Speech therapy or speech-language therapy for kids is a focused therapy. It is aimed at helping children improve their communication skills. Professional speech therapists cater to children facing challenges with speech and language disorders including:
- Trouble comprehending language
- Issues with articulation
- Voice related challenges
- Fluency issues
- Trouble with social interaction
Speech therapy for Kids – Key Aspects
The therapy is recommended for kids experiencing trouble with speech and delayed language development. Since each child develops at their own pace, occasional variations in speech and language development are common. However, parents are still advised to consult a healthcare professional at a reputed speech therapy centre if a child shows certain signs consistently. In most cases, the therapists will look for certain signs that may indicate the need for speech therapy.
Here are certain signs indicating a speech therapy for kids:
Delayed Speech Development
It is advised that parents keep monitoring their children for milestones. If there is a significant difference in a child’s speech and language milestones as compared to their peers, parents should be concerned. For instance, a child is generally expected to have a vocabulary of around 50 words by the age 2. Most children also combine words into simple sentences by 2 or a few months after they turn two.
Social Communication is Difficult
Speech therapy is recommended for children who face trouble with social communication skills. For instance, if a child is unable to understanding social cues, does not make eye contact, avoid taking turns in conversation, or does not interpret nonverbal signals, consider these as signs to consult a therapist. Speech therapy can help improve these social communication skills. Many children benefit from therapy specially focused on improving social communication skills. The therapist will help child understanding social cues, engaging in conversation, taking turns, and interpreting nonverbal communication.
It is a condition characterized by interruptions in the regular flow of speech. These may include prolongations in a speech, repetitions, or blocks of sounds. Prolonged stuttering beyond age 5 should be given professional assistance. Speech therapy is helpful in addressing fluency issues. Special fluency therapy is recommended for children who stutter or experience disruptions in the flow of their speech.
The child may show difficulty in pronouncing sounds or articulating words clearly. Speech therapy can help address unclear sound or trouble producing certain sounds. Articulation therapy is recommended for improving the clarity and precision of speech sounds. It may involve special exercises to strengthen oral muscles. The child may be asked to practice with specific sounds, and drills. This helps improve sound production.
Voice disorders may lead to hoarseness; pitch related issues, or other voice abnormalities. Voice therapy is recommended to help with pitch related issues, loudness of voice, quality, and resonance of voice. The child may be recommended exercises to improve vocal cord function and certain techniques to develop voice which is more age-appropriate.
Language disorders among children are characterized by trouble understanding or using words in context. Some of the common signs may include limited vocabulary, trouble forming sentences, challenges following directions, struggles with comprehension etc. Experts suggest language therapy which addresses these challenges. The therapy includes working on child’s sentence structure skills, vocabulary development, grammar, comprehension, and expressive language skills.
Developmental Delays or Disorders
A speech therapy is recommended for children with developmental delays. The challenge may also be a result of conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, or other neurodevelopmental disorders.
Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia)
Some children have trouble swallowing. Speech therapists can help children with this difficulty which may be a result of various medical conditions or developmental issues.
Delays in speech and language development may be a part of hearing loss conditions. Speech therapy may be included in professional intervention plan for children with hearing impairment.
Lack of Progress with Speech Sounds
When a child is unable to make expected progress in the area of speech sound development or if they keep omitting, or distorting sounds in their speech, it may be a sign for getting a speech therapy.
Assessment and Evaluation by Professionals
Speech therapists will conduct a thorough assessment of a child’s speech and language abilities. The procedure may involve the following to gather detailed info on communication development of a child:
- Standardized tests
- Informal observations
- Interviews with parents or caregivers
Once the assessment is done, the speech therapist will develop a customized treatment plan. This is based on specific needs and goals of the child. Generally, the treatment plans address the following:
- Language development
- Social communication skills
- Voice quality
Most of the success of speech therapy depends on early intervention. This significantly improves chances of a long-term communication skills and overall development of a child.
Speech therapy designed for kids is a dynamic process customized to address specific challenges. The therapy is primarily aimed at supporting children in developing effective and confident communication. It caters to a wide range of speech and language challenges while developing their overall social, academic, and personal growth.
In case, you have concerns related to speech and language development of your child, simply schedule a consultation session with an experienced speech therapist or a healthcare professional for further diagnosis and intervention.