Specialists in Speech-Language Therapy
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), often called a speech therapists, are professionals educated in the study of human communication, its development, and its disorders. They hold at least a master’s degree and state certification/licensure in the field, as well as a Certificate of Clinical Competency from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
SLPs assess speech, language, cognitive-communication, and oral/feeding/swallowing skills to identify types of communication problems (articulation; fluency; voice; receptive and expressive language disorders, etc.) and the best way to treat them.
Speech Disorders, Language Disorders, and Feeding Disorders
A speech disorder refers to a problem with the production of sounds. A language disorder refers to a problem understanding or putting words together to communicate ideas.
When Is Therapy Needed?
Kids might need speech-language therapy for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:
- difficulty communicating their needs and wants (expressive language)
- articulation concerns that impact their ability to be understood
- difficulty understanding spoken language and language concepts
- cognitive (intellectual, thinking) or other developmental delays
- weak oral muscles
- cleft lip or cleft palate
- cerebral palsy
- autism spectrum disorders
- motor planning concerns including childhood apraxia of speech
- feeding and swallowing disorders or dysphasia
- traumatic brain injury
Therapy should begin as soon as possible. Children enrolled in therapy early (before they’re 5 years old) tend to have better outcomes than those who begin therapy later. This does not mean that older kids can’t make progress in therapy; they may progress at a slower rate because they often have learned patterns that need to be changed.
Speech-language pathologists practice under a physicians prescription. Pediatricians will typically write a prescription for a speech-language and/or feeding/dysphasia evaluation and therapy as needed. The speech-language pathologist will then evaluate, diagnose and treat disorders as needed.
Information taken in part from KIDHEALTH.ORG