How Speech Therapy Can Help Your Child with a Speech Disorder

Working with a speech therapist is very similar to working with a physical therapist, at least as far as the routine goes. The person receiving the therapy will have regular appointments with their speech therapist to monitor and track their progress and will be given easy exercises to work on at home to make additional progress. For children with a speech disorder, the parents will be an integral part of the process. Our clinic provides speech therapy for children in addition to physical therapy, so be sure to give us a call if you require these services. Here’s a closer look at how speech therapy can help a child with a speech disorder.

Types of Speech Disorders in Children

The work that a speech therapist does with your child will largely depend on the type of speech disorder being treated. You have probably heard of stuttering, which is one of the most common disorders, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. A speech disorder can also include apraxia or dysarthria. Apraxia is a condition that is usually neurological in origin and can be caused by damage to the brain, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other medical conditions. Dysarthria is a speech disorder caused by a problem with the muscles in the mouth, face or respiratory system.

Diagnosing a Speech Disorder

Your speech-language therapist can test your child for a speech disorder. These tests will likely lead to a diagnosis of the exact type of condition that needs to be treated. In other cases, your child may have an autism diagnosis from your pediatrician and was referred to us for speech therapy. Either way, testing can help to determine whether the speech disorder involves apraxia, dysarthria or a combination of factors. Here are some of the most common types of tests used to diagnose speech disorders in children.

  • Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test – This test has been used to diagnose speech disorders for decades. The therapist recites words and the child identifies an associated picture that matches each word. This test measures the child’s vocabulary and examines their ability to speak.
  • Early Language Milestone Scale 2 – The ELM Scale-2 test takes about 10 minutes to complete and is used to measure language milestones in children up to 3 years of age, or older children who developmentally fall within this range.
  • Denver Articulation Screening Examination (DASE) – This is a developmental screening test designed for children between 2 months and 5 years of age. It tests communication, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem-solving and social skills. Believe it or not, all of these things relate back to speech and may be used as part of a speech therapy program!

Speech Therapy in Action

Your child’s work with a speech therapist will depend on the type of speech disorder confirmed during the diagnosis phase. One of our speech-language therapists will work with your child in a relaxed, friendly setting on a series of exercises. You may have one or more sessions per week, depending on the child’s needs. The speech therapy exercises can range from tasks that strengthen the muscles of the face, tongue and throat to vocabulary development and even basic communication skills like making eye contact when speaking to others. It all depends on where your child is developmentally. In addition, by keeping up with regular appointments with the speech therapist, the exercises and focus may change or adjust to help better meet your child’s needs.

If your child is struggling with delayed speech, vocabulary development, or a neurological or physical disorder that is impacting their speech, give us a call to set up a screening appointment. The good news when it comes to a speech disorder is that the earlier your child begins speech therapy, the better the long-term results can be.