One of the types of therapies we provide at our First Kid’s PPEC centers is speech therapy.
Speech-language deficits are the most common of childhood disabilities and affect about 1 in 12 children or 5% to 8% of preschool children. But what exactly is speech therapy, and how can this therapy treat speech-language deficits?
What is Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy treats speech, language, and communication disorders. A speech disorder is when someone has difficulty making sounds or using words to communicate effectively. A language disorder is when someone has trouble understanding what other people say or putting thoughts into words.
When there are difficulties in both areas, this may be referred to as a communication disorder. Speech therapy involves working with individuals to improve their ability to produce sounds, speak clearly, understand others, and use language effectively in social situations.
Speech therapy is provided by licensed speech therapists who work with children and adults to improve their abilities in the areas of:
- Speech production – how we make our voices heard (e.g., talking, whispering)
- Voice quality – the sound of your voice when you speak
- Fluency – smoothness at speaking
- Articulation (expressive language) – how well you say words correctly when you speak
- Auditory processing – understanding what others say to you
Receptive language is understanding what is said, read, or heard. It also involves understanding non-verbal communication, such as gestures.
Receptive language can be broken into subcategories, including:
- Reading comprehension (what you get from reading)
- Sentence interpretation (the ability to understand sentences that are not in your native language)
Expressive language refers to the ability to communicate through speech. This includes producing speech sounds, using words as symbols for objects and actions, using sentences to express thoughts and feelings, understanding spoken words, and following directions in conversation.
Expressive language is sometimes referred to as receptive language because it involves understanding what others say. These language skills can be assessed by asking a child questions about what she knows; this type of assessment is called spontaneous speech or conversational speech analysis.
Articulation is the act of pronouncing words correctly. It involves using lips, tongue, and jaw to make sounds. There are many different types of articulation:
- Lip-smacking (labial)
- Babbling (bilabial)
Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)
In childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), the child has difficulty planning, sequencing, and producing the movements necessary to produce speech sounds.
So what does that mean? Many kids can say “mama” before they can say “ball”. So when they try to put together a word like “ball”, they have no problem saying the first part of the word (ba). But when it comes time to get out the l sound in ba-lll…they can’t do it! They tend to produce more like bl or bluh instead. This sometimes happens with other words, too—like cat will come out as cuh or hack might sound more like hak!
The exact cause for CAS isn’t known, but there are some ideas about what might be going on in your brain when this happens:
- One theory is that children with CAS aren’t able to plan how their mouths should move to make certain sounds properly; this means that one way we could help them improve would be by teaching them how different parts of their mouths move while saying different types of sounds. The goal would be to have them learn these movements so well until they eventually become automatic—meaning you don’t even have to think about doing them anymore because everything becomes second nature after practice. This approach works exceptionally well if your child has trouble making all sorts of noises (not just ones involving specific letters).
Cognitive-communication disorders are a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to communicate. These may be caused by brain injury, stroke, or seizures. These can include difficulty understanding or producing speech, such as what words mean or how to speak them correctly.
- Voice disorders are caused by vocal misuse.
- Voice disorders are the result of vocal misuse.
Speech-language pathologists can help people improve their reading and writing skills. They work with children and adults with dyslexia, dysgraphia, or other learning disorders affecting literacy.
Speech therapy is often an essential part of a treatment plan for those seeking help with reading, writing, or spelling. Ultimately, speech therapy is meant to help individuals communicate more effectively.
First Kid’s PPEC: Speech Therapy in Kendall
Because there are so many different kinds of speech therapy, it can be challenging to know what to expect when starting. But the overall goal is always the same: to help a child or adult who has difficulty with communication improve their skills to live a happier and more fulfilling life. If you or someone you know is struggling with any speech disorder or problem, now might be the time for speech therapy.
Contact us today and learn how your child may qualify for speech therapy completely covered by Medicaid.