, consistent collaboration with doctors and community healthcare providers widen our ability to care for the children further. Frequent communication and cooperation with a child’s school is also taken into consideration as we provide the most thorough care possible to meet each child’s goals.
Our hope is to set goals with the patient and family and do everything we can to help a child reach their personal best. The family is a key component in optimizing therapy outcomes. We want all of our families to feel that they are involved and knowledgeable about the therapy and care their children are receiving, because help and follow through at home can make a world of difference in the effectiveness of therapy.
With caregiver collaboration and family centered treatment, we provide a level of excellence in therapy that we are proud to share with you.