Speech is the use of articulated sounds to express thoughts. A speech disorder, also known as a communication disorder, is any problem that prevents a person from communicating effectively using spoken words.
A speech-language pathologist (SLP), sometimes just called a speech therapist, is a professional trained to evaluate and treat people who have speech, language, or swallowing disorders.
At Celebrations Speech Group, our team of SLPs help children (and adults) in the Brentwood, Stockton, and Elk Grove, California, areas overcome their speech disorders and learn to communicate more effectively. If your child is having difficulty communicating, our speech therapy program can help them get back on track. Here’s how.
What are some common speech disorders?
There are a number of speech disorders, each with their own unique challenges.
Stuttering is a fluency disorder characterized by repeating sounds, syllables, or words. A person who stutters knows what they want to say but has trouble forming the words clearly or in a way that flows naturally.
Articulation disorders cause difficulty in the production of sound that involves the coordinated movements of the lips, tongue, teeth, palate, and respiratory system. A person with an articulation disorder may distort, swap, add, or drop certain word sounds, such as saying “wabbit” instead of “rabbit.”
A child with phonological (word sound) disorders can form the sounds correctly, but they often use them in the wrong position in a word. They may also have problems with other areas of language development.
Specific language impairment (SLI)
An SLI causes problems with language skills development in children, but it’s not due to any known neurological, sensory, or intellectual disability. Also called developmental language disorders, language delay, or developmental dysphasia, SLIs are one of the most common developmental disorders, affecting some 7%-8% of kindergarteners.
If not corrected, the problem can follow the child into adulthood. However, speech therapy can improve a child’s specific issues and help with their social and work life.
A resonance disorder results from something blocking the regular airflow through the child’s nose and mouth, changing the quality of the voice, and leading to unclear speech. This type of speech disorder is common with cleft palates and neurological conditions.
These disorders interfere with the ability to process and comprehend what other people say. One specific example is aphasia, which can affect both speech and comprehension. It may be caused by damage to the parts of the brain responsible for language. In adults, strokes are the leading cause of aphasia.
Expressive disorders affect the ability to speak with expression. It’s usually seen in children with developmental conditions, such as Down syndrome or hearing loss.
How can speech therapy help my child talk better?
When you bring your child in for an evaluation, an SLP performs an assessment to determine which speech disorder they have and its severity. Then, they recommend a treatment plan that may include small group settings and/or one-on-one sessions.
Therapeutic exercises and activities include:
These activities involve talking and playing with the child while using images, books, and objects to stimulate language development. The SLP also demonstrates correct pronunciation and uses repetition exercises to help increase language skills.
As with language activities, the SLP demonstrates how to make specific sounds and uses repetition to reinforce learning.
The SLP uses a number of tongue, lip, and jaw exercises, along with facial massage, to help strengthen the muscles around the mouth. This can help your child improve speech sounds and patterns and train them for future communication.
The SLP also provides strategies and homework so your child can work through activities with you and practice outside the clinical setting. The more real-world experience they get, the better their speech patterns will become.
Is speech therapy effective? Absolutely! One study of over 700 children with speech or language difficulties showed that therapy had a significant positive effect. With an average of six hours over six months, children significantly improved their communication performance. In addition, children who received therapy benefitted more than those who didn’t.
If your child has a speech or language problem, it’s time to bring them into Celebrations Speech Group for an evaluation by one of our speech pathologists. Give us a call at any of our locations, or book online today.