Speech and Language Therapy
Speech-Language Pathologists, or Speech Therapists, are highly trained professionals who work with children and adults who have a variety of conditions, including Down Syndrome, Autism, Dyslexia, stuttering, hearing loss, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, stroke, vocal polyps, and developmental delays.
These clients may have delays in the following areas:
Childhood apraxia of speech may be described as a motor speech disorder that occurs in children and presents as a global deficit in the production of sounds, syllables, and words. These errors are not a result of muscle weakness. Apraxia occurs as a result of poor communication between the brain and body parts/muscles such as the lips, tongue, and jaw. A child may demonstrate apraxia of speech if she/he demonstrates the following characteristics: little to no cooing or babbling as an infant, delayed production of first words, greater language skills than speech production, sounds choppy in speech, demonstrates difficulty combining syllables or sounds. Many other characteristics may exist with the diagnosis for instance, some children will have difficulty eating as well as groping movements with their mouth, lips, and tongue during speech production.
Receptive language is the comprehension or understanding of language. Children who have deficits in their receptive language skills may display difficulty: following directions, identifying pictures, items, etc., and understanding more complicated sentences. They may show lack of interest when story books are read to them.
Pragmatic language is the social use of language. It is the ability to appropriately use language, change language, provide background information to unfamiliar listeners, speak differently in different settings, and follow conversational rules in order to interact with others in a variety of settings. A child who has deficits in pragmatic language may display Pragmatic language ability involves the ability to appropriately use language (e.g., persuade, request, inform, reject), change language (e.g., talk differently to different audiences, provide background information to unfamiliar listeners, speak differently in different settings, etc) as well as follow conversational rules (e.g., take turns, introduce topics, rephrase sentences, maintain appropriate physical distance during conversational exchanges, use facial expressions and eye contact, etc) all of which culminate into the child’s general ability to appropriately interact with others in a variety of settings.
A child with an oral motor disorder experiences difficulty controlling the lips, tongue, and jaw muscles. This can make eating, drinking, and speaking difficult. A child with an oral motor disorder may display: a “droopy” face, open mouth posture, refusal to eat food requiring chewing, frequent gagging, difficulty moving tongue side to side, up/down, drooling, and difficulty producing words.
Expressive language is the production of language, sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings with others. Children who experience delays in this area may display difficulty naming items, putting words together in phrases and sentences, and using language appropriately in a variety of settings with different people (at home, school, with parents and teachers). They may use fewer words than other children of similar age, use non-specific vocabulary (“this” or “thing”), make grammatical errors (“I have two cat”), use incomplete sentences (“She running”), and experience difficulty retelling a story or relaying information in an organized way.
Fluency is the smooth, forward moving, unhesitant, effortless speech. Children who have fluency disorders, or “stuttering,” display disruptions in the production of speech sounds. They may display sound prolongations (“ssssun”), word repetitions (“I..I..I..want”), blocks (the mouth is positioned to say the sound but the sound does not come out). Voice is the pitch, quality, and loudness of voice. Voice disorders may be caused by vocal cord nodules, polyps, and paralysis, growths due to a virus, cancer, or disease, vocal abuse, and reflux. People may experience a hoarse or raspy voice, decreased ability to sing high notes, a deeper than normal voice, a raw achy throat, and/or an increased effort to talk. Resonance is the modification of sound generated from the vocal cords. It is the quality of perceived sound during speech.
Speech Sound Disorders: Articulation and Phonological Processes
Speech is the ability to express thoughts and feelings by articulating sounds. It is part of natural development for children to make mistakes and use sounds incorrectly. Children may demonstrate a speech sound disorder if the inaccurate productions of sounds exceeds the expected level of achievement provided their age and gender.
Articulation is the production of speech sounds. Children who have an articulation disorder do not use the sounds expected for their age group accurately. They may display the following: distortion of sounds, addition of sounds, substitution of sounds (“tun” instead of “sun”); Omission of sounds (“ba” instead of “ball”).
Phonological Processes are naturally occurring processes that children utilize in order to simplify an adult target word to a level they are capable of producing. For example, children often produce /t/ and /d/ for /k/ and /g/ when first beginning to speak as in “tar” for “car” or “bade” for “bake.” As children mature, they gradually suppress this process and others until their speech is like that of an adult. When children do not suppress these processes (most suppress all by the age of 5), they are said to exhibit a phonological process disorder.