What is a speech disorder?
A speech disorder is a difficulty with the actual production of sounds.
Speech disorders can include the following problems:
· Articulation – difficulty producing sounds in syllables or saying words incorrectly to the point that others cannot understand what is being said.
· Fluency – this is includes problems such stuttering, a condition in which the flow of speech in interrupted by abnormal stoppages, repetitions, prolonging sounds and syllables.
· Resonance- this is associated with problems with the pitch, volume, or quality or the voice that distracts listeners from what is being said. This type of disorder can also cause pain for the child when speaking.
· Dysphagia- known as oral feeding disorders includes difficulties with eating and swallowing.
The speech therapists evaluate the child with a serious of different tests, they can identify the types of communication problems and the best way to treat them.
Speech Therapists treat problems in oral-motor, speech, voice, articulation and dysfluency.
A therapist will work with a child one on one or in small group settings to overcome the speech disorder, using a variety of different strategies.
· Articulation therapy- this involves having the therapist model correct sounds and syllables to the child. The therapist will show the child how to make certain sounds such as “r” or “s” sounds and will demonstrate the proper movement of the tongue to produce different sounds.
· Oral Motor- also known as feeding therapy, with this particular therapy the therapist will use a variety of oral exercises, which may include facial massage, various tongue, and lip or jaw exercises, to strengthen muscles of the mouth. They might also work with different food textures and temperatures to increase the child’s oral awareness during eating a swallowing.
· Language intervention activities- in these types of exercises the therapist will react with the child by playing and talking. Some tools used in this therapy will include pictures, books, objects or ongoing events to stimulate conversation and language development. Again with this therapy they might also model correct pronunciation and use repetition exercises to build speech and language skills.
Kids might need speech or language therapy for a variety of different reasons:
· Weak oral muscles
· Birth defects such as cleft lip or cleft palate
· Respiratory issues (breathing issues)
· Traumatic brain injury
· Swallowing disorders
· Motor planning problems
· Hearing impairments
· Cognitive (thinking or intellectual) or other developmental delays
Therapy should begin as soon as possible, prolonging or avoiding can make the issue worse. Children that begin therapy early on when a problem is first noticed have a higher success rate and better outcome than those that begin later in life, although this does not indicate or mean that just because a child is older therapy should not be introduced and progress can’t be made, they may have a slower progress rate because learned patterns need altered.
We feel that parental involvement in speech therapy is crucial to the child’s progress and success. The therapist will give you some recommendations on things you can continuously work on with the child. The process of overcoming a speech disorder can be very stressing and long for the child so it is vitally important that everyone in the family approach the issue with patience and understanding with the child.