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All About Speech Therapy: A Guide for Parents

Updated: May 2

What is Speech Therapy?


Speech therapy is a specialized field of therapy aimed at diagnosing and treating communication disorders by a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). These disorders range from being mild, temporary, and easy to overcome to life-long difficulties caused by severe medical conditions. The goal of speech therapy is to support the patient, the family, the people they communicate with, and their environments in order to improve overall communication and quality of life.


What Does Speech Therapy Treat?


The scope of speech therapy is broad, addressing various aspects of communication and speech production. Some common areas of treatment in speech therapy include:


  1. Articulation: Helping improve a child’s intelligibility by producing speech sounds precisely and correctly.

  2. Language: Enhancing vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension skills – in whatever modality the child learns best. This not only includes speech but also includes reading, writing, signing, and other Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).

  3. Fluency: Assisting with stuttering or other disruptions in speech flow.

  4. Voice: Addressing issues such as hoarseness or vocal nodules.

  5. Pragmatics: Improving social communication and social-emotional skills to help improve play skills and form or maintain relationships by learning to understand others.

  6. Hearing: Supporting children with hearing impairments to develop communication skills through auditory training, use of assistive devices, and language stimulation.

  7. Feeding: Addressing difficulties with eating, swallowing, oral motor skills, and sensory difficulties surrounding food - ensuring safe and efficient feeding practices.


What Are the Services? How Does it Work?

At Speech Eat Learn, we provide consultations, evaluations, and treatment sessions.

  1. Consultation: Free of charge, the first consultation is used to discuss concerns and needs of the patient. This will be used to determine whether further evaluation is warranted. These consultations are free of charge and are provided via telephone and video conferencing and last about 15 minutes. Once therapy begins, other consultations or meetings may be scheduled for continuing education, advocacy, or to collaborate with the patient's other therapists, educators, or medical professionals as needed. Schedule a free consultation here.

  2. Evaluation: A comprehensive evaluation includes case history, caregiver interview, observation through play or conversation, speech/language sample, and standardized assessment. Depending on the patient's needs, their receptive and expressive language, articulation/speech, fluency, voice, pragmatic/social skills, and feeding skills will be evaluated. Evaluations will typically take 1 hour but may be more or less dependent on each case. In-person evaluations will preferably be conducted in the patient's home to observe them in their least restrictive natural environment. Evaluations are also readily available via telehealth as well. Before treatment in the first therapy session, the evaluation findings will be further discussed. You will get a copy for your records upon request.

  3. Treatment: Each therapy session is carefully planned to incorporate the patient's Plan of Care in order to provide the highest quality of services. Individualized therapy is planned and conducted via teletherapy, at home, school/daycare, or within the community. This allows the patient to be comfortable and learn in their natural environment and also allows caregivers and teachers to become educated on how to provide carryover of skills being learned and to participate in sessions as well. Therapy may be scheduled as 20 mins, 30 mins, 45 mins, or 60 min sessions. Recommended duration and frequency is dependent on the needs of the patient. Social group sessions and parent education (Mommy & Me or Daddy & Me) classes are also available upon request.

Signs That an Evaluation is Needed


Recognizing the signs that your child may benefit from a speech therapy evaluation is crucial for early intervention. Some red flags to watch out for in younger children include:


  1. Unusual Play Skills: Playing with toys or objects atypically or difficulty understanding the purpose or proper use of objects.

  2. Limited Language: Only labeling objects, difficulty expressing wants, needs, or thoughts and difficulty understanding language appropriate for their age.

  3. Speech Sound Errors: Hard to understand when speaking. Persistent difficulty pronouncing certain sounds or words.

  4. Stuttering: Repeated disruptions in speech flow, such as prolongations or repetitions of sounds.

  5. Voice Changes: Persistent hoarseness, breathiness, or other abnormal voice qualities.

  6. Difficulty with Social Interaction: Struggling to form relationships, engage in conversations, or follow social cues.


Why Early Intervention is Important


Early intervention is paramount in speech therapy because it can significantly improve a child's long-term communication skills and overall quality of life. Research consistently shows that addressing communication challenges early in childhood can lead to better outcomes, as the brain is most receptive to learning and adaptation during these formative years. By intervening early, speech therapists can help children develop essential communication skills that are crucial for academic success, social interactions, and future career opportunities.


Why Therapy in a Child's Natural Environment is Best


While speech therapy sessions with a qualified professional are essential, providing therapy in a child's natural environment offers unique benefits. This natural environment could include the child's home, school, daycare, playground, or any other setting where the child spends significant time. Here's why therapy in the natural environment is beneficial for children:


  1. Home Therapy: Conducting therapy sessions at home allows children to practice communication skills in a familiar and comfortable environment. This setting encourages active participation and engagement, leading to more effective learning and skill generalization.

  2. School or Daycare-Based Therapy: Providing therapy sessions at the child's school or daycare allows for collaboration between the speech-language pathologist, teachers, and other educational professionals. This collaborative approach ensures that therapy goals align with the child's academic and social needs, promoting consistency and integration of skills across settings.

  3. Generalization of Skills: By practicing speech and language skills in real-life contexts, such as during playtime, mealtime, or classroom activities, children can better generalize these skills to various situations and environments. Therapy in the natural environment facilitates the application of learned skills in everyday interactions, promoting functional communication abilities.

  4. Family and Caregiver Involvement: It is important not just to teach the child how to communicate with others – it is equally important to teach others how to communicate with the child! Involving parents, caregivers, teachers, and other relevant individuals in therapy sessions fosters a supportive learning environment and empowers those closest to the child to facilitate ongoing skill development. Family and caregiver involvement promotes carryover of learned skills between therapy sessions, maximizing the effectiveness of intervention.

  5. Contextual Learning Opportunities: Therapy in the natural environment provides abundant opportunities for contextual learning. Speech-language pathologists can tailor therapy activities to specific situations and interactions, making learning more meaningful and relevant to the child's daily life.


Speech Eat Learn provides therapy across a variety of settings for the child and their family. Contact us today to schedule an evaluation.


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