September 14, 2022

What to Expect if Your Child Attends Speech Therapy

Speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, receive special training to help people improve their communication skills. What should you expect if your child attends speech therapy? 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Speech and language delays or disorders impact a child’s ability to communicate.
  • Difficulty understanding and communicating using language can affect a child’s social skills and academic abilities.
  • Early intervention is key; most speech/language delays are discernable anywhere between a year to five years old.
  • A speech therapist will evaluate your child and work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan.
  • Speech therapy consists of many components such as sound repetition, physical exercises, and even feeding and swallowing, depending on your child’s needs.

As a parent/caregiver, you’re typically the first person to notice that your child might be experiencing delays in their development. One area that many parents pay particular attention to is their child’s speech and communication skills. For children who have communication challenges, speech therapy is generally one of the frontline recommendations.

Speech therapy focuses on improving a child’s general language and communication skills. It may be aimed at treating delays or speech disorders, reducing or eliminating stuttering, and even feeding and swallowing because all of these factors influence a child’s ability to communicate. In this article, we’ll share how to know if your child needs speech therapy and what to expect with speech therapy for children.

What is a speech/language disorder?

Speech/language disorders refer to a wide spectrum of disorders that can affect the way your child creates sounds to form words or understands and uses language. A child with a speech disorder may have difficulty connecting sounds, distorting sounds, omitting sounds, or have difficulty forming certain sounds correctly (like the letter “r” or “th” sounds). A child with a language disorder may have difficulty following directions, participating in daily routines, or using words to communicate with others.

Having a speech/language delay or disorder can make it more difficult for your child to be successful at school and their social skills may suffer. There are many reasons a child can experience a speech/language delay and many types of speech disorders, including:

  • Autism
  • Apraxia
  • Cleft palate
  • Developmental delay
  • Dyslexia
  • Feeding disorders
  • Fluency disorders
  • Selective mutism
  • Tongue thrust
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Vocal disorders

A speech-language pathologist can treat individuals with all of the above diagnoses and more.

Signs your child needs speech-language therapy

While all children learn at their own pace, general guidelines can help parents and professionals understand age-appropriate milestones. Here are some signs your child may need assistance.

  • At 12 to 15 months: Has not yet said their first words; doesn’t use gestures like pointing; only makes a few sounds.
  • At 18 to 24 months: Cuts off the ends of words, such as “stan- uh” instead of “stand up”; unable to put together two-word combos; grunts, whines, or points instead of using their words.
  • At two to four years old: Unable to string together two and three-word combinations; has a vocabulary of under 50 words; has unclear articulation.
  • At four to five years old: Stutters, such as repeating the beginning sounds of words (like “c-c-c-cat” for “cat”); unable to follow clear directions; repeats sounds or words (echolalia)

A possible speech/language delay can present at any time. It’s generally noticeable by around two-to-four years of age, though.

The benefits of speech-language therapy

If your child is displaying any of the signs above, it’s important to let your pediatrician know. A pediatrician can provide a referral for speech-language therapy. Speech-language therapy can help your child – and you! – in many ways; here are some of the benefits:

  • Improved communication allows children to better express their needs, wants, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Helps them to better understand what others are saying, which can help them learn to follow directions better and improve their ability to learn important life and functional skills.
  • Helps them prepare for schooling environments so that they don’t fall behind academically.
  • Improves their general functioning, which contributes to increasing their self-esteem and independence.
  • Enhances their social skills so that they can build friendships and relationships.
  • Aids in building literacy, which is linked to many positive long-term outcomes such as graduating high school, gaining employment, and more.
  • Reduces familial frustration by reducing incidents in which communication is unclear or difficult.
  • Enhances the child’s ability to utilize Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).
  • As with most situations, early intervention helps bolster positive outcomes. Starting early can make all the difference.

What happens during speech-language therapy?

After performing an extensive evaluation with your child, a speech-language pathologist will work collaboratively with you both to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Speech-language therapy can consist of one-on-one treatment or working together in small groups. A speech-language pathologist may use picture books, talking and playing, and repetition to help your child improve their speech, language, and communication skills.

Depending on the reason for speech-language therapy, oral feeding and swallow therapy may be indicated. Speech sound exercises are another critical component of speech therapy. Ultimately, sessions will be customized to cater to your child’s unique and individual needs. Your speech-language pathologist will most likely show you exercises you can do at home, too.

Get support from a qualified speech therapist in the Chicago, IL area

Learning that your child is struggling with communication skills or a speech disorder can be frustrating. But professional help is available and it can go a long way in helping your child learn the skills they need to improve their communication.

Lumiere Children’s Therapy has certified speech therapists who specialize in AAC methods, technology, evaluations, and speech therapy. Lumiere Children’s Therapy is dedicated to helping children improve their functionality so that they can complete tasks on their own. We offer assistance with:

  • Motor planning
  • Gross motor and fine motor delays
  • Body awareness
  • Coordination skills
  • Functional skills, such as stairs
  • Daily self-care skills
  • Handwriting
  • Visual motor integration
  • Visual perceptual skills
  • Feeding
  • Social and peer interaction skills
  • Sensory processing
  • Strength and coordination
  • Early development with infants
  • Sensory processing

We can help children with specialized diagnoses, such as:

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • Developmental delay
  • Prematurity
  • Fine motor delay
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Down syndrome
  • Learning delays
  • Visual processing disorders
  • Motor incoordination
  • Chromosomal abnormalities

Lumiere Children’s Therapy also provides a host of other pediatric therapies to help children with a wide range of physical, emotional, and developmental conditions achieve traditional childhood milestones.

Our services include:

  • Occupational therapy
  • ABA therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Developmental therapy
  • Social work
  • Early intervention
  • Augmentative alternative communication
  • Teletherapy

Lumiere Children’s Therapy is a full-service pediatric therapy practice located in Chicago. We focus on providing services catered to the developmental needs of children from birth to 18 years of age. Be sure to learn more about how our clinicians work diligently to improve the lives of the children and families they serve.

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